cold water and your hands?


Jul 1, 2021
Shoshoni Wyoming
I just got back from what may be the last camping trip of the year. I went out for 3 days on the lake near my home and I paddled about 40 miles or so. Didn't push very hard, but did go slow enough to explore a lot of shore line and found about 20 places that will be good camp-sites in the coming year. It's cooling down here, and when winter comes to the Rockies it will come fast most years. I'll go from having a great "play ground" to an ice sheet very soon. Once the freeze hits I'll have no kayaking at all until spring thaw.

So I found myself in need of something to keep my hands from getting painfully cold. I expect I'll have more use in the coming spring than now, because going from warm to cold here doesn't take long and with fresh water instead of salt water, and with the lake being no-so-deep at this time, the freeze comes fast and goes deep in the lakes here. Concerns to keeping my hands warm on the paddle was nothing I gave a lot of though to---- until I was out there----- and found I needed something. I'll get something over the winter, and be ready for the spring break-up.

Pogies don't seem to be what is in order. I can't see how to use them over a Greenland paddle. My blades are 4.6" wide. ( Am I wrong ?) Dose someone make them that will work on my GL paddles? They seem to be made for paddles that come apart in the middle, and my "stick" doesn't do that. I still have the 2 piece spoon blade paddle and pogies would work on it, but I wonder if the aluminum shaft would make the problem even worse.

Should I look to gloves and mittens? I have a set of neoprene gloves, but they slip on the paddle and don't give me a good feel. I used them, but didn't like them much. They have a bunch of plastic disks made into the palms and fingers that are supposed to give a better grip, but do the opposite.

Should I try mittens? Does someone make some that have a "sticky" palm that won't slip around very much?

I can keep my balding head warm and my feet too. I have been a hunter for 50+ years in the mountains and I have warm socks and warm hats, but the gloves I have are not made for constant wetting and yet not slip around on a paddle. What works well in snowy days doesn't seem to be the best for icy water.

What do you folks use? What are your recommendations?
I have had mixed results with gloves and generally use pogies. Understanding that's not going to work my next preference would probably be a paddling specific mitten, like the NRS Toaster Mitts.

I had a pair of NRS Maverick Gloves, they were nice while they lasted, but delaminated quickly. They were nice because they were thin and waterproof. They weren't the warmest, but we're pretty good for the temperatures around here.

I know guides who opt for dishwashing gloves over top of cheap dollar store gloves and absolutely swear by them.
I use pogies with my GP. It does limit the slide stroke. But my pogies fit over the loom and then velcro shut over the loom. I suspect most pogies work that way. My hands stay warm, more so than with mitts.
  • Like
Reactions: CPS
Ok, I see they don't slide over the blade or over the shaft when taken apart. They velcro on. So maybe I will try pogies. I have never actually seen a set. Only pictures.
I expect I'll be needing them in the spring when the ice thaws, but the water is still very cold.

In the fall here, the "cool" water doesn't last long at all. It goes from summer temps to winter temp (frozen over) in just 3-4 weeks.
I have no experience with GP so maybe no credibility with regards to this question.
I use Glacier Glove Perfect Curve exclusively. I've tried a lot of other paddling gloves but have never been satisfied with them and they end up being used for cool season yardwork or given to paddling friends who have none. The Perfect Curve is sometimes a bit slick on my back up paddle (Cyprus) but not on my Ikelos. If I find that my grip is slipping I just rub a bit of ski wax on the shaft and it works fine. That might not work with GP. There are a couple of other models that can gotten for less (Kenai and Ice Bay) but in my experience they wear through to quickly. Both are stickier but I just can't make them last.

I buy my gloves a size large so that I can slip them on with wet hands and I end up cutting the velcro straps off to use elsewhere.
Last edited:
Pogies are what I use.
I've tried a few different kinds. I like the shorter neoprene style (sometimes called 'whitewater pogies') because I find it tough to get my hands quickly back into pogies with longer wrist sections.
My favourites from MEC and SnapDragon aren't available any more, but the LevelSix ones work OK.
mini-L6 pogies.JPG

For not-so-cool conditions I've been using the low-profile Aquatherm pogies from Chillcheater in the UK.
I like them because they have a plastic stiffener around the opening. They are also easy to compress if I grab 'from the outside' if I need to use the paddle without putting my hands into the pogies.
mini-chillcheater low-profile-pogies-1.jpg

NB- Even if you would be happy using pogies with your GP, the thicker loom on a GP vs. a standard shaft on a 'Euro' or wing paddle may make the pogies fit tightly, restricting the space for your hands. I don't like the pogie to rub on my knuckles, even though I always (year-round) wear thin work gloves.

A lot of GP techniques require moving your hands on the paddle loom, so many users don't like pogies with their GPs.
An alternative that a GP-using friend has tried recently is the long-sleeve over-mitts that Chillcheater sells. They might be worth a try for anybody, not just GP users.
mini-chillcheater gauntlets.JPG

Before I became a 'convert' to pogies, I tried a lot of different mitts and gloves. All the neoprene mitts and gloves I tried were similar to strapping an ice-cold sponge to my hands and letting the wind blow on it - my hands got really cold. I have poor circulation in my hands - too many 'frost-nip' sessions from ice climbing, I think. So anything that restricts the blood flow to my hands makes them cold. Most of the neoprene hand gear -even the pre-curved types - makes my hands cold. YMMV, etc...I found the same with the liner gloves and dishwashing gloves or rubbery nitrile work gloves solution. With them I also got the liners wet eventually.
  • Like
Reactions: CPS
For surfing at Surge Narrows, where your hands are immersed a lot, I use the older version of NRS Maverick gloves. They are expensive and wear quickly, but aquaseal does a reasonable job of fixing the holes. Hands are still going to be wet, but do not suffer constant flushing of cold water. Your case is a little different as the water here is never ice cold. For normal paddles where my hands are above the surface, dishwashing gloves will work but the thin ones aren't robust and the thick ones may be stiff. I prefer these Atlas gloves
which are inexpensive and available here in Campbell River at Redden Net. The cuffs are not dipped so the inside will get wet eventually.
When I lived in Revelstoke and paddled year round, I tried NRS toaster mitts (good but bulky) and Brooks Tuilik mitts
which would stay dry despite immersion but were difficult to put on and take off - better have your roll down pat.
For any glove that isn't quite warm or dry enough, a thin nitrile glove inside the main glove will keep your hand warmer & dryer - especially with a rubber band around the nitrile glove at your wrist.
I've had two failures with gloves so I use pogies when I need the warmth. Yes, they open with a velcro strip, you don't need to slide them on a shaft. The first failure glove was from NRS. I've always had a challenge with their sizing. In this case, the glove was so tight around my wrist (size L), it would put my hand to sleep. The second was a much lighter fabric. But when it got wet, it held that water next to my hand with an added wind chill made it ... uncomfortable.

These days, I wear an old pair of fingerless gloves. They serve two purposes. 1) Sometimes I'd bang the knuckle of my thumb against the conning during a stroke. The short "finger" part of the fingerless gloves covers/protects that knuckle until I learn not to bang it. 2) I have a lightweight and heavier-weight pair of pogies. Both have inside seams that seem to find and rub raw parts of my hand. So those fingerless gloves also protect my hand from seam sores. Did I mention they were fingerless gloves - so I still have finger dexterity when I need it.
I have a lightweight and heavier-weight pair of pogies. Both have inside seams that seem to find and rub raw parts of my hand. So those fingerless gloves also protect my hand from seam sores.
I wear gloves year-round for paddling - to protect against abrasion and also the sun in the summer. I think they help prevent (or reduce) blisters near the 'V' between my thumb and fingers. It's nice to be wearing something if I need to reach out to a rock when paddling too close, too. Once I used pogies with bare hands - which was plenty warm but I rubbed a few spots raw on those pogie insides - so I wear my regular gloves inside pogies also.
I tried a bunch of different gloves and found these 'favourites' years ago:
Watson 395 Stealth Blackbird
Nice and grippy.
Granted where I am we don't get nearly as cold as you, so my needs may not match yours. But for colder times, I use some Reed Chillcheater open palm gloves. Get some warmth while still letting you feel the paddle directly.
A big Thank You to all those that have posted in response. There are a lot of options shown to me here I was unaware of. Now that I see that pogies velcro onto the paddle I may try them, but I think I will add to them something else so I can go from cool to cold and back as and when I need to. The water in the high lakes warms up over a 1-2 month period in spring. That's when I expect to need them most. Very soon after the spring thaw. So I have a bit of time to get them now.
But for colder times, I use some Reed Chillcheater open palm gloves. Get some warmth while still letting you feel the paddle directly.

I have a pair of cheap neoprene mitts that I cut the palm out of. Keeps fingers warm but maintains good paddle feel. Good to have various options for a wide range of temperature conditions.