Gear Tips for Cold Weather Conditions

01 Apr 2015 12:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Hi J-Town!

Dock-In is tentatively scheduled for April 11 and everyone's looking forward to being able to launch boats again.

At Spring Fling last week we had lots of questions from our new members about advice for good sailing gear cold weather conditions. As such, we put out a call to some of our members for their perspective on the topic. The questions were:

  • What works for you as far as gear on the cold days?
  • Best cold weather gear if money is no object?
  • Best way to stay warm on a budget?

Remember, the water and the spray will likely be pretty cold well into June, so good to spend a bit of money to gear up for the conditions until swim suit weather arrives. We've got some loaner PFDs in the sail shed, but consider purchasing your own personal floatation so you get the best fit. And as Roy mentions below, brightly coloured gear is always best for visibility. Education-man, Greg Brothers, put together this reference document last season.

Here are a few of the other responses so far. Feel free to write in with other tips and I'll post them below.

From Tannis B:

I recommend a lightweight waterproof, breathable 2-way (so you can open the bottom to keep it from bunching up)zip up jacket with a hood, but non-breathable waterproof is fine in the cold - just not so fine when it warms up. non-breathable waterproof pants work fine since you don't really need them once it warms up. In the cold, fleece works for me but some people say wool is better. If money no object, wear a merino undershirt. I always say, that if you aren't the sort of person who gets cold easily, that you only need a wetsuit to sail in May, early June and October. And, since the water is VERY COLD in May, get a thick wetsuit that you wouldn't even consider wearing in the summer. I have a 3mm MEC sleeveless which seems to work well with a warm shirt and has lasted well.

You can start using dish gloves or those knit ones with rubber fingers (which I think you can cut off). Otherwise, invest in a annual (at least) supply of Gill dinghy gloves with LONG cut off forefinger! Waterproof shoes that stay on! With neoprene socks (cheap at MEC). The old style short rubber boots were better than neoprene, but are hard to find. If investing in neoprene boots, stay clear of the ones that drain water. I hear they are cold!

Very torn over hiking pants. I need them and so use the strap on variety, which can dig in and twist. But otherwise you are sort of stuck wearing a sort of wetsuit all summer.

FYI, West Marine has moved far away (Barrie and somewhere else) and Genco to Port Credit. The Dock Shoppe has moved into Genco's space on Queens Quay, but I have never shopped there so I don't know if they carry stuff like gloves, boots.

From Roy S:

I have used a layer of skiing underwear - poly, not wool. Then a wetsuit. Then foul weather gear on top of that - pants and windtop. And a fleece balaclava and an orange toque for visibility from rescue boats if you need to be rescued - foul weather gear seems to be fashionably black . On my feet I have neoprene socks from MEC and then Gill boots. Neoprene gloves from MEC. I have never been cold in that setup. Even when we capsized a NACRA 500 at a Halloween regatta a few years ago in the pouring rain. 

You can get thin, wetsuits at CDN Tire. They are fine - that is what I have been wearing for the past few years. But wear the poly skiing underwear underneath for warmth. The wetsuits go on sale for about $79.99. You can look at the item on the CDN Tire wetsuit and signup for an email alert for when they go on sale.

MEC has excellent gear for sailing - but look for Kayak clothing. Level Six makes very good foul weather gear for Kayaks and just as good for sailing. And Level Six is from Ottawa. MEC also has Farmer John wetsuits that are a bit thicker, but no arms. You can easily get fitted out at MEC for sailing. Everything except the Gill boots - get them at FOGH. So MEC would be a good bet for good gear on a budget. But it is good gear. You may need to get dinghy pants at FOGH though - nothing suitable at MEC.

For cold weather gear if money was no object : ZHIK gear. 

Gill is good stuff too. Not as expensive as ZHIK

A few years ago the Gill rep came to a Friday night race and displayed gear. He then made a massive group buy from the three clubs. It was a deal. maybe that could happen again.

I hope that helps.

From Membership man, Graham B:

Best cold weather gear if money is no object:

My personal getup form Fogh Marine...
Gill three season glove (full finger)
Water resistant sailing beanie hat
Gill pro top (Splash Jacket) - add flees underneath  
3/4 neoprene pant with long underwear as base layer.
Hiking boot with thermal socks underneath   
Unpolarized Sunglasses 
Emergency whistle - a must have as no amount of gear will keep you warm forever. 

Also: Board Sports for a full wetsuit. Best selection in town. 

On a budget... same as above but shop at MEC. 

Hope this helps! 

From funny-man Jeff G ;)

Step 1: Skip out on one of your workout days each week.
Step 2: Water? No... have a beer, or a wine instead.
Step 3: Sail like a champ with your sexy built in insulating layer. (Note: It's ballast too!)

From Cathyann W:

Money no object? Dry suit :) wear tights or long johns underneath- boots and gloves

Money some object? Full body wetsuit ( with or another body layer like like wool-  but wetsuits are really only warm when wet and next to skin- bear that in mind- then layer with light wool ( merino) and splash jacket- foul weather pants- gloves, boots and toque ( essential)

Money an object? Layers - light wool next to skin then maybe thicker then- windjacket and wind pants to cut the breeze on top and insulate beneath- gloves, toque etc.

Wetsuits can be bought cheap at Canadian Tire

MEC and Fogue have the rest

Value Village will have underlayers, wool and probably wind jackets

If you have to prioritize- get some decent boots, gloves and a splash jacket


From Agata M (actually the queen of All Things Social):

In addition to all the great layers to keep you warm, bring not one but two changes of clothes (socks, underwear, t-shirts, sweats). This is so that you can change into something dry and warm at lunch, and also change into something dry and warm at the end of the day. You may never use it, but if you need  them those dry clothes are priceless.
~QoC (Queen of Capsize)


Happy Sailing J-Town!



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