Personal Gear & Apparel

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.

The Year’s Top Sailing Gear

Each fall, Practical Sailor editors pick through the best test products of the past year to find the cream of the crop for 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.

Gear for the Small-boat Sailor

Like many sailors, were outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy activities that allow us to be outside often. So were always interested in crossover gear that we can use on the boat, in the woods, or even in our day-to-day lives. A few products reached our desks recently that fit this bill: the Nemo Helio portable shower and Good To-Go dehydrated meals. While both have obvious appeal for campers and backpackers, theyre also useful for small-boat sailors, and the dehydrated meals are ideal for those venturing offshore or packing emergency kits.

Nautix Makes Data Easy to See

Garmin recently released a new-age-looking boat-data display that will certainly appeal to technophiles and racing sailors. The portable, hands-free Nautix In-view Display attaches to the users glasses, making the data always visible out of the corner of the users eye while leaving him or her free to choreograph a race start or monitor the depth.

Sailing Gear for Kids

Whether your mini crewmembers are bound for a weekend family cruise or summer sailing camp, equipping them with the right gear will ensure their days on the water are safer and more fun for everyone. PS editors have put together a list of our favorite, must-have kids products for summer sailing. Some of the items are kid-sized versions of adult products that were top performers in our past lab and long-term tests, and we can vouch for their quality, performance, and durability. Others are products that have survived kid torture testing for at least one season and have earned two thumbs-up.

Lume-On Lights Up Life Jacket Bladders

A night-time man-overboard (MOB) scenario is the stuff of sailor nightmares. Darkness adds to the difficulty of locating a person in the water, a concern that has produced many types of MOB lights and strobes (see PS, February 2016 online) over the years to better the MOBs odds. Spinlocks recently released Lume-On takes a new approach to making an MOB more visible at night by turning an inflatable life jacket into the equivalent of a floating glowworm.

Gifts for Sailing Parents

With Mothers Day and Fathers Day looming, we dug through our Chandlery items to find things that would make good gifts for sailing moms and dads. Landlubbers got it easy: Dad gets a new shirt and tie; Mom gets flowers (no carnations!). But thats not fitting for our nautical moms and dads. Unless their gift has some practical onboard use, it will shortly find its way to the senior-center flea market. Most of these gifts would be well received by either Mom or Dad, but if you end up missing the mark, you can always reclaim the gift and use it for your own offshore adventures.

Soul Dry Suit 2-year Update

After teeth-chattering his way through some brutal winters sailing beach cats on Chesapeake Bay-protected only by a 3/16-inch neoprene suit that made the cold water safe, but not pleasant-Practical Sailor tester Drew Frye decided to upgrade and invested in the Ocean Rodeo Soul dry suit in the fall of 2013, and his winters have been much better.

Where Credit is Due: West Marine, Forespar, and More!

I purchased West Marine Third Reef foul-weather gear in 2008 at the Miami Beach boat show. The jackets inner liner started shedding, leaving white snowflakes everywhere. Ive been putting up with this for quite a few years as I havent been using the foul-weather gear regularly. But this past April, I departed for French Polynesia and started using the gear regularly. After almost six months of cruising, I sent West Marine corporate ( an email about my issue, fully expecting the too old, too long ago, too whatever response. To my very pleasant surprise, I received a reply from Glenna in customer service, who had found my receipt in their computer; she gave me instructions to take the foul-weather gear to the local store for replacement or credit. The Honolulu store manager was super nice and helpful. I now have a new set of Third Reef foul-weather gear! Thanks and kudos to West Marine!

Binocular Update

Binoculars can be an expensive piece of kit, but they are essential safety gear for the mariner. Being able to clearly identify any object that comes within range of your boat-be it a ship, raft, flotsam, navigational marker, or a nearby shoreline-makes for a safer passage. Steiner Optics recent release of its Model 575, an affordably priced 7x50 marine binocular (without compass), prompted us to revisit our past binocular tests to see how the newcomer compares to our reigning top picks.