As winter sets in, you know that staying warm and comfortable in the water requires the right gear, and without it, you’ll become cold too quickly - cutting short the time spent in the sea. Wetsuit gloves are an essential part of the equation, but there’s more to consider than what meets the eye with the choice of wetsuit mittens or traditional wetsuit gloves.
In this guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each option, helping you make an informed decision that best suits your needs and preferences while keeping your hands toasty during those chilly water adventures.
What Thickness Should My Wetsuit Gloves Be?
Wetsuit gloves range anywhere from 1.5mm, all the way up to 7mm in thickness. During the winter, 3mm is a popular choice amongst surfers, with 2mm and 5mm following close behind. Anything below 2mm is ideal for the shoulder months (April to May and September to October) to take the slightly chilly edge away or to give some added protection.
If you surf in the freezing waters of Scotland, or are prone to feeling the cold more, then 6mm or 7mm gloves are a great choice to keep those fingers from turning into icicles. In our previous guide, Winter Wetsuit Accessories: All You Need to Know, you can learn more about how wetsuit gloves should fit and when you should wear them.
The Difference Between Wetsuit Mittens and Gloves
Both wetsuit mittens and wetsuit gloves are made from the same neoprene material and are designed to keep your hands warm during water sports, but they have distinct differences in terms of design and functionality.
- Wetsuit Mittens - are designed to keep all your fingers together, apart from your thumb, without the individual finger separation.
- Wetsuit Gloves - have individual compartments for each finger, just like regular gloves.
Wetsuit mittens are a newer design of neoprene gloves and have recently gained popularity amongst many surfers. The latest innovative design of wetsuit mittens is wetsuit claws, also known as ‘lobster claws’ - where both your thumb and index finger have separate compartments, and your other three fingers are kept together.
The Pros of Wetsuit Mittens
Wetsuit mittens feature a design where all your fingers (except your thumb) are grouped together, allowing you to freely move them in favour of shared warmth and heat retention. Mittens are excellent in extremely cold conditions where keeping your hands warm is a top priority. The collective warmth of all your fingers helps to maintain your overall body temperature, making them an ideal choice.
The Cons of Wetsuit Mittens
It can be more challenging to grab onto your gear, like your surfboard, or adjust small pieces of equipment, like zips when wearing mittens. Due to all your fingers being in one compartment, this limited grip can be challenging to deal with, especially in wet and slippery conditions. Wetsuit mittens also sacrifice finger dexterity and make you feel more restricted - which can be more frustrating.
Unlike wetsuit mitts, wetsuit gloves feature the original design of regular gloves, with all fingers (including the thumb) housed in their individual neoprene compartment. Wetsuit gloves have been around for longer and are still used for various cold water activities.
The Pros of Wetsuit Gloves
The five separate finger compartments of wetsuit gloves allow them to offer more freedom of movement and finger dexterity; making them an excellent choice for activities like kite surfing and diving, which require a better, more precise grip to hold onto and adjust pieces of equipment.
The Cons of Wetsuit Gloves
When your fingers are isolated, they can’t share warmth, so your hands are more likely to become cold quickly. Unfortunately, with the advantage of better finger dexterity and movement offered by wetsuit gloves, you inevitably sacrifice warmth.
What Should I Choose - Mitts, Gloves, or Claws?
When choosing the suitable wetsuit gloves for you, it all comes down to personal preference, but these guidelines may help you make the right choice:
- - If you want to prioritise maximum warmth and aren’t too worried about having a firm grip on your equipment - wetsuit mittens are an excellent choice.
- - If warmth is still at the top of your list, but you’d prefer to have a bit more finger dexterity - opt for wetsuit claws.
- - If you’re happy to sacrifice some degree of warmth for a better grip and freedom of hand movement - wetsuit gloves are your go-to.
At Wetsuit Centre, all our wetsuit gloves are made from quality neoprene to help keep your hands warm during winter. So, no matter the style you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’d like to know more about what you can do to keep warm in the sea this winter, our previous blog can give you some valuable tips.