Unless your hands are made of leather, then at some stage, you will want a pair of sailing gloves. But what makes the best gloves for sailing isn’t one size fits all (pardon the pun).
So to help you navigate the ocean of buying choices, I’m going to use my 10-year career in yachting to break it down into the categories you’ll see below.
Read on to learn more about each pair that features in the list, or jump straight to the ones you want via the quick links:
🏁 Best Sailing Gloves For Racing
The key characteristic of racing sailing gloves is grip. So start by looking for a glove that will meet the level of racing you are doing. Professional sailing boats use thinner lines to save weight. Thinner sheets are harder to grip (especially if they’re wet), so sailors need maximum grip.
Newport Full Finger Sailing Gloves
Thumb and index finger cutaway
Abrasion-resistant fabric in the palms
Harken is one of the most trusted names in sailing. They are primarily known for being the unchallenged market leader in sailing rigging, winches and blocks. So they know a thing or two about sailing.
Their Newport sailing glove was made exclusively for Westmarine and is one of the few sailing gloves sized up to 2XL. There is ribbed neoprene knuckle protection, and the palms feature abrasion-resistant fabric to help you clinch onto modern small, diameter, low-stretch lines.
You will have your thumb and index finger exposed to help with dexterity, and for any touch screens, you need to interact with. While the velcro wrist straps will keep them snug and comfortable for long periods.
⛵ Best Sailing Gloves For Cruising
You will require a different sailing glove when cruising, such as sailing at night or doing watch rotations. The best sailing gloves for cruising should have articulated fingers for helping to hold the wheel and preferably be made of neoprene.
Gill Men’s Long Finger Championship Gloves
Stretch fabric on the backhand
50+ UV protection
The sailing glove market has looked the same for decades. Now Gill has introduced a new closure system to their Championship line. A significantly reduced cuff length gets rid of pesky velcro straps.
The effect is reduced bulk and improved comfort. Pair this with the revolutionary adjustment system that opens down the hand towards the thumb. This makes it an easy glove to get on and off, which is a huge plus if your hands are cold and wet.
But what I really like about the new design is that it works in conjunction with foul-weather gear. Typical sailing gloves get in the way when putting on/taking off a wet weather jacket. With Gill’s Championship gloves, that doesn’t happen any longer. A huge plus!
Gill constructs their gloves using a pre-shaped construction mould. That translates into a natural fit to the hand. They have also reduced the amount of stitching on the palm by using a single panel of their patented dura grip material.
❄️ Best Cold Weather Sailing Gloves
Gill Helmsman Sailing Gloves
Fully insulated front and back
Waterproof & breathable fabric
These cold-weather sailing gloves are made by Gill and are fully waterproof. A fully formed hand insert sits between the insulation and the outer layer of the breathable fabric, protecting you from the elements.
There is a highly durable soft shell outer layer of fabric with a water-repellent finish so that any rain or sea spray will roll right off and keep your hands warm and dry.
In keeping with Gill’s hallmark, these gloves have a rear volume adjustable velcro strap to ensure the snuggest of fits and provide maximum comfort. One feature that stands out from all the other cold-weather sailing gloves on the market is the design of the gauntlets.
They are shaped in a way that allows you to pull the gauntlet over your wet weather gear. Typically sailing gloves get in the way and pull your jacket up your arm where water can ingress. Most glove makers try to solve it with an adjustable velcro wrist strap. But Gill solves it with clever design.
The front side of the glove is constructed as a one-piece panel, contoured pre-shape with reduced stitching. Their proprietary Dura Grip provides fantastic grip to the wearer in wet and dry conditions and is highly durable.
This year’s model also has touchscreen capability for the thumb and index finger, so you don’t need to remove the glove. Touchscreen devices are exceedingly common on yachts and boats these days, and it’s a premium touch by Gill to add that feature.
💅 Best Sailing Gloves For Women
While most sailing gloves are unisex, a few models are made specifically for women. You’ll look for the same traits in a unisex model to determine if the gloves are made properly or not.
Women’s Long-Finger Sailing Gloves (For Racing)
Key specs: Reinforced AX Suede™ wraparound palm; Neoprene cuff; Silicone grip
West Marine’s latest long-finger sailing gloves feature a reinforced AX Suede™ wraparound palm and abrasion-resistant thread. This greatly improves performance and dependability. They have superior grip and durability for active sailors that handle thin lines and winch handles.
The backside of the sailing glove is made from 4-way stretch nylon, so when you change the shape of your hand, it’ll be comfortable and flexible. While the wrist closure inside the glove prevents it from snagging on anything out on deck.
Adjustable velcro wrist straps on the cuff makes getting them on/off easy. With their closed-finger design, you’ll have a better grip without compromising dexterity.
Traction Closed Finger Gloves (For Cruising)
Key specs: 3mm neoprene construction; synthetic leather; silicon grip closure
Another reputable name in the marine industry. These sailing gloves made by Mustang Survival will cover as both a quality cruising glove and a cold weather sailing glove.
They are full-fingered gloves which provide you with maximum protection in all types of conditions. With 3mm moulded neoprene on the backside of the glove, it’ll keep a warm layer of water between the glove and your skin. There are also padded knuckle guards for extra protection.
With slightly articulated fingers and heavy-duty synthetic materials on the palms, they are both ergonomic and highly durable sailing gloves.
A silicon grip closure guarantees a snug fit and tucks under your wrist to prevent snags on deck.
🪢 Best Sailing Gloves For Beginners
As a beginner, you don’t need a high-performance sailing glove. I would also recommend you buy something that is multidisciplinary. So if you decide that sailing isn’t for you, then you can still use the equipment in other watersports.
These WindRider Ultra Grip sailing gloves are a great entry point sailing glove. While they are a far cry from the likes of Gill Championship gloves or indeed, Harken they will do just fine.
They provide plenty of grip and the abrasive synthetic leather at the ball of the thumb is typically a premium feature. It’ll prevent any rope burn while you learn.
Don’t expect these to keep your hands warm though, and they won’t hold up too well in wet conditions. But for sunny days sailing around the harbour, they’ll allow enough flexibility for tying knots and give you an excellent grip for the whole day.
🧑⚖️ Our recommendation process
Between myself and Craig, we have nearly 20 years’ worth of experience within the yachting industry. We have used numerous work gloves from brands like Gill and Harken.
The recommendations we share are 100% impartial and bias-free. We only offer genuine advice on what we have come to know as the best and most reliable sailing gear. And we also strongly advocate that the best sailing glove on the market today is the long finger in the Gill Championship gloves range.
📝 A buyer’s Guide to Sailing gloves
At face value, it seems fairly straightforward. And to the untrained eye, most sailing gloves look quite similar. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll soon be down the rabbit hole of subtle differences. Here is what you need to consider when looking to buy a quality pair of sailing gloves.
Types of hand gloves
An important distinction is between fingerless gloves (short-finger gloves) and full-finger gloves. This will ultimately be a matter of personal preference, as full-finger gloves reduce dexterity. However, there is a solution to keep the thumb and index finger free.
Index finger and thumb open
Primarily the purpose to keep them free is for ropework because these are the two digits you’ll use the most when tying knots or untying knots. They can also be easier to remove since you can pull in the material at the top of the fingers.
Short Finger Glove (Fingerless gloves)
Some sailors like to keep all their fingers free because they prefer the additional dexterity of having them free. There is also the issue of fit, where you can pull the glove downwards to be as snug as possible.
What material provides the grip
Higher-end sailing gloves use something called Amara on the palm that provides the grip. It’s a synthetic suede material that keeps its shape over time. It’s also quick-drying and highly durable. A cheaper pair of sailing gloves will likely use synthetic leather on the palm to provide the grip. Over time this material will break down faster than Amara and need to be replaced.
💭 Final Thoughts
Sailing gloves come down to a matter of preference. It’s ultimately up to you if you prefer fingerless sailing gloves or full sailing gloves. A good pair of sailing gloves should last you years.
The best sailing glove you can get today is the Gill Championship which comes in both short and long-finger sizes. It’s the best all-around pair of sailing gloves and get’s the editor’s choice award from Sailing Savvy.
Sailing gloves will form an important part of your foul-weather gear, so it’s worth considering your jacket as part of the buying process. Next, I’d recommend exploring our sea survival knowledge hub.