Chandlery: February 2012
Coated Work Gloves Go Sailing
When temperatures drop or lines get soaked, a good pair of sailing gloves is key for safety and performance. Add in a dose of arthritis, and finding the best hand protection becomes a priority. We’ve tested and used all kinds of conventional sailing gloves (PS, March 2008, September 2008, and November 2008)— and we’ve noticed that most don’t really grab wet line for long.
Some years ago, two Olympic dinghy-sailing hopefuls found a solution that also happened to be cheap: PVC coated-palm work gloves. Designed for the rigors of construction and commercial fishing, they work well for line-handling and for nasty jobs like hauling muddy chain and cleaning the bottom. There are numerous brands available, and we’ve tried many. Durability is very similar, as is grip, and fit boils down to personal preference. The following are gloves that testers have found work the best and are readily available from hardware stores or online retailers.
Atlas Fit: Dinghy sailors generally use the Atlas gardening gloves, which fit snug. Most cruisers will be happier with the regular weight and a more comfortable fit. The Atlas Thermal glove offers some insulation and padding, but nothing like the freezer gloves.
Flex-Tuff-II: These offer the best value in this sort of work glove.
Global Glove: The comfortable Global Ice Gripster will keep your fingers warm anytime it’s relatively dry and not too far below freezing.
None of these are waterproof, but they dry fast. The cloth backs make them breathable summer gloves, but for cold, wet weather, there are better glove choices out there (See PS, November 2008).
All of the coated work gloves we tried excel at grabbing lines without slipping. The downside is they grab too well for easing line off a winch or coiling line. The sticky coating doesn’t wear well if you actively trim sails, with loaded lines sliding through your hands, but an active summer cruiser can expect to get at least a season out of the cheap gloves. Just remember to keep them away from chemicals like gasoline and DEET, or the palm coating will turn to goo in short order.
We recommend the Atlas, Flex-Tuff, and Global Glove. With prices ranging from just $2 to $8 per pair, buy one of each and decide which brand gets your pick. Keeping a pair handy will allow you to save your expensive sailing gloves from hard use.