Hello All,

Am heading into a one week of intense paddling in salt water.

Last time, this resulted in MANY blisters? I tried tape- of all kinds- not very effective. I was not proactive and applied tape only after the blisters appeared. Perhaps wrapping prior will help?

How about gloves- as in biking gloves- is that another potential solution? Weight training gloves may work as well?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance,


Build up hands first
I’ve paddled 20,30,40 miles in one day

and never got blisters on my hands.

I’ll admit its freshwater in Michigan :slight_smile:

Proper paddling technique, push with an open hand,

reduces pressure, friction and heat buildup.

Biking gloves work nicely…
…provided they fit snugly and do not have prominent seams inside. Climbing gloves with gel pads work even better in summer. Or you can take glued neoprene gloves and chop of the fingers…

As to the thing that might help with the blisters, there is an ointment that works really well, but don’t know about availability in the States - Liniment Balm by O. W. Vishnevsky. Contains birch tar, bismuth tribromophenate and castor oil. Works wonders under gauze dressing for inflamed blisters. I swear by it.

Not unlike hiking boots -
only real way is to get your hands broken in before the trip. But I agree, loose grip should do it. My experience is that graphite shafts are hard on hands - wood not so bad.

cotton Jersey gloves
the brown ones with the red liner, cut the fingertips off.

As others said, loose grip and build up callouses help. I try to keep the sun off the back of my hands anyway, got enough sun damage there as it is.I’ve been looking for something better than the jersey gloves, but it’s all I got now. Most things I find have leather on them and I don’t care for them once they’re wet.

few things
Only paddle with gloves on a long trip if you have done it before.

Band aid makes a product called blister stick or something like that. It looks like a tiny deoderant stick. It is wonderful. Put it on before you go and reapply. It is a tad waxy at first, but it works in quickly. Open your top hand and keep them dry as possible.

Ryan L.

I use lightweight dive gloves
I have no idea where you are paddling but if its here you never would want cotton jersey gloves.

Mine are stretch nylon with a leather palm. They are suited to salt water and do not get annoying and remain pliable when dry.

They are not neoprene as these are, but these look interesting

Blisters- thanks!
Hello All!

Thanks for the tips!

I am in Canada (Montreal) and will be heading to South Carolina.

Now, where can I get that ointment? Do pharmacies hold it? The brand you mention is completely unfamiliar to me.

AND, i just got back from pharmacy where I held that product made by Band-Aid (the anti-blister stick that looks like deodarant but decided it was a gimmick… i guess not!).

Last year was brutal- I am willing to try anything.

Where does one get the gloves (the non biking ones)? MEC?

Thanks for reminding about not doing the death grip!

Happy paddling!

It’s not a brand…

– Last Updated: Apr-08-12 3:36 PM EST –

It's a recipe name from really old times - early 20th century or something - consider it a bit like open-source nowadays - there are several manufacturers that produce it, but mostly in Eastern Europe, dunno how easy it is to get in USA/Canada. I know a fellow in Norway who just got his hands in the ingredients and mixed it - purified birch tar (nature remedies shop), bismuth tribromophenate (some pharmacies), purified castor oil (either). Castor oil/petroleum jelly mix used instead of castor oil for thicker consistency. The original recipe is as follows:
Birch tar (purified) - 3.0 g
Bismuth tribromophenate (pharmaceutical grade) - 3.0 g
Castor oil - 89.0 g

Not saying we all should go the DIY way, but just for information purposes. It's not a fancy ointment and the smell is rather peculair, but if it worked in WWI and after for wounds it will work nowadays as well. I use it a lot, but then I have a secret supply line to Eastern Europe.

Pick up a tube of very expensive …

– Last Updated: Apr-08-12 3:34 PM EST –

Use it sparingly but often. Use it in training, and use while on the water. It will make the paddle shaft slippery, but that is OK.
It works.
On long paddles no matter how tough my hands got, I would still get repeat blisters while training for the Everglades 300 mile challenge. ArdieO of the Yukon 1000 and the Everglade Challenge class 2 record holder put me onto it.
After I started using it, I was doing forty and fifty mile days with no blister problems at all.

Jack L

When I was a kid there used to be
this stuff called “tuff skin” that we used in high school sports.

Funny thing

– Last Updated: Apr-08-12 4:07 PM EST –

I don't know about South Carolina, but if you keep heading south I'll give you a pair of neoprene gloves and throw in a pair of jersey gloves from the dollar store that you would like better.

go to MEC
the paddling stuff ought to be out and try on some gloves like the MEC Humboldt SQ.

Everyones hands are different. also wander over to the bike section. And test paddle with the gloves to find if they grip or slide as you like… There are racks of paddles too…

That MEC in Montreal has to be the most exasperating store to get to that I have ever visited.

Build them up on your hands beforehand and you won’t have a problem. Abebe Bikila won the Olympic marathon running barefoot. Zola Budd was another shoeless long distance runner.

If you can’t build them up beforehand, be sensitive to heat build up and the beginning of redness on your hands while paddling. Then put on some protection. Used to be that moleskin patches were used, but tape or gloves should work.

Then take the protection off after two days. In this way you should be able to build up callouses, which require some irritation to form, without becoming a permanent slave to gloves. Of course, some people may like manual and digital slavery. Different strokes.

Jack’s KY jelly sounds interesting, but I wonder if it interferes with callous build up.

Hands do take a beating

– Last Updated: Apr-08-12 5:07 PM EST –

on trips. Seem to get little cuts and too much sun, etc. I carry some bag balm and use it regularly. Helps a bit.

Gymnastics - Hand Protection

– Last Updated: Apr-08-12 5:17 PM EST –

People that do High Bar, Parallel Bars, Rings,
and those activities often wear hand protection.

Perhaps gymnastic hand grips might work ?

Gymnastic athletes deal with rip, tears, etc.

“Bag Balm” can be found at some

It’s a great product, It was made for and is used on cows udders. Thus, ‘Bag Balm’.

PS: Think what you will, but I’ve always worn gloves. Even in summer. I wear the lightweight,¾ finger NRS gloves. They protect my palm side from blisters and the topside of the hand from the sun.

Sailing gloves
Leather, and they usually have slightly longer ringers that the usual biking or paddling gloves. I personally find the length of the fingers on biking gloves too short for paddling.

That said, the only time I paddle without gloves is when I forgot them. It’s the only way to protect my hands regardless of the saline content of the water.

duct tape
I sometimes get a blister on one thumb. Duct tape over a bandaid works.

When rowing and sculling, I always had
"good hands." I had relatively few blisters, they were shallow and simple, and after pinhole lancing and draining, they dried and the underlying skin healed well.

This continued throughout 40 years of frequent canoeing and some kayaking. Whitewater meant wet hands and lots of varying stress, but I got few blisters, easily treated, quickly healed.

Then a couple of years ago I started getting patches of thickened skin, darkened skin, cracking, occasional bleeding. This appeared on both palms, on the sides of some fingers, but nowhere else.

For at least three years I tried to manage it with light artificial leather gloves (helped) and with a variety of salves, including the vaunted Bag Balm. Little progress.

Finally I gave up and went to a dermatologist. He said it was not a fungus (tested) but probably a variety of psoriasis. He prescribed a very strong steroid ointment: Clobetasol Propionate .05%, twice daily. It took quite a while, but as long as I used it, the condition got gradually better. Now, I can’t see any sign of psoriasis.

Just posting in case anyone else has a similar problem. Not directly pertinent to blisters, though in some cases an over-the-counter steroid cream might be something to try if a patch repeatedly blisters and cracks. Or, see a dermatologist.