Monday, December 05, 2011

Winter paddling, and keeping the "feeling" in your fingers...thoughts?

Joan's pogies keep her hands warm on this 0 degree paddle last week.
One of the reasons for the "blur" in this image from our last paddle is probably my cold hands - just can't seem to get it right! Hands continue to be the "weakest link" for me.

East Coast and UK paddlers might raise their eyebrows, but the water around Vancouver Island does get chilly at this time of the year, as does the air - honest! :)

I've tried various paddling gloves over the years from NRS, MEC, and the current pair, SealSkinz which are advertised as waterproof but (when I think about it) didn't seem to cost enough to make that claim reliable. Although they are comfortable, provide great paddle feel, and resist the water for awhile, they soon become sodden if immersed. They also hold no warmth when wet. We're usually out for 3-4 hours on a day paddle and it would be nice to be able to have some feeling in one's fingers by the end of a winter paddle!

Joan really likes her pogies and they keep her hands warm even if they do get wet when launching or taking a lunch break or whatever. Pogies the way to go? Any liners for pogies that have worked? Any success with any brand of gloves?

Thoughts or suggestions out there about what has worked well for hands in cold weather would be much appreciated?

Many thanks in advance.


Edited 09 Dec: Many thanks for your input, everyone. Looks like I'll be looking for a pair a pogies and will also check out some gloves / mitts next time we're at MEC or REI or a paddling store. Looking forward to that "road trip". :) I'll let you know how it goes. D.


  1. MEC Hot Mitts are the only ones that have consistently worked for me.
    I have tried lots of options, and since I use a Greenland paddle, my hands do get wet in winter. I think if I was using a Euro paddle, I would be tempted with pogies...

  2. Thank you, Mike, much appreciated guidance! I'll check them out. It will be interesting to see if others have discovered the same or other possibilities. Cheers. Duncan.

  3. Hey Duncan.
    Ive used MEC Humboldt for the past few years. On really cold days I use pogies attached to my paddle. For comfort I've found the Humboldt to be the best option with the ability to use my digits.

  4. I'm a fan of pogies. I've tried various gloves and for me, if they are thick enough to be warm they are a pain to put on and take off. And you can't do much with your hands - besides paddle - with them on. I have seen lots of variation on pogies as well. Mine were just neoprene, but I have seen some lined with really nice material. I say 'were' because they were lost somewhere on the inside passage. I think somewhere within a hundred miles of Skagway, so go find yourself a pair.


  5. Lee, thanks so much for that. Given the extreme cold weather paddling you were doing last winter in Ontario, I figured you would need some pretty good kit!!!

    Thanks PO, sound advice there. I had pogies years ago and they were just thin material, but they were effective. Hmm, "somewhere within a hundred miles of Skagway"? Gonna be tough to find! :)

    Thanks guys, much appreciated! Sounds like everyone agrees that a pair of pogies are well worth the investment. Joan's nodding her head too. I'll report back.

  6. Well Duncan, as you certainly must know by now, Joan is one smart just needed to take her lead. LOL

  7. You DO make a valid point, L. :) D.

  8. I get mega cold hands and use Palm fleece lined pogies. They keep my hands toasty warm, even if they get wet. Any pogies can be a pain for adjusting skegs, if you know of a voice activated skeg, I'd be interested!. As far as gloves are concerned, I'd recommend Lomo gloves. They keep their grip even when wet.

  9. Hi Sarah, great to hear from you in Scotland! Thanks for the thoughts on the challenges of cold hands. I'll check into the lined pogies and the Lomo gloves - great excuse to get back to Scotland too!

    Well, I have a voice-activated rudder on my kayak and it works great. Ah, just kidding! :) It's a cool idea and someone will probably have an idea! Thanks again for your response. Duncan.

  10. NRS toaster mitts. Very comfortable and warm even when wet.

  11. Thanks Bruce, just checked the reviews on the Toaster Mitts and they look great too. The responses have been very helpful, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment! Duncan.

  12. I tried pogies and felt trapped in them. I tried gloves and my hands got cold. What works for me are neoprene mittens. If it is super cold, I wear elbow high mittens that keep the neoprene dry. I also cary packets that when exposed to air get hot, but I haven't had a chance to try them out.

  13. Thank you for that, Silbs, I appreciate your perspective and experience in cold weather paddling. There are certainly pros and cons. Input very much valued. Duncan.