Everything you need to know about Kayak Gloves, Mitts, and Pogies

Everything you need to know about Kayak Gloves, Mitts, and Pogies

The ultimate source of information for choosing your next paddling gloves and taking your paddling experience to the next level!

Have you ever wondered why you might need gloves for paddling? Or perhaps you were confused about choosing between kayak gloves or pogies? Maybe you just need an expert opinion on choosing your next paddling gloves. 

In this blog, Lee Richardson, our kayak instructor with over 17 years of sea kayaking experience, answers your questions about paddling gloves in detail and discusses the best kayak gloves on the market. He explains what to consider when purchasing neoprene gloves and pogies, and how to enhance your paddling experience.


Kayak gloves kayak pogies kayak mitts


Table Of Contents:
1- Introduction
2- kayak Gloves
2.1. Neoprene gloves VS Synthetic gloves
2.2. What to consider when purchasing
2.3. Our suggestions for your next kayak gloves
3- kayak Mitts
3.1. Why kayak mitts?
3.2. What to consider when buying kayak mitts
4-Kayak Pogies

4.1. Why choose kayak pogies over gloves and mitts?
4.2. Keep in mind while purchasing pogies
5- Conclusion


Introduction - Why do you need to cover your hands while kayaking?


Keeping your hands warm and free from sunburn while paddling in open waters can be a challenge. There are three major options to choose from: pogies, mitts, and gloves. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and there are options for features like sun protection in each category as well. It is important to consider the amount of insulation you may need, and you may need a few options to accommodate various conditions. It is also a good idea to carry a spare and some backups for the people paddling with you. I carry a small dry bag with a few options for gloves, mitts, and pogies, as well as some toques, buffs, hoods, and sun hats. Having a small variety of sizes can help when layering materials to create more insulation if needed.


Kayak Gloves


A good pair of kayak gloves is one of the most important pieces of safety equipment for kayakers. Kayak gloves are designed to protect your hands and provide a better grip on your paddle. In general, paddling gloves cover your hands and fingers to keep them warm, prevent sunburn, and provide a degree of protection while you are on the water paddling for a long time.
Kayak gloves come in a variety of styles and materials, so it is important to choose the right pair for your needs. Neoprene gloves are the most popular choice for kayakers, as they provide excellent insulation and protection from the elements. The other option is gloves made from synthetic materials such as nylon or spandex.
Much like mitts, typically thinner synthetic paddling gloves are worn in the summer months, and in the early spring, late fall, and winter, thicker neoprene gloves are used. Most paddling gloves come in about 3mm thickness due to the pliability required for fingers and to allow them to move easily. It is important to check the seams and make sure you are confident with the way they will hold. Some manufacturers glue neoprene together on gloves, without a weld or stitching, and sometimes a major problem arises when the glue and water, especially salt water, don’t mix well and the glue lets go. It is always a good idea to check and see if the gloves you are getting are intended to be used in the marine environment and are designed as paddling neoprene gloves.


 Kayaking gloves

Neoprene gloves VS Synthetic gloves

Neoprene gloves are lightweight and flexible, making them comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. They are also highly durable and can withstand the wear and tear of paddling. If you're looking for a lighter option, gloves made from synthetic materials such as nylon and spandex are available. These gloves are lightweight and breathable, making them ideal for warmer weather. Additionally, they are more affordable than neoprene gloves, making them a great option for those on a budget.


What to consider when purchasing a pair of kayak gloves

When choosing kayak gloves, it is important to consider the type of paddling you will be doing. If you are going to be paddling in cold weather, you should opt for a thicker pair of gloves with more insulation. If you are paddling in warmer weather, you can choose a thinner pair of gloves that will still provide protection from the elements. It is also important to consider the type of grip you need. If you are going to be paddling in rough waters, you should opt for a pair of gloves with a lot of grip, which will help you maintain a better grip on your paddle and reduce the risk of slipping. If you are paddling in calmer waters, you can opt for a smoother grip. If the neoprene that the gloves are made of has a lot of grip, it might put a lot of strain on the gloves making them more susceptible to damage. Some manufacturers choose to work around this by imprinting the palm of their gloves with a less grippy material. 
Finally, it is important to make sure your kayak gloves fit properly. Gloves that are too tight can restrict your movement and cause discomfort, while gloves that are too loose can slip off your hands. Make sure to try on a few different pairs of gloves before making your purchase to ensure you get the right fit.


Our suggestion for your next kayak gloves

It is recommended to have a variety of gloves of different temperatures, at the very least a sun glove and a neoprene glove that can be combined for added insulation. Gloves are a nice option because they allow the fingers to be free while maintaining the same grip on the paddle as with a bare hand. 
Palmless sun gloves can also be a good option for summer paddling, as they keep the sun off the back of the hands and eliminate the need to put sunscreen on the hands to protect gaskets on dry suits.
There are many options for gloves to keep the sun off your hands. My favourite choices are two of the NRS options

NRS kayak gloves NRS kayak gloves 2 

NRS sun protection gloves have great blister protection, quick dry materials, and provide grip when wet.

On the flip side, there are many gloves to keep you warm. Both NRS and Level 6 have some great options.

Check BestCoast's collection of kayak gloves


Kayak Mitts


Kayak mitts are an essential piece of equipment for any kayaker. The material used in kayak mitts is usually waterproof and breathable, and they can come in a wide range of sizes, colours, and styles. Kayak mitts are designed to fit the shape of your hands, allowing you to take full advantage of the grip and control you need when paddling.

There are a couple of options for mitts on the market including split-finger and traditional-style mitts. You can find mitts made of various thicknesses of neoprene and synthetic materials that can be used for kayaking. When selecting a neoprene mitt check to make sure that it is purpose-built for kayaking. Some mitts made for other sports have a coating on the palm of the mitt that can be slippery on a paddle. If you find that your mitts are slippery you can use a little bit of Sex Wax


 kayak sex wax

Why kayak mitts?

The split-finger mitts can be a good compromise, giving you the flexibility to use some fingers independently, which can be an asset in some situations on the water. The nice part is they allow some fingers to be combined and snuggled in with another finger and others alone. Paddlers often find mitts to be warmer than gloves. Here is our preferred choice for mitts:

Level 6 - Gritstone Neoprene Mitts

level six kayak mitts

For split finger mitts or thicker mitts for winter use, we recommend looking towards Xcel kayak Mitts collection:

Xcel kayak mitts Xcel paddling mitts 


What to consider when buying your kayak mitts

Be sure to experiment with different thicknesses to determine how much grip you need on the paddle. In colder water, you may need a thicker mitt than in warmer water and air temperatures. During the winter months, some paddlers choose 3-5mm mitts; if you tend to have cold hands, you will probably want to look at the 7mm mitts.

Keep in mind to make sure any coating or grip works well with your paddle shaft. At the store, try out the kayaking glove with a paddle before you purchase so you can get a feel for how the glove fits with the paddle. Also, see how the grip feels and how it feels to hold in different positions. Ensure the seams don't bother your knuckles and that there are no pinch points as you manipulate the glove.

Mitts can sometimes be a challenge when trying to grab deck lines, and fine motor operation can be impeded by mitts. Before buying a mitt, try it in the store and manipulate it to see how it feels on your hand. Ensure that the mitt feels good and that the seams of the mitt do not irritate your hand in any way. Each person's hand is different and may have different points of friction with different mitten designs.

Here is a good option for sun mitts:

Solbari - Palmless Hand Cover UPF50+ CoolaSun

kayak sun mitts  palmless kayak mitts 


Kayak Pogies


Pogies are a great option for keeping your hands warm while providing natural contact with the paddle shaft. They may take a bit of getting used to, but once you feel comfortable using them, they have many advantages over gloves and mitts. Neoprene pogies are a great option for the cooler months and offer protection from cold water and air. From October to about May, pogies are a must-have for many paddlers, especially if the breeze is coming from the north; pogies really help to cut the wind and keep your hands warm.


Why choose kayak pogies over gloves and mitts?

Pogies are great for both warmth and sun protection. They come in a variety of synthetic materials and a few companies make them in neoprene. The big advantage is the ability to slide your hand in and out to make adjustments while still having fine motor control. In places like the Pacific Northwest and the West Coast of Canada, where the water is 6-9 degrees Celsius, pogies are a great option for breathable sun protection.


What to keep in mind when purchasing new kayak pogies

When choosing a pair of pogies, consider what type of pogie fits on your paddle shaft the way you like it. Some people prefer to be able to slide their pogies out of the way easily, while others prefer them to be fixed in one spot. Additionally, consider if you are getting them for sun protection, warmth, or protection from cold water; all of these factors will play an important role in what you should choose. For sun protection, a thinner synthetic material should do the job, while for protection from the cool air, you may want a thinner neoprene, such as the Level 6 Pogies.

 Level 6 kayak pogies


for real warmth a thicker 5mm like the NRS Mamba:

 NRS mamba pogies

Pogies, just like gloves, should be tested out in the store to see if they fit well. Try them out on a paddle and make sure no seams are rubbing in places that may irritate you. Try moving them around on the paddle shaft as you would when paddling. The other great thing about pogies is that in extreme temperatures, they can be combined with gloves or mitts to give even further thermal protection. Pogies are a must-have piece of kit; if you aren't using them already, the cold or sunny day will come when you wish you had them.




Gloves, pogies, and mitts all have their place in the kayak gear locker, whether you are using them for protection from the sun, blisters, or warmth. They all have a role to play in different weather conditions. Make sure you test them out before you buy and find out if the seams are glued, stitched, or welded. Depending on the environment you are going into, choose wisely and make sure you are prepared to have a few options to protect your hands in different scenarios.

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