Buying Christmas gifts for sailors often involves some tricky choices. Here’s an expert’s selection of kit that’s sure to be a hit, at prices from only £11.49
What do you buy the boat owner who has everything? With so many potential Christmas gifts for sailors on the market, it can be easy to get lost, so we’ve cut out through the junk to bring you the best Christmas gift ideas to delight the sailor or boat owner in your life…
Lomo dry bags
Best practical Christmas gift for a sailor
It’s impossible for anyone who spends a decent amount of time on the water to have too many dry bags, so you can’t go wrong giving one of these as a Christmas gift for the sailor in your life.
Of the different styles, backpacks tend to be very watertight and are great if you have to walk with them, but accessing the contents can be difficult.
A duffel/hold-all style is better in this respect. I use Lomo’s 30-litre model for my camera kit when working afloat – but you won’t want to carry it all day.
Small and very lightweight bags are also useful to protect valuables and small items when onboard or going ashore in a dinghy.
Glasgow based Lomo offers quality kit at often surprising refreshing prices – these are some of my favourites.
30 litre Lomo White Holdall Duffel Dry Bag
60 litre Lomo Roll Top Rucksack dry bag
Lomo three-pack lightweight dry bags (3, 6, 8 litre)
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Standard Horizon floating VHF with FM radio
Best practical Christmas gift for high-tech sailors
An ideal Christmas gift for the tech-hungry sailor in your life, Standard Horizon’s HX210E floating VHF has a high-power 1,850m Ah lithium ion battery, which is reassuring if a problem is encountered towards the end of a long day on the water.
The unit is designed to float face-up and has an automatic strobe light function to aid recovery at night.
Operation is easy and intuitive, despite the inclusion of non-core features such as the useful built-in FM radio receiver.
Looking for more features, check out our guide to the best handheld marine radios on the market right now.
Decathlon inflatable SUP
Best practical Christmas gift for watersport lovers
These are brilliant multi-purpose watersports tools, whether for exploring an anchorage, use as a second tender, or hassle free fun in its own right.
As a result inflatable paddleboards can now be seen everywhere, including almost every anchorage in popular sailing destinations, beaches throughout Europe and on a whole host of lakes, rivers and canals.
This 335 litre, 11ft board from Decathlon is one of the most keenly priced available at £349.99 (RRP).
Generous beam makes it a forgiving beginner’s board, even for those who weigh more than 80kg, yet it’s large enough for two more experienced people.
The board weighs only 10.5kg and fits in a back pack. It’s therefore very portable, easy to stow in the smallest of apartments, and light enough to travel with by train and by air.
Dometic CDF18 Compressor cool box
Best practical Christmas gift for sociable sailors
Keeping food cool while en route to your boat can be a challenge for those who don’t live nearby.
Of course it’s possible to use one of the common and inexpensive solid-state Peltier type 12-volt cool boxes.
However, these are rarely properly insulated and the typical constant 4-amp power draw will quickly challenge all but the largest of battery banks.
The solution is a compressor driven unit that uses the same technology as on-board refrigeration.
Dometic’s CoolFreeze CDF range was recently upgraded and is available in sizes from 10.5 to 31 litres.
Within the size restrictions dictated by the need to avoid excess bulk, all are impressively well insulated and power consumption is only 25-35% of that a Peltier type product.
The better insulation means food will also stay cool for longer in the boot of your car with the power turned off.
Exposure Action 1-9 LED deck torch and searchlight
Best practical Christmas gift for adventurous sailors
A couple of decades ago offshore yachts were invariably equipped with cumbersome searchlights that had to be plugged into boat’s electrical system.
However, improvements in LED and battery technology mean the same job can now be done by a small handheld device.
Exposure Light’s Action 1-9 provides an ultra-bright 1,000 lumen beam with a range of 315 metres, yet will easily fit in the palm of your hand (or a Christmas stocking!)
The 8,700mAh lithium-ion battery is enough for an impressive 4 hours of use at full power and 16 hours on the lowest setting.
On an ocean passage I typically top up the charge of mine once a week as a precaution, but rarely use more than a few per cent of the total battery capacity.
The device also floats, which means it can be used to mark a man overboard at night.
As a first step it’s far quicker and easier to throw the torch into the sea than a lifebuoy and the vertical beam is generally much easier to see at a distance than a lifebuoy or lifejacket light.
Exposure also produces some of the best head torches you’ll find anywhere.
The drawback, of course, is in the pricing. But this is great kit, which is why many of the top sailors are using Exposure products in the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race.
Exposure Action 1-9 LED Searchlight
Exposure RAW Pro headtorch
Best practical Christmas gift for practical sailors
A decent knife and multitool is essential for everyone who’s on the water and would make a great Christmas gift for an avid sailor as it will invariably see plenty of use.
The Gerber Suspension is a classic design, with pliers, wire cutters, scissors, screwdriver bits and locking serrated, plain and saw blades.
It therefore covers all the essentials, without being bulky or weighing a ton.
And it’s sensibly priced – what more could you ask for? We’re not the only people who like it – the 7,200 ratings on Amazon average 4.7 stars.
Best practical Christmas gift for DIY nuts
Even the best of today’s multitools can never replace a proper tool kit, which remains an essential for safety, reliability and convenience.
Yet far too many boat owners have a rag-tag collection of tools assembled in a piecemeal fashion from random sources.
All too often the outcome is that it’s often difficult to find the right tool for a specific task, which could be critical in an emergency situation. Even at the best of times it’s frustrating and inconvenient.
This 210-piece tool set from Stanley overcomes the problem. It includes metric and imperial size spanners, sockets, pliers and wide range of screwdriver bits, Allen keys and more.
All are housed in a neat blow-moulded case that makes for super-easy stowage and organisation.
Warm and waterproof SealSkinz hat
Best practical Christmas gift for year-round sailors
A decent waterproof hat is always great Christmas gift for a sailor and the undisputed leader in this field is SeaSkinz, which makes impressive products that don’t lose their thermal properties when drenched by sea water.
Over the past few years the company has branched out from garments with strictly functional styling into a wider variety of more fashionable items with the same technical characteristics.
This cable knit beanie, for instance, is 100% waterproof and windproof with a three-layer construction, including a microfleece lining and hard-wearing acrylic outer fabric.
Of course there are cheaper options, but none with equivalent performance and longevity.
Looking for a different style? Check out our essential guide to the best sailing hats.
Best practical Christmas gift for explorers
Judging where to anchor in a crowded bay or river is never easy and other boats, or the shore, can seem unnervingly close.
However, these devices which were originally conceived for activities such as golf and hunting can help enormously and would make a great Christmas gift for sailors and boat owners alike.
Decathlon’s TEL1011 Laser Rangefinder will measure the range to another object over a distance of 5-800 metres, with an accuracy of 0.1%.
It’s a hand-held device that weighs just 225 grammes and needs only a four-second scan to make measurements.