When I finished our Penobscot 14 back in 2017, I intended to row it around the river inlets and shoreline of our bay. One of the pieces of gear that I was going to need was a nice pair of gloves to prevent blisters on my hands, as I didn’t row frequently enough to develop calluses. I had tried a few styles but was not happy with the fit or feel until I came across Gill’s Long Finger Deckhand Gloves.

Audrey and I do a bit of sailing and paddling in addition to rowing, so I also wanted gloves that were versatile, easy to put on and take off when wet, and that dried fast. The Deckhand Gloves have lightweight polyester-spandex shells with doubled synthetic suede Amara reinforcements and padding. None of these materials hold much water, so they dry fast. The elasticity of the shell makes it much easier to put on and take off than a leather glove. A side benefit is that the materials provide UV50+ protection, an important factor for us in Florida.

Photographs by Audrey Lewis

After a year in use, the gloves show little evidence of wear.

Audrey, a talented seamstress who has made gloves in the past and knows how they’re put together, looked the Deckhand Gloves over, inside and out. The fabric panels on the sides of the fingers, the fourchettes, are cut from synthetic suede for lightness and comfort and the tops and bottoms, the tranks, are cut from spandex. The palms and the insides of the fingers are reinforced with the Amara suede for better grip and padding; the suede is wrapped around the tips of the middle, ring, and pinky fingers, which places the seams on the backs of the fingers to keep from creating pressure points. The thumb and index-finger tips are open for an undiminished sense of touch. The suede also wraps around the side of the index finger and thumb, which makes a big difference when handling lines. The hook-and-loop closures at the wrists are easy to grip and adjust.

The open thumb and index-finger tips come in handy when manipulating small bits of hardware, using electronics, and fastening gear like PFD buckles and zippers. I also tried gloves with all of the fingertips open but found that I didn’t really need the tactile feel on the other three fingers for rowing and paddling. I prefer the protection of closed fingertips.

The fit of the gloves allows gripping oar handles without forming creases in the palm. The black suede material wraps around the thumb, over an area where the skin is prone to blistering during long rows.

As for sizing and fit, they gloves are snug, which is what prevents loose material bunching up in the palms while rowing. If you prefer a looser fit, I’d suggest ordering one size up. There three versions: Short Finger, Long Finger, and Junior Short Finger. The Long Finger version I have comes in five sizes, XS to XL. I’ve been using the Deckhands for a year now and, they have proven durable and comfortable. They are thoughtfully designed, sturdily made, and affordably priced.

Audrey and Kent Lewis mess about in an armada of small boats on the bays and rivers of the Florida Panhandle.

 Gill products are available direct from the manufacturer and from retailers around the world. The Long Finger Deckhand gloves are priced at $28.95.

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