This is actually a serious question. I am finding the only thing standing between me and really enjoying winter paddling is my hands, which I am having real problems keeping warm. At the end of the day, my hands are so cold I need someone to unclip my pfd...and just turning the key in the car ignition requires two hands. I've recently spoken to someone who actually got frostbitten hands paddling. That hasn't happened to me (yet), but I worry. I feel as though I've tried everything:
Gloves - I have about a million pairs of different size and weights of Glacier Gloves - as well as NRS and other brands. I find that neoprene gloves always leak, and then my fingers end up feeling as though they're sausages encased in a cold wrapping. I tried a pair of really cheap waterproof gloves not meant for paddling, and found that with temps in the 40s and no wind, they almost did the trick. Stayed dry inside, but once water seeped in from the cuffs (which I tried to prevent by tucking cuffs under the outer layer of the wrists of my drysuit - not under the gasket of course!) it was game over. Plus, they're so cheap I doubt they'll last. Plus, can't count on 40 degree temps and no wind in the winter.
Pogies - I have four different sets of pogies: Kokotat lightweight ones, Snapdragon heavy ones, NRS heavy but shorter ones (good for paddling in Iceland and Greenland when air temp was moderate-ish, but water very very cold), and Stohlquist light-ish weight ones (great for conditions similar to the NRS ones). Joe Berkovitz says he really likes the Kokotat heavier neoprene ones - which I haven't tried. Some people say that just having pogies keeps their hands warm enough. I have not found that to be the case when the temps go down into the 30's and below and the water is very cold. I ended up putting the drip rings back on my Werner paddle in the hopes that less water would seep into the pogies. Jury is still out on that.
Pogies and Gloves - I've tried various combos. Problem is that pogies are really not big enough to fit gloves underneath. I tried this on recent paddle and found that while initially my hands stayed a bit warm, I almost felt as though I was wearing a hand/wrist cast made out of gloves and pogies - I had little control of paddle and in rough conditions, worried that paddle blade would go into the water at wrong angle and I could end up flipping the boat. Not good. So...lighter gloves? Again, the problem is that when gloves get wet, my fingers are just encased in freezing cold sausage casing.
Mittens - this might be the answer, but jury still out and there is a significant problem I'll get to in a second. My first pair - NRS size mediums - are impossible to get on with wet hands. This is a problem if hands get wet at launch while you're attaching spray skirt or whatever. I have on order Kokotat size large mitts. We'll see if they work. BUT...on of the things I really enjoy in paddling is taking photographs, and it is impossible to manipulate a camera wearing gloves. (Is a Go Pro the answer here?)
Hand warmers - I've wondered whether I might put an activated hand warmer into something I could wear around my neck and hold on to periodically to warm up hands that are cold wearing any of above. Has anyone tried this? If so, what exactly have you done to encase the hand warmer. Just being able to take one out at lunch isn't sufficient, need access throughout the day. Can one tuck one into a pogie?
Of course, THE ANSWER is HEATED GLOVES! They make 'em for skiers, but it's the [email protected]
#$% water that I guess complicates the matter for a paddling glove. Or a HEATED PADDLE. It seems that theoretically it should be possible to make. We have all these engineering types who like to paddle. Get on it!
But in the meantime...I'm wondering whether anyone has suggestions (other than not winter paddling) that are not listed above that I might try. I think that if my hands could stay completely dry, that would be a good start. Any brands of paddling gloves to recommend? Any pogies big enough to easily fit gloved hands into? Any lightweight waterproof gloves? One non-paddling friend suggested silk glove liners, which she found really helped XC skiing. But if they get wet...
So. Thanks for any help you can offer. And feel free to head down to the basement workshop to start on a prototype for heated gloves. I really think they're the answer, but they don't exist as far as I know. If they can send someone to the moon...or Mars for heavens sake - can't "they" invent something to help me keep my hands warm enough for all-through-the-winter paddling?