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Best Sailing Gloves for Serious Sailors

As the most ubiquitous piece of sailing gear (aside from a PFD, of course), the sailing glove of today is a highly designed and engineered thing of beauty. Here’s a look at the latest reviews and offerings in rope-holding and palm protection.

November 2, 2020
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Sailing gloves are one of the few pieces of gear to bridge the entire spectrum of racing, from Sunfish to TP52s to maxi racers—we all wear the same products to protect our hands. They’ve come a long way from the classic Trophy gloves of the 1970s. Synthetics have replaced leather, stitching is often done with Kevlar thread, and neoprene cuffs and mesh backs have become de rigueur for many.

Each brand has its own proprietary materials, often with exotic names, especially for the area that gets the heaviest use when handling lines—the palm. And there is some notable attention to detail, such as locking tabs to prevent the Velcro wristband from opening if snagged on a line, watch cut-outs and sectioned materials allowing better finger articulation. A handful of designs are specifically built for winter and summer conditions, meeting the needs of frostbite sailors as well as those in more tropical climes.

The true measure of a good pair of sailing gloves, however, is comfort, grip and durability. With comparable price points, if you want a straight-forward sailing glove, there’s plenty of choices. If you’re looking for some unique spins on the traditional glove, there are a few of those available as well. We chose to look at full-finger gloves, which for most models means all but the pointer finger and thumb are completely covered, although half-finger versions are available for many. Here is our review of the best sailing gloves on the market today.

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All-Around Gloves

Gill Pro

Gill Pro
Gill Pro sailing gloves deliver good protection, dexterity and seamless finger comfort. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Gill’s top-of-the-line glove is that all but the very back of each finger is wrapped in an aramid, leather-like fabric, which provides plenty of durability and protection. A lot of gloves transition immediately from the face of each finger to a lightweight fabric. Across the palm, Gill has a nice, grippy surface. Better still, it runs just around the palm for holding and hand protection when carrying a wrap of line around your hand. We liked the lack of seams on the fingertips, which provides a more comfortable fit and better dexterity. A neoprene cuff and stretch fabric across the back of the hand make this a comfortable and very functional glove, although a watch cut-out would be a good update for a future model. $46.95 https://www.gillmarine.com/

Gill Championship

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Gill Championship
The Gill Championship glove has essential had protection with a breathable top, ideal for warmer climes. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

More economical than the Gill’s Pro model, the Championship Glove still has several of the features of its sibling. The working surface is similar to what’s on the Pro, and it, too, wraps only around the palm. A small tab of the material is also sewn on the face of the thumb. Breathable stretch fabric covers the back of the hand and the sides of each finger, except the insides of the second and third, marking a significant durability difference between this and the Pro. Like the Pro, there are no fingertip seams. $36.95. https://www.gillmarine.com/

Harken Classic

Harken classic
Harken calls its glove the “Classic” for good reason; reliable and durable construction at a reasonable price. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

Harken’s Classic Glove is a straightforward, no-frills glove at a budget price. Palm reinforcement runs all the way up the inside of the fingers, and the back includes the same nylon spandex mesh as its more expensive sibling. Especially cool is a soft, simulated leather fabric with ventilation holes, that runs up the outside of each finger, adding to the glove’s durability. The wrist closure includes a locking tab. $34.99. http://harken.com/

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Harken Reflex Performance

Reflex Performance Glove
Harken’s Reflex Performance Glove is engineered to the level of its precision sailing hardware, and with its many clever features, it’s easy to see it’s designed by sailors for sailors. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

The first thing you’ll notice about the Harken Reflex Performance glove is the number of different materials. On the back is a nylon spandex mesh to keep the glove lightweight and your hands cooler, as well as rubber guard strips that run up the first two fingers and a convenient watch cut-out. The working side of the glove includes a padded palm guard placed right where you would wrap a line around you hand. Palm reinforcement runs halfway up each finger, leaving much thinner, smooth material at the finger tips, which increases tip sensitivity—great if you find yourself having to deal with manipulating small objects (think ring dings) or attend to instruments with your gloves on. The wrist closure includes locking tab. $41.99 http://harken.com/

Mustang EP 3250 Full-Finger

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Mustang EP 3250 Full-Finger Glove
The Mustang EP 3250 Full-Finger Glove is built for cold and rough sailing, with neoprene for warmth and abrasion reinforcement in key areas. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

Billed as a sailing “work glove,” the mustang EP3250 is certainly built that way. Constructed of 3mm neoprene, the glove is clearly made for cooler, but not cold, conditions. The palm is layered with PVC abrasion-resistant material, which extends up the fingers, ending just short of the finger tips, and is continuous except for the finger joints, making it easier to articulate the fingers. The question is whether or not those areas might be prone to early wear. That material wraps well around the side of the palm and the little finger, providing for increased durability. The palm also has a break in the PVC material, making it easier to close the palm. The watch cut-out is a great feature. $49.95. https://mustangsurvival.com/

Mustang Traction Full-Finger

Mustang Traction Full-Finger Glove
With the Mustang Traction Full-Finger Glove, sailors in colder climes will greatly appreciate the ability to activate touch-screen displays and tie knots by simply peeling back the finger tips. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

Here’s a unique idea—create a glove that not only does all the things a sailing glove is supposed to do but allows you finger-tip dexterity for fine-motor activities, such as manipulating navigational tools—think touch screens—or dealing with anything else that you can’t do with a glove on. It’s done by providing fold-back tips on the thumb, index and middle fingers. These are easy to open and slide back in place. The gloves are made of 2.5mm neoprene with a full overlay of abrasion-resistant material on the palm. Knuckles are also protected by an additional overlay. $39.95 https://mustangsurvival.com/

Ronstan Sticky Race

Ronstan Sticky Race Glove
The appropriately named Ronstan Sticky Race Glove should be a favorite for spinnaker trimmers who are especially active with sheet adjustment. Expect great hold on wet, slippery lines. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

The first time you touch the palm of the Ronstan glove, you’ll know why it’s called “sticky.” Clearly more “stick” than any of the other gloves we looked at. With this synthetic leather covering the palm as well the insides of the fingers, the glove has great rope-holding power that, according to Ronstan, helps reduce fatigue because its extra gripping power. We can believe that. The gloves are double-stitched in the palm and have a quick-drying mesh panel on the back, facilitating flexibility and breathability. We especially like the neoprene around the wrist, which is not only comfortable but prevents it from rolling up. Includes watch cut-away and locking tab for wrist closure. $34.95. https://www.ronstan.us/marine5/

West Marine Long Finger

West Marine Long Finger Glove
Bargain sailors (and who isn’t?) who burn through sailing gloves, will like the cost of West Marine’s Long Finger Glove and features that it offers: decent durability and warmth, and a good rope-holding grip. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

By far the least expensive of the group, but still a surprisingly comfortable and well-built, no-frills glove. The working surface is a single piece of suede that runs all the way up the fingers and should take a reasonable amount of abuse. The back is four-way stretch nylon, and it has a neoprene cuff that, while comfortable, is a long enough that getting to a watch while wearing this glove might be a little challenging, but certainly not a deal breaker, especially at this price. $28.99 https://www.westmarine.com

Zhik G2 Performance

G2 Performance sailing gloves
Zhik’s G2 Performance sailing gloves are perhaps the most tricked out offering of our collection, designed and honed over the years by top racing sailors, the overall design is excellent, which makes for comfortable wearing glove with remarkable hand protection and grip after breaking them in. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

Zhik’s top-of-the-line gloves include Kevlar stitching, padding extending from the palm up through the halfway point of the fingers and a design that places seams away from traditional pressure points. These are made for a snug fit, which might seem initially uncomfortable, but once you start using them you’ll appreciate how your hands seem locked into the gloves. The palm and finger padding are somewhat smooth compared to the synthetic leather used in other gloves, making them not quite as grippy. There are no seams on the fingertips, making for a comfortable fit. The top of the thumb opening is cut and not finished, which seems unusual, given that the open pointer finger opening is finished. We wonder how that will affect durability. Zhik recommends buying a size down from what you normally wear. However, when we tried a size large, which we normally wear, they fit fine. Wrist strap includes a locking tab. $49.99. https://www.zhik.com/

Zhik Gs Sticky

Zhik Gs Sticky.
The engineers at Zhik took what everyone loves about the inexpensive “dipped” nylon gloves and make it better with its Zhik Gs Sticky. Flexible and expendable, they provide excellent sheet grip…until a smoked sheet has you digging a new pair from the three-pack. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

Most of us know about Atlas gloves—the type sold in gardening and hardware stores. Lightweight, very inexpensive and perfectly serviceable for at least handful of sailing days. Some suppliers of sailing gloves have taken note and are now producing their own versions of the Atlas glove—including Zhik. Their seamless nylon glove has a textured, grippy latex surface on the palm and insides of the fingers. The result is a very straightforward, comfortable and flexible glove. The only downside is that they only come in black, which might prove a little warm in mid-summer. Sold in three-packs, they retail for 19.99. https://www.zhik.com/

Cold Weather Gloves

Gill Three Seasons

Three-Season Glove
With its Three-Season Glove, Gill essentially winterizes the best traits of its Championship Glove with neoprene. Good flexibility in the material and contoured fingers provide grip and comfort for handling sheets and tillers. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

This is basically a neoprene construction with the same reinforcement as the Gill Championship glove. The glove is slightly longer, proving a little more warmth to the wrist area while minimizing separation between the glove and the sleeve top. The neoprene is thick enough to work well for frostbiting, yet not so thick as to restrict movement or become overly hot when conditions warm. Like all of the colder-weather gloves we looked at, there’s not watch cut-out, so if you wear a wrist watch, plan to wear it over the glove sleeve. $35.95 https://www.gillmarine.com/

Rooster Combi

Combi Glove
Rooster’s Combi Glove does what it says: combines a glove for race time and mitten that will warm your fingertips between races. Plus, it has great grip material in the palm area. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

Here’s one we didn’t see coming—Rooster’s unique cold-weather approach to their already formidable line of gloves. The Combi Glove features an “AquaFleece” mitten that can be pulled up and over the fingers between races to keep them warmer by reducing wind chill. When it’s time to race, pull the mitten over the back of the hand, tuck it into a neat pouch located on the back of the glove, and you’re back to a more traditional cold-weather racing glove. Clever, indeed. The palm and insides of the fingers have a sticky grip surface, making it easy to hold on to lines. The glove extends further up the wrist than any of the other gloves we looked at, which is great for keeping your hands warm and helps avoid a gap between the glove and the sleeve end of your top. Velcro wrist strap includes a locking tab $37.70 https://www.roostersailing.com/

West Marine 3 Seasons

3 Seasons Long Finger Glove
While Marine’s 3 Seasons Long Finger Glove is touted as a three-season offering, it’s good for all four in areas with cooler summer conditions, especially as a no-frills offering with good grip and flexibility. Courtesy of the Manufacturer

Similar in design aesthetics to the West Long Finger model and with slight changes to the reinforcement panels, the 3 Seasons glove is constructed with 2.5 mm neoprene, and all the fingers are fully covered. Because of the neoprene, it feels a little stiffer than the Long Finger, which should be no surprise, but not to the point where it’s difficult to close your hand. The neoprene should do a great job of keeping your hands warm in all but the coldest conditions. Again, a straightforward, no-frills glove for the price. $34.99. https://www.westmarine.com

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