04 January 2013

REVIEW: Buff water gloves

The brutal Queensland sun is a killer; it causes an incredible number of cases of skin cancers.
Protecting my body from the harsh sun is imperative for me. When kayaking I cover my body with a long sleeve rash guard, my head with a wide brim hat and the rest of the exposed skin with SFP 50 sunscreen lotion.
My hands tend to get very wet when paddling since there are no drips rings on my Greenland paddle; sunscreen would wash off too soon and gloves are my best defence against the sun.
In the search for the best gloves for paddling for years I used several brands of sailing gloves.
Some half fingers styles did not work for me where the fabric would bunch under my thumb and cause blisters. I also find sailing gloves too bulky with all that padding in the palm of the hand; they are designed to handle ropes (sheets) where padding is desirable to prevent rope burn.
As most of my sailing gloves started to fall apart after a year of regular paddling, I really wanted thin gloves, with no padding, that were durable.
Then I stumbled upon a different offering from a company famous for their head/face scarfs: Buff.

Buff water glove silicon detail_c
silicon texture detail on the palm
In their line they have a glove mainly designed for fishing where protection from the sun is the key.
I ordered a pair a year ago and initially I was dubious about the durability of the product; the thick Lycra style fabric was not convincing me as I thought that they would not last long, similarly to my cycling gloves.
Surprisingly however the gloves are outstanding.
The lack of bulk allows me to grip my paddle easier with no bunching-up in the palm of the hand.

Buff water glove palm_c

Furthermore the palm has a grid of textured silicon that gently grips the paddle. Without gloves some of my carbon Greenland paddles would occasionally slip forcing me to have a dead grip to keep them in my hand. With the Buff gloves the paddle feels more secure and after a year the silicon is still in place and doing its job.
The very long cuff allows me to create a decent overlap at my wrist between glove and rashie, something that the sailing glove did not. I no longer have funny looking sun-burned strips around my wrists that I am sure some folk thought were caused by some "kinky" bedroom games :-)

Buff water glove_c

The stitching is superb and nothing has failed after a year of paddling.
Where occasionally I used to stitch-up my other gloves on the sewing machine, the Buff gloves have not failed.
Originally I ordered a size L-XL for my hands but I always felt that the gloves were just a bit too loose, so I got myself a Xmas present and ordered some "safety" orange new ones in M-L that fit me like a, ... doh, glove.

Buff glove_c

This product review is independent, unsolicited and unrenumerated. No swag, no perks, no glory.
Bought the gloves on eBay from Utah, USA.


  1. Where my gloves have failed is in the internal part of the thumb. The rotation of the paddle wears down the material where my kid says a new finger is growing... I gues using a GP you dont have that problem.

    1. Fer, I know what you mean wearing out the inside of the thumb when I used to paddle Euro(trash) :-)
      I also wear out my gloves on the palm and the upper material kind of disintegrates after a relatively short time on my sailing gloves. Must be the strong UV?

  2. Awesome review as usual and a good read. The last image makes me think you are playing your paddle like a guitar. I'm a glove fan. Finding good ones is so hard. Thanks. I have a lot of scrap in my gear bags. Aww heck, I think you should be paid for your reviews!

    Cheers from white, snowy Canada where we are wearing ski gloves!

    1. BP, I feel that "paid" reviews aren't often genuine. Occasionally I approach manufacturers for items I desire and sometimes is the other way around: they contact me. However, I could not honestly review items that I personally don't use coz it would be just an assessment, not a review. Several times I have declined reviewing items that I didn't think were my style or had no relation to my needs.
      I wore my first pair of gloves for a year to then confidently say they hold up and work. The commercial reviews I read around are too often nothing more then glorified manufacturer’s specs with a few words of random praise. Not good enough for me :-)

  3. Great review, you hit the nail on the head again, from wearing out gloves in one year to those kinky sun burned strips on my wrists, Im now looking for a pair of those Buff gloves. We have the same problem with sun protection here.

  4. Gnarly,

    I’m a big fan of Marsyas Hi-Grip Gloves:


    Although they are not warm enough to be a true (northern hemisphere) winter paddling glove they offer some useful warmth and have an excellent ‘sticky’ grip on carbon fibre paddles. (Not sure if the grip would be as good on a wooden paddle). But on carbon fibre the grip and paddle control is almost better than bare hands.

    Mick AKA FOB

    1. Mick, I would find very little use for the gloves you like: my waters are way too warm for neo gloves, even in winter. I am sure others need thermal protection in other parts of the world tho.

    2. Sure. Even in NSW they are a bit warm. But the grip is incredible.

  5. Thanks for the heads up on these gloves - just ordered a pair myself from a Utah based Ebay shop. (haven't seen these avaialable locally...?) Thin and not bulky, no padding, with what looks to be just the right amount of grippy stuff.

    I love my other brand of glove for their thin tactile feel and grip but their a little flimsy and I'd be lucky to get a few paddles before they start to come apart - they are bin jobs in about 12months at the most - and they don't offer the wrist protection these do.

    Most of the other gloves I have seen and /or used are a little thick with too much padding - and cycling gloves (whilst generally well made and tough) - are best for, well, cycling.


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