The hardest body part to keep warm during winter paddling is the hands. Because water drips down the paddle shaft and the splashes saturate any gloves or mittens used, they need to be waterproof, or they must be waterproof enough to slow new cold water from penetrating the glove’s interior. I’ve always liked neoprene gloves or mittens to keep my hands warm verse using a poggies, because my hands stay warm when removed from the paddle shaft and I can easily manipulate items without have to touch an icy surface. I have a few favorite gloves.
NRS Natural Gloves
I used to use NRS Reactor gloves, because they were the warmest gloves that I could find, but the main problem with the old Reactor gloves was that they didn’t grip, so I’d end up over gripping the paddle shaft to compensate. I’m prone to tendonitis and over gripping the paddle shaft causes it to flare up, so I’ve always used Sex Wax to increase the grip. The newer NRS Natural Glove feels grippier, just as warm and somehow feel less bulky. The glued construction seems to keep water out, so new cold water doesn’t replace the water that your hand warmed up, and the wrist stays tight enough without the need for an annoying elastic and velcro band. One thing I appreciate about these gloves is the soft fabric spot on the thumb, which works great for wiping the snot off your nose. All gloves should have that feature.
Price: $39.95 | Buy from NRS
NRS Toaster Mitts
In winter, I use neoprene mittens more often than gloves, because they keep my hands warmer. The best I’ve used are NRS’s Toaster Mitts. NRS makes the back of the glove with thick 3.5mm neoprene but leaves the palm of the glove a thinner 2.5mm for better grip on the paddle’s shaft. All the seams are sealed, so there is very little water penetration. Although the mitten uses an elastic and velcro band for closure, it doesn’t really need it. You can cut it off without worry — it does work well to hang the mitten from a clothing line. Like the Natural Gloves, it features a soft area on the thumb for wiping your nose. One feature that I think is well thought-out is the bite tab, which helps you pull the glove on when biting it. Even in the coldest weather that I enjoy paddling in (15 degrees Fahrenheit), my hands stay warm — sometimes almost too warm in these mittens. Highly Recommended!
Price: $36.95 | Buy from NRS
If it seems like I’m on a NRS kick, it’s because NRS makes some of the best paddling gloves on the market. The Mambas are NRS’s version of a warm neoprene poggie. While I prefer mittens, poggies, which wrap around a paddle’s shaft, give direct contact to the paddle. The Mambas are warm and comfortable, although a little inflexible. They’re easier to put on verse gloves or mittens, and because they stay attached to the paddle, there’s less chance of losing them when you take them off.
Price: $42.95 | Buy from NRS
How Neoprene Works
Neoprene works by trapping a thin layer of water between your skin and the neoprene. Your body heat warms up the layer of water, which keeps you warm. Ideally, you want a tight-fitting neoprene glove, which keeps the layer of water directly against your skin and helps prevent new cold water from flowing in. Loose gloves or gloves that allow water in at the wrist are colder than others, because the water moves around and colder water enters the glove more often.