Keeping warm is often difficult when you paddle whitewater during the winter. The one area that is always difficult to keep one and can often lead to a great deal of pain is cold hands. Cold hands can turn a good trip into an absolutely terrible one and can leave you with damage to your hands if it occurs time and time again.
Making sure the rest of me is nice and warm does help but quite often the after the initial 30 mins on the water with super cold hands I get a surge of heat in conjunction with a super amount of pain as my hands begin to warm up. The pain is pretty unique!
I’ve tried neoprene gloves (which work once warmed up), the woollen/washing up glove combo and various other bits/bobs but prefer using pogies. One of the biggest benefits of any pogie or glove system is the fact they help keep the wind off your hands. This simple fact goes a long way to ensure that your hands remain warm.
Pogies are designed to be fastened onto the paddle shaft. Your hands go inside of the pogies and grip the paddle shaft as normal. Compared to wearing neoprene gloves or indeed any gloves at all improves the general feel and control. Some paddlers do find them restrictive as your hands need to be removed to access pockets, pull your spraydecks rip cord etc. Pogies come in two varieties – neoprene and nylon based and you’ll see images of various pogies in this post. Some paddlers prefer neoprene others do not. As my hands tend to warm up after 30 mins or so I use my super old pair of Palm Rivertec Pogies. These are made from ripstop waterproof fabric with a fleece liner. They are essentially designed to defend your hands from both the wind and water. Dry hands = warm hands.
The vast majority of pogies are made from neoprene and are actually best when wet. They also tend to be a great deal cheaper than designs like the River Tec paddle mitt. At around £20 or so neoprene designs offer great value and they do work really well.
The next thing to consider is the length of the pogies. Some are available that barely cover your hands, others are like gauntlets and cover your hands and wrists. It is a trade off between level of comfort and how easy they are to get on or off. Personally I prefer the longer versions although they can be difficult to get your “last” hand into.