How do I prevent blisters on hands?

I need to know if I should buy Yakgrips or something else for my paddles. What to do?

Paddle more

Do you want lily-soft white pudgy hands, or real she-woman hands like Xena the warrior princess?

Depending on issues like hand dryness, cracking, and consistent tanning desired, here’s what I sometimes do:

  1. If on thumbs up to 2nd knuckle, I use 2 wraps of electrical tape where the blistering occurs. Elec. tape usually hangs on well.
  2. On the palms, just live with them and by day 3 they are protective and turning into calluses.
  3. I tried gloves, one bled the black dye out and stained me for a day. Also less paddle feel, changed grip, too sticky or too slippery.
  4. I use rubbing alcohol several times daily for resistance to blistering, it helps some.
  5. I just changed my paddle and stroke, now have new blisters after 3 years, with tired swollen hands.
  6. I use a wrist brace for my wrist problem. This and tape and gloves, if used, will give you interesting tan lines, good conversation starters.

I use simply old cycling gloves
Yeah they’ve bled out. But in season after season of flatwater paddling I’ve yet to have a blister. EMS and Galyans as well as Spring Creek all now offer gloves specific for paddling. Worth looking at.

I’ve seen guides use
thin lycra gloves for sun protecion and to give a slick slippery surface for the paddle. As a rule for racing slickness is desired, perhaps roughend up with toothpaste or 800 grit sandpaper (light touch please). Lighten up on the grip! let that left hand slide (assuming rihg hand ontrol feathered paddle). Only the thumb and first two fingers are used at all and the palm does most of the work. Friction, big grips, not for me. Do what you like. I like a really smooth paddle shaft.

Make sure…
that you’re not trying to choke your paddle to death. Holding it as loose as you can, while still maintaining full control of it, might help with blisters.

Every once in a while I have to make it a point not to choke my:


steering wheel

fishing pole

tennis racket


hand maintenance
Regular paddling and light grip help. Gloves? Perhaps, it’s matter of personal preference. I paddle with gloves in winter and I am happy when I can paddle without them.

For long paddling, some hand maintenance is important: hydropel and occassional treatment with E vitamin works for me. I completed the last 300 mile WaterTribe Everglades Challenge using a canoe paddle without any blisters (with some sunburn on the other side, but it’s a different story). I am using mostly a kayak (wing) paddle during Texas Water Safari and I am ending up with some minor damages to my hands but not so bad.


i use the kung fu kayakers method of driving my hands repeatly into buckets of hot sand then soaking them in a mixture of borax and vineger during the off season. of course no girl will let me touch them, No seriously ,air paddle a little each day building up stamina, use tennis balls ,weight grips to build strentgh… guys like women with callous’s ;the other posts have given exellent advice, a loose grip is important.

Bike gloves help
and Wendy suggested something to me awhile ago and it helps alot- while paddling try to open your fingers and stretch them out-don’t always have the “mad grip” on your paddle shaft-try to loosen your hold on the shaft.

that most beginners blisters are from too tight of grip. Every stroke has a relaxation part, let the shaft rest between the push/pull instead of being gripped by your fist. The weight of the shaft can dissapear between the push/pull in a stroke,pull/pull (no torso rotation) and tight fists gurantee blisters.

Go buy the…
Most expensive “name brand” product you can to cure the problem!

Go and get youself a pair if bike gloves (as Linda suggested) or weight lifting gloves. Right around $5 bucks at Wal-Mart. The ones I got were on “store liquidation” and kept going down in price every week. They started out @ $8, then $5, then $3, then $1.50, then finally down to $.50! I bought 4 pair acouple years ago, two for work & two for paddling. So far I have only had to throw away one of the pair for work (construction).

Paddle easy,


Nigel Foster and holding the paddle
If you’ve ever watched Nigel paddle in person or watched the video series, he uses his hands in a way that is beyond elegant. I can’t think of a better way to see what a relaxed grip and complete control of the paddle look like first hand.

havnt had a problem since
i ditched the gloves… a smooth hard shaft helps too

Another tape user.
After wearing gloves paddling all winter I hate wearing them when things warm up. I took someone’s advice on this forum last year and started using electrical tape. I only get blisters on my inside thumbs after “taking the gloves off” so I put a couple of wraps there. It is slick so my paddle turns smoothly and it stays put until I take it off which is a painless operation.

Electrical Tape
I have a relaxed grip but have to use electrical tape between the two knuckles on my thumbs to prevent blisters there. I use cork bicycle grip on the paddles to build up the shaft diameter. The standard shafts feel way to skinney. Years ago, found the same thing with baseball bats. My hands don’t look that large but I do wear an x-large glove and have a size 17 ring on one hand.

My wife and I both use fingerless gloves which effectively solved the blister problem. With the fingers exposed you have plenty of “feel” and no problems accessing equipment or putting on a spray skirt. If I personally didn’t use gloves I would have blisters between my thumb and forefinger on my left hand simply from rotating the paddle shaft. My advise would be to try gloves and if you don’t kike them them don’t wear them, most people don’t but then that’s their choice. I have never felt any stigma attached with them.

Paddling and time fix the problem.
I’m proud of my paddler’s calluses.As already stated, don’t grip the paddle so hard. It should almost float in your hands. The only time you need a strong grip is when you are paddling really hard.

be a man about it
blisters soon turn to caloused skin. deal with it.

tape works
for me. I have used electrical tape, but I find that Johnson and Johnson makes a waterproof bandage tape that works a little better for me. I know this may be a little different, and may even be incorrect, but I do the following sometimes. When gripping the paddle in the typical fashion, the fingers are on top of the shaft, and the thumb is underneath. I just move the thumb up to the top of the shaft beside my fingers. I am gripping the shaft between my fingers and the heel of my hand at this point. I am on flat water with no wind or waves,and I’m not racing along, so I’m not very likely to lose the grip this way. I don’t do this continally, only after Ive paddled so far that I’m starting to feel soreness on the inside of my thumbs.

While in the colder months, I use neoprene gloves, during those balmy southern spring days, I usually use medical tape on my palms and the index and ‘social’ fingers on both hands, the tape I use holds up good in the water and doesn’t grip any more than your fingers. I will have to try the electrical tape though.