Gloves & Handwarmers

Due to Raynaud’s Syndrome (fingers/toes turn cold and white in response to cold weather/touching cold water), I need some really good gloves when I’m out on colder days paddling. I’ve tried neoprene and fleece gloves, and also those chemical packs, which are ok, but awkward inside the gloves. Any suggestions for a really GOOD insulated glove that allows feel and movement AND keeps your hands from getting cold?

Also can anyone give me feedback on battery operated handwarmers – do they work? When in camp and temps are low, my fingers can often go white from Raynaud’s. Holding a warm cup of coffee helps, as does being near a fire, but these aren’t always readily available.

Any suggestions, please let me know. And yes, I have been to see a specialist about this condition.

Can’t guarantee, but maybe
I’m not sure that anything will really work if you have Raynaud’s, but I assume that the most important thing for you is to make sure that you hands are dry. For that purpose, there are really only two workable options I can think of. One is Nordic Blue gloves, which are true dry gloves under which you can place a warmer fleece layer. The downside of these things is that getting the second one on, or the first one off, by yourself is an art form in itself. Paddling with others in winter becomes important for more reasons than safety.

The other idea is Deep Sea or similar dry gloves from a scuba shop, meant to mate with a diving dry suit. The have a less dry feeling than the Nordic Blues, but despite that sense they do have a water blocking liner. The moisture that develops inside is mostly sweat. They are still a bit of a pain to get on and off, but more manageable by one than the Nordic Blues.

A low tech solution that is less dry but might work depending on the details of your stroke would be getting something like working fisherman’s gloves from a marine store, also plastic, using a liner of something warm inside, and running them high enough on your arm that water doesn’t come in over the top as you paddle. Like trapping the tops inside a gasket on your paddling jacket.

I Second the Nordic Blues…
if you have someone to help get them on and off.

i have
some neoprene gloves. they are form fitting. they are made for fishing as the index fingers on both hands peel back for finer line work. they are water proof and wind proof and readily available at bass pro shops. they are warm enough for my needs, however you could put another layer over them which might hold water but keep you warm enough. just bring extra pairs of over gloves in your dry bag. btw/ if you use these remember DON’T WIPE YOUR NOSE when the velcro is exposed.

Get Long Sleeves…

– Last Updated: Nov-05-09 5:58 AM EST –

...on those fishermans' gloves, and roll the ends back to form cuffs - this'll catch most of the paddle drip. If you can find thin knit merino wool gloves, they'll help. And finally, an old sailor's trick - use a thickish wool wrist tube - we used to just cut the feet out of wool socks, and use the leg part with a thumbhole cut in it to help keep it in position - it's amazing how well the hands can stand dry cold if the wrists are kept warm...

I have this same condition, Raynauds

– Last Updated: Nov-05-09 8:12 AM EST –

...... and nothing has ever been able to prevent it from causing the pain for 20-30 mins. when it happens . Mine feels like someone is cutting my fingers off w/o anesthesia . Strange thing is that after my fingers go through this , and if I get them warmed again ... I could pick up ice all day long and it doesn't repeat a second time , I can tell my fingers are cold because of the stiffness but no more pain event .

The best advise I can offer is to not allow it to happen by not allowing your hands to get to that degree of coldness in the first place . You always know in advance that your hands are getting cold and that is the time to stop whatever you are doing and get them warmed again .

I do not stop but continue and suffer the pain that I know is coming .

Gloves like "RedHead" brand that are 100% polyester shell , some polurethane skins on palm and fingers , 100% polyester lining , and a mix of like 65% pololefin and 35% polyester insulation are the best I have found so far for keeping my hands warmest . Given enough rain or water these will end up wet though .

"Do Not" allow any glove to fit tight or snugly , but rather a slightly loose fit helps also .

ps., ... when leighrobin and I were at BassPro this week , I decided to try a pair of gloves similar to hers . These were Glacier brand and comfortable fit (on sale for $8 compared to $30 modle) ... "do" hear what she has said about the velcro , it could really hurt if unaware !!

NRS Toaster Mitts
I have a friend with Raynaud’s who swears by NRS Toaster Mitts. I have a couple more who just get cold easy and swear by them as well.

I use a pair of Vortex neoprene gloves from LL coolBeans when the air gets down in the 30s. They’re a little thick but nicely shaped and warm enough for me until the boats start freezing up.

Depends how cold

– Last Updated: Nov-05-09 10:45 AM EST –

I get cold fingers too. Not Raynaud's but cold enough to make winter paddling hurt. I've tried various mitts but now I use neoprene gloves and and a waterproof overmitt. LIke this:

I just use the outside shell. I found that no glove - because of fingers and wetted surface will do it for me. So I buy neoprene gloves at the hunting area of Wallmart and use the overmitts and it works great. You need to stop that wind chill on the wet surface and the overmitts do it. You can coat the palm with a coating of Aquaseal and that gives them a good grip surface. the nice thing is that I can pull off the overmitt quick if I need my fingers whereas a neoprene mitt is a chore.

Decoy gloves

– Last Updated: Nov-05-09 11:05 AM EST –

I don't share your affliction, thankfully, but I can sympathize with cold hands.

You might check the hunting supply stores for a pair of elbow-length decoy gloves. These are what some duck hunters use while setting out and picking up their decoys in icy water. Some are fleece-lined neoprene, but mine are a lighter and looser waterproof and breathable fabric with thinsulate insulation and fleece lining. Sorry, I don't remember the brand and they aren't marked. They are very warm and dry.

I also use a pair of Glacier Gloves when poling in cold weather. They they do a pretty good job of blocking the wet/cold from that aluminum pole. You can get these gloves with finger openings and without. Mine are without. I've seen them in more than one thickness, but don't remember which I have.

edit: I also have used a pair of Scott fleece-lined waterproof overmitts. These were sold as ski gear and came with lightweight fleece gloves. The combination is so warm that I rarely ever wore both together - in fact, they now get used mostly by my wife whose hands get cold and uncomfortable very easily.

I have Raynaud’s
It’s drug induced in my case. (Stuff to control BP)

I use pogies in the worst of marine conditions.

I have no problem until I take the boat out and try to put it back on the car. Dexterity is toast and what I lack in dexterity I gain in pain.

When I exit the water I use polypro gloves and try to get my hands dry and warm fast, sometimes leaving the boat beside the car while I prep for what should take 5 minutes.

I often skip tie down straps in favour of rope as I can tie the rope where straps need more dexterity.

A trucker’s hitch and a bowline can be done using loose rope and coming up very tight with limited dexterity.

I; after years have not mastered keeping my hands warm at he take out but rather compensate.

Neoprene pogies keep me fine while paddling.

I paddle the North Atlantic with ice flows and bergs.

Cilia has it spot on about keeping your hands dry but for some reason I can’t do that.


I love my toaster mitts. And in the winter, throw in some chemical handwarmers and a liner,and you’re good to go for 2-3 hours in below freezing air temps.

Low-Tech Solution

– Last Updated: Nov-05-09 1:07 PM EST –

I have always had severe problems with getting cold hands and feet. I have been thinking about getting some of the more highly-recommended paddling gloves, but have hesitated because the neoprene gloves that so many people swear by are worse than useless for me. My hands actually get cold as soon as I put them on, even if they were fine up until that point.

What works for me is a pair of cheap knitted wool gloves (real wool, not the fake stuff) inside wind-shell mittens. The windshell mittens aren't even waterproof, but even my cold-prone hands don't usually get cold due to being wet when insulated by a thin layer of wool plus wind protection. That's temperature-dependent though, and I've been out on days where something even warmer would have been nice.

I understand that your situation is probably worse than mine, but I do know about fingers turning white and numb way easier than what's normal, and have plenty of experience with finding out that the majority of "good" gloves are of no value at all (you should see the collection of winter gloves and mittens I accumulated over several years of looking for something that worked well). For paddling, a little bit of wool and wind protection works well for me.

I think small chemical warming packs would be good to try too. I know some people who use the full-size ones inside their clothing when standing still for long periods while hunting in cold weather, and another person who sleeps with one or two of them in cold weather. I bet the small ones that fit inside a mitten would be worth trying (something I've been meaning to try myself!).

Good feel is hard to find
I used to use Sealskinz, which had great paddle feel but were not warm, plus they leaked badly. Don’t waste your money on these if you need warmth.

Bought some Glacier ice-climbing gloves (sold at Body Boat Blade) and haven’t looked back. They have precurved fingers and a thin neoprene inside that actually preserves good paddle feel. The outside is rubbery and windproof. The gloves are waterproof as long as you can cinch the cuffs enough (they have a Velcro strap for this). $40 back in 2007. Warm enough for me but I don’t have Reynaud’s.

Another low-tech idea
I had to wash road salt and snow/ice/dirt from the trailer and kayak after coming home in a freak snowstorm. Grabbed the nearest gloves (thin liner gloves) and put them on, then pulled a pair of disposable vinyl gloves over that. Surprisingly, my hands stayed warm and dry. I would expect that when paddling, they would eventually become damp from sweat but it’s worth a try if you keep a second set of dry liner gloves ready. Wool liner gloves would be even better because they stay warm when wet.

I get Raynaud’s almost daily
now, with temps below 50 degrees. But, I even get it in summertime, when swimming on a hot day, since the water temp is lower than body temp, my fingers go white. Just touching cold door handles or car doors, or touching a cold item in the refrigerator sets it off. I wear fleece gloves if I have to go into the freezer at home, and I try to remember to wear gloves on the drive to work every morning because the cold steering wheel sets the Raynaud’s off. I live in western New York, so the last week it’s been in the 30s in the morning.

By the way, I forgot to mention I canoe (not kayak), but that may not make much of a difference.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

I to suffer from Raynauds and have had the best luck with Pogies and air activated hand warmers stuffed in them. Works great until you have to take your hands out of the pogies.

cold hands when paddling

– Last Updated: Nov-06-09 8:58 AM EST –

Ness, It's simple-always bring Hopsing along and when your hands get cold put them in Hopsing's pockets.

On a more serious level, I find most "paddling gloves are too tight and even the XL size cut off circulation in my fingers. Those with preformed grips fatigue my hands after a while. They must work for some folks as the shops still sell them-they just don't work for me.

Loose waterproof mittens (shells) with wool or neoprene mittens inside may be the best compromise between your very real need and the struggle to put on and take off more protective gloves like Glacier gloves---You have to be able to take them off to eat when Hopsing fries up some Polish spam (kielbasa) for lunch. The shell should have some something added to the palm and inside of the fingers to increase the grip. Avoid any gloves or mittens that feel at all tight as they will only get worse while paddling.

Best wishes in finding what works for you,


Cold weather gloves
I have been paddling all winter long for years with a lot of different and highly experienced paddlers.

I don’t think I know anyone who claims to have actually found the elusive “perfect” glove. Everyone I paddle with typically shows up with a new idea, then later with another.

Personally, I paddle with a pair of lightweight neoprene scuba diving gloves and in the cockpit I have a pair of Pogies that I use when I need a 5 minute warm up for the fingers.

Good luck in your search.

I have used
ski gloves when paddling in the winter. Two pairs, one set out: next set back. It was adequate for winter paddling down here in the Carolinas. Depending on the gloves some were alittle better. The Canunut uses woolen gloves with playtex gloves over them. Adequate, neither is great though…

Screaming Barfies
Probably anyone who has gone ice climbing has experienced what Pilotwingz described as far as intense paid in fingers that makes you want to cry out and also makes you nauseated … hence the name “screaming barfies.” Nonetheless, I would second the suggestions of several posters to use ice climbing gloves. The same dexterity needed for manipulating ice tools works for paddling. I’ve used mine (by Marmot) while kayaking.