Freedive Wetsuit Gloves Buyers Guide
Water cools down much slower than air, which includes the sea, so that means that even in autumn, the water and ocean around you may actually be at it's warmest for the year. You still might need some decent wetsuit gloves to protect your hands and keep you nice and warm, whatever the time of year.
In this article we go through many different questions you should ask yourself when choosing a decent pair of wetsuit gloves and we hope it helps you have a more comfortable time in the water when you are freediving and during other water sports.
Quick Wetsuit Glove Thickness Summary Table
Temperature Guide Table
|Temperature||Wetsuit Glove Thickness|
|15celcius / 60farenheit||1mm thick OR no wetsuit gloves|
|12c - 14c / 53f - 57f||3mm thick|
|9c - 11c / 47f - 52f||3mm - 5mm thick|
|8c / 46f or colder||5mm - 7mm thick|
If you go off of the temperatures above you can have a quick insight in to what thickness you may need. Below we delve in to the reasons why you should choose a certain thickness neoprene and to what other technologies exist, from glove type through to neoprene material choice and more.
Water Activity Guide
Are you holding something in your hand? A rope during free immersion, a paddle, a handlebar whilst cycling or camera when diving? You will need a slightly thinner glove than recommend with the temperature. This is because you will need to be able to feel the item you are holding, there is nothing worse than having a really thick glove on at 7mm thick and trying to grip tightly on to a rope during free immersion, luckily if you struggle to pull yourself down, you'll realise before you get to any serious depth that you may need to turn around.
Are you planning on grabbing anything dangerous or something that may hurt or injure you? If spearfishing, grabbing crabs or handling gear you would be better with slightly thicker than advertised above to protect your hands. This is because some of the underwater life can really hurt when you are going in to grab them, such as crabs and lobster.
Are you in the water for prolonged periods whilst scuba diving or freediving and aren't moving around much? Wear a slightly thicker than recommended wetsuit glove if you plan on diving for hours at a time. This is because you won't be generating any extra internal heat and will mean that you'll cool down much more quickly.
Questions To Ask Yourself
You will have to remember that wearing wetsuit gloves for diving or other water sports changes depending on a few things. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you decide on what thickness wetsuit gloves and neoprene you should choose.
- Are you in the water during your activity?
- What temperature is the water if you are in it?
- Are you holding anything in your hands whilst wearing wetsuit gloves, a camera, paddle, etc?
- Are you mostly out of the water when doing the activity?
- Will you be handling dangerous or sharp objects underwater?
- What type of wetsuit glove are you wearing? Mittens and full finger gloves have different warming properties
- Air temperature may cool you down more than the water, if it's windy that will really take the warmth right out of you.
- What are you like getting cold, I get colder than my partner in a much shorter span of time when in cold water so I feel the benefit of wearing a 5mm when she is only wearing 3mm thick neoprene.
- What is the activity you will be doing?
Below we go through what thickness wetsuit gloves you will need depending on what activity you are doing and the type of wetsuit glove you may have.
What Is The Water Temperature
This is the first question you should ask yourself, what is the temperature of the water and what thickness wetsuit gloves do I need to be comfortable in that temperature. At the bottom of this page we have included a quick summary as to what thickness glove you may need depending on the temperature of the water you'll be in.
What Is The Air Temperature
Don't forget to take in to account the air temperature, if you are sat on the surface for extended periods, like safetying someone, or surfing the wind and air temperature will also affect your core temp.
There are a couple of different neoprene materials now that are used in the manufacture of wetsuit gloves. Neoprene rubber is the most widely used, it is cheaper to manufacture but it has the distinct advantage of being much tougher and stronger. If you catch yourself on a rock whilst snorkelling, it probably isn't going to rip.
The other type which we have heard branded as yamamoto, open cell neoprene, is more of a rubbery feel, it has air bubbles inside the rubber which keeps you much warmer than that of regular neoprene. This type is used much more by open water swimmers, freedivers and those spending a longer time in colder water. The downside to this material is that it rips much easier than general rubber/nylon like neoprene.
Types of Wetsuit Gloves
Depending on the type of wetsuit glove you are using, will help with the warmth that is created whilst underwater. We have a mix of full finger and mitten wetsuit gloves. If we are deep in winter and aren't using anything whilst we are diving, we may wear a mitten wetsuit glove because it keeps your fingers together and that much warmer.
Mitten Wetsuit Gloves Pros & Cons
A 5mm thick mitten wetsuit glove can be as warm as a 7mm full finger, it holds your fingers in the same area and spreads the warmth. I really like wearing mitten wetsuit gloves because of this guaranteed warmth, but they have some downsides.
They usually cost a little bit more to buy than normal full finger wetsuit gloves and it is very hard to control any apparatus or equipment you may have underwater.
I have managed to use 5mm mitten gloves in very cold climates whilst freediving and taking photos underwater but it was tricky to get a good grip of my nose whilst equalising and I couldn't press in certain buttons on my underwater housing.
Regular Full Finger Wetsuit Gloves Pros & Cons
You probably already own a pair like this or have been looking at full finger wetsuit gloves online to buy. They are much more versatile compared to the full mitten style and there is much more choice available.
This type of wetsuit glove makes it easier to equalise because you have full use of your fingers and other actions that may be needed by your hands.
Half Mitten Lobster Wetsuit Gloves Pros & Cons
Do you need something warm but still need access to your first two fingers? With a half mitten wetsuit glove you can get the best of both worlds. The only downside is that there just isn't as much choice with these types of wetsuit glove and can be hard to find online or in shops.
We think this is a shame, because the gloves are fantastic and can give you that freedom you may need when you are in a cold climate.
What Activity Are You Doing
What is it will you be doing whilst wearing wetsuit gloves? Or do you want something that can be good at a few activities? Depending on what you are doing, will require different thickness wetsuit gloves.
Wetsuit Glove Thickness for Stand Up Paddleboarding SUP Kayaking and Surfing
If you are doing other water sports as well as freediving, my partner and I both love to surf as well as open water swim and freedive. You will undoubtedly find yourself using paddles, single blade or double ended paddles to move your water craft about and you will also be out of the water more than in the water, which is a big difference to freediving.
With this in mind, something with a grip to hold the paddle would help as well as slightly thinner gloves so that you still have some feel and your hands aren't swamped in neoprene. Having thick wetsuit gloves on whilst trying to handle a paddle can be really hard, especially when you need to grip hard and need to feel the paddle rather than just protect your hands.
Because you'll be out of the water too, you can get away with thinner gloves, so as a result if you were paddling, kayaking in any water above 10c/50f you will be fine with a glove of 1mm to 2mm in thickness. This should help with feel and keep you warm.
Wetsuit Glove Thickness for Kitesurfing and Windsurfing
Just like with stand up paddleboarding and kayaking, you'll mostly be above water and you will be holding on to the kite or your boards sail. You will need something a little bit thinner so you can keep full control of your kite or board at all times. You can definitely get away with a thinner neoprene material when it comes to being above the water as it won't constantly flush like if you were below the waves. New water isn't always going to be trying to get in to your glove and replace the water that is already in there.
Wetsuit Glove Thickness for Surfing and Bodyboarding
You're a surfer at heart and love spending hours sat in the big blue, but you're unsure as to what thickness gloves you need to stay in the surf and keep comfortable.
Because with surfing you can have most of your body out of the water for most of the time, you can get away with slightly thinner gloves than you think, throughout summer you may not even need any wetsuit gloves, especially if the water hits 15c/60f for a couple of months. But if you want to be in the water for hours, wearing wetsuit gloves to help you feel more comfortable is highly recommended.
Wetsuit Glove Thickness for Diving, Snorkelling, Freediving or Spearfishing
Planning on going for a dive with your friends or partner, wetsuit gloves will help tremendously with you having a comfortable or not so comfortable dive. I find the thicker my gloves and socks, the warmer I am, the better my dive will be.
Snorkelling, Freediving and Spearfishing Wetsuit Gloves Thickness
With these underwater activities you will be underwater more than any other type of diving. You will get colder quicker than any other water based sport due to the lack of movement. When we are freediving and snorkelling we always use slightly thicker gloves than we think we need.
At the moment the water temperature in the middle of winter is about 10c, maybe less in deeper water and further from the shore. So we are diving with at least 5mm thick wetsuit gloves on, these keep us warm and are the same thickness as our 5.5mm wetsuits we use whilst diving.
If were were to head north to Scotland, the water can get as low as 6c/43f in the middle of winter, between February and April and we would wear nothing less than 7mm. If we were using our underwater cameras we would think about 5mm, just so we can control the small buttons on our cameras housing but that would limit our dive to just 20minutes and not much more.
Scuba Diving Wetsuit Gloves Thickness
When scuba diving, you are using more gear than any other type of underwater activity, you will need to be able to control all of this equipment.
The key to this is finding a glove that will keep your hands warm enough and also not too thick so that your thick fingers and thumbs can't press the controls or hold what you're wearing properly.
Wetsuit & Neoprene Glove Thickness for Cycling
Not interested in watersports but are an avid cyclist? Neoprene gloves for cycling could be just what you are after if you know it's going to rain. It's very hard to find a completely waterproof cycling glove so why not just enjoy the wet, especially if you know it's going to pour down.
Just like the other types of neoprene gloves, with cycling you can wear a neoprene glove that has a thin layer of water between your hand and the inside of the glove, which stays warm and will keep it's warmth, no matter how wet you get.
I would not recommend anything thicker than 3mm thick for cycling because you will want full control of your bicycle at all times and if the glove would be any thicker than this, you may have difficulty grabbing the brakes and stretching out and pulling them in.
Also, due to increased wind speed because of your cycling speed, you will get wind chill, if you were to choose a glove too thin, say 1mm, at 25km/h you could have a warm hand for a little while but the wind chill may cool the glove down which in turn moves through to your hand and the result would be no better than a non waterproof cycling glove. You'd have cold wet hands and it just wouldn't be any fun.
I would recommend anything between 1.5mm and 3mm for cycling in rain, this should give you plenty of manouverability and warmth. You may not like the feeling of water inside but don't worry, you'll soon be happy when your hands are warm and it's cold and wet outside.
Wetsuit Glove Thickness for Open Water and Wild Swimming
Sometimes at swim events you are not allowed to wear gloves but when training or getting used to cold water swimming, gloves and a decent swim cap may be the only things that keep a smile on your face and stop you from getting hyperthermia.
Because you will be constantly moving, it is important to have a wetsuit glove for swimming which is slightly better fitting than others, you don't want too much water moving in and out of the glove as you move forward, this would completely ruin the job of the glove and you would soon get cold hands.
A second thing to look at, after thickness is to check that they don't balloon as you swim with them. We have swam with many different types of wetsuit glove and most of them have ballooned on us, which mean they fill up with water as we do our down stroke to pull us through the water, this not only moves the water around, making us colder but also slows us down as there is increased drag.
Staying Warm In Cold Water With A Thin Wetsuit
Do you only have one wetsuit that you use and try as get as much use out of it as possible? We always try and stretch the use of our 2 season wetsuits (summer/autumn) and wear them for as long as we can. What can help with this is wearing thicker socks, wetsuit boots and wetsuit gloves that that of the wetsuit you may be wearing.
If you're wearing something like a 3mm or 4mm wetsuit, wearing 4mm or 5mm socks and gloves which don't leak, overlap well in to your wetsuit so you can tuckk them in will mean that your extremeties are being kept warm. These are usually the places that get cold first so wearing thicker neoprene and wetsuit material here will definitely help and is a great little trick to get you in to colder water more easily, even with that thin wetsuit.
The Right Fitting Wetsuit Glove Will Keep You Warmer
If you wear a wetsuit glove that is too tight on your fingers and hand or even too loose, you will lose heat when wearing it, no matter how thick the glove may be, it will be detrimental to the job of the glove. It's main job is to hold a thin layer of water between your hand and the gloves inner. This then warms up quickly from your body heat and stays warm because it is 'trapped' inside the glove and doesn't flush out.
If the glove is too loose, this water will continually change and flush in and out. This is bad and will result in a cold hand, even if wearing a 7mm thick wetsuit glove.
Try and find a wetsuit glove that has longer wrist sections, same with wetsuit socks, you can then tuck your wetsuit glove in to your wetsuit or put it over the top of your wetsuit arms and it will help to stop flushing and will result in a warmer experience.
How To Make Your Gloves Last Longer
The very first thing we do when we get new wetsuit gloves is to buy some black witch wetsuit glue and then glue all of the seems on the glove we have just bought. This will help with threading and stop your glove falling a part prematurely! As well as freediving, we love snorkeling, going out with spearo's an using the same gloves for many different underwater and in-water activities. So making sure they're well glued at their weakest parts before we even start using them is a must for us, otherwise we'd end up going through a few pairs of gloves a year.