Protecting or shielding your hands from the elements while kayaking makes gloves and other hand-wear an important item of clothing in any paddler’s wardrobe. Adding that protective padding or layer needs to function without greatly impeding your sense of touch and digital manipulation of your surroundings that might be otherwise be compromised by something restricting your fingers and hand.
The friction of bare skin against the paddle shaft during a long-haul or arduous paddling effort can be eased by wearing a ‘fingerless’ style of glove. Open fingers maintain your digital dexterity while the enclosed hand is kept relatively warm and dry in addition to softening the grip of the paddle.
Full hand protection against the wet/cold is provided by full-fingered gloves. From thinner fabrics to denser neoprene, the level of dexterity rises accordingly. The thicker the glove, the warmer it is, but the more restrictive of finger movement, too.
Like hand protection in most cold environments, a mitten is warmer than a glove. Similarly, the thicker the mitt, the more restrictive and even less dexterous without the use of your fingers.
The ‘poggie” may be the best compromise, but it, too, has it’s limitations. You have the hands-on touch of your paddle, while also being protected from the elements.The trade off is that the poggie stays with the paddle so any capsize or any activity that requires the use of your hand elsewhere, you lose the protection of the poggie mitt.
Some poggies are designed to have a soft sleeve/gaunlet-like cuff attached. It can be challenging to get your hand into that second, loose, wobbly cuff once your other hand is already confined within the in the other cuffed poggie. The stiffer/no cuff styles allow you to remove/replace your hand quickly and effortlessly.
Warm, flexible hands and fingers are critical to the safe operation of your kayak - especially in emergency situations