Kayaking Gloves - A Handy Guide For Beginners
If you kayak on a regular basis, you should make sure that you have some form of protection for your hands. While this may seem like common sense, you'd be surprised at how many people don't have any form of protection for their hands when they're out on the water. Kayakers, for example, should always have on at least one waterproof glove when going out in bad weather - whether it's pouring rain or a bright sunny day. You never know what kind of condition you'll find yourself in deep in. Even if you never find yourself in a worrisome situation, it's good to be prepared just in case.
Waterproof gloves are great because they will provide excellent protection from the elements while you're out on your kayak. Most paddlellers will end up getting a sunburn in the course of paddling for longer periods of time. Failing to protect your hands can lead to painful sores and even finger injury. It's also important for kayakers to make sure that they have the right pair of gloves for them, and that they have paddling gloves as well. This way, they can have one set of protection for their hands and another for their paddles, which ensures that they have the most safety features possible.
It might not be a good idea to go out with a single hand protected by a single pair of waterproof gloves, however. As kayakers, it's important to realize that sometimes you won't be able to stop at a supply stop without taking a few stops along, especially if you're traveling through deep waters. When temperatures drop to freezing or below, you should always carry some form of heat with you to avoid feeling cold, especially when you're paddling for long periods of time.
The best feature of most kayaking gloves is the fact that they come equipped with a built-in wrist support, which is great for wrist support and for protecting the skin from bruises when you get a hit on the wrists. Many of the gloves are made with a lightweight fabric, which allows the wearer to still feel comfortable as they paddle without worrying about sacrificing the fit of the gloves. The wrist support is usually elastic, so you can just rip the wrist support off if necessary, but the bulk of it can be kept in place with the built-in Velcro strap.
Some people prefer to wear their kayaking gloves waterproof, because they don't really like the idea of them being wet while they're out in the water. There are a couple of waterproofing features that most waterproof kayaking gloves have, but it's best to look for the type that has both features. Most of them will have a wrist band for keeping the gloves dry, but some also have waterproof openings for the fingers. If the opening is at the top of the gloves (where your fingers are touching), you can pull the waterproofing material up to the area that touches your wrist, but if the opening is at the bottom, you probably want a pair of dry paddling gloves for the bottom of your hand.
Kayak paddling gloves offer two main features: paddle control and highly breathable fabrics. The first thing to note about paddle control is that it's important not to make any jerky movements while you're paddle-surfing. In general, paddle control should be about even across the length of the paddle, with a small amount of friction between fingers and paddle. A highly breathable fabric is great for keeping hands dry, even as you're paddling quickly and urgently in a highly challenging situation. Dry materials will wick moisture away from the body, while damp materials trap moisture and will hold onto that moisture until it evaporates - a common problem with many dry paddling gloves.
The third thing to note about paddle control is that it's important not to use too thick of a glove. Thickness will add extra bulk to your hands, reducing your range of movement - something you don't need while you're in the middle of a highly competitive situation. Typically, a pair of kayaking gloves should feel like they're just a little thicker than the skin on your palm. This provides a natural fit, which makes it much easier to grab the handle of the paddle when you need it. In warm weather conditions, you'll find that a thicker glove means you can still keep your hands warm, even when paddling in extremely hot water.
Finally, there's a very important factor to consider when choosing the right paddle grip: the quality of the straps. Most kayaking gloves come with either single-strap or double-strap strap configurations, which are best suited for both "bolt" and "thumbrest" hand positions. Make sure the straps aren't too short or long, since shorter straps can prevent you from getting a secure grip on the paddle. Likewise, longer straps can cause pain or fatigue due to the weight of the hand. Remember, you want the strength of your wrists and forearms, as well as the ability to grab onto the paddle, so go ahead and get a couple of extra pairs of paddles.