Sailing Clothing – Top Half Waterproof Layer

Whether you are on a dinghy or a keelboat, the waterproof layer is your first line of defense against wind, water, and the inevitable cold that the combination of those two things causes. We’re going to focus on the two main types of “top half” waterproof protection – the Spray Top and the Jacket.

The exact features of your waterproof layer depends on what piece we are talking about. Here are some examples of features to look for when considering different pieces for your gear bag.

Spray Top (Smock)

  • Double or triple laminate construction
  • Neoprene waist and wrist seals (possibly adjustable with Velcro)
  • Waterproof taped seams
  • High neck adjustable collar that keeps out the water
  • Pockets and if appropriate for your climate, fleece lining


  • Triple Laminate Construction
  • Abrasion-resistant panels/cloth
  • Collar that protects from ocean spray
  • Hood that is adjustable, stows easy, and is a bright color
  • Reflective panels/logos to provide extra visibility
  • Large zippers with waterproof backing
  • Adjustable Cuffs with inner elastic seals
  • Fleece lining as appropriate for your climate

As I’ve mentioned, in my previous pieces on sailing clothing there are often different levels of these garments from each manufacturer. Sometimes the lighter pieces will be referred to as “inshore” or “nearshore” with the heavy duty stuff being referred to as “ocean gear’ or something along those lines. In any case, pay close attention to the advantages to moving up in the class of garment given your typical sailing conditions.

Get our full Definitive Guide to Sailing Clothing today!

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