Gloves can make the difference between a good day on the water or a cold, and even painful sailing trip. The YM team tested 12 pairs to find the best
Summer sailing gloves. We test 12 pairs to find out which ones offer the best grip, protection and comfort
et’s face it, unless you have leather-like hands, there will always be times we wish we had gloves, whether it was for extra grip, protection, warmth or all three. Handling ropes every day makes hands tougher but many of us only sail occasionally, and whether racing or cruising, by the end of a day pulling sheets and halyards, we feel it on our palms and fingers and have usually hit a knuckle or two as well. Summer sailing gloves offer protection and grip, without the bulk of insulated or waterproof winter gloves.
Gloves need to protect and grip but they also need to be flexible to allow your hands and fingers to perform intricate tasks like tying knots and using on-board electronics. We tested 12 pairs of summer sailing gloves from seven brands: Musto, Gill, Zhik, Henri Lloyd, Helly Hansen, Gul and Tribord. The prices ranged from £6.50 to nearly £50. Design and style differed wildly, with a choice of long fingers or short fingers and varying wrist coverage, padding and materials, from Neoprene and latex to leather and mesh. Nearly all of them have pre-curved finger construction designed to give greater dexterity and comfort.
We were looking for a good solid all-round performer with good grip, flexibility, dexterity and protection. Fit is also key – they do have to fit like a glove – and while the test team’s hands come in different sizes, you have to find the ones that fit you, remembering that gloves do mould to your hand with time.
HOW WE TESTED
It is hard to measure grip. As we’ve discovered in previous glove tests, it is nearly impossible to replicate the exact squeeze of a hand many times to give a fair test. Instead, we went back to a tried-and-tested method – measuring the coefficient of friction for each glove to give a good indication of grip. To do this, we secured each righthand glove to a glass hatch, then laid a 1.4kg slate with a spring balance attached on top. We then pulled it until it overcame friction and started to slide.
Dexterity was the other criteria we tested by wearing each pair and carrying out six timed tasks, comparing the result with the time the tasks took with bare hands. The tasks were: dialling Ch16 and pressing the transmit (PTT) button; tying a bowline; unlocking a touchscreen mobile phone; putting a watch on and taking it off; opening and closing a D shackle; zipping up a jacket. We also compared the details of each glove, its quality and materials.
A heavy slate, pulled steadily over the gloves with digital baggage scales, gave a precise indication of the coefficient of friction and grip