Personal Gear & Apparel

Compact Scuba Kits for Sailors

In general, many cruisers prefer the freedom of snorkeling to scuba diving, yet there are situations when extending the time you can spend underwater becomes a safety issue.

Keep Your Lid On

Whats the best sailing hat? Testers set out to find a wide-brimmed sailing hat that offers lots of sun protection, even in a blow, and is breathable, lightweight, and durable. The review included 14 hats from Tilley, Columbia, Sunday Afternoons, Outdoor Research, and Gill.

Editors Tap Top Sailing Gear of the Year

Each fall, Practical Sailor editors sort through the best test products of the past year to pick those deserving of a spot on our PS Editors Choice roster. To be named to the list, products must earn the Best Choice rating among their respective peers and clearly stand out above others in their field.

What is the Best Way to Stay Hydrated at Sea?

As the summer heats up, we were reminded that staying hydrated and healthy is as essential to a safe sail or a successful race as having the right gear on board. Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in. It can rob muscles of strength and can fog the mind, compromising a sailors boat-handling ability and capacity to make tactical decisions. It can also lead to seasickness, or be a result of mal de mer. Its easy to prevent: Just be sure to get enough of the right kind of fluids before, during, and after sailing. But what are the right fluids? With the advice of a dietitian from New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center, Practical Sailor weighed the pros and cons-from a sailors standpoint-of various beverages marketed for athletes, including plain old water, coconut water, vitamin-enriched water, and sports drinks.

Mailport: Cold Weather Suits

Regarding your recent Inside Practical Sailor blog post Drysuits vs. Survival Suits, I raft the Colorado river in Grand Canyon where water temps are around 50 F, even in the summer. The whitewater down there is furious and sometimes dangerous. I wear a 3 millimeter neoprene wetsuit under a full drysuit. If the drysuit rips, the wetsuit should slow down thermal loss. The problem is heat buildup in the sun. The solution is to jump in the cold water now and then to keep from over heating. On a sailboat that would be harder to do. There have been a few times sailing solo when I wore both garments, but it was pretty clammy inside. There is no perfect solution, just reasonable compromises by which to stay alive. Something to remember is that once a drysuit rips, it will take on hundreds of pounds of water. A high flotation PFD is mandatory, at least 26 pounds I would think.

The Get-Home Sailboat Tool Kit

The tools and materials required to maintain and repair everything on a boat will barely fit in a room. Just the kit required to maintain vital systems will raise the waterline of a large boat and is impractical in a smaller boat. Fortunately, when day sailing and even cruising locally, all we really need to do is get back to the dock...any dock.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Sailors

Sailors are a practical lot. Sure, wed all enjoy a Fruit of the Month membership, but if you really want to make a sailors holiday bright, then gift them with something more useful. Weve rounded up some practical (and fun) gift ideas that any sailor would appreciate, whether theyll be decking the halls or the main saloon this season.

Personal Rescue Lights: Less Than Brilliant

ACR slightly outshone the rest of a dim group. These lights can help in a quick pick-up, but youre unlikely to see them beyond a half-mile in most sea conditions.

Sailing Sandals for Women

Testers set out to find a womens shoe that was comfortable wet or dry, didnt absorb water, provided traction and support, and was built to resist the odors typically associated with boat shoes. We looked at eight designs from four makers: Teva, Keen Footwear, Columbia Sportswear, and Sperry Top-Sider. Each sailing shoe faced grip tests on wet and dry surfaces, and funk tests to determine their ability to stave off stink and mildew. Men in the market for new sailing sandals can expect that the mens versions of these designs will have the same performance as far as grip and construction.

Kids Life Jackets for Active Sailors

For this test, we rounded up six high-performance, U.S. Coast Guard certified Type III personal flotation devices (PFDs) designed for children (50 to 90 pounds) participating in active sailing and other watersports. The test lineup comprised life jackets from five manufacturers: Astral Designs, Extrasport, Gill, MTI Adventurewear, and Stohlquist. Testers rated the PFDs on fit (in and out of the water), buoyancy, comfort, ease of donning and doffing, and safety features like crotch straps and whistles.

Sizing Up the Autumn List

Some of the best sailing I ever had was September on Narragansett Bay, pretty close to heaven in my mind. But before we let a long September reach carry us away-and hopefully carry us through winter-its a good time to take out a pen and pad, and start to build the winter work list.