When I first saw the CrewStop rowing gloves, I thought they looked like well-made, orthopedic rehab devices. The backs of the gloves resemble athletic tape, and this is a good point: the CrewStop gloves are an effective alternative to taping. Each glove captures three fingers with two bands of elastic, providing an uninhibited range of motion while minimizing friction and heat at customary pressure points on the hands.
The gloves were designed by and for competitive rowers and scullers, so I wondered how they would stand up to the demands of expedition and open-water rowing. I row in a saltwater coastal environment where my gear has to hold up to sand, gravel, or crushed-shell beaches. On landings I often climb up on rocks or rusty ladders, but these gloves aren’t meant for that kind of rough work. They are very snug, and don’t lend themselves to quick removal, but I can quickly slip leather work gloves over them before I drive the bow of my boat onto a gravel beach and hop out with painter in hand to tug the boat ashore.
My hands are often wet from rain or wind-driven spray while boating, so I dipped my hands in the water to soak the CrewStop gloves and went for a row. The palms have a pattern of silicone that gave me a sure grip on the oars even while wet. The leather-like palm material has a one-way stretch oriented across the hand so it doesn’t bunch up when wrapped around the oar handle. The material softened when wet, and even though I began to feel a hot spot near the fleshy skin between thumb and palm after rowing for 30 minutes, the gloves protected my hands everywhere else.
It makes good sense for rowers of any sort to take good care of their hands. These gloves are well designed and constructed to protect hands not yet toughened up for rowing. They can bring an end to the old-fashioned reliance on working through pain and possible infection from blisters to build calluses. The CrewStops are an intelligent solution for occasional rowers, rowers ramping up their training for a race, or rowers getting back on the water after taking time off. I’ll use them over the winter on my ergometer and in the spring on the boat to gradually develop the calluses I’ll need for my rowing season.
Dale McKinnon began rowing in 2002 at the age of 57 and in 2004 rowed solo from Ketchikan, Alaska, to her home town, Bellingham, Washington. In 2005 she rowed from Ketchikan to Juneau. Her previous articles for Small Boats Monthly include rowing the Columbia River and the Columbia River estuary, how to row rough water, and reviews of NewGrips rowing gloves, Exped sleeping pads, and the Devlin Duckling 17.
The sculler’s version of the gloves (grip texture for both hands) shown here are available for $37.50 from The CrewStop.
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