A couple days ago, my Christmas present from my wife finally arrived… NRS Mamba pogies. Today I got to test drive them. The temps in DC were 38 for the air, and 32.3 for the Potomac at Little Falls. Winds light, 5mph max. I had fun playing ice breaker for a bit.
I’m now a pogie convert. At least for trips like today’s, they’ll be hard to beat. I brought along a new pair of Kokatat Inferno mitts I haven’t tried yet, fully expecting to switch to them, but they remained in the cockpit the whole trip. If anything, the pogies were a bit too warm, and my hand lightly sweating. I was debating returning the Inferno mitts, but will probably keep them as my emergency back up to the pogies.
Pogies are good when you are upright in the boat to deal with ambient air conditions. Once you are in the water, or getting hit with a lot of spray or waves, then pogies (IMO) are insufficient protection. Once your hands get cold/numb, you are more challenged to perform a successful reentry and reattached a sprayskirt.
If you have a super dependable roll and/or the water temp isn’t that cold (50 above) than pogies could be sufficient. Paddling in ice water conditions? Again, one should be prepared/dressed for the worse case immersion scenario.
PS. I paddle surf year round. Yesterday, after two hours, even with mitts on, my fingers got cold from the 42 degree water and I quit before true numbness set in.
That’s a really good point Sing, about the hands once they are immersed and how they won’t work. I’m a pogie convert and am amazed at how well they form a warm air pocket. I like to be able to feel the shaft of the paddle and feel like I have better control with pogies than with gloves. Since I paddle streams and rivers where immersion times are short, I keep thin neoprene gloves in the pfd pocket. The gloves are there for rescue purposes- handling a throwrope (tag or stabilization line) while possibly in the water. I hadn’t thought about longer immersion times, colder water and the drawback of pogies in that situation. Gives me something to think about.
Some gloves and mitts could complicate pulling a skirt depending upon their design… but all in all ain’t pogies great? If your immersion times are short or not dealing with frigid water temps then they are worth a try. If you’ve never tried them and are strictly a glove person you don’t know what you’re missing. I like the thick rubbery pogies with big wrist openings so it is easy to pull your hands in and out.
I’ve wet exited a couple of times with pogies (pulling the hands out) successfully although my unplanned immersion times were very short. If I’m paddling a creek with a lot of wood I wear gloves because I want to instantly be able to push off of a potential strainer.
Another thing I like about pogies is that if your hands get too warm you just push the pogies into the center of the paddle shaft and paddle barehanded. Easier than taking gloves off and stowing them.
I also like pogies. Even surfing with lots of waves washing over me, and doing periodic rolls, they typically do a good job of keeping my fingers warm. I do have a pair of NRS mitts that I will put in my lifejacket on colder, windier days, so if I’m swimming out of my boat, taking a break on the beach, whatever the case, I can slip them on. Rather than switching to thicker gloves or mitts if the pogies aren’t enough for the day, I use thin, flexible 1.5 mm neoprene gloves under my pogies. I have definitely preferred that to thicker gloves.
This may be a case of YMMV, depending on the venue and conditions. “Winter conditions” for where you are I suspect is probably a bit more mild than conditions for the northeast.
Last year, a local surf newbie was asking on this site for my advice on paddle surfing. I met with him several times for small surf through the fall season. One of his question was around handwear. Having tried gloves of various thickness and pogies in my earlier years, for me, nothing beats my NRS mitts for true winter surfing. He decided to go with 1.5 mm gloves (shrug, since I was not intending to surf with him in the winter and/or in bigger waves). In my last session with him, I don’t think he surfed more than 30 minutes before he gave up because of cold/numb hands. Not a big deal since we were surfing on really small stuff and he could easily get back to the shore. Even then, he had a hard time holding onto his paddle and boat when he capsized. Quite a few times, his boat took off to shore on its own. Could be his inexperience, but I suspect it is because he couldn’t hang on with fingers too cold/numb to even deal with the force of small waves…
A couple of years ago I was part of a group of experienced kayakers at New Point Comfort on the S. Chesapeake. In March, the water temp was 38, air was a little above. I saw first-hand what happens when unprotected hands come out of pogies in very cold water. Finger dexterity is gone quickly, and painfully. I was able to conduct rescues because I had gloves on. To each their own, but I’ve zero use for pogies. I wear NRS Mavericks and Glacier Gloves.
This, 100%, but it’s worth discussing the limitations. I’ll be certain to carry my Inferno Mitts in my lifejacket when paddling with pogies in extreme cold conditions. Having them in the boat is not an acceptable solution if I were to swim, as I might also lose the boat.
As a scuba diver, the one time I left my gloves on the dock for a simple salvage dive in 45°F water where I expected to be in the water for less than 12 minutes or so, after 5 minutes my hands hurt so much and were losing dexterity, that I aborted the dive to retrieve my gloves.
You can always take your gloved hands out of the pogies for a bit if they are getting too hot. I wouldn’t want to be dealing with trying put gloves on if already in the water and trying to keep hold of a boat, paddle, and loose gear. Nor would I want to have to stop to put on gloves to aid in an assisted rescue. You can go with lighter gloves if using pogies.
I tried getting my hands in the pogies with 3mm gloves on, but no go. Don’t have any 1.5s, but they’re cheap enough I can order a pair. I might try a recommendation some suggested: glove liners and dish gloves, but even if they fit I don’t think they’d be warm enough for more than a few minutes. I’ll have to try putting on the inferno mittens after my bare hands have been in the water and see if they warm up.
My wife gave me some new 1.5 mm gloves for Christmas. O’Neill technobutter neoprene. They’ve gotten better and better giving neoprene flexibility while still providing insulation. I seriously forgot I had them on within a minute of putting them on, and realized I had forgotten about them when getting out of my kayak on the beach an hour and a half later. At that moment, I was truly impressed. Somehow their grip on the paddle shaft wasn’t even much noticeable from the grip my bare fingers have. The insulating difference between those and the old NRS hydroskin gloves is crazy significant. They are not chore gloves, but I think they’ll have some good life just paddling.
A good thing for anyone to remember is that if your body feels toasty warm, your hands will tolerate some exposure, and fairly quickly warm back up. If your body feels a bit chilly, your hands and feet will get cold without exposure at all. Just in terms of a survival practice, a person should always take note of how warm their body is feeling before introducing any exposure to hands and feet. I can wear the same gloves and have completely different results in the same weather based upon my other clothing and my level of activity. Much the same as you can sit around in the wind at 55 degrees with a thick sweatshirt, and the chill will eventually go right through you. But if you were playing or working quite actively, you would work up a sweat in the same clothes.
So if you’re wearing pogies, with some gloves or mitts in your lifejacket, and you notice you’re not feeling particularly warm, glove up. If you’re feeling warm, and you capsize into cold water, don’t wait for your hands to get cold before slipping on your mitts. Hands are important. The very first step in your capsize recovery can be taking the seconds to grab and slip on the mitts.
I wish I’d read this 20 years ago when I paddled year round in NY. As a member of MASK, we had a New Year Day tradition to paddle together. I wore pogies, never went over, was never cold, just lucky! Thanks for suggesting 1.5 MM which I’ll buy now that I’m living in Virginia!
My initial qualm about thicker mitts was about the diminished feel of the hand grip on the paddle shaft/loom. NRS precurved 3.5/2.5 (palm) was ok (as Level 6 mitts which I don’t like because of fragile seams). But, there was still slight “shifting” of the grip that can happen in the heat of action (sprinting, bracing, rolling) of catching/riding/capsizing for a wave ride. However, my concern was addressed when I took a page from my boardie breathen. How do they not slip of their boards in the heat of action? the answer is… Zogg’s “Sex Wax!” This is what they apply on their board. I now routinely apply this onto my paddle shaft during the colder surfing season. I found my mitt grip is as sure as I feel with less thicker glove. Doesn’t have to been surf wax. X-country ski wax also work.
I agree with this. That’s why the OP should not return his Kokatat mitts and rely just on Pogies. As he later posted, he should keep the mitts on his PFD, ESPECIALLY if he is paddling in icey water conditions as shown in the pic of the first post.
This has been a good “food for thought” thread as I’ve been considering pogies for winter paddling as well, based on my below experience with gloves.
I currently have 1.5mm and 3mm neoprene “dive gloves” that I’ve been using. Went out in Dec with the 1.5mm. They definitely weren’t enough and their “feel” was ok on the shaft. Came home and ordered some 3mm, which I took out and again my fingers froze and I had forearm fatigue due to grip issues. The palm material was supposed to be grippy but I found it was slippery. Sing’s wax suggestion would likely fix that issue. I tried the 3mm again a few days after and my fingers were fine on that trip.
In hindsight, on the first outing with 3mm, I loaded at home and unloaded at launch with bare hands in low 30F air temp, and then purposefully had my hands in and out of the water to see how “well” the gloves worked. On the second outing I wore gloves while loading and at the launch site until I put the 3mm on, and wasn’t purposefully dragging my fingers through the water. Both days were similar temps: mid-20’s to low-30’s air and high 40’s water.
I knew exactly when my fingers would dip/trail in the water with the 3mm though, so I’m not sure they would actually keep my fingers/hands warm enough in an immersion scenario. Pogies definitely wouldn’t with the temps above, so I’ll stick to my gloves and get some wax.
Those open palm mitts look like a pretty good compromise between pogies and full mitts, but do they keep you hands warm with immersion, or does that hole let in a lot of water? I would guess they do, but maybe not?
They are very warm. They actually don’t let in a lot of water but keep in mind I’m mostly single blading so not lifting a blade over my hands. I do carry 2 pairs so I can swap em out halfway if I’m gonna be out for a while in case they get real wet. I can also fit a hand warmer on the top of my hands and it helps. In real cold temps a glove liner will also fit