So, make a simple buying choice and high-five some handwear that will make your trip more enjoyable.
Insulation vs. Protection
The two main ways to cover your body’s direct point of paddle contact are with gloves and pogies, each with their advantages. To help decide which is best, first determine what type of paddling you’ll be doing. Are you taking a whitewater kayak into rapids, sea kayaking a glacier-lined fiord, or looking to extend your season into winter? Neoprene pogies or full-fingered gloves might be best. Looking to protect your palms from blisters canoeing Quetico, or warding off the sun while touring in the Sunshine State’s Everglades? Consider a lighter, half-fingered glove.
Designed for kayakers, pogies are mitten-like pouches that attach to the paddle, letting your hands slide through a cuff to grab the shaft. Their benefits include being able to have direct skin contact with your paddle shaft, which is especially handy when paddling whitewater where blade orientation is important. They also let you slide your hands out easily to grab accessories like cameras, sunscreen and snacks, unencumbered by gloves. The downside? You have to keep your paws on your paddle to stay warm, plus it’s difficult to keep water from getting in the pouch enclosure in dynamic, moving water.
Pogies come in either neoprene, which are warmer but heavier; or nylon, which are often used by sea kayakers for their light weight. Bonus: They stay attached to your paddle shaft (usually via snaps or Velcro) so they’re always there when you need them. Heads-up: Sliding the first hand in is easy, as the other can help; when it comes to putting on pogie number two, use your teeth to help pull it on, snugging your palm to the shaft.