What’s in Bill’s Gear Bag?
Posted by on December 10, 2014
No matter where I go or what I’m sailing I get asked, “What are you wearing on the water today?” My answer is never exactly the same. Depending on the boat I’m sailing, forecasted air temperature, precipitation forecast or the potential of getting splashed (sea state vs. freeboard). Let me try to break this down.
First off, my normal gear has some necessities and staples. Sometime I add or remove items based on the long term forecast and whether I am sailing offshore or inshore. And I always take more to the dock than I need and inevitably remove items before we set sail. Let’s look at the necessities.
When it comes to footwear, if I am sailing inshore or I know I won’t be getting solid spray all day, I normally wear some sort of Sailing Athletic Shoe (sneaker style). There are a number of these on the market. When you pick your shoe, make sure it’s comfortable, fast drying and has good traction on non-skid. I generally try to pick a ½ size larger than my street shoes in case I need to add thick socks.
If I am sailing offshore or in big waves, I will normally go to a Sea Boot. Again, there are a number of brands and styles out there. Make sure you get a pair that are easy to put on and take off, are breathable and have a solid grip. My bag always has a pair of QuickDry Socks as well as Gore-Tex socks. And, if it’s going to be cold, I always have Smart-Wool or Merino Wool socks available.
I always have a Base Layer. My go-to base layer is a Hydrophobic Layer that is lightweight, thermal, water resistant and breathable. If I know I’m not going to get wet to my base layer, I will go with something lighter and more breathable. Lycra is always good when it’s warm.
Other Base Layer items found in my bag would be a pair of Impact Shorts for those long bumpy days. And a good Long-Sleeve UV shirt is a must as well. No matter what, do not wear cotton. Materials like wool, lycra, polypropylene or polyester are a must.
Middle Layers can vary a bit. My absolute favorite top, hands-down is the Gill Race Soft-shell ¼ Zip. This top has a mystery material which stops the wind, repels water and still breathes like a wool or fleece top and it super comfortable too. I wear this top almost every time I hit the water.
I generally have a fleece top in my bag for those really chilly days, especially if we are working on the boat prior to leaving the dock. During the winter, you may find some fleece leggings or mid-layer Salopettes in my bag as well.
Outer Layers are essential. When it’s cold I will wear a thermal based multi-layer top with a high neck and pockets. I like a Smock if I am a middle or forward crew. Jackets are better towards the back of the boat if I am racing larger keel boats. My go-to bottoms are a Salopette style. I don’t really like Velcro straps over my shoulder. I really like the Gill KB Racer Trousers.
If I wear Gloves, I use the Gill Pro or Gill Extreme Gloves. I have had the same pair of Pro Gloves for 3 years and they seem to get better every time I use them. If I am going offshore and know that it’s going to be cold, I will take a pair of insulated, waterproof gloves.
ALWAYS KEEP A BEANIE! I always have a beanie handy and I always get picked on for it. Yet, when I put it on, they always ask if I have another one. Other than that, I wear a ball cap to keep the sun off my head and keep the glare down.
Everyone has their favorite pair of Sunglasses. I wear Kaenon Polarized. I usually have a second pair of polarized glasses hidden in my backpack just in case.
When I remember to put it on, I use a Clearstart Watch by Ronstan.
I have two bags for all this gear; one to keep all of this in and one smaller back pack style for what I actually take on the boat for day racing. Both bags should be waterproof and light. I try to keep a fresh dryer sheet in each bag as well. This helps mask the “ou de Régate”
Again, I do not sail with all of this gear. This usually travels with me to events so I have a variety to choose from based on the conditions.
This bag changes slightly if I know I’m going dinghy or offshore sailing. However, the base gear stays the same.