I like to sail japan all year round. Recently several people asked me what we wear out there on such cold days. I remember when I first started out I had all the wrong warm gear which was heavy and a waste of money. I also know that some great gear is available from such firms as Musto with their 3 layer combinations but the cost is quite high. So for those of you who have an interest in knowing what I wear when sailing Japan in winter here is the budget clothes guide for winter sailors. Cheap. Warm. Lightweight.
What is important to me when choosing winter sailing clothes? Not much but what their is I see as being important.
Compact and Lightweight . Everything we carry on board add to the weight and robs space from the boat. Apart from sailing my own boat I often crew for other skippers and I know they are happy to see how weight and space conscious I am when stepping on board. It’s just good manners to carry on as little as possible. However we do not want to become a burden because we haven’t carried enough kit to stay warm. So warm, compact, lightweight.
No Cotton or Wool. I choose to wear no natural products when sailing winter. We need to dress in clothes that will dry as quickly as possible and preferably whilst still wearing them. I am afraid that as much as I love cotton it just takes too long to dry. There are three problems with this. 1. I freeze while the clothes dry. 2. If I carry spares they add weight to my kit bag. 3. If I do change out the wet clothes will most usually not dry in the boat but will stink the boat out.
Wicking. These days there are many terrific man made products on the market. One very important aspect is wicking. This term simply means that the fabric moves perspiration away from the inside to the outside. Since the day I first pulled on my wicking underwear, mid and outer shell I have not suffered at all with sweat related concerns. Here is a slightly nasty but incredible testimony. I once sailed 8 days non stop in the same wicking underwear. The weather was foul and I just had no chance to change. When we did pull into safe habour I headed straight to the shower room. As I stripped off my underwear I noticed I had zero underarm smell. The wicking effect of my underwear was so great that no sweat had been allowed to dry under my arm pits! Apart from the creature comfort of a nicer smelling boat this is very cool hygienically. On that occasion I was using Slazenger Bioslyx. Cheap as can be and fantastic.
Support. Recent underwear such as “Underarmour” and “Bioslyx” have a compression effect built in. I am not a doctor and so can not explain well as to the why but I assure you the benefit of having your muscles kept snug and in supported place using these “compression Underwear” products is great. These products are of course sold by yachting forms as well but if you go to KMart you can pick up the Slazenger products at a fraction of the price. Or If you go on line to Cabelas Hunting web site you can buy them on line.
Layers. Musto and competitors recommend three layers. 1. Underwear 2. Mid layer 3. Outershell. I couldn’t afford the top name stuff and so put together my own kit on Musto idea. I know the gear I have is not as good as a matching Musto set but it is still pretty good. I am never cold while inshore sailing in Japan. I use Three layers. 1. Slazenger Bioslyx wicking compression underwear. Cost is about US$25 each piece. 2. Polartec wicking Fleece mid layer long pants. Got them from cabelas on line for about US25. Ronstan wicking Fleece jacket. Found it in a chandlers on special for $100 3. Imhoff DLX Light Outershell. The inshore racer version. Breathable and reasobaly waterproof. Cost was US$250 on sale. http://www.imhoff.nl/index.php?mat=3
Feet. I have Kmart wicking socks and spent a few dollars on top end Dubarry High Cut Boots. As an ex service man I know feet are important so I did lash out a bit on the boots.
Neck and Head. Cabelas hunting Polortec. Great stuff and cheap. I manged to find some with no dear or bear printed on them!
I know I am not wearing the best gear in the business. I did price the 3 layers of musto and will one day buy a full set however for now I am really quite comfortable within all my sailing / racing needs and my total cost was 1/5 the total cost of top end set. Moreover all of this fits easily and lightly into my carry on bag and is guaranteed not to stink the boat out. Here look I even took a photo.
Of course if you have the cash I would go with the Musto 3 layer full kit. http://www.musto.com/fcp/categorylist/activity/coastal_inshore_sailing?resetFilters=true
Happy Winter Sailing. Join me in japan anytime just drop a line. Happy to have you aboard.