If you’re keen to keep swimming through winter but haven’t done so before, there are a few things you’ll need to get. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best best cold water swimming gloves.
Why do neoprene gloves help when cold water swimming?
When we put our body into cold water (defined in the UK as water below 15°C), our body protects our core by sending blood from our limbs to the centre of our body. This means our arms and legs are effectively ‘amputated’ and will have less warmth circulating within them.
Our fingers especially feel the cold as they have a large surface area to mass, which means they are very exposed to the cold water and chill quickly.
Add to that the fact that they are moving in and out of the water (if doing front crawl) and therefore being exposed to wind chill, and you start to see how gloves can be very welcome!
Even swimmers who don’t wear wetsuits year round will often add a pair of swim gloves and boots to protect the sensitive extremities and keep the swim more comfortable.
What’s the best thickness for cold water swimming gloves?
In terms of warmth, the thicker the better is generally the rule. However, this can be at the expense of mobility and fit. A general standard in gloves for cold water swimming seems to hover around the 3mm thickness of neoprene, but we’d go .5mm either side.
Much thicker than 4mm and you’ll lose dexterity in the water, which is crucial if you actually intend to swim rather than paddle in the gloves. What can help is a strap at the top of the glove to help seal the cuff and prevent too much cold water entering into them, though this feature may add a few ££s to the price.
Look for gloves with good, ‘welded’ seams too, which will add waterproofing. Finally, ensure you get a good, close fit. Gloves will give a little in the water usually and if you end up with water sloshing around inside them not only will that feel cold, but it will also make swimming feel cumbersome.
How to warm up safely after cold-water swimming
What are the best wetsuit gloves?
Zone3 Heat Tech Neoprene Swimming Gloves
Zone3 aren’t messing around with their ‘heat tech’ range, and these gloves are our new gold standard for cold swims. The 3.5mm neoprene with titanium lining makes them the warmest on test and with a liquid seal finish we got a really snug yet flexible fit with no water ingress.
The long cuffs make them easy to tuck into your wetsuit sleeves, but, uniquely, those extra Velcro straps give an extra layer of security and make them ideal for non-wetsuit swimmers as no water can flow in. They’re tricky to get off is our only note, but that’s a minor niggle for such toastiness.
Verdict: The warmest on test and superb construction and fit.
Orca 3mm Open-water Swim Gloves
Submitted in a size XS for this test, even our small-handed female tester found these a little snug and too short in the fingers. That said, though, it’s great to see a brand offering a wide range of sizes as in previous years we’ve struggled to find gloves small enough!
Construction here was superb, with liquid seams allowing no water ingress and the fingers emulating the position your hands should be in while swimming.
Cuffs were long enough to tuck into our wetsuit and keep the wrists warm, while the 3mm neoprene is thick enough for the coldest swim waters.
Verdict: Very well constructed and a good range of sizes.
Alpkit Outdoor Swimming Gloves
Submitted in a size medium for this test, these gloves were too large for this female tester, which was a shame, as they’renicely constructed.
The bind-stitched seams followed the contours of our fingers well and the 3mm neoprene would be thick enough to keep hands toasty warm, had we been able to get a snugger fit.
One problem, though, is the wide-ish ‘fluted’ cuffs, which didn’t sit flush against the wrists and allowed water in. Passed to three other swimmers, they all had the same trouble. Nice grippy palms made it easy to grab lake railings etc.
Verdict: Nicely made if they fit you; wide cuffs an issue, though.
Dhb Hydron Thermal Swim Gloves 2.0
Coming in at a fiver more than the regular Dhb swim gloves, these use the same soft thermal lining as the brand’s superb Aeron Thermal wetsuit.
This makes them comfortable, but, crucially when hands are cold, easier to remove when wet – and that’s helped by the extended tab on the cuffs.
The long, fitted cuffs are one of our favourite things about these gloves, too, meaning they’re easy to tuck under our wetsuit sleeves.
We found the fingers didn’t fit as well as some others on test due to the stitched edges, but the zingy orange, grippy print is a nice touch for visibility.
Verdict: Warm and quality gloves with extra features.
HUUB Neoprene Swim Gloves
With a keen focus on warmth, be that in the water or on the bike, these versatile HUUB neoprene gloves should keep you toasty in a range of conditions. Can’t afford both swim and bike gloves, or ever the minimalist? HUUB have got you covered with their ‘high grade’ 3mm neoprene unisex gloves.
Reflective detailing along the fingers and palms should make you more visible in the water and when speeding along on the bike, whilst the in-built wrist cuff design should provide swift removal post-session.
Zone3 Neoprene Swimming Gloves
These gloves look the business with their dual red and black colourway and score of practical cold-water swimming specific features. Made from stretchy 2mm neoprene with a composition of 90% neoprene/10% nylon, these gloves should be super snug and flexible when on, allowing ample freedom of movement.
They feature a slightly longer length than others mentioned, which aims to fit snugly over or under your wetsuit with the help of an adjustable Velcro strap, and avoid water ingress. The grippy, non-slip material on the palms should aid stability when manoeuvring into the water.
TWF Neoprene Gloves
- From £9.57
These TWF gloves can be found on Amazon and are made from 3mm neoprene, which should be fine for cold water swimming from spring to autumn-time. For added durability, TWF claim that the gloves are blindstiched and glued, which should also reduce water ingress.
The soles of the palms are designed with a textured print to aid grip and safety. You can also buy these as a bundle with matching neoprene TWF swim socks.
Slyzone Neoprene Wetsuit Gloves
Amazon have 3mm Neoprene Wetsuit gloves from Slyzone, priced £13.99. 220‘s Kate has tested these with some wild river swimming and was suitably impressed. The 3mm thickness kept our fingers toasty and the grippy soles helped us scramble across slippy rocks getting into the water. A win in terms of price and usability, and after fove months of use they are have shown no wear or tear.
Mares Flexa Classic Gloves
Made from double-lined neoprene, these dive gloves claim to be ‘reliable and durable’. With a palm designed to stop any accidents when clambering out of the water thanks to the rubber print, these gloves should keep you safe and warm in all waters.
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Decathlon Olaian Neoprene Gloves
Unlike other gloves mentioned here, these 3mm surf gloves are made from 100% neoprene from elastomer foam, which should help keep your hands remain warm in the water, ‘for sessions up to two hours’ say Decathlon. On top of this, the gloves are lined with synthetic fabric and are both blind-stitched and glued, which aims to make them more durable and prevent unwanted water ingress.
Blueseventy Thermal Swim Gloves
These open-water specific gloves have a keen thermal focus thanks to a ‘metal cell liner’ which should work to reduce heat loss through the fingers and maximise warmth. Thanks to their longer sleeve length, water ingress should be minimal.
The wrist cuff design should also mean easy removal and Blueseventy claim that these gloves are also a great tool for keeping fingers ‘dry in foul bike riding weather.’
LOMO Swimming and Triathlon Gloves
These triathlon-specific open water swimming gloves are made with glued seams and blind-stitched, along with being liquid seamed on the outside, which Lomo claims make them ‘so well fitting that hardly any water gets inside them’. This is also thanks to the wrist cuffs, which should also help make them a snug fit.
Made from 3mm neoprene, these gloves are designed to keep you warm during winter swims, just be careful when getting out of the water as, unlike other gloves mentioned here, these don’t feature a non-slip grip on the palms.
In search of more triathlon kit? See our round-up of the best swim hand paddles for triathlon training.