Stocking Stuffers for Sailors: December 2016


The holidays are upon us, and if youve waited until the last minute to get your gift shopping done, fear not; weve got you covered. Here are some great stocking-stuffer ideas that any sailor would love to unwrap.

Gadget Addicts

Catalyst Apple Watch Case

Catalyst Apple Watch Case: Electronics junkies will appreciate being able to use their Apple Watch on the water, thanks to a waterproof case from Catalyst. The slim-profile, lightweight Catalyst cases for Apple Watch (42mm, Original, and Series 1) are waterproof (IP68) and shockproof, and were designed to be used even in salt water. Testers liked that the case doesn’t interfere with any of the watchs functionality. Its exposed face makes the watchs touchscreen totally accessible, as are the heart rate sensors, charging dock, microphone, and speaker. The supplied silicone wristband is very comfortable, and our test unit has survived all kinds of torture-sea spray and rain, swimming in pools and salt water, knocks against the hull and walls, even a brief stint as a Great Danes chew toy-with no leaks. The cases retail for about $60, and Catalyst also markets waterproof cases for the iPad mini 4 and the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros. (

SeaLife camera

SeaLife camera: Although the smart phone has replaced the point-and-shoot for many people, there are some places we don’t want to take our phones. The SeaLife Micro 2.0 is a ruggedly built, advanced point-and-shoot camera that is submersible to 200 feet. Priced at $499, it will appeal to the underwater enthusiast who wants to dip more than just a toe into underwater photography. The pocket-sized Micro 2.0 weighs about 10 ounces, and uses a 16 MP Sony CMOS image sensor that delivers sharp, vivid pictures. It also shoots full 1080HD video at 60 frames per second. The 130-degree fisheye lens is great for capturing undersea scenes or even cockpit gatherings. There are four modes: land, dive, snorkel, and external light, for use with an underwater light (one of many SeaLife accessories available). It is also WiFi-enabled, and its app makes it easy to transfer images and video for editing. Weve used the camera for everything from underwater anchor-test stills to underway video with great results. Our only concern is that the display cover is more vulnerable to cracking than wed like; ours cracked during drop testing from 3 feet. (

Cold-weather Sailors

Mustang Conductive Gloves

Mustang Conductive Gloves: For touchscreen, digital-chartplotter users, the Mustang Survivals Traction Conductive Gloves (MA6003) take the frustration out of wearing full-fingered gloves. While the gloves full-finger design offers warmth and protection-not to mention improved grip-the index finger and thumb tips have been covered with a touchscreen-compatible fabric, which means wearers don’t have to take off their gloves when using touchscreen digital devices like chartplotters, tablets, or smartphones. Testers found the gloves comfortable and warm, and they liked the convenience of not having to remove them every time they used a touchscreen device. The gloves retail for about $40 online. (

Mustang base layers

Mustang base layers: The secret to staying warm, but not too warm, during winter sailing is properly layering your apparel. We recently checked out some new base layer options from Mustang Survivals EP Ocean Racing Series line, which was designed for the Team Comanche racing crew, and we think they are worthy of stocking-stuffer status (they stow quite small) for those sailors in northern climes. Mustang markets two different sets, the Regulate 230 top and bottom (MSL609 and MSL610) and the Regulate 175 top and bottom (MSL607 and MSL608). The 230 top has a zipper and collar, while the 175 top features a crew-neck cut. The tops and bottoms have flat seams and are made of a quick-drying, synthetic fabric thats fused with merino wool; the synthetic material wicks away moisture and regulates temperature, and the wool offers great thermal protection, even in wet conditions, and natural odor control. Testers gave both the 175 and 230 sets big points for comfort. (

Gill i4 fleece jackets

Gill i4 fleece jackets: Gills new i4 line of fleece jackets ($110, mens and womens) are 100-percent polyester and can provide excellent warmth as a mid-layer in cold conditions. Highly breathable and quick-drying, the i4 jackets have zippered hand pockets and drawcord waists. They are available only in black though, so we suggest layering the i4 under a foul-weather jacket or windbreaker thats a high-visibility color. (

Every Sailor

Knot crafts guide

Knot crafts guide: Des Pawsons Knot Craft & Rope Mats book (Bloomsbury Publications, 2016, $25) offers sailors a way to pass the off-season while building their knot knowledge and creating some very cool handicrafts. Readers can learn to make 60 different ropework projects, including mats, bellropes, key fobs, fenders, and doorstops. Author Des Pawson gives step-by-step instructions-accompanied by color illustrations and photos, and clear and practical technique tips-on how to put these knot crafts together from start to finish. In addition to the helpful how-to guidance thats appropriate for all skill levels, PS editors really liked that the ropework recipes are also peppered with tidbits of nautical history. (

Sailing photography gifts

Sailing photography gifts: A perennial favorite among our holiday roundups is the gift collection by world-renowned nautical photographer Onne van der Wal. A former professional sailor, van der Wal combines his artists eye with his love of sailing to capture crisp, colorful, and evocative photos. You can choose from a range of products that feature his colorful photography-wall calendar, books, iPhone cases, prints, and framed art-but some of our favorite stocking-stuffers are the notecards, nautical ornaments, and coffee mugs. Prices vary-most smaller gift items are in the $15 to $20 range-so be sure to check out the online store and gallery. (


Secur bottle lantern

Secur bottle lantern: Perhaps its because of our roots in small-boat cruising, but were suckers for double-duty gear, and the Secur Collapsible Solar-powered Bottle Lantern (SP-1108) fits the bill. The small, water-tight bottle functions as a flashlight/lantern, a water bottle, and protective storage for food, liquid, money, or any valuable item that needs to stay dry. The lantern, which has two light levels plus an emergency-flashing mode, can be powered by the sun or any USB power source (via its supplied, waterproof USB charging cord), and functions when collapsed or expanded. The Secur SP-1108 ($30) would be a great addition to a ditch kit, a dinghy bag, or onboard a dinghy-less boat (no more soggy dollars when you swim to shore); we also like using it for portable cockpit lighting, and the compact bottle folds up, making it easy to pack for charter trips. (

Grayl water filter-bottle

Grayl water filter-bottle: If you have a giftee on your list who cruises off the beaten path or who may have to fill their tank with sketchy water, the Grayl Ultralight Purifier Bottle would be an excellent stocking stuffer. Not only does the lightweight bottle and filter protect against bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, like other portable water-purification options weve tested, but its advanced purifier cartridge also removes many chemicals and heavy metals often found in municipal water supplies. The filter also uses activated carbon to remove bad flavors or odors from the water-even making stale water from a tank taste better. The Grayl system, made of non-leaching polypropylene, is the easiest portable system weve ever used: Just fill the outer refill, depress the purifier press button, and drink. The process takes about 15 seconds and doesn’t require batteries, UV bulbs, chemicals, or a long wait. (

Catalyst Apple Watch Case


Matador Freerain24 Backpack: We love this packable backpack! It would be ideal for any cruising sailor or those who fly often (like delivery skippers). The Freerain24 comes in a small, attached stuff sack that can fit in the palm of your hand, and when its unpacked, the 5.5-ounce backpack has just more than a 24-liter carrying capacity. The Cordura 30 material is waterproof and puncture-resistant, and the daypack features a rolltop like a dry bag. Testers appreciated the bags multiple pockets and liked how easy it was to cram back into its storage bag. Its great to just stick in your pocket or purse for daytrips, in case you need more carrying capacity during excursions or visits to local markets. The Freerain24 ($60) is also more comfortable to carry when loaded down than typical tote bags with shoulder straps. (

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at