Kayak Gloves for Cold Weather


With cold weather upon us in the Northeast paddlers are faced with decisions about what to wear. Gloves are a frequent topic of discussion and yet may kayakers are hard pressed to find a pair that meet their needs.

Recently Paul V asked the membership what they preferred.  Colin responded with a recommendation that seems to be most favored by NACK members.

According to Colin what he prefers over gloves are pogies.  “They are warm. With pogies you can easily remove your hands from them when needed and they’re easy to put back on. They are attached to you paddle shaft but it’s not easy to slide your hands up and down the paddle shaft when wearing them.”

Typical “Pogies”, these are made by Kokotat

“For the most part once you Velcro them in place on the paddle shaft that is where they will remain. If you capsize and need to make a wet exit you will first need to remove your hands from the pogies as an added step. If you wet exit your hands will not be protected from the cold which means you must get back into the kayak quickly before your hands become too cold to function. Simple solution to that is don’t capsize. The best pair I found are manufactured by Palm. The tag inside reads “XP150, xtra performance specialised white-water sports”. They have a 100% nylon shell and a removable fleece lining. They are blue and black. They are so warm I have seldom needed the fleece lining and I paddle all year. Unlike most they have a long cuff preventing water from running down into them. I purchased them online from an English kayaking company but I don’t remember the name of the company. Reed, another well known English kayaking company, might carry them.”

“I have tried a number of gloves none to my satisfaction. I settled for a pair of Aqua Lung Thermal Flex 3mm gloves. They are made out of neoprene and nylon. I purchased them in a SCUBA diving shop. Since they are made for scuba diving they rely on water to seep through the neoprene and warm up to keep your hands warm. They are not great for paddling but I can get by. The fingers are pre formed in a bent shape making it easier to hold the paddle and less strain on my fingers since I am not fighting to bend the neoprene. They have little rubber dots on them for better grip. But they are not perfect for kayaking; just like all gloves once your hands get wet they are hard to put back on. I have never found a pair of gloves which are ease to put on once my hands are wet. At some point you will need to remove your gloves while paddling and your hands will get wet. Gloves make wet exits harder if you have a tight spray skirt. I have never tried it but maybe the hand warmers they sell for skiers gloves would work.”

Steve agreed with Colin and added, that while my hands will get wet, they will stay warm. I have neoprene pogies from Warmers that I bought from Captain Kayak and nylon ones by NRS that I picked up at Eastern Mountain Sports.  Both work well. Some folks have tried wearing light gloves under their pogies to address the issue of their hands getting cold when dealing with a rescue but I wouldn’t recommend that. You can’t really wear gloves with them because they may make it difficult pulling your hand out quickly if you have a problem. Like needing a free hand to release your spray skirt while you’re upside down.

If you stop on shore for a rest or lunch you will need something else to put on your hands to keep them warm. For that I use a pair of wool gloves. They’re warm, easy to get on and they are unaffected by wet hands.

Let’s hear what you think.  You can leave a reply or click on “Comments” just below the title of this posting.

Categories : Paddling Gear


  1. Bob H says:

    My hands are always cold during cold weather kayaking. Thanks to Paul’s question and input from Colin and several members, I just ordred a pair of pogies. I can’t wait to receive and try them.

  2. Gordon Dayton says:


    I have to agree with Colin. He pretty much sums up the story on Poggies. The only thing I would add is a caution not to combine gloves and Poggies. While it is easy to extract your hands from poggies (normally), the addition of gloves underneath make this operation difficult to impossible.

    I cannot explain for certain why most people find paddling gloves to actually make their hands colder, but it probably has to do with a combination of restricted circulation in tight fitting paddling gloves and evaporative colling on the surface of the gloves. Poggies tend to overcome both these drawbacks.

    Evaporative cooling is a general problem with hydroskin (the typical material for most paddle gloves and many poggies) because of the absorbant/slow-to-shed-water surface of most hydroskin. I suspect the best poggies will be found to have a nylon shell (at least) to help prevent this. This same shell works best over top of hydroskin in the form of a paddling jacket or Cag. Surely this describes the poggies that I have found to work best for cold weather paddling.

    There are a number of options for skiers, but the one that comes to mind uses a combination of fine iron and carbon powders. As passive oxidation takes place the mixture gives off heat. I am not sure how well this would work in wet conditions and before I relied on it I would want to test it in salt water first to be sure I would not encounter any unwanted side reactions. Any chemical hand warmer would necessarily have a fixed lifetime. Once it is used up the heat would subside – presumably spares would be prudent, which presents a changeover challenge and an on-going expense. Electronic hand warmers are a second option, but they seem to me to be inherently incompatible with the paddling environment. All in all, I plan to stick with my poggies for now.

    Nicely done Colin!

    Gordon Dayton
    NACK Senior Advisor
    ACA L4 Coastal Instructor



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