How to Choose Sailing Gloves

how to choose sailing gloves

What are Sailing Gloves & Why Should You Wear Them

Sailing gloves help protect your hands from abrasion and blisters that often occur when handling lines. Different gloves offer various levels of additional grip, padding, and protection. When choosing gloves, like any sailing gear, it’s important to consider the type of sailing you do and your position on the boat.

There are two standard glove styles: ‘fingerless’ or ‘short fingered’ and ‘three-fingered’ or ‘long-fingered.’ The more popular of the two, fingerless gloves, expose the fingertips allowing for more dexterity and ease of movement. Finding the perfect fit is easier with fingerless styles as you do not have to consider finger length. Three-finger gloves will afford you more protection, and full fingers do not slide or roll down like fingerless tend to do.

Sailing gloves are built from a combination of fabrics. Common fabrics include synthetic leathers like Amara or heavy duty Proton, as well as polyester and sticky palm materials or coatings.

Figuring out glove size is easy. To fit your hand and measure to know your glove size, check out our glove size chart.

How to Choose

Each style, material and construction has its strengths. With so many choices, how are you to decide?  We will review products by grading them with 1-5 stars (5 being the best) on 4 attributes:

  • Sizing accuracy/fit- Does it match the size chart expectations, how well they fit/form to hand
  • Dexterity- Ability to easily flex hand and maneuver
  • Grip- The gloves ability to add friction to lines and reduce hand fatigue
  • Durability – Life of glove, how well it holds up over time

To see more details and product videos on individual gloves, click the glove images to view the product page.

APS is the World Leader in Outfitting Sailors.  Shop our:
– Sailing Gloves

gill deckhand sailing glove

Gill’s Deckhand gloves, redesigned in 2017, are great for any intro level sailor. A soft water resistant Amara palm provides an adequate level of protection from chafe and ropes, although it does not provide a lot of additional grip. The no seam-fingertips, wrap around construction and pre-shaped fit make for a very well fitting, comfortable glove. These sailing gloves are well made, and depending on your position on the boat will easily last a full season and beyond.

gill championship sailing gloves

A step up in Gill’s range are the Championship Gloves. Similar in construction to the Deckhand with no-seam fingertips & wrap-around construction, but these offer extra reinforcements to extend durability and life. Grip is improved by ‘Dura-Grip,’ a slightly textured material covering the palm and fingers. The additional reinforcement materials do contribute to a slight loss of dexterity, yet the construction ensures a comfortable, well-fitting glove.


gill pro sailing glove

For a seriously tough glove, Gill offers their Pro Gloves. Redesigned in 2017, these offer supreme durability and stand up to extended wear and abrasion. Proton-Ultra XD synthetic leather provides the palm and finger with hard wearing strength and some friction for additional grip. These sailing gloves can tend to feel a little bulky, but a 4 way stretch material on the back paired with a pre-shaped construction helps with dexterity, fit, and comfort.

ronstan sticky sailing gloves

The Ronstan Sticky glove is a classic. Fairly unchanged from its original design, the stand out feature is the ‘sticky’ Amara palm. This stickiness creates a great grip surface and makes line handling less fatiguing. The glove is fairly lightweight with a stretch mesh top construction so it still conforms around the fingers nicely. The also come in sizes all the way down to XXS, great for kids. The neoprene wristband is low-cut and scalloped, designed for your watch or timer to sit comfortably on your wrist when wearing. All around, a strong performer offering grip, durability, and dexterity.

harken black magic sailing gloves

Harken’s entry level glove, the Black Magic has a comfortable design combining soft Amara fingers, a mesh panel back, as well as a reinforced Black Magic palm for extra reinforcement and abrasion resistance. The palm provides that somewhat ‘sticky’ feel that really makes a difference when it comes to grip. We’ve found the fingers in the long finger gloves can run a little long, but otherwise the fit is good. A fairly basic design in terms of fit and Velcro wrist adjustment.

harken reflex sailing gloves

Harken’s next level of sailing glove, are the Reflex Performance Gloves. These are a step up in durability and protection. The palm and fingers feature the sticky Black Magic reinforced palm with a protective palm pad for extra hand protection. A low profile wrist keeps the glove close to skin and out of the way of your watch. Double stitching and reinforced material makes for a durable, hard wearing glove.


atlas nitrile sailing gloves

The lightweight Atlas Nitrile Gloves give a second skin-like feel with their elastic knit and thinly dipped palm coating.  While minimalist in design, these gloves offer the most line grip of any glove. The dipped rubber leaves a sticky, yet smooth coating. The thin knit back is breathable and comfortable. The biggest downside to these gloves is that they will wear out fairly quickly due to the thin materials, but they are inexpensive. Getting a few days of racing or more out of these sailing gloves is the average life expectancy.  Atlas gloves only come in a full closed finger style. Some sailors opt to snip the fingertips off to add extra dexterity.

atlas grip sailing gloves

The Atlas Grip Gloves are made from a thicker, fuzzier, elasticated knit body than the Atlas Nitrile Gloves. A dipped rubber palm offers not just stickiness, but texture to the grip as well. Often people will size down in the Atlas gloves from their normal size so the gloves will fit a little tighter. The thicker dipped rubber does make this glove lose points for dexterity, and similar to the Nitriles they will not have the longest life. Active sailors can expect to get about half a season out of one pair. Some sailors opt to snip the fingertips off for extra dexterity.

atlas fit sailing gloves

The Atlas Fit Gloves are the ‘heavy duty’ version of the Atlas Grip Gloves. The same great sticky, textured rubber is a little thicker and is paired with a heavier duty elasticated knit body. Extra thickness takes away from dexterity a little, and although stronger than other Atlas gloves, these can still wear out a single sailing season.


APS is the World Leader in Outfitting Sailors.  Shop our:
– Sailing Gloves


 Glove Sizing Information

Measure all the way around (circumference) your hand (palm) at its fullest point.

Glove Size Hand Circumference
Inches Centimeters
Child/ XX-Small 5 12.7
Junior/ X-Small 6 15.3
SMALL 7 17.8
MEDIUM 8 20.3
LARGE 9 22.9
X-LARGE  10  25.4
2X-LARGE 11  28.0


*This is a general guide and some gloves may run larger or smaller than the published sizing.

  • Share

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *