We first saw webbed gloved marketed to surfers about 20 years ago. Considering how long they have been on the market they have yet to really catch on with surfers and haven’t become a necessary item in a surfer’s gear bag like a wetsuit or surf wax.
Webbed gloves can help your surfing by giving you more paddle power to catch waves. The webbed glove provides a bigger area that helps you to grab water to push it backward which propels you forward as you paddle your surfboard.
If webbed gloves can be such an asset to surfing, why don’t we see them more often in the lineup? We wondered the same thing. Here are our thoughts on using webbed gloves when surfing.
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How Webbed Glove Help Your Surfing
The webbed area of the glove simply makes your hand a bigger paddle that allows you to push more water when you paddle on your surfboard. The bigger target area is estimated by at least one webbed glove brand to increase paddle power by 30%. We don’t know if that is true or how 30% was determined.
Regardless, it makes sense that if you have a bigger paddle (AKA your hand in this case) you will paddle faster. Stand up paddleboarders who use a bigger paddle blade when they SUP can easily attest to the benefit of a bigger paddle. The same can be said for swimmers who use hand paddles for swimming.
But there is a difference between a less dynamic sport like SUP and swimming in a pool compared to surfing in the ocean where there are additional factors to consider.
Who Can Webbed Gloves Can Help
We think webbed gloves can help a few different types of surfers.
Newbie surfers – Newbie surfers can use all the help they can get especially when it comes to catching waves. Webbed gloves can help reduce the learning curve of catching waves by simply catching more waves and learning faster as a result.
Older surfers – You don’t see as many older surfers in the water as you do younger surfers. One reason for that may be because as we get older, we tend to lose strength which would result in catching fewer waves which is less fun and reduces motivation. Webbed gloves may be a good way to assist older surfers to catch more waves or help older surfers return to surfing.
Bodysurfers – Bodysurfers wear swim fins to propel them through the water and catch waves, but they don’t have the benefit of a surfboard to give them float and help them to paddle faster. Webbed gloves could be an advantage for bodysurfers.
Boogieboarders – Boogieboarders, like bodysurfers, have swim fins to help them move through the water, but considering that a boogieboard doesn’t provide all that much float and therefore doesn’t assist with propulsion webbed gloves can improve a boogieboarders paddle power.
Shortboard surfers – Surferswho surf shortboard surfboards typically sit in a pack of other shortboarders. They compete using similar gear in a tight takeoff zone. Webbed gloves could give an advantage for a shortboarder.
Longboard surfers – Longboard surfers already have so much foam that gives them a superior advantage when it comes to paddling. Webbed gloves can be helpful for older longboarders who need assistance paddling.
Surfers with disabilities – If you are a surfer of any kind including longboard surfboards, shortboards, boogieboards or bodyboards a webbed glove could be a great addition to your surf gear.
Pros and Cons of Using Webbed Gloves
First the pros of using webbed gloves to surf. Webbed gloves:
- Can provide additional paddle power to help you get into the lineup faster
- Can provide additional paddle power to help you catch more waves with less effort
- Can help newbie surfers learn faster by increasing their wave count
- Can help older surfers who have strength issues catch more waves
- Can help bodysurfers and boogieboards catch more waves
- Can keep your hands a warm
- Can help surfers with disabilities enjoy surfing more/again
The cons of wearing webbed gloves to surf. Webbed gloves:
- Will give you an unfair advantage over other surfers who may not look favorably upon that
- Will add extra weight to your hands which will cause fatigue in your shoulders faster than paddling with only your hands
- Can’t be worn when you need to wear proper wetsuit gloves to keep your hands warm
- Will be a big letdown when you forget to wear them
- May train your hands to paddle incorrectly when you are not wearing them
- Can be restricting
- Will have different levels of grip depending on the manufacturer
Different Types Of Webbed Gloves
There are 2 different types of webbed gloves on the market. There are those that use neoprene which is the same type of material that wetsuits are made of. And there are webbed gloves that are made of latex.
We like the idea of latex gloves like the below from Darkfin. They look streamlined and pretty darn cool.
If latex isn’t your thing, consider these from FIVE BEE:
Is It a Paddling Problem Or A Different Problem
If you are considering webbed gloves for surfing you may be thinking you have a paddling problem. This may be true, but maybe not. Consider the below.
You may need a surfing coach or surf lesson – If you have trouble catching waves you may need to work on your wave knowledge, your ability to pick good waves, your ability to be in the right spot on the wave, or maybe you’re lying on your surfboard too far forward or too far behind. Webbed gloves won’t help you with these scenarios, but a surfing coach can.
You be surfing the wrong surfboard – If your surfboard is too thin, doesn’t have the right amount of volume or is too short your paddling may be fine but you may be surfing the wrong surfboard. If you think this is the case, take a trip to your local surf shop for advice.
You may be surfing the wrong waves – Some waves are harder to catch than others. Try out another surf break to see if you have the same results or if you end up catching more waves than you were at the prior break.
You are out of shape or have an injury – You don’t need to be strong to paddle well, but you need to be conditioned. Getting more time in the water may be what you need instead of webbed gloves.
Alternatively, it may be time to address a lingering injury that you have been avoiding.
Webbed gloves have never really taken off in the surfing community but that doesn’t mean that they can’t give you that something-something you need to paddle a little faster to catch more waves. Consider giving webbed gloves a try if you need a little more paddle power.