Gifting can be hard, but if you have a sailor in your life, there are lots of ways to delight him or her whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary, or the end-of-year holidays. Sailing is a gear-intensive hobby so you’re not likely to run out of ideas for years.
Let’s look at 10 great gift ideas for sailors:
- Sailing knife
- Sailing gloves
- Inflatable PFDs
- Gamin inReach
- Dry bags and waterproof cases
- Apps and gift cards
For more inspiration, be sure to read 10 Best Gifts for a Boat Owner.
1. Sailing Knife
Sailors a keep knives handy at all times so they can trim a halyard or loosen a shackle, so a knife in a holster is always welcome. There are many specialized knives to choose from including ones from Gill, CrewSaver and NRS.
Look for features like a marlinspike to loosen a knot or shackle, a serrated edge for tough jobs, and a bottle opener for when it’s time to relax.
Sunglasses can be a very personal purchase, but a sailor can never have too many because they often go overboard or get stepped on in the cockpit. Reflection and glare off the water and sails is hard on the eyes so choose polarized lenses and since they’ll be worn all day, pick frames that are lightweight and comfortable.
Models like EveryDayBoater glasses provide the right amount of eye coverage, have quality light plastic frames and premium polarized glass lenses. Regardless of the brand, look for glasses with a case, a strap, and a warranty.
3. Sailing Gloves
Racing sailors on small boats work with small diameter lines and those are brutal on the hands. Specialized sailing gloves from brands like Harken, Gill and Ronstan are made in men’s and women’s sizes, come in full or fingerless versions and are stick and padded for better grip and protection. Many have four-way stretch on the back of the hand for a good fit and provide UV resistance so your sailor’s hands won’t get sunburned.
4. Inflatable PFDs
A personal floatation device (PFD) is indispensable for a sailor but traditional lifejackets are too bulky, uncomfortable and old school. Choose an inflatable version that is worn like a harness.
Mustang Survival Gear has many to choose from, but they come in various sizes and designs for men and women so know your sailor. For full racing rockstars, you can splurge on a Spinblock Offshore Deckvest which was designed for the Volvo Ocean Race and is shaped for greater comfort.
5. Garmin inReach
Garmin’s inReach is a satellite tracker that uses the Iridium satellite constellation and can send an SOS message from anywhere, 24/7. Short text messaging, tracking and one-button emergency calls are all possible. Sailors can even track and share their voyage with friends and family. There’s an initial purchase of the device and as well as a subscription fee for use.
Sailors need all kinds of tools but those can be heavy, expensive and specific to the boat. One tool that won’t go amiss is the Davis Instruments Snap Tool Multi-key that fits in a pocket, serves many purposes, and makes a great stocking stuffer.
This simple tool has a key for water and fuel deck caps, a cutting tool for fishing line or webbing, a zipper pull for stuck dodger zippers, and a snap tool for corroded canvas snaps. Amazingly, they also managed to add a couple of hex wrenches, screwdrivers and a bottle opener into this simple, flat metal tool.
LED flashlights and headlamps are always appreciated by boaters and they can be quite inexpensive. Some come with red and white lights so sailors can preserve their night vision and most are waterproof. Pelican, Petzl and Black Diamond offer many models at different prices.
A unique lighting gift is the Luci inflatable solar light. This small clear plastic light packs down flat for storage but can be inflated and charged by the sun for standalone lighting in the cockpit all night long.
8. Dry Bags and Waterproof Cases
Sailors always look for ways to keep their gear dry and protected. Otterbox hard cases and Joto waterproof pouches will keep small electronics dry and some even allow you to work the touchscreen through the clear material.
For other items both large and small, dry bags are key. They’re made of waterproof material and have specialized water-resistant zippers or a roll-up top to seal in clothing, laptops, food and more. They come in sizes from cellphone to backpack size from brands like Yeti, Dry Sack, Osprey and more.
Sailors are always looking for something in the distance – mooring balls, racing buoys or whale spouts – so they need binoculars. You can choose a pocket-sized set or go for a full-sized model from Fujinon, Steiner, West Marine and others.
Binoculars can be affordable and basic or fully featured with image stabilization and premium optics and they will be priced according to features and quality.
10. Apps and Gift Cards
Sailors need information and much of it is available via apps.
- If the sailor in your life is traveling without their own sailboat in tow, you can surprise them by booking a sailing trip using the Boatsetter app. Two of our top sailing destinations include San Francisco and Los Angeles.
- For example, Navionics is an indispensable navigation tool with charts for different parts of the world. Access is for iOS or Android phones and tablets and starts around $50.
- If you don’t know what they already have or would like, a gift card to a chandlery like Defender or West Marine will always be welcome. Sailors can apply the total to whatever they need like foul weather gear, marine electronics, boat shoes, rash guards and more.
The more you know about your sailor, the better gift giver you’ll be but you can’t go wrong with the basics above. Whether it’s safety items, apparel, helpful tools or gift cards, sailing gifts for him or her are something they’ll love. Best of all, much of this gear is available online so your shopping is easy.
Looking for other gift ideas? Read:
Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone — whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain.
Zuzana Prochazka is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer with regular contributions to more than a dozen sailing and powerboating magazines and online publications including Southern Boating, SEA, Latitudes & Attitudes and SAIL. She is SAIL magazines Charter Editor and the Executive Director of Boating Writers International. Zuzana serves as judge for SAIL’s Best Boats awards and for Europe’s Best of Boats in Berlin.
A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana founded and manages a flotilla charter organization called Zescapes that takes guests adventure sailing at destinations worldwide.
Zuzana has lived in Europe, Africa and the United States and has traveled extensively in South America, the islands of the South Pacific and Mexico.