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Choosing Kayak Gloves – Our Complete Guide

Kayaking is fun but your hands take a bit of beating when paddling. And before you know it, you may find clauses and blisters on your hands. This is where kayak gloves come in as they protect your hands and prevent blisters and calluses from developing.

Using a kayak glove will also allow you to grip your paddle better and this can improve your performance on the water. Kayak gloves are also invaluable in cold weather as they keep your hands warm. They deserve to be part of what you wear kayaking.

You’ll be forgiven for thinking buying a pair of kayak gloves is as easy as picking any glove that comes your way. This can’t be farther from the truth. Material, weather, season, comfort, protection, durability, and fit are the factors you need to put into consideration when buying kayak gloves.

Let’s take a look at what to look for in kayaking gloves:

Why Use Kayak Gloves?

If you intend to spend a lot of time on the water or paddle during the colder months, a good pair of kayak gloves should be part of your gear. Paddling puts a lot of stress on your hands and even more so if you are paddling for an extended period. Friction, heat, bruises, and calluses will come knocking if you paddle for long periods without properly protecting your hands.

Using a good pair of kayak gloves when paddling in the colder months is a no-brainer. Even you may have to wear gloves when leaving your home in cold weather. But when paddling in the colder months, kayaking gloves are a must as they protect your hands from the unforgiving cold and provide you with all the warmth you need.

In summer, gloves prove themselves useful as well, as they protect you from harmful sun rays.

What To Take Into Consideration When Choosing Your Kayak Gloves

Materials (Getting the right material for the season)

Popular materials used to manufacture kayaking gloves are neoprene, spandex, and lycra. Spandex and lyrical gave similar properties as both are light, thin, breathable, comfortable, quick-drying, and resistant to UV light.

Lycra and spandex lose some of their desirable properties when wet and are more suited for use in warm weather.

A synthetic rubber that is typically used in the construction of a wetsuit, neoprene is not fully waterproof, but unlike Spandex or Lycra, it doesn’t lose its thermal insulating properties when wet.

Neoprene is better suited for cold weather as it’s a far better insulator than either spandex or lycra and offers superb warmth. Neoprene is usually not completely waterproof and can get wet. However, it won’t lose its insulating properties when wet. Instead, neoprene will trap a small layer of water against your hand and then use the body’s warmth to heat this water and keep your hands warm and comfy.

Design: Full Finger vs. Fingerless

Generally, there is reduced feel and dexterity when wearing gloves. This usually isn’t an issue when paddling. But you may wish for more dexterity/freedom of movement of your fingers when tying a lure, casting rods, de-hooking a fish, and so on.

Fingerless gloves or gloves with fold-back fingers will be a more preferable choice in this situation. However, open fingers mean more exposure to the elements. Despite the desire for more dexterity in cold weather, wearing fingerless gloves may not be the best option. It’s about your fingers being exposed to freezing temperatures vs you being able to tie a lure a bit better. I know which one I’d choose.

Fit: A glove should fit like a…glove

It’s important you get the size of your kayaking gloves right. At the very least, your gloves shouldn’t be too big or too small. Too big and the glove will move and rub against your hands causing the very blisters and calluses you want to prevent.

Too small and the glove can put extra strain on your hands and wrist. This may reduce blood circulation to your hands and cause pins and needles.

Ideally, gloves should snugly fit your hands.


The thicker your gloves are, the better they’ll be able to protect your hands and offer more warmth. However, this comes at the expense of dexterity. But protection and warmth is the highest priority in cold weather and you should use very thick gloves in this situation.

Warm weather paddling can do with less thick gloves and this is why some glove manufacturers offer their gloves in two different thicknesses.


The grip on the palm is one of the most important parts of kayaking gloves. It’s important your gloves allow you to firmly and comfortably grip your paddle whether they are wet or dry. It’s common to see kayaking gloves have extra padding on the palm for more comfort and protection.


Warm weather kayaking gloves need to be breathable as your hands will sweat as you paddle. A quality breathable glove will provide ventilation while also wicking away perspiration and cooling your gloves. Breathable gloves are also less likely to smell.

Final Thoughts

Kayaking is a fun sport and you should also be looking to buy gear that will improve your comfort on the water. Kayaking gloves are one such gear and while you may debate about their use in warm weather, they are an absolute must in cold weather.

The good thing about kayaking gloves is that there are models versatile for all-season paddling if you don’t want to buy two pairs of gloves for warm weather and cold weather use.

Have any questions? Contact me in the comment section below.

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