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For a lot of kayakers, the importance of kayaking gloves is not lost on them. In lower temperatures, these gloves are even more necessary because they protect the hands from dryness and cold. Whether it be on a hot summer day, or a cold winter afternoon, kayaking gloves are very effective in protecting the hands.
The effect that an hour or two with a paddle in hand will have on a hand can be drastic. That is why it is advisable to use gloves if you want to enjoy your kayaking adventure. It’s also essential to wear them while fishing from a kayak.
Even though it may not be worn at all times, most experienced kayakers know better than to leave their kayaking gloves behind. A kayaker’s hands are exposed to possible damage by the spray of cold river water, friction from the paddle, temperature, and other factors. In warmer temperatures, most kayakers are not so worried about keeping their hands warm.
When choosing kayaking gloves, look out for the following characteristics:
- Waterproof. The ideal kayaking glove should be waterproof. The entire point of wearing the gloves to keep cold water away front the hands will be defeated if the gloves are not waterproof. Gloves made from neoprene are waterproof, and ideal for kayaking.
- Firm-Grip. Whatever glove you use, it should have a firm grip, i.e. it should have a non-slip surface. This will help you have a firm grip on the paddle when you are paddling.
- Conformity to Shape of Hand. The gloves should conform to the shape of the hand when it is relaxed. If the glove is not sized right (too big, or too small) it would be uncomfortable to wear.
- Material of The Glove. You need to consider the material used in making the gloves. Most gloves are made from neoprene, and some are made by combining neoprene with another material such as spandex, or latex. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that can be used over a wide range of temperature; from low temperatures to high, temperatures with intense heat and sunrays.
Spandex and Lycra are more suitable for warm weather, courtesy of their lightness. They offer protection against the sun and, with padding, protection against abrasion from the paddle. However, a disadvantage is that they are limited to summer.
They offer little to no protection against the cold. But gloves made from neoprene are a better choice for the winter. They are waterproof, as well as cushioned and insulating.
All these are general characteristics of a typical kayaking glove. They can serve as a guideline of what to expect from whatever paddling glove you buy.
The following are special tips on the practical use of kayaking gloves:
- Thick Gloves Are Not Always the Best. It is not at all practical to wear thick gloves in warm weather, especially when the material used is neoprene which is naturally warm. Although the gloves may provide extra padding, prevent scrapes against rocks, and protect against friction with the paddle, all its benefits will be countered by the heat from the sun. Wearing thick gloves in the summer will be uncomfortable. For summer, it is advisable that you wear gloves that are 1-2 millimeters thick. For fall or spring, use gloves that agree with the weather. And for winter, your gloves should be 3 millimeters thick.
- Gloves That Fit Just Right. When your gloves do not fit your hand, you will have issues. If your gloves are too loose, they will be uncomfortable as you may spend most of your time attempting to fit them onto your hands, and the unnecessary friction that occurs between your gloves and your hand will leave you with blisters.If you, however, think that the best idea is to get tight-fitting gloves, think again. Tight-fitting gloves are a bad idea because they restrict the flow of blood in your hands, and this will make them colder. Thus, the best kind of gloves are those that fit your hand perfectly. In order to be sure that a pair of gloves is your perfect fit, check that they fit at your fingers, wrist and knuckles.
- Rinse After Use. When you are done with your gloves for the day, rinse them with fresh water and hang them to dry. This is especially recommended after you take your kayak through salt water; the end result is often that your gloves have been sprayed thoroughly. For neoprene, rinse the external part of the gloves since it is waterproof.
- Quality Gloves Take the Brunt. When you use quality gloves, they take the brunt of most things your hands would have received – if you had not worn gloves. This makes the gloves wear easily; they serve their purpose to the max. Quality gloves are flexible, and they make room for normal hand movements. For this reason, they cannot be made from tough materials. If, for example, kayaking gloves were made from denim, they would not be very flexible.
- Stiffness of Thick Neoprene. This relates to an earlier addressed issue: the conformity of the gloves to the shape of your hand. Neoprene gloves are ideal for kayaking in lower temperatures. But if they are too thick, they can become stiff. You do not want to be struggling with the gloves when you want to paddle. The best gloves are those that conform to the shape your hand assumes when it is relaxed. This way, even if the gloves are stiff, they are pre-formed to that position.
- Extend the Use. There are sealants that you can use to extend the lifespan of your gloves. These sealants do not necessarily repair the entire glove. They are focused on specific areas. If you apply a thin layer of these sealants to the space between the thumb and forefinger of your glove, it will reduce the abrasion.
The importance of gloves when kayaking cannot be overemphasized. The hands are one of the most important determining factor of a successful trip on a kayak. If they are not properly protected, they will limit you.