The Best Gifts for Cruising Sailors

Shopping for a sailor this holiday season? Here are some of our top picks for the best cruising gifts this year, from budget to splurge.

November 30, 2017
boye knives

Boye Knives

Boye Knives Boye

Whether the sailor in your life loves to cook or just would appreciate a good sailing knife, Boye Knives can fill the bill. Their new 6-inch chef’s knife ($600), crafted by master knife maker David Boye, is made of dendritic cobalt, a specialized alloy known for its edge holding and complete rust resistance. The blade is hand ground and the Arizona Desert Ironwood handle is hand shaped.

For years, cruisers have relied on Boye’s popular boat knife. The cobalt alloy boat knife features extreme edge holding, and is permanently rust free. It is also non-magnetic, which means they won’t throw off a compass reading. Available with an as-cast ($189) or polished ($239) finish and either a blunt or pointed tip.

engel cooler

Engel HD-30 soft-sided cooler

Engel HD-30 soft-sided cooler Engel

Perfect onboard or at the beach, the new Engel HD-30 soft-sided cooler ($200) is completely waterproof and has fully welded seams. The tough exterior is abrasion resistant, and the closed-cell foam insulation should keep items cold for days.

Solar lights for sailboats

Mpowerd Outdoor 2.0

Mpowerd Outdoor 2.0 Mpowerd

The latest inflatable solar-powered light from Mpowerd packs a lot of punch in a small package: the waterproof Outdoor 2.0 model has low, medium, high and strobe modes, and a battery that lasts up to 24 hours. It has straps on the top and bottom for easy attachment to your boom, lifelines, dinghy, or wherever you want to hang it. If you’re looking for mood lighting instead of a bright beacon, the Luci Lux is a frosted version and Luci Color can be set to one of eight colors or rotate through them all. Mpowerd partners with non-profits to distribute lights to areas of the world with limited access to electricity — most recently to victims of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Choose “Give Luci” on the website to contribute. The lights start at $19.95.

matador beast 28

Matador Beast28 Backpack

Matador Beast28 Backpack Matador

A good backpack really comes in handy on cruising adventures, whether carrying groceries back to the boat or all your gear for a day hike. The Matador Beast28 ($90) holds plenty of gear, yet is lightweight and water resistant. The best part? When not needed, it stuffs down into its own compression sack.

Baby bunting for sailors

Patagonia Puff-Ball Bunting

Patagonia Puff-Ball Bunting Patagonia

The Puff-Ball Bunting ($99) from Patagonia has a wind- and water-resistant shell to keep your littlest crewmembers warm. The polyester batting is made from 90% recycled material and, unlike down, will hold its insulation even if it gets wet. Hand and foot openings have fold-over flaps to protect tiny fingers and toes.

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Pants

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Pants

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Pants Patagonia

There is nothing worse than being cold on night watch. Once the sun sets, the ocean can be a chilly place, even in warmer latitudes. The Patagonia Nano-Air Light Pants ($140) are the perfect midlayer to put on underneath your foulie bibs. The 40g insulation keeps you warm, yet stretches for easy maneuverability. The 100-percent nylon ripstop shell and plain-weave liner, both have a durable water repellent finish, and offer generous mechanical stretch and breathability.

Better Sweater

Patagonia Better Sweater Vest

Patagonia Better Sweater Vest Patagonia

Looks like a sweater but feels like a fleece? Patagonia’s Better Sweater Vest is like the mullet of mid-layers. Polyester fleece is soft and keeps you warm even in damp conditions, and offset shoulder seams won’t pinch under foul-weather bibs. Better yet, Patagonia has upped their social-responsibility game by switching to Fair Trade Certified sewing for all Better Sweater products, which ensures that the factory workers who create Patagonia clothing make a fair wage. $99, available in men’s, women’s and kid’s styles.

Seatek Sunglasses

Seatek polarized glasses

Seatek polarized glasses Seatek

Looking for new sunglasses? Seatek polarized glasses ($139) are designed around life on the water. Made in Italy, they offer 100 percent UV protection with a tough, yet lightweight frame (“Pablo” shown here) and a scratch resistant coating on the Carl Zeiss Vision high-performance lenses. The mirror finish (in blue or green) helps with reflection off the water.

motor hoist

Swing-Lift Motor Hoists

Swing-Lift Motor Hoists Swing-Lift

Moving an outboard engine (which can weigh 100 pound or more for a 15hp) between the dinghy and its storage place on your boat’s pushpit can be daunting and potentially dangerous. The Swing-Lift motor hoist system ($315) is designed to solve this problem. Swing-Lift makes use of the boat’s existing winch with a halyard or topping lift and controls the position and orientation of the outboard so that it can be moved effortlessly and single-handedly. For boats where space is an issue, the company has just released the Slim-Lift, which works with outboard motors up to 14 inches wide, and requires only 16 inches of mounting space. Pair either model with a Sure-Grip lifting harness ($22)

Womens sailing pants

Toad&Co Flextime Skinny Pant

Toad&Co Flextime Skinny Pant Toad&Co

We love finding gear with high-tech performance and casual styling. Enter the Flextime ($85) from Toad&Co, a nylon-spandex pant with a slim fit and DWR coating to shed spray. The stretchy material makes them comfortable for climbing around on deck or a sojourn ashore. A zippered back pocket will keep your cash secure in the dinghy.

Wool shirt for sailing

Toad&Co Kennicott Shirt Jac

Toad&Co Kennicott Shirt Jac Toad&Co

Nothing beats the warmth of wool on night watch. The Kennicott shirt-jacket hybrid ($129) from Toad&Co is made from a combination of recycled wool for moisture wicking and warmth, polyester for softness and nylon for stretch. It has reinforced elbows and two snap-closure chest pockets. Our tester found the fit to be on the slim side — if you plan to wear it as an outer layer, size up.


Weego Portable Jumpers

Weego Portable Jumpers Weego

Don’t be caught stranded! Whether on the road or on the waterway, a dead battery can ruin your day. Weego offers a full line of portable jump starters and rechargeable battery packs for every budget and engine size starting at $69.


TIWAL Inflatable Sailboat

TIWAL Inflatable Sailboat Tiwal

A sailboat under the tree? Yes! The TIWAL inflatable sailboat ($5,200) packs down into two bags, can be set up in less than 20 minutes and is easily transported in a small car (or cruising boat locker). It’s designed for fun and sporty sailing, and handles surprisingly well (it even won a Sailing World Boat of the Year award). If you’re cruising with teenagers, the TIWAL would be a fun addition to your kit (think of it as their car!).


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