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How To Choose the Right Paddling Gloves

Whether you’re paddling a canoe or a kayak, wearing gloves can keep your hands and fingers warm, provide protection from the sun, and prevent blisters.

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.

Pogies

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.

 

Gloves

Paddling gloves for canoeing and kayaking come in a variety of shapes and makes. The first step in deciding which glove is for you: Determine what kind of paddling you’ll most often be doing and what type of conditions you’ll likely be in. Once you know that the process becomes easier.

For warmth, you’ll want to go full-finger, with an eye toward neoprene for insulation. Some even offer neoprene combined with fleece for added protection from the elements. Most come with pre-curved fingers allowing you to better grab the paddle’s shaft.

If sun and blister protection is more important than warmth, consider a glove with cut-off fingers. The open-finger design leaves your fingers free for high-dexterity tasks like focusing binoculars or operating zippers, while keeping your hands cool. Also aiding breathability are Spandex or other rashguard-type shells, as well as vent holes in the palm.

Many gloves, both full-fingered and half-, also include reinforced synthetic leather palms to protect against blisters, and come with silicone padding to enhance grip. A few manufacturers up the warmth factor a few more degrees with neoprene mitt options, too (though they provide the least paddle control). 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.