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Surf Gloves: The Complete Guide For Surfing in Cold Temperatures

No one wants to paddle out to all time conditions, only to have a numb hands force you back to the beach.

Surf gloves are an essential part of your equipment whether you’re surfing on the East Coast, the Great Lakes, or the Pacific.

Whether you're a beginner looking for your first pair of surf gloves or a familiar face in the lineup who needs a new pair of surf gloves, keep reading. In this surf gloves guide, we’ll explain:

  • Surf glove factors

  • The best surf gloves on the market today

  • And more wetsuit resources

If you’re ready to learn everything you need to know about surf gloves, let’s get started!

Surf Glove Factors

With so many surf glove options today, how do you decide what’s right for you?

We'll say this again and again: It comes down to you personal preference with several factors, including:

  • Surf glove thickness

  • Surf glove sizing

  • Surf glove style

We’ll look at each factor next.

Surf Glove Thickness

Measured in milimeters (MM), surf glove thickness depends on water temperature and ranges from 1mm to 7mm.

1- 2mm Surf Gloves

If you’re looking for the thinnest surf gloves, 1-2mm are your best bet. For water temperatures around 50-60° F, this thickness will provide a bit of warmth while still allowing you hand flexibility.

3mm Surf Gloves

A step up from the 1-2mm option, the 3mm provides more warmth in water temperatures ranging from 55° to 40° F.

5mm Surf Gloves

If you’re taking the plunge and surfing in the water temperatures around 40°-35° F, such as Northeast, Great Lakes, the Pacific Northwest or Alaska, the warmth that 5mm surf gloves are a necessity.

7mm Gloves

Reserved for those surfing in some of the coldest temperatures imaginable — down to below freezing itself at 32° F — the 7mm are the warmest option available.

Surf Glove Styles

Surf glove styles range from 5 finger to the lobster claw or mittens.

We’ll look at each surf glove style next.

5 Finger

This style feels the most natural and allows the most dexterity of each finger.

If you’ve never used gloves before, this will be your best bet. But it doens’t come without it’s disadvantages; because each finger can let in more water, it can be the least warm option on your hands.

Lobster Claw

Called a lobster claw because the index finger and thumb are separated from the rest of the fingers, this surf glove still allows you to grab rail and keep as much warmth as possible inside.

Keep in mind that this style is only offered in 5mm and up.


This surf glove option is for the coldest of waters.

Just like it sounds, a mitten separates your fingers from your thumb. While they are the most warm, they don’t have the dexterity of other glove options.

Glove Sizing

A comforbable surf session in cold water is the combination of choosing the right type of glove and the right size.

So how should your surf gloves fit?

Just like a wetsuit, they should fit tight — but not restrictive.

Remember, if you're trying them on in a surf shop, they will loosen when they hit water.

If you’re between sizes, we recommend getting the smaller surf glove size.

3 of the Best Surf Gloves on the Market Today

R3® Yulex® Gloves

Best for water temperatures: 48°–55° F/9°–13° C, Patagonia’s 3mm surf gloves aim for warmth and dexterity in cold conditions.

Check them out here.

O'Neill's Psycho Tech 5mm Mitten

An ultimate performance-driven surf glove with a primary focus on warmth and comfort, this option provides a Tacky grip that covers the palm through fingers for maximum dexterity.

Plus, it has an o-ring seal around the wrist allowing ease of exit and entry, while also keeping out water completely.

Check them out here.

High Seas 1.5mm Glove

Designed for surfers who do not like wearing gloves, the High Seas 1.5 mm surf glove provides warmth for those chilly morning dawn patrols.

More specifically, they're made for 51 - 58° F / 11 - 14° C

Check it out this surf glove option here.

The Bottom Line: Surf Gloves

At the end of the day, surf gloves come down to your personal preference.

Do what's best for your comfort during those cold water sessions so that you can focus on the waves and not your equipment.


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