Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review of NRS Boaters Paddling Glove

If you’ve found that you're getting blisters or irritating your skin while paddling your kayak, then you should pick yourself up a pair of NRS’ Boaters Gloves. These gloves give you protection from blisters while leaving your finger tips free for dexterity.

Since my partner and I started kayaking more often after moving into our new home and getting settled, I was getting tired of the blisters and tender skin I would get after each trip so we started to look into finding some paddling gloves that would offer protection while not limiting movement or being too hot to wear while you were paddling. For about $23, I found these gloves during a visit to REI this spring and decided to try them out.

Glove Basics 

The palms of these gloves are made from synthetic leather to offer protection, while the backs of the gloves are made from a spandex material, which stretches and fits to your hand while allowing your skin to breathe and not overheat.

The fit on these gloves is quite snug to prevent movement or bunching of the glove while you are paddling (which could lead to blisters from that). There’s also a velcro hook-and-loop wrist closure which allows you to tighten and loosen the snugness of the fit of the glove around your wrist.

The glove only comes in one color – so you can’t match it to your kayak unless you’ve got a blue one. The glove is only available in a blue and black combination nowadays.

The glove comes in 5 different sizes – XS through XL and the best way to figure out your size is to try them on. You’ll want to find the glove that fits the snuggest without being too tight to be uncomfortable. Otherwise, if you get a glove that is too big, it’ll move or bunch up and give you blisters on its own.

The gloves are not waterproof, so they will get wet as you paddle, but the material fits you snugly enough that it won’t cause any irritation or blistering and the wetness won't change the glove.

The tips of the gloves are fingerless, leaving you with your finger tips exposed. This helps to keep your hands cooler and lets you use your finger tips as you’re paddling. It makes it easier to use maps, open bottles or do just about anything else and won’t require that you take the gloves off before you try.


Between the constant movement of the kayak paddle and the presence of water to keep your skin damp, it can be pretty easy to irritate your skin or get blisters while paddling your kayak. I had run into it several times, especially on longer trips and I wanted a pair of gloves that would stop the irritation, but wouldn’t be too bulky or too hot to wear while paddling.

That’s when I started wearing these gloves and I was happy with the protection they offered. They are easy and comfortable to wear, as they are very snug, but not too tight and they act like a second skin, not moving or bunching around as you are paddling. The lack of the fingertips on the gloves also let you do things in the boat without having to take them off – like unfolding a map or opening a can of soda.

Plus they aren’t that hot – and that was the major thing I was worried about. I didn’t want to be paddling around without blisters only to have hands that felt like they were melting. The spandex on the back of the glove allows them to breath and having your finger tips exposed lets your hands cool down a little bit. That said, in bright sunshine, they still are a bit warm, since they are a darker color and tend to absorb the sun’s heat. I find myself dipping the back of my hand in the water occasionally on trips with bright sunshine, just to cool the gloves down and make my hands more comfortable.

The gloves don’t become clingy or soggy when they get wet – the synthetic makeup of the glove keeps that from happening. They also dry quickly once your out of the water.

As for the life-cycle of these gloves – after a full season of fairly regular paddling, the palm areas are wearing in, but are nowhere near failing. I would expect several seasons of use out of them based on their wear and tear for the first season.

Final Thoughts 

If you need to find yourself a pair of paddling gloves to prevent blistering and irritation during kayaking trips, then you should check out NRS’ Boaters Gloves. Made from synthetic leather and spandex, they provide protection to your palms while keeping the rest of your hands relatively cool, while fitting snuggly enough to prevent any irritation or blistering on their own.

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