Surgical gloves for paddling

-- Last Updated: Jan-02-05 5:19 PM EST --

Could the folks who've mentioned they use surgical gloves for winter kayaking say more about the details. I'd like to give this a try.

What type, material, thickness, etc? Where do you buy them and/or what brand? Do you have to buy them in quantity? What size (relative to your normal glove size)? What kind of liner do you use? Are they sealed or sealable at the wrist to function as dry gloves in case of a swim or roll? How do they compare to expensive dry gloves like Nordic Blues? How do they hold up? Etc, etc.

Thanks. --David.

Unlikely to work
Surgical gloves, especially latex, have about zero abrasion resistance and I can’t imagine them lasting for more than a few minutes. The heaviest weight nitrile gloves should be a bit more durable, but even they are not terribly rugged.

Yellow kitchen gloves
I’ve used Yellow kitchen gloves, they have a thin cottony liner that helps them go on. Eventually, they get holes worn between the thumb and index finger. But, if you get them oversized, wool knit gloves or poly gloves fit inside. Plus, they are longer and a rubber band on the wrist helps seal them. Worth a try, you an always use them for the kitchen or other chores.

Kitchen Gloves

– Last Updated: Jan-02-05 11:02 PM EST –

My brother used kitchen gloves with good success. His method was to put the gloves on first, then put the drysuit on afterwards. This way the wrist gasket was outside the glove. The disadvantage was that once on, you really couldn't take them off unless you removed the drysuit. The advantage is they are inexpensive, waterproof, and surprisingly durable. I got both him and myself Nordic Blues for Xmas. He appreciates the fact that he can now eat his lunch without gloves on.

PS. You need a little 303 on the gloves so that the latex wrist seal will slide over the glove.

kitchen gloves
I used kitchen gloves only once – a recommendation made by a friend prior to my first long trip on Lake Superior at Pukaskwa about 14 years ago. To make a long story short day one and day two were fine but by day three both of my hands were covered with blisters. The first hour of paddling on successive mornings was extremely painful. I have much better gear now (I like the Brooks mitts) – I would not recommend kitchen gloves for any type of extended trip. YMMV.

Greg Stamer

…paddling, but even on chilly days I like the gloves you can get at hardware stores, made of knit

polyester/cotton blend I think, and with the fingers & palms covered wtih a textured rubbery coating. Grips like crazy, a little sweaty in summer. Might consider gatting silk liners for colder weather. Cost $3-6 per pair.

How about NRS Reactor Gloves?

I’ve seen a couple of testimonials, so they look like they will be decently warm.

Two concerns: how well will they hold up, especialy given the $35+ price?

And, how will they do ~in~ the water, swimming, rolling or even frequent dipping. I’m finding that my Stearns 3mm neoprenes are not really doing the job at 40F air, 45F water, with frequent dipping. But they fit (my short fingers) great and are reasonably priced.

Anyway, I’m not getting a good picture for medical or kitchen gloves. Any defenders? Or, will I ultimately be obliged to go with real dry gloves like Nordic Blues, which I find quite cumbersome (especially with my short fingers),

NRS 3.5 MM Gloves
I have a pair (older model) and they were fine up to about 2 weeks ago, when I finally decided it was time to move back into the Nordic Blues. Nothing beats the Nordic Blue for warmth when paired with micro fleece glove liners.

I can’t believe your fingers would be any shorter than mine. I really have no problem with the nordic blue grip. You know my grip gets tested quire a bit out in the waves. The NRS has a great grip too but the precurved fingers strangely can make my hands tired after awhile of wearing them.


Nordic Blue – dexterity?
I’m not worried about the grip with Nordic Blues, certainly not as much as you surfer doods. ;-))

I’m more concerned with sea-kayaking dexterity, like being able to pop a day-hatch, press a button on a GPS, or more importantly, unhook and rehook the biner on a tow. The empty half-inch of heavy rubber tubing at the tip of each finger is not going to help with those tasks.


Are You Planning To Sew
with the gloves on? Other than that, general dexterity is there for unhooking a 'biner, pushing a GPS button with the nordic blues. Popping off a day hatch cover? Can’t say, my SOF doesn’t have hatches. What I need is on me. I would guess that it’s no big deal. If you hands are cold, you’ll have more of a problem with you dexterity. Right now, if you hands get wet regularly, chances are you start getting cold and lose dexterity in a couple of hours of so.


I have a pair of those
NRS gloves, ‘cept they are a year or two older. They work really good up here in the cold and the dexterity is pretty good. I’m not too keen on the curved finger thing, though, cuz it makes it harder to get on and I don’t like to stand there dinkin’ around with stuff. But I guess that’s just a personal preferance.

nordic blue hits the sweet spot
If you go with getting them from the scubacenter, the Nordic Blues are less pricey, they hold up well and hit the sweet spot between dexterity and safety. Safety is an important factor here. I was out in 33 degree water yesterday and had my hands in it and did not feel it! I find they have more grip and feel than any of the neoprene gloves and mitts. In windy cold wet conditions they are warmer for me at least than even precurved neoprene gloves mitts. You can always put in a thinner inner glove for increased feel.

I like the possum gloves, part merino wool part possum fur to give increased dexterity, but thinsulate and other formulas work as sing and others have shown.

I have used the gloves under
Gloves like NRS. They do provide protection but are too slippery when used alone. I was planning on getting a pair of Nordic Blues but found some fleece lined neoprene gloves at Sportsman’s warehouse for $20. The first pair ripped, but they were exchanged at no cost. I have used this pair for 1 month + without any problems, even when immersed in water that is below 32deg.

What size did you get?
If they happen to be XL’s and you’d like to move down to L’s to have less excess room, I’ll trade with ya’. The L’s are just a bit too small for me.

I use the purple nitrele ones
I bought a box at the Hardware store and use them under pogies all the time. I have yet to tear one, but I don’t re-use them. They seem to wear fine for general paddling and even torn they would be much better than bare skin on cold surfaces. I’m not suggesting them as a replacement for dry gloves, just as an excellent option beneath pogies.

Elder Sing taught me how
to burp the dryglove. Break seal, make fist, restore seal, release fist. Same principle as a drysuit. Let’s me do all that stuff, though not always with ease.

I’ve been using
a pair of recently acquired APS dry gloves and I’m quite pleased with them.

While not the high quality of my ‘Blues’, the APS gloves are certainly an inexpensive alternative and dramatically more efficient than surgical gloves.

The APS gloves cost less than $17 USD including shipping. This makes a very attractive package for those occasional cold water paddlers who want dry gloves without spending the big dollars. I use mine when I’m on the river as the ice is very hard on my more expensive Nordic Blues.

The APS also make an excellent pair of backups to the Blues for the trippin’ winter paddler.

I was impressed enough that I purchased a few additional pair to have on hand.

I’m using the extra large which allow me to easily wear a medium weight pair of Smartwool or Woolrich gloves underneath. The large size would be my choice if I were going sans liner gloves.

Dexterity is excellent, I can operate my digital camera with no worries. Paddle shaft grip is very good.

Nordic Blues are the best, to be sure, but the APS have also earned a permanent place in my equipment drawer.

I believe the APS dry gloves to be one of the great buys out there.

Here’s the page, the gloves are about halfway down:



– Last Updated: Jan-03-05 11:48 PM EST –

they're a medium, maybe I need a large, though. My hands haven't gotten any bigger, but I like gloves that let your fingers slide into them. Mine get caught up on the curviness of the fingers. Hmmm, that REI gift card that Santa and his elves sent will come in handy next week.

Great option and EZ Heat Warmers too!
The APS gloves are a nice alternatvie and back up! I also use these hand warmers for safety sake, and they are reusable!!!

Same site, different page:

EZ Heat Hand Warmer- The way it works is so cool–er make that hot–that we couldn’t believe our eyes. Just bend the metal disk inside and the liquid crystalizes in seconds, giving off 130 degree heat for quite some time. Keep it wrapped in cloth in a pocket to make the heat last longer.

The best thing is, it’s totally reusable. Boil it in water for six to ten minutes, and when it’s back to room temperature it’s ready to go again!

Sizing can be an issue with APS’s
I have size 10 hands, but the XL APS gloves I tried were way too small. I could barely get my hands into them with a thin liner on.

I’m suprised you’ve had issues with ice abrading your Nordic Blues. I got myself caught in some pack ice last year and had to pull myself through it with my hands, but the gloves came through it unscathed.