What to Wear on a Catamaran – What You Should Bring!

Sailing trips have emerged as an exciting and budget-friendly option for regular land vacations.

However, sailing trips are also unique and very different from land-based vacations in many important ways.

Therefore, it is important to plan carefully so that you are not left with regret in the middle of a picture-perfect sail.

One of the areas where a lot of novice sailors tend to go overboard is packing suitable clothes during their sailing trips.

I have been witness to chartering parties not only packing way more than what they would need aboard the boat but also packing the wrong kinds of clothes.

I cannot help but emphasize that a sailing trip is very different from other holidays as space is in short supply.

The mantra should always be to pack light and pack right. In this article, therefore, my aim shall be to educate novice sailors on what to wear on a catamaran.

Catamaran is Different Than a Monohull.

There was a time when monohulls were the undisputed kings of the sailing industry on account of their unmatched sailing characteristics. Not anymore.

Boat designers have, over the years, improved and refined sailing cats so much that they can easily rival the best monohulls.

On the other hand, catamarans have a strong advantage when it comes to space and comfort.

You would have more and bigger cabins on a 40 feet catamaran when compared to a similar-sized monohull.

In addition, amateur sailors truly appreciate the stability of a sailing catamaran as it is not prone to pitching like monohulls.

In other words, if you are looking for a more relaxing sailing trip instead of a performance-driven sail, a catamaran is clearly the better option.

It would accommodate more of your friends and family, as well as offer them larger cabin spaces.

Sailing on a catamaran means that you can afford to pack a little more generously compared to a monohull and enjoy your evening wear in ample social spaces.

Sailboat on the water

What to Wear for A Short Trip?

A short trip aboard a catamaran can be either a day sail or a weekend trip. For day sails, of course, you do not need to pack anything at all except your sunscreen lotion.

Bikini on the sand

It is simply too short a trip to require you to change aboard the boat. Typically, you should look to dress casually.

Even on a weekend-long sailing trip, you should look to keep things extremely light.

Such sailing trips are long enough to require you to change but not long enough to warrant having your clothes washed.

Ideally, you should pack no more than one extra set of clothes.

If the trip does not involve any onshore trips, then you may get by with just an extra set of swimwear.

Depending on the weather forecast, you may also pack in a light water-resistant jacket to guard against wind chill and rain.

What to Bring for An Extended Trip

An extended sailing trip, on the other hand, one that lasts at least a week, requires you to carefully plan the clothes to pack.

A lot of the decisions about packing would greatly depend on the amenities available on the boat as well as the destination and expected weather.

Set of casual clothes

For example, if the chartered catamaran has a decent laundry facility onboard, then you may consider packing lightly.

Similarly, if your sailing trip also involves anchoring at popular coastal towns and visiting trendy bars, restaurants, and cafes, then you may consider packing in a skirt or trousers.

Other than that, you would be safe by packing light and casual wear.

Some people, especially ladies, are a little averse to having their underwear dried out in public. To get over this predicament, you can pack in a set of underwear for each day of your trip.

You would also need no more than 3-4 sets of bathing suits for the entire duration of your sail.

Always remember to pack in a light but effective jacket made of synthetic material for rainy and windy days.

Do I Need to Wear Shoes?

Flipflops on the sand

Most of the time, you would be walking around barefoot aboard the boat. However, boat shoes and flip-flops are obviously required on a sailing trip, especially if you would be making on-shore trips.

Make sure your boat shoes are light with a soft rubber sole.

Hard soles are not only unnecessary, but they may also scuff up the boat’s surface.

For those who are planning adventure activities on-shore during their trip, lightweight sports shoes would do nicely.

Do take care to make sure that your flip-flops provide a firm grip and are anti-slip.

What is Not Recommended to Wear?

Sailing trips are all about keeping things light and casual.

Its core philosophy is to get by with as little as possible. Therefore, anything that goes against this philosophy should be strictly avoided.

Jacket for the evening

For example, there is really no need to bring your expensive formal wear when you are leaving on a sailing trip.

Whether it is formal evening gowns for women or jackets for men, these clothes are best kept away from your packing list.

Similarly, formal shoes and high heels do not belong to a sailing vacation.

For men, it is suggested that they pack no more than a pair of jeans for their trip, as they are not only heavy but also unnecessary aboard the boat.

List of Recommended Wear

1) Clothing:

  • Casual dresses for women to throw over their swimsuits.
  • Ladies should also pack in tank tops and shorts.
  • Men should pack in nylon or synthetic and airy shirts and boating shorts.
  • Swimming suits for ladies.
  • Men should pack in swimming trunks.
  • In addition, women should pack in a pair of leggings for cold days.
  • A suitable number of underwear.
  • Socks.
  • Sarongs.
  • A scarf.
  • In addition, both men and women would need fast-drying towels.
  • A light nylon jacket would suffice for rainy days.

2) Footwear:

For an extended sailing trip, women would need to pack:

  • A pair of soft-soled sandals for trips ashore
  • A pair of boat shoes to wear on board the boat.
  • A pair of flip flops

3) Other accessories:

In addition to your normal toiletries, do not forget to pack in

  • Your favorite hairbrush
  • Hair ties
  • A quality pair of polarized sunglasses
  • A wide-brimmed hat or even a baseball cap
  • Plenty of sunscreens
  • Eye mask.
  • A dry bag.

Additional tips

1) While a hairdryer is useful, you should consider not lugging it on your sail as it can really tax the batteries aboard your boat.

2) Do not pack your clothes in hard luggage. Make use of soft luggage such as duffel bags. They take up less space and do not risk causing scuff marks on the boat.

3) As far as possible, make sure the clothes you pack are made of fiber that not only keeps you comfortable but also dries fast.

4) Since you would be spending a lot of time on the water, you would likely partake in water-based activities. If you do not like the idea of using rental snorkel gear, make sure you pack one of your own.


By now, you should have a good idea about how important it is to pack light and pack right when it comes to sailing trips. Packing light also makes your trip more enjoyable as you focus more on the vacation rather than looking after your belongings. However, it is also important that you pack the right type of gear such as quality polarized sunglasses, fast-drying towels, etc.


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Do you have more tips on what to wear onboard a cat? If so, you are welcome to share them in the comments below.


11 thoughts on “What to Wear on a Catamaran – What You Should Bring!”

  1. Great article about something as simple as packing but is imperative for boating.

    It is so true about limited space compared to a land trip and because of where you are going, the type and amount of clothing are different.

    Excellent list break down to help keep it simple and to the point.

    • Hi Travis,

      Yes, you are right, a land trip is totally different than an offshore trip. I always recommend packing light no matter what, just bring clothes accordingly to the destination and the weather.

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a great day:)

  2. Hi Daniella,
    What a fascinating read. I’ve been reading your “Best Anchorages In The Bahamas” bog too.
    You’ve got me in a holiday mood now.
    We travelled to Mallorca the other year and saw some stunning catamarans and my wife and I talked about having a catamaran holiday sometime.
    I’d go for the week but my wife thought a few days would be enough for her due to the lack of luggage she likes to take. haha!!
    Where would you suggest is the best around the Mediterranean for a Catamaran holiday as we both love the Mediterranean?
    Looking forward to your reply,

    • Hi Simon,

      I am glad my articles got you in a holiday mood, this is the purpose of my website:)

      Mallorca is absolutely beautiful, I was there with my husband and my two children about two years ago and we had such good times!

      The most popular region for catamarans is the Caribbean and the BVI because of the amount of coral reefs, the shallow water, the culture, restaurants, and music.

      In the Mediterranean, the most popular areas to sail are Greece and Croatia because the sailing conditions are excellent, the cuisine is absolutely delicious and there is an incredible amount of historical sights . What more can you ask for?

      If you need more information, don’t hesitate to contact me, I’ll be very happy to help you:)

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a wonderful day!

  3. It amazes me that you mention the room on board a catamaran is so much more spacious than a monohull. On the face of it, your typical boat seems bigger. Maybe it’s just that I’ve seem smaller cat’s than what your talking about.
    Anyway, I can’t imagine bringing by formal ware onto any type of boat other than a cruise ship! Shorts & thongs for me! (yes, thongs as I’m an Aussie, not a thong as it’s known in the UK!!)

    • Hi Nigel,

      Well, if you compare a monohull and a cat at the same length, the catamaran is much bigger. No doubt about it:)

      It is not unusual that people wear formal clothes on a boat, but only for special entertainments, and the boat has to be enough big in order to welcome a large amount of guest. While on a cruise ship you’ll have to wear formal clothes for dinner:)

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a great day!

  4. Thanks for the information! My husband and I decided that we deserve some unusual rest and he offered me to take a private catamaran tour which will be very romantic. Luckily I have boat shoes, but I did not know that hard soles may scuff up the boat surface. I will need to check if my shoes suit this kind of rest. Thanks for the advice!

  5. Thanks for the tip to get boat shoes that are light with a soft rubber sole. My wife and I are thinking of going on catamaran tours, and we would like to have all the materials that we would need. Our current flip-flops are kind of slippery, so we’ll look for something that is more of an anti-slip.

    • Hi Larry,

      You are very welcome; it’s a pleasure:)
      Yes, as I have mentioned in the article, it is crucial to wear comfortable shoes that grip well the deck as it usually quite slippy onboard. Some flip flops feature anti-slip soles and are incredibly comfortable. These are also great to wear on boats!

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a fantastic day!

  6. I like that you mention what’s proper when going on boating trips because my wife and I have never been on one so it’s useful information for us to keep in mind. I like that you point out the differences between a short trip and an extended trip. Our trip will be short, but maybe after this one, we’ll want to consider a longer trip. Thanks!

    • Hi Burt,

      I am glad you found the article useful, thank you!
      I am sure your wife and you will enjoy the sailing trip very much:)

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a wonderful day!


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