Durable outdoor apparel can sometimes seem a bit unisex, so when it comes to the best women's sailing pants, fit is just as important as construction. These 6 trousers will serve any sailor well.
From dinghy racing to offshore passage-making, sailors demand apparel that is designed with both the use and the user in mind.
But at the end of the day, the factors that distinguish quality gear from random kit are the same for men and women.
All sailors need clothing that will hold up against the elements, is comfortable to wear, and allows freedom of movement.
What to look for in the best women’s sailing pants
The first consideration is the sailing environment. If you are casual crew on a daysailer in sunny weather, comfort and style are as important as material choice.
But you still need trousers that will hold up to repeated abuse. Look for double stitching at the seams, belt loops rather than elastic waistbands, and flat or bellowed cargo pockets. Four-way stretch fabric in a synthetic blend that dries quickly is optimal.
Trousers get more technical as the sailing is more specialized. Racing pants need the same attributes of stretch and durability, but with more sophisticated tailoring, such as articulated and reinforced knees and seat.
By contrast, a simple pair of streamlined tights might be just the ticket for dinghy racing or any sailing that demands sitting out or entails constant exposure to the water.
As we get into larger boats and more serious conditions, a bib or salopettes combines ultimate protection with layering compatibility in a trouser that can be worn for long periods without feeling smothered.
6 of the best women’s sailing pants
Tribord 500 Women’s Race Sailing Pant
French sporting goods giant Decathlon delivers solid value at a great price in their Tribord line of sailing apparel.
The women’s 500 sailing pant is marketed as racing gear, but it is a suitable choice for almost any day on the water that doesn’t involve a heat wave or frost on deck.
Tribord’s modest price point belies the technical details that make this a great bet for budget sailors. These include plenty of pockets, two of which are zippered, and roll-up cuffs with button closures.
The fabric is treated with a water-repellent coating to help you stay dry even when the cockpit doesn’t.
- Great price from a sailing-specific brand.
- Stretch fabric for all-day comfort.
- Water-resistant coating.
- Not an all-weather pair of trousers.
- Might not be as durable as a higher-end garment.
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Helly Hansen’s Women’s HP Foil Sailing Pants
High-performance sailing calls for high-performance gear. That’s where Helly Hansen’s HP Foil Sailing Pants excel. They are waterproof and windproof yet breathable, with a sewn-in mesh lining to prevent chafing.
The fit is articulated at the knees and seat, with an adjustable, low-cut waist that features belt loops and a sturdy YKK zipper.
The seat and knees are reinforced to add durability in areas where a sailor most needs it. Additional touches, such as a hanger loop for storage and a cache of roomy pockets, make this a race-ready garment on any course.
- Good build quality from a leader in outdoor apparel.
- A sailing-first pair of trousers tailored for women.
- Articulated and reinforced knees and seat.
- An aerodynamic profile with adjustable cuffs.
- High price point.
- Might be too hot for warm-weather sailing
Kühl Cabo Pants
Kühl blends style with performance about as well as any clothier in the outdoor space. While the company is traditionally known as a hiker’s brand, the athletic ethos of its Cabo Pants could just as well have been developed with sailors in mind.
The cotton/polyester/linen blend is another of the super comfortable fabrics for which Kühl is known. A 50+ UPF rating and breathability make this an excellent warm-weather option.
The Cabo is available in five subdued colors and sizes ranging from 0 through 16, so most mariners should be able to find a pair that fit.
Flat front and rear pockets, along with a zippered thigh pocket, add cargo capacity to this fairly sheer trouser.
- A trim, sleek cut.
- Lightweight fabric that is best suited to casual sailing
- Multipurpose pair of pants for sailing, on the town, or travel.
- Not a lot of stretch in the fabric.
- Too sheer for colder days.
Helly Hansen Women’s Waterwear Tights
A fitted pair of neoprene tights are often the best women’s sailing pants for dinghy racing or any other high-saturation sport, such as kayaking, kiteboarding, or surfing.
Even at only 2 millimeters thick, the neoprene fabric has an insulating property that also serves as a rash guard. It’s essentially wetsuit material, and as such will conserve body heat otherwise lost to wind chill.
The tights have windproof panels at the thighs and are treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR ) coating for water resistance.
These trousers are compatible with similar Helly Hansen products, including the Waterwear top, jacket, and vest.
- Aerodynamic fit for serious racers.
- Helps retain body heat in wet, windy conditions.
- Stretch fabric for freedom of movement.
- Lightweight garment.
- Only available in black.
- Neoprene is often too hot for warm conditions.
- Expensive for a pair of tights!
Grundens Women’s Weather Watch Bibs
When the weather turns sour, it’s time to cover up in something more substantial than typical trousers. A bib, sometimes referred to as salopettes, is the most versatile option in a wide range of conditions.
Wear them solo to knock the chill off, or batten down and button up with a waterproof jacket over the top.
The Gruden’s Weather Watch bib is a sound value at a minimalist price point. The DWR-treated 420 denier is both lightweight and windproof.
Taped seams improve weather resistance and durability while adjustable suspenders mean you can find just the right fit.
- Affordable foul-weather gear.
- Wind- and water-resistant 420 denier nylon fabric with DWR coating.
- Tailored for an active fit.
- Great base garment to build a complete foul-weather system.
- Not a heavy-duty, lifetime garment.
- Built with fishermen in mind as much as sailors.
- Some reviewers report that sizes run large.
Musto Women’s MPX Gore-Tex Pro Offshore Trouser
For the ultimate in offshore protection, a bib is again the way to go, but that heightened performance comes with a heftier price tag.
Retailing for $750, Musto’s Women’s Gore-Tex Offshore Trouser is a rugged yet comfortable version of the classic salopettes or bib.
For the high-end price, you get a flourish of tech touches, including an articulated cut, handwarmer fleece in the chest pockets, bellowed cargo pockets, reinforced panels at the seat and knees, and adjustable cuffs.
A full-zip front panel makes it easy to scramble in and out of the bib or to ventilate if you are overheated. Hook and loop adjustments on the suspenders eliminate plastic buckles that can chafe or snag.
- Purpose-built with sailors in mind.
- Form-fitting apparel with both men’s and women’s versions.
- Suitable for short offshore racing or passages.
- Constructed with 3-layer Gore-Tex.
- A very expensive bit of gear.
- Available in only five women’s sizes (8 through 16).
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