The choice of sailing gloves can be bewildering. Do you most need to protect your hands from physical damage and rope burn, keep them dry, or keep them warm? The answer will depend on the season, the weather and the boat you're sailing, writes Rupert Holmes.

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For much of the year thermal insulation is an important attribute for the best sailing gloves, and is especially true for those on faster boats such as RIBs, where windchill can be a significant factor. Equally, on a sailing yacht long night watches often involve extended periods with little activity.

In addition, you may need protection against physical damage to your hands and rope burns, particularly if racing, while maintaining good dexterity for tying knots, handling shackles and so on. The ever-growing use of touchscreens on board can also pose problems when sailing gloves need to be worn. In cold weather sometimes the most effective, and certainly the most frugal, option (if you can’t afford a separate part of winter sailing gloves) is to use a thin inner fabric glove with a pair of household cleaning gloves over the top.

There are others who will vouch for the effectiveness of gloves sold for commercial fisherman, which are also a cost-effective alternative. However, there are of course plenty of occasions when these are not the best option, or when a degree of style is an important consideration. In any case some of the very best technical sailing gloves have outstanding performance.

Best sailing gloves available right now

 

Musto Essential Sailing Short Finger Glove

These are a classic fingerless glove, designed to protect your hands from the rigours of handing rope all day, that has been re-engineered using today’s high-tech materials. They are among the highest rated of all sailing gloves.

The lightweight four-way stretch mesh fabric maximises freedom of movement and anatomical comfort, while providing a high level of breathability. Construction is of 70 per cent Nylon, plus PU, neoprene and spandex.

The protection panels are placed strategically and oversized Velcro wrist closures give a secure tailored fit.

Reasons to buy

• Super lightweight at just 20g
• Available in wide range of sizes from XS to XXL
• Machine washable

Reasons to avoid

• Winter sailors may want more warmth

Buy it now on Amazon

Buy it now on Musto.com

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Gill Helmsman Gloves

Read our full Gill Helmsman sailing gloves review.

As the name suggests, these are designed for use when helming and recognise that task can involve long periods with little activity.

They are, therefore, well insulated, using quick drying breathable materials that retain warmth when wet.

My pair are very comfortable to wear and have an impressive level of waterproofing.

The long gauntlet style enables the glove to be tucked up inside the sleeve of a foul weather jacket, which minimises the risk of drips from your arm finding their way inside the glove.

A touchscreen compatible pad is built into the forefinger on each hand.

Reasons to buy

• Waterproof
• Thinsulate lining
• Elasticated cuff and drawcord helps trap heat in

Reasons to avoid

• Relatively expensive
• Not the most flexible

Buy it now on Amazon

Zhik Superwarm

Read our full Zhik Superwarm sailing gloves review.

These superwarm and stretchy four layer neoprene gloves are intended to offer the ultimate in warmth without impinging on dexterity.

The outside of the material is water repellent to keep hands dry for longer and there’s a fast drying soft fleece on the inner face. The palm and fingers have a super-grippy layer of reinforced polyurethane.

To improve comfort and fit, these gloves are produced in the slightly curved shape of a hand.

This winter they have been my first choice of gloves in extreme conditions when there’s little prospect of being able to keep hands dry.

They proved effective when I was on the water for Pip Hare’s Vendee Globe race finish, in the middle of a wet, windy and bitterly cold February night.

Reasons to buy

• Quick-dry fleece inner
• Reinforced grippy silicone palm
• Available in wide range of sizes from XXS to XXL

Reasons to avoid

• Summer sailors can make do with cheaper options

Buy it now on eBay

Check Amazon

Decathlon fingerless mittens

When it’s really cold mittens can be much better than gloves and many years ago for a Southern ocean passage I took a pair of ski mittens.

They were not ideal – fabric technology has moved on enormously since then – and had to be dried next to the cabin heater at the end of every watch, but they certainly helped keep my hands warm once we were south of 50 degrees latitude.

I love the concept of these “fingerless” mittens from Decathlon – when you need dexterity and ability to use your fingers and thumb, the end of the garment slides off, leaving you with a more conventional pair of fingerless gloves.

Like my old ski mittens they are not intended as a marine garment, so may not be fully waterproof, but it’s easy to see that they could still be very useful.

Reasons to buy

• Removable fingertips
• Budget-friendly option

Reasons to avoid

• Not designed for marine environments

Buy it now on Decathlon

Zhik G2 Performance Sailing Gloves

Read our full Zhik G1 and G2 sailing gloves review.

This is the heavier version of the company’s product for all types of racing and performance cruising.

It has three full fingers, leaving the index finger and thumb unencumbered for tying knots, undoing shackles and operating touchscreens on either smartphones or chartplotters.

The high-grip padding is positioned such that it works with ropes of any diameter and is offset to eliminate the pressure points that can be created by seams.

They are heavily reinforced and have an extra-secure Velcro wrist closure that all but eliminates the chances of losing a glove during a high-adrenaline manoeuvre.

Reasons to buy

• Reinforced palm and finger panelling
• Hi-vis and reflective detailing for aid in low light
• Available in wide range of sizes from XXS to L

Reasons to avoid

G1 version is cheaper and more lightweight

Check Amazon

Buy it now on Amazon

decathlon-sailing-gloves

Decathlon adult sailing fingerless gloves

Sailing gloves can be disappointingly easy to lose, so keeping a spare pair in the bottom of your kit bag can be a good move.

This pair of fingerless gloves from Decathlon is priced such that keeping a few extras around won’t cost a fortune.

They have plenty of grip, offer good protection, are made of a comfortable stretch fabric and have a Velcro wrist strap.

Despite the competitive price the specification is good enough for ordinary use.

Reasons to buy

• Finger tabs make them quick to put on and take off
• Highly affordable
• Designed specifically for sailing

Reasons to avoid

• Not machine washable

Buy it now on Decathlon

sealskins-saiiling-gloves

Sealskinz waterproof all-weather glove

These lightweight insulated gloves are made of 100 per cent waterproof material to keep your hands dry, and therefore warmer, for longer.

The goatskin leather palm gives added protection and a natural feel, while fingers are pre-curved for comfort. Touchscreen compatibility is included on thumb and forefinger.

The outer layer of the breathable fabric is made primarily of polyester, with added neoprene and elastane, while the zero-movement inner lining is of 100 per cent polyester.

Like other Sealskinz products they come with a lifetime guarantee.

Reasons to buy

• Goatskin leather palm gives great grip
• Zero-liner movement
• Lifetime guarantee

Reasons to avoid

• Sizing comes up small

Buy it now on Amazon

Gill-Championship-sailing-gloves

Gill Championship Glove

Read our full Gill Deckhand and Championship sailing gloves review.

Aimed at all types of performance sailing and watersports, these have three long fingers with seamless fingertips to improve dexterity.

The pre-shaped construction creates a comfortable fit, without excess fabric, while a reduced cuff length further reduces bulk and means wrist movement is not impeded.

Wraparound Dura-Grip fabric is used on the palm to maximise grip without compromising flexibility and provide excellent resistance to abrasion.

On the back of the hand a four-way stretch material provides good comfort and has a high SPF50 sun protection factor rating.

Reasons to buy

• Wraparound palm protection
• 4-way stretch fabric across the back of the hand
• Suitable for a wide range of watersports

Reasons to avoid

• Only available in two sizes: short and long finger

Buy it now on West Marine

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Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated sailing page for more marine products.