7 Best Sailing Drysuits

Best Sailing Drysuits | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Drysuits are an essential part of sailing foul weather gear that keeps you warm and dry in wet conditions.

Sailing drysuits are specifically designed to keep your clothes and skin dry when rain, spray, and waves crash over the boat. They make it possible to stay on the deck or in the cockpit and control the vessel during bad weather or high seas.


Table of contents

What is a Sailing Drysuit?

A drysuit looks similar to a diving wetsuit, but the operational principle is different. A wetsuit soaks up water but keeps you warm by insulating you, whereas a drysuit keeps the water out completely.

Drysuits are coveralls made of waterproof synthetic material. They are lightweight and durable and designed to keep water out by staying tight around your extremities.

You can wear warm clothes underneath the drysuit. In this way, it acts a lot like a sealed raincoat. Except unlike a raincoat, a drysuit stands up well to huge volumes of water in the form of horizontal spray and waves.

Wetsuit vs. Drysuit

Staying dry is particularly important on a sailboat, as you're above water and exposed to the wind. In foul weather, the wind is often much higher than normal, which can cause hypothermia in relatively warm conditions.

A drysuit is better for sailing than a wetsuit, as the wind can turn a wetsuit into a wearable evaporative cooler and make you even colder than when you started. Drysuits keep water out, which keeps you warm.

Can you Swim in a Drysuit?

Many people wonder if you can swim in a drysuit. Generally speaking, it's easier to swim in a wetsuit. Drysuits don't fit as tightly as wetsuits, and the same material that keeps water out also holds water in.

That said, there are some drysuits designed specifically for swimming, and they serve the purpose well. Most drysuits are suited for wading through deep water, and they function a lot like fly fishing suits.

Qualities of the Best Drysuits

The best drysuits are durable, lightweight, and cleanable. Cleaning is often overlooked when choosing a drysuit, but it's an essential part of keeping the suit pleasant and hygenic.

Flexibility is an important aspect of comfort, and the best drysuits are either flexible or roomy enough to allow a good range of motion. This is especially important on sailboats, where you need to perform complex tasks.

Qualities like an elasticated waist and articulated arms and legs are important and a mark of a high-quality drysuit. Sailing drysuits vary in terms of features, but these basic qualities are usually found in the best examples.

How to Stay Warm in a Dry Suit

One of the main reasons we use drysuits is to stay warm, as getting wet is one of the quickest ways to lose body heat. Staying warm in a dry suit isn't always as simple as putting it on, which is why it's essential to choose the right underclothes for insulation.

Traditionally, sailors wore unsealed rubber or waxed canvas ponchos to stay warm in wet and windy conditions. Underneath, they typically wore heavy woolen clothing. Wool makes a lot of sense, as it's one of the only fabric materials that stay warm when it's wet.

However, wool has some notable drawbacks. For one, it's quite heavy, and it's especially heavy when it's wet. This can be dangerous, especially if you fall overboard. Today, dry suits form to your body and seal completely, eliminating the need for wool.

You can still wear wool to stay warm in a dry suit, and many people choose wool socks to keep their feet warm. Many sailors agree that fleece is a superior material, as it's lighter and more comfortable than traditional heavy wool. Synthetic materials are also an option, and thermal clothes are increasingly popular.

7 Best Sailing Drysuits

Choosing a high-quality drysuit is essential if you're an offshore sailor and still a great idea if you mostly sail in coastal waters. Here are seven of the best sailing drysuits on the market today.

Crewsaver Atacama Sport Drysuit

1. Crewsaver Atacama Sport Drysuit

The Crewsaver Atacama Sport drysuit is a high-quality drysuit designed for use in all weather conditions. It features all of the basics and includes an additional fitted undersuit for insulation.

The Atacama Sport drysuit is based on the popular Cirrus drysuit, which has been a mainstay of sailing drysuits for quite some time. This drysuit isn't just for sailing, as it was designed for water sports like kayaking and jet skiing.

This drysuit is particularly useful for rough weather sailing, as it provides a superior range of motion compared to others on the market. It's also rather slim and tight-fitting, which is useful for moving around in cramped or complex spaces such as the cabin of a sailboat.

The design of this drysuit is subdued, and there isn't much excess material hanging around the elbows and other areas. This is advantageous on a sailboat, as excess material can snag and get caught in rigging and mechanical devices.

Overall, the Crewsaver Atacama Sport sailing drysuit is an excellent option for offshore sailing. It doubles as a water sport drysuit, so you can use it during a wide range of unrelated activities.

BR1 Core Sailing Trousers

2. BR1 Core Sailing Trousers

Here's a different kind of drysuit that's just as popular as a full drysuit. For warmer climates, the BR1 waterproof Core Trouser is an excellent choice. Trousers look like overalls and keep your core dry while exposing your arms for the best possible range of motion.

Trousers are particularly popular in tropical regions where harsh weather often accompanies extremely hot weather. Trousers are breathable and still waterproof, meaning they're comfortable and functional.

Another benefit of the BR1 Core Trouser is that it's lightweight and relatively loose-fitting. This makes it comfortable to wear, yet it still sinches down in essential locations.

The BR1 Trouser is waterproof and windproof, making it ideal for spray and choppy conditions. When the weather begins to cool off, you can use it in combination with a waterproof top, effectively creating a full-body drysuit.

When you go below, simply shed the top, and you'll be comfortable. These premium sailing trousers are an excellent example of the market, and they're an affordable piece of an essential foul weather kit.

Gul Dartmouth EClip Zip Drysuit

3. Gul Dartmouth EClip Zip Drysuit

The Gul Dartmouth EClip Zip Drysuit is a zip-up sailing suit with some unique features that make it stand out. It's a full-body suit that keeps you dry from head to toe and features sealed socks to keep your feet dry in the worst conditions.

This is a premium drysuit that's constructed with three layers of waterproof fabric. The multi-layer construction is common in the industry, but the Gul Dartmouth drysuit utilizes superior materials compared to some other manufacturers.

All seals on the Gul Dartmouth drysuit are made of neoprene, which is a durable and waterproof material that stands up well to all kinds of weather conditions. Neoprene is also comfortable and non-allergenic. However, there is latex in other parts of the Gul Dartmouth drysuit, such as the socks. People with latex allergies should take this fact into consideration.

The Gul Dartmouth drysuit utilizes a horizontal zipper system, which is unique in the market. This zipper is designed to open the suit wide enough to get in and out comfortably, which is difficult on traditional drysuits. The zipper is also waterproof, and it's not a weak point where water can enter easily.

The Gul Dartmouth drysuit is breathable, but it may not be ideal for the hottest climates. Drysuits can become uncomfortable in tropical climates, especially during the summer when temperatures can exceed 100 degrees. That said, its waterproof and windproof qualities are good enough to justify taking it along in any environment.

The Gul Dartmouth drysuit is roomy and ideal for use in cold conditions. Due to the extra space inside and the fully-waterproof design, there's plenty of room for fleece or other warm undergarments. You can purchase a specially-designed sailing under fleece to go along with the Gul Dartmouth drysuit, though it's not included when you purchase the suit.

Gill Dinghy Drysuit

4. Gill Dinghy Drysuit

The Gill Dinghy drysuit is a great drysuit for sailing and watersports. It's lightweight, comfortable, and goes on easy without too much trouble. Plus, it's made of high-quality materials, which makes it ideal for long-term use.

Like most premium drysuits, the Gill Dinghy drysuit is flexible in all the right places and durable in spots that need extra reinforcement. Like the previous model, this drysuit features a cross zipper, which makes it easy to slide on and off.

The Gill Dinghy drysuit is designed for use in severe weather. It's a dinghy drysuit, which means the designers intended it to keep sailors of small open boats warm in bad weather. With that in mind, it makes a particularly good drysuit for larger vessels with more spray protection.

It features an elasticated waist, large cargo pocket, and adjustable elastic braces for custom-fit comfort. The Gill Dinghy drysuit is constructed with four layers of waterproof fabric, which is one layer more than the industry standard. While that doesn't necessarily make it more waterproof, the additional layer of the fabric increases the durability and longevity of the suit.

The Gill Dinghy drysuit is breathable and features fully tapered seams for durability and comfort. The finish is waterproof and water-repellant, which prevents water from sticking to it and spreading around when you go down below to the cabin.

Palm Atom Back Zip Drysuit

5. Palm Atom Back Zip Drysuit

Here's a popular drysuit designed for kayaking that's also useful for sailing in rough weather conditions. Kayaking drysuits are advantageous, as they're designed for a sport that requires a good bit of flexibility and a wide range of movement. Many sailors find kayaking drysuits to be more comfortable and durable than others.

This drysuit falls into the 'ultra-premium' category, as it's made with the very best materials available. This is the kind of drysuit that you buy once and use for years. It's a professional suit which works well in most weather conditions.

Like the Gill Dinghy Drysuit, the Palm Atom Back Zip drysuit utilizes four separate layers of material to make up its waterproof shell. These four layers are heavy duty and designed to stand up to wear and weather. It features reinforced panels for long life and double-taped socks for toughness.

Another notable feature of this drysuit is its lack of four-way seam joints. It also features latex wrist and neck gaskets, which are tough and long-lasting. That said, people with latex allergies may want to use caution before purchasing this drysuit.

The outer collar of the Palm Atom drysuit is made of neoprene, which is comfortable and flexible. The drysuit seals around the waist using a belt-like strap, which makes it easy to adjust and remove. Overall, the Palm Atom drysuit is an excellent option for sailing with a partner, as it may be tricky to zip from the back yourself.

Prolimit Nordic Sup U-Zip Drysuit

6. Prolimit Nordic Sup U-Zip Drysuit

The Prolimit Nordic Sup U-Zip drysuit is an affordable and durable drysuit with a unique zipper system and full-body protection. From a distance, the Prolimit Nordic drysuit looks like it utilizes suspenders and a separate pair of pants. But in reality, the entire front unzips, allowing easy use and removal.

The Prolimit Nordic drysuit is designed specifically for use in winter conditions. It's an excellent option for sailors in northern latitudes, where conditions get much colder and windier than in the gulf or the Caribbean. The Prolimit Nordic drysuit works well with fleece liners as well, which are necessary for cold conditions.

Unlike many sailing drysuits, the Prolimit Nordic drysuit comes with an added flex panel at the back to make bending and twisting side-to-side easier. Many people find that drysuits tend to bind up during these motions, which is why the Prolimit Nordic suit has an advantage.

Generally speaking, suits like the Prolimit Nordic are ideal for wearing for long periods of time. In colder conditions, the suit is warm and has room for additional insulation below. For summer conditions, this breathable suit is a good option. That said, a set of drysuit trousers would be more ideal for hot tropical conditions.

Gul Code Zero Drysuit

7. Gul Code Zero Drysuit

The final sailing drysuit on our list is an affordable option designed specifically for cold weather. The Gul Code Zero drysuit is a full-body waterproof drysuit with a fleece lining designed to keep you warm in harsh wind and spray.

Like the other Gul drysuit we featured, the Code Zero is made from high-quality layered waterproof material and designed to stand up to harsh conditions. It's tight around the neck and wrists, ensuring a snug fit and reliable water tightness.

The Gul Code Zero drysuit features flexible material in all key areas, which allows it to stretch when needed. This is advantageous, as it allows you to manipulate the suit to tend to winches, lines, and move freely around the vessel without trouble.

This particular Gul drysuit comes with a fitted fleece liner as a separate unit. This is useful, as you can use the fleece liner when you're below in the cabin to keep warm in cold weather. The liner is the same shape as the drysuit, and it slides in with ease.

Overall, the Gul Code Zero drysuit is a great all-in-one cold weather drysuit. It's affordable and comes with Gul's reputation for quality sailing gear. This is the ideal drysuit to purchase for sailing in mild climates where wind and spray can interfere with your ability to sail.

7 Best Sailing Drysuits
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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