A good set of gloves can make a huge difference and help you surf in colder water, more comfortably, for longer. We looked at the numbers of our best selling gloves and polled customers and employees to create this list of the 5 best gloves for surfing.
Gloves are one of those items that have a lot to do with personal preference. Some people wear gloves in warmer waters for comfort while others will shun gloves until they absolutely have to wear them. No matter what, if you’re going to be surfing in colder water, you’ll eventually need a good pair of gloves. So here’s a rough idea of what thickness and style-glove most people will wear based on water temperature.
1, 1.5 or 2mm Gloves – (60-45° F) This is generally about as thin as gloves come and most surfers will start to wear them once the water dips down in the ’50s into the ’40s. That being said, there’s plenty of people who choose to wear them in waters much warmer and colder than that.
3mm Gloves – (High 50’s-40° F) This the thickness of choice for areas like Canada and the East Coast during the spring and fall.
5mm Gloves – (55-35° F) At this point, many of the wetsuit companies will begin to offer different styles of gloves in this thickness, like lobster claws or even mittens. More on that later, but it’s safe to say that if you need 5mm gloves, you’re surfing one of the colder areas of coast like the North East, Alaska, or the Great Lakes.
7mm Gloves – (45 – 30° F) – For the most frigid waters on earth, 7mm Gloves are the way to go. They’re built tough and thick to help keep you in the water as long as possible. It’s mostly just mittens in this category for the added warmth, but that’s what it takes if you want to surf through the depths of winter on the East Coast, especially areas like Rhode Island or Maine.
Styles of Glove
5 Finger – This is the classic and most popular style of glove for cold water. It allows full dexterity of each finger and out of all the styles, this is the most maneuverable and feels the most natural. These gloves are available in thicknesses from 1 through 5mm and are the go-to choice for waters as warm as you’d need to start wearing gloves, down into the low 40’s.
Three Finger or Lobster Claw – Whatever name you choose to call it, 3 finger gloves are the middle child that aims to give you the best features of both the 5 finger glove and mittens. They usually separate the index finger and thumb from the rest of the fingers. That way you can still easily grab your board/rail while trapping the maximum amount of body heat in the glove. This style is only offered in 5mm and thicker gloves for some of the coldest waters out there.
Mittens – Surfers in only the most frigid waters need to apply. Mittens separate your 4 fingers from your thumb to give the maximum amount of warmth. If you’ve ever worn snow mittens before you’ll remember that they do a better job retaining the body heat from your hand than 5 or 3 finger gloves. The trade-off with these is that they’re a little “clumsier” than a 5 finger glove, but for heat, they’re unmatched.
Sizing your gloves correctly is important, because if you need gloves, the water you’ll be surfing in will be pretty cold. Having water flush through your gloves isn’t fun but having the gloves than retain the water because they’re too large for your hand is even worse. That’s why sizing gloves properly is essential to surfing in cold water. If you’re ever in between sizes, it’s best to lean towards the smaller size since gloves do stretch slightly over time.
Every glove on our website will have a size chart you can reference that uses either one of two measurement techniques to determine your hand size. Either by measuring your hand from its wide point all the way around back to the center of your palm or you can measure from the wrist to the end of your middle finger.
O’Neill Psycho Tech Gloves
“Best Seller and the Shop Favorite”
By far our best-selling glove over the past couple of years, the Psycho Tech series of gloves deliver in every category. I think what makes this the most popular choice is its all-around dependability. Gloves experience a lot of abuse and the Psycho Tech gloves are really flexible and have good tact while remaining durable. This is hard to find in a glove and they’re so dependable we switched almost all of our rental fleet gloves over to them.
These gloves are comfortable and have a long cut to them, meaning they wear further up past the wrist. This longer cut not only feels better but ensures a more watertight fit at the wrist so you won’t get flushed as easily. It’s worth mentioning, these gloves do run slightly small so if you’re truly in between sizes it’s a good idea to size up.
Shop By Style
Psycho Tech 1.5mm Gloves – $54.95
Psycho Tech 3mm Gloves – $59.95
Psycho Tech 5mm Gloves – $64.95
Psycho Tech 5mm Lobster Gloves -$64.95
Psycho Tech 5mm Mitten Gloves – $69.95
Psycho Tech 7mm Mitten Gloves -$74.95
Rip Curl Flash Bomb Gloves
“Toasty Warm and Most Comfortable”
These are a great choice for anyone looking for maximum warmth and tact in a glove. The inside of these gloves is lined with Rip Curl’s famous Flash Lining that dries quickly and helps retain heat. Drying gloves is a notoriously slow process, so I think the quick-drying feature is a huge bonus to this pair.
The Flash Bomb gloves are the most comfortable on the list and like the Psycho Tech gloves, they feature a nice long cut to them. If you’re surfing waters cold enough to need gloves, the last thing you want is a weak or short cuff on your gloves so that they flush easily and then hold water. So having a tight wrist fit and a longer cut to the glove is definitely appreciated.
Quiksilver Syncro Plus Gloves
“Solid Mid-Level Option”
The Syncro gloves are a mid-range option with some higher-end glove features like a thick seam weld over the stitching and some grip on the palms and fingers of the glove.
These gloves are made from Quiksilver’s F’N lite neoprene which is the same material that Quiksilver uses on some of their top suits. The gloves fit well and for about $40 you really can’t go wrong with these.
Shop By Style
Syncro Plus 3mm Gloves
Rip Curl Dawn Patrol Gloves
“Best Value For the Money”
Aside from the Psycho Tech, these Dawn Patrol gloves are our other glove-of-choice for the rental fleet. They’re durable, fit easily and have a nice tapered cuff at the wrist to reduce flushing.
The Dawn Patrol’s outer layer is very tacky and has a unique grooved texture to it that Rip Curl calls Sure-Grip. The name is apt as these gloves, especially in the price range, have excellent grip to them. This is the employee favorite for a budget pick and they’re well worth it if you’re strapped for cash or just want the most value.
Shop By Style
Dawn Patrol 3mm Gloves – $29.95
Rip Curl E-Bomb Gloves
“Adjustable and Affordable”
The E-Bomb series of gloves is kind of the black sheep of this list as it’s the only glove that has an adjustable strap. The adjustable strap is a cool feature as it allows you to tighten the fit of the glove around your wrist. The strap is detachable in the event you don’t need it, but a welcome feature nonetheless.
The E-Bombs are made of Rip Curl’s E4 neoprene which is flexible and comfortable. This glove is also notably sealed only with tape and glue, using Rip Curl’s “Stitchless” technology. Despite the lack of stitching, these gloves are still popular for their warmth and durability. These are the best selling gloves in the 2mm category.
Shop By Style
E-Bomb 2mm Gloves – $39.95
Billabong Absolute Comp Gloves
“Simple Budget Option”
The Billabong Absolute Comp gloves are among the least expensive on the list and really are the most simple in terms of their materials and design. The entire outer layer of the glove is made of the same material, that’s decently tacky and glued at the seams.
Fit-wise these gloves are a little on the big side and can stretch a bit over time, so if you’re in between sizes you should try to size down. If you need a decent pair of gloves at the lowest possible price, the Furnace Absolute is the way to go.
There’s a lot of different gloves, styles, and thicknesses out there so whenever you’re shopping for a pair, it’s most important to consider where you will be surfing with them. As always if you have any questions about these gloves or any of the 30+ styles of gloves we stock, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us toll-free at 1-888-546-6176 or leave a comment below.
Enjoy the water!