Let’s face it, your hands take a beating while you’re kayaking out on the water. And whether you’re running rapids on an icy river or crisping your skin on a long summer paddle, you need to protect your hands from getting beaten up.
If you don’t work with your hands for a living, and most of us don’t, you may think that space between your thumb and forefinger is as tough as leather, but an hour or two with a paddle in your hands will let you know otherwise! And as any experienced kayaker will tell you, to really enjoy your time paddling, gloves are a good idea.
But picking the right pair for you isn’t as easy as as it might seem, as finding the right fit and type can be difficult. To help you make the best choice, we’re offering a buying guide and reviews of the following excellent gloves:
Best Kayak Gloves For Warm Weather
Fishing Tree Fingerless - Our Hot Weather Choice!
Best Kayak Gloves For Spring and Fall
NRS Men’s Hydroskin - Our Two-Season Choice!
Best Kayak Gloves For Cold Weather
BPS Storm - Our Cold Weather Choice!
Buying Guide: What to
Consider When Choosing Kayaking Gloves
Look for high quality Spandex, Lycra, and Neoprene gloves, though people disagree about whether the palms should be padded.
Spandex and Lycra are popular materials for warm weather gloves, these synthetics offer the lightweight sun protection you need, and with added padding, can stand up to the abrasion of paddling. But these are limited to summer only, and offer no real protection against cold and water.
Neoprene is the perfect material choice for cold weather, neoprene is a synthetic rubber, and it’s the material wetsuits are made from. It’s waterproof, insulating, and spongy, an ideal combination for a kayaking glove when water temperatures are shiver-inducing.
- Thicker isn’t always better – Because neoprene is warm, a thicker glove is not necessarily better if you paddle in warm weather. It may offer more padding, but it will also be hot in the sun. For summer, look for fingerless gloves that are 1-2mm thick. For fall and spring, a lot depends on you and the water temperature. But for winter, go as thick as 3mm. Any thicker than this will be impractical for paddling.
- Thick neoprene can be stiff – Thicker cold-weather gloves can be stiff, and to prevent your hand from tiring quickly, you want a pair that are pre-formed to the shape your hand assumes when you relax it.
Some people like added layers of synthetic leather or another tough material on the palm. This can protect against blisters by providing the kind of cushion you might expect from cycling or weightlifting gloves. But experts warn that this can compromise your grip, too.
Fit is critical. A glove that doesn’t fit… well, like a glove, is going to cause problems.
Don’t think that a super-snug fit will keep your hands warmer, quite the opposite! A tight glove will restrict the circulation in your hands, which will leave them colder. If you think that maybe you should go for a looser glove then, think again! Wearing a loose glove can cause blisters since there’s room for unnecessary friction.
Gloves are sized at the palm, but it’s not the only area that matters. Make sure you check that your gloves also fit at the wrist, knuckles, and fingers to find that perfect fit.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but quality gloves can wear out quickly.
- Good gloves are short lived – You’re asking a lot from your gloves, and they’ll be taking the punishment instead of your skin. A good glove is supple, allowing you to move your hands and fingers normally. But that also means that it can’t be made from really tough materials. Expect them to wear quickly.
- Extend their life a bit – You can apply a thin layer of Aquaseal Urethane Repair Adhesive and Sealant between the thumb and forefinger of neoprene gloves. This will provide a bit more durability to this high-abrasion point, allowing them to last a bit longer.
- Always rinse after use – Especially after a saltwater paddle, rinse your gloves in fresh water and hang them to dry. For waterproof neoprene, a quick external rise should be enough to keep them in top shape.
Reviews for Warm Weather Gloves
The Fishing Tree’s fingerless gloves are designed for warm-weather paddling. Made from spandex and Amara synthetic leather, they don’t sport thick padding on the palms. Depending on how you feel about that, this could be a good or bad thing.
Lightweight and cool, these gloves provide impressive UV protection without the bulk and insulation of neoprene, a real blessing when the mercury rises. That comes with a trade-off, of course, and you wouldn’t want to try these in cooler weather. But as dedicated summer paddling gloves, these might just fit the bill.
Available in five sizes, ranging from XS (6 ½”) to XL (9 ½”), customers report accurate sizing and consistent quality for both men and women. That’s not an incredible range of choices, and paddlers with big hands may need to look elsewhere for a good fit. Fishing Tree gloves, by nature of their materials, are very flexible and will dry quickly, too.
However, some customers with very slender wrists found that the velcro closure was too loose. If this sounds like you, you may want to give these gloves a pass.
One additional word of caution: some really stinky bacteria love synthetics like spandex and lycra, so if you want to kayak in company, you may want to gently wash these gloves after each use. Even then, the bacteria can still be stubborn!
Giro Women’s Tessa gloves are made from a breathable mesh upper and a suede-like synthetic palm. Gel padded, these gloves are designed for multi-sport use, and you’re as likely to see them in the gym or on a cycling trail as on a lake. That said, if you’re looking for a padded kayak glove, this might be the place to start.
While obviously marketed to women, men with smaller hands should give these gloves a look as well. Sized between S (6 - 6.7”) and L (7.4 - 8.3”), these gloves run small, and many customers complain about a tight fit. As we mentioned above, they offer substantial padding, and customers say that grip doesn’t suffer when wet. And people with strength or flexibility issues in their hands suggest that the extra padding has helped them grip small diameter paddles.
The extra padding and tough material on the palm of these gloves should extend their life for paddling. There are issues with seam quality, though, and overall quality can be spotty according to some customers.
Glacier Glove’s Islamorada Sun gloves, like other dedicated hot weather alternatives, are constructed from lightweight lycra. Designed to protect your skin from the sun, they offer the coverage you demand and the flexibility you need for summer paddling. Like the Giro Tessa, they feature synthetic leather reinforcement on the palms, offering padding for paddlers who want that and enhanced durability.
Available in sizes ranging from S (6” - 6 ½”) to XXL (10 ¼” - 11”), you should be able to find a glove that fits you well. Sizing is on the small side, so be sure to order up.
Lycra is not the toughest wearing fabric, and customers have complained that these gloves wear quickly. And like any of their competitors made from lycra or spandex, smell can be an issue. Be sure to wash these gloves by hand; some customers report issues with seam quality after a few runs through a washing machine.
Neosport Wetsuits Premium gloves, as their name suggests, are designed for SCUBA diving. Made from 1.5 mm neoprene, they offer synthetic leather padding on the palms and have proven to be popular with kayakers. If you’re at all concerned about the water temperature in warmer weather, these are a solid choice and will protect your hands better than spandex or lycra.
Available in sizes ranging from XXS (6 ½″– 6 ¾″) to XXL (9 ¼”), most people should be able to find a glove that fits, though those with large hands may need to try other options. Many customers will larger-than-average hands have complained about the small size, and you should order a size larger than your hand measurement suggests.
While quick drying, the synthetic leather on these gloves will absorb water. Customers report that their grip is not compromised by getting wet, an important consideration while paddling. But there have been some problems reported with durability, and it’s not unusual to see the seams on these gloves starting to fray pretty quickly.
The NRS Men’s Boater is a spandex hot-weather glove that features synthetic leather reinforcement on the palm. Designed for heat, don’t expect this glove to keep you warm as the temp drops, but it will keep the sun from scorching the backs of your hands. Like many of its competitors, its extra padding may be something you like, and it should enhance this glove’s durability in the face of paddle abrasion.
Available in sizes ranging from XS (3” diagonally across the palm) to XXL (4 ½” diagonally across the palm), most paddlers should find a size that fits well. Customers report that the NRS Men’s boater runs true to size, and ladies with larger hands may want to give these a try.
Customers note that these gloves are comfortable and durable, though some have issues with interior seams causing blisters. A few people have discussed issues with grip when wet, so we recommend you give these a try in store before you buy. And as always, be sure to wash these to avoid smell!
Like most of these warm weather gloves, the MRX Sailing glove features a mix of spandex and synthetic leather. In this case, there’s very little padding on the palm, and that’s something to consider. Instead, the fingers and edges of the palm get reinforcement, including the areas paddles are toughest on. As an interesting addition, the MRX Sailing glove offers a sticky design on the palm that improves grip and customers are impressed with the traction they provide.
Available in an incredible range of sizes, from XS (6 ½” - 7”) to XXXL (11 ½” - 12 ½”), finding a proper fit should be a snap. These gloves run true to size, so be sure to measure your hand.
The only significant complaint from customers was that the velcro strap fastens under the wrist rather than over it, potentially impeding hand movement. Like all spandex and lycra gloves, odor is a nagging concern. Otherwise, these have proven to be excellent kayaking gloves.
Reviews for Spring and Fall Gloves
The NRS Men’s Hydroskin is constructed from thin, flexible neoprene, and if you’re looking for a glove that can handle cold but not frigid water, without roasting your hands in the spring and fall, this might be the right choice for you. Full fingered, waterproof, and lined with a soft proprietary fabric, they should keep your hands warm and dry on crisp days.
The palms and fingers are covered in a grippy silicon, so you can expect these gloves to provide a secure connection to your paddle. But be warned, some customers caution that these gloves are not pre-formed, and they can take a little more energy to force into a grip, tiring your hands just that much sooner.
Available in sizes ranging from XS (3” diagonally across the palm) to XXL (4 ½” diagonally across the palm), most paddlers should find a size that fits well. Customers have generally found these gloves run true to size, and women with larger hands may want to give these a try.
Because the neoprene is relatively thin, most people will find that they can handle objects and move their fingers easily, just don’t expect to answer your phone or thumb a quick text! We can’t recommend these as true three-season gloves unless you paddle in a cool climate; a full day in the Florida sun will probably turn these gloves into oven bags, roasting your hands.
The Warmers Barnacle Paddling glove, as its name suggests, is designed with kayakers in mind. Made from a mix of neoprene, lycra, and terry cloth, it features reinforcements in the places you’d expect. That should help cushion your hands on long paddles and provide a bit more durability, too. As an added touch, that terry cloth is great for wiping sweat out of your eyes, and that’s a nice extra for paddlers who select these gloves.
Available in an incredible range of sizes, from XS (7” - 7 ¾") to XXL (9 ¼” - 9 ¾"), finding a proper fit shouldn’t be a problem. Customers say that these gloves run large for size, so consider ordering a size smaller than you normally wear or consult the sizing chart carefully
Unlike most lycra and spandex gloves, the addition of neoprene makes these gloves a warmer option than similar summer gloves. For kayakers looking for a pair that can handle the summer, and potentially stretch into late spring and early fall, these are a good place to start. But it’s important to keep in mind that these gloves aren’t waterproof.
Moreover, some people complain that the internal seams may rub between your thumb and forefinger, creating blisters. That’s a potential deal-breaker, so we recommend that you try these on in person before pulling the trigger on a purchase.
Think of the Seavenger Abyss Reef gloves as a hybrid, offering the best of both summer and winter designs. Made in part from 1.5 mm neoprene, these gloves will be warm in spring and fall, though not waterproof. And with a palm padded with synthetic leather reinforcement, these gloves can enhance grip and provide enhanced durability. They also have a short wrist, fitting like warm-weather alternatives.This comes at a price, of course, and these gloves are not designed for truly cold water, nor are they waterproof
Instead, these might be an option for paddlers looking for spring/fall gloves that don’t demand waterproofed thermal protection.
Available in sizes ranging from XXS (7”) to XXL (9”), sizing may be an issue for those with larger hands. They also apparently run (very) small, and that’s an important issue to note, as it may send some kayakers looking elsewhere.
Quality control issues are also a common complaint, including problems like too-short fingers and gloves that fit strangely. Take a few minutes to try these on before making your purchase.
Reviews for Cold Weather Gloves
BPS Storm gloves are designed with SCUBA in mind, and their 3 mm thick neoprene should keep your hands warm in all but the coldest weather. Realistically, you’re not paddling an ice-breaker, but as temperatures plummet in winter, you’ll need full-fingered neoprene to even think about putting your ‘yak in the water. Customers report no trouble reaching into and working in near-freezing water, an overriding consideration for cold-weather kayakers.
These gloves feature an elasticized wrist closure that minimizes the chance of water getting into your gloves; it also holds them securely on your hands. They also offer a grip-enhancing texture on the palms and fingers, and as this is designed to help people hold onto things while diving, expect no problems with paddles slipping when wet.
Available in un-measured sizes ranging from XS to XXL, and customers generally find them true to size. They come pre-formed to fit your hand while it’s relaxed, an important thing to consider to reduce fatigue.
Keep in mind, though, that neoprene is not the toughest material; expect these glove to wear out quickly.
Glacial Glove’s Perfect Curve offer 2mm neoprene lined with warm fleece, and like the BPS Storm, are intended for divers. Like all gloves of this design, they sport an elasticized strap at the wrist, designed to keep water out; customers report that it works, too. Unlike their competitors, however, these gloves feature a seamless palm, avoiding potential hotspots. Plenty thick enough to provide protection from even the coldest water, kayakers report no problems even in water temps below 45 degrees!
Available in an enormous range of sizes, XS (6″ - 6 ½″) to XXL (10 ¼” - 11″), a good fit should be easy to find. Of course, they’re pre-formed for a relaxed hand, which is a great plus for kayakers.
Customers rave about grip quality while kayaking, and you can count on these gloves to deliver sure-handling. But like everything made from neoprene, expect wear and tear where the paddle rubs them.
Neo Sport Wetsuit gloves are made from 3 mm neoprene, and as the name suggests, are designed for SCUBA. But they’ve become popular with all manner of cold weather water-sports enthusiasts because they keep your hands warm and dry. Like the pair from BPS, these gloves offer a rubberized texture covering the palm and fingers, and this should help provide a secure grip even when wet. Expect the usual elasticized strap at the wrist and a pre-formed relaxed shape.
Available in a good range of sizes starting at XS (6″ - 6 ½″) to XXL (10 ¼” - 11″), a good fit should be easy to find for all hand sizes. However, some users find the thumbs too long, and that can affect grip if true for you. We recommend trying these on before you buy, if possible.
Customers rave about grip quality while kayaking, and you can count on these gloves to deliver sure-handling. But like everything made from neoprene, expect wear where the paddle rubs. And more than a few customers note quality issues with the seams and the velcro strap.
Our Picks - the Fishing Tree Fingerless, the NRS Men’s Hydroskin, and the BPS Storm!
Your choice of glove will depend on your hands, your preferences, and the particular conditions in which you paddle. To cover a full range of seasons, we recommend the Fishing Tree Fingerless, the NRS Men’s Hydroskin, and the BPS Storm.
When the sun’s blazing, your primary concern is sunburn, not warmth, and the Fishing Tree Fingerless has you covered. Made from spandex and reinforced with Amara synthetic leather, these gloves are durable, lightweight, and comfortable. A good fit is almost assured, and for people whose hands fall within their range of sizes, these gloves are a great choice.
But when the water’s a little cooler, you’ll want to look elsewhere, and the NRS Hydroskins offer an impressive combination of waterproof warmth, dexterity, and grip. Toasty enough to keep your hands from going numb in cool water, they supply enough to let you grip your paddle. If you’re looking for a full-fingered, insulating glove for spring and fall paddling, we recommend you start your search here.
But in truly cold waters, only thicker neoprene will do and when your fingers are on the line, we suggest you turn to the BPS Storm. 3 mm of waterproof neoprene will keep your hands toasty even in the worst weather, and they fit and grip well. They’re also available in a huge range of sizes, so you’ll find the right pair for you.
While all of these gloves are contenders, these three are the real standouts!