Ok so from the first day people take to the water the first thing is always “I've got cold hands” this is only normal your hands are holding a cold non insulated shaft with exposure to wind and cold water, generally the hands aren't moving too much so the options…..
You need to be able to both grip the paddle and stay warm, lots of people have lots of opinions so here's mine.
As a paddler and coach I spend a lot of time on the water and can honestly say I've tried about every set of gloves on the market here's some of my conclusions
Ok so everyone does this at some point borrow your Moms marigolds with good intentions to put them back. But what usually happens is because of the grippyness of the rubber they end up ripping on the shaft. warmth wise they are good to keep the wind off but they have no insulation leaving your hands cold.
Sailing/Kayak short finger gloves
These were the very first glove I ever tried as a new person to the sport these are great for rope work and protection but for paddling in cold conditions the fingers are exposed whilst the material holds water keeping the hands cold also I found these gave blisters due to the stitching on the inside of the thumb.
Neoprene Glove thin
Due to the thin neoprene these lacked insulation great grip and movement due to the thinner material. great for rope work and rescue, offering protection and minimal warmth, great for ‘warm’ people.
Neoprene Glove Thick
Used a set of Gull thick neo gloves after recommendation from a friend, these gloves were bulky with lots of insulation and protection, to really feel the benefits the gloves would have to be wet ‘which meant cold hands’ the neoprene would then quickly heat up ‘giving you that awful reheat phase – which really hurts!’ once warm these gloves were toasty and really nice.
Neoprene Dry glove
The NRS Mavericks are a neo dry glove with the whole glove liquid sealed and a nice dry cuff to keep the water out these again much like the other neo gloves need to be wet the difference with these is usually neoprene traps water between the skin and the neoprene with the dry glove water doesn't get into the glove leaving them cool. The mavericks also have a very rough inner which will really hurt cold hands with lots of paddling. These gloves work great if you have warm hands when you put them on as they will trap the heat.
Pogies Neo and fabric
Pogies were typically always accustomed to Sea kayakers and K1 paddlers but in more recent years they are at home both on the sea and on the river.
Theirs lots of personal preference regarding neo and fabric, the fabric being slightly lighter usually with a soft fleece lining offering warmth and fast drying whilst the neo being heavier and better thermal property whilst wet.both offer superb protection from the wind and the elements.
Many pogies now offer a short or long option allowing easier access in and out for hands in the event of a swim or rescue. other hybrid style pogies like the motion mambas are a light neo material with a fleece lining offering good thermal properties and the soft feel of the fleece.
Open Palm Mitts
I never really saw the point in these personally a bit silly putting a nice neoprene glove then cutting a hole in them which cold water will flush in and out leaving you with cold hands
NRS Toaster mitts
These are the daddy! absolutely the best glove you could ever need. I can honestly say I can use these into the coldest winter days play boating or creeking with lovely warm hands, the neoprene insulates and allows small amounts of water in which because your fingers are together heats up quickly even from cold to leave you toasty warm. As a mitt compared to the glove some will want free fingers but personally I prefer warm hands, I have set up rescue and thrown ropes with these gloves on and as always as long as you practice no problem at all. worst case just take them off and you've warm hands anyway!
With all gloves I think the key is use what you need. A sprint paddler hardly needs big neo gloves same way a freestyle kayaker with lightweight fabric mitts is pointless. another great tip is make sure your hands are warm going into the gloves and that the gloves are not freezing as a cold glove will suck up heat in the same way a cold hand has no way of generating heat.
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