A dive can be made or broken by the simplest of details. Numb, useless fingers is one of them. A good glove, however, will make this one less detail to worry about. Whether you are looking for a pair of gloves for thermal protection, or for protection against abrasions, our product recommendations and advice guide will aid you in picking the best scuba diving gloves.
#1 – Fourth Element 3/5/7mm
Like many products from Fourth Element, their gloves keep water ingress to the bare minimum. This is done with the use of glued, stitched and welded seams. Similarly, the carbonite print on the exterior provides increased grip and dexterity. These gloves are available in 3/5/7mm.
- 90% Neoprene/10% Nylon.
- Glued, stitched and welded seams for minimised water ingress.
- Outer carbonite print provides increased grip and dexterity.
- Available in 3/5/7mm.
#2 – Waterproof G1 1.5/3/5mm 5-Finger Gloves
The Waterproof G1 glove is an excellent option for those wanting insulation and grip. The Glideskin seals minimise water ingress and, combined with an extra long YKK zipper, make for easy donning and doffing. The superstretch I-span Nylon also makes for increased flexibility and dexterity. Additionally, Waterproof includes an ID plate which you can put your name on, allowing for easy recognition of your glove.
- Extra Long YKK Zipper – for easier donning and doffing.
- Glideskin Seal – makes a perfect suction seal together with the suit seals. The glide treated surface also makes for easier donning and doffing.
- Tactile Grip Padding – grip in the right places.
- I-span Nylon for Maximum Stretch – high quality superstretch I-span nylon.
- ID Plate – Stylish place to put your name. Easy to recognize your glove.
- Available in 1.5/3/5mm.
#3 – Promate 3/5mm Neoprene Scuba Dive Kevlar Gloves
Promate offers a glove that is designed for maximum protection. The glove is reinforced with Kevlar on the palms and fingertips. Dexterity, however, is not compromised due to the inclusion of pre-curved fingers which keep the glove flexible. On top of this, the glove comes with a wrap-around velcro strap which allows for easy donning and doffing, whilst keeping water ingress to a minimal level.
- 3/5mm neoprene.
- Kevlar reinforced palm and wrapped finger tips.
- Glued and blind-stitched for strength and durability.
- Pre-curved fingers for comfort.
- Wide wrap-around Velcro wrist closure for easy on and off.
#4 – Cressi Neoprene High Stretch Gloves
Cressi’s High Stretch gloves are a favourite among many divers due to their simplicity and effectiveness. The entire exterior of the glove is coated with a non-slip finish for maximum grip. Similarly, the anatomically sculpted pre-bent fingers allow for greater flexibility and dexterity. In addition to this, the inner surface of the glove is covered in Metalite, making for easy donning and doffing.
- Made from single-lined soft, high-stretch Neoprene.
- The inside is covered in Metalite, making them easy to don and doff.
- The entire surface is covered with a non-slip finish for a sure grip in all situations.
- The preformed shape favours the natural position of the hand, with semi-bent fingers.
- Available in 2.5/3.5/5mm.
#5 – Bare Unisex Sealtek Gloves
Bare’s Sealtek gloves are an excellent choice for those wanting insulation and ease. The Elastek Full-Stretch neoprene offers increased stretch capabilities, allowing for greater flexibility as well as reduced wear-and-tear on the seams of the glove. The Seamtek exterior seam protection, combined with the double gluing and blind stitching, results in minimal water ingress and, therefore, maximum warmth. Bare have also included Glideskin-In wrist seals which make donning and doffing extremely easy, as well as providing an extra line of defence against water seepage.
- ELASTEK FULL-STRETCH neoprene for ultimate stretch and comfort.
- SEAMTEK exterior seam protection on palms and fingers reduces water penetration, improves abrasion resistance and keeps hands warm and dry.
- Incorporates SEALTEK ring seal system for minimal water ingress.
- GLIDESKIN-IN wrists act as an additional line of defence against water entry and makes it easier to don and doff.
- Double glued and blind stitched.
- Available in 3/5mm.
- Anatomically sculpted pre-curved fingers reduce hand fatigue and improve overall dexterity.
Bonus Option – MaxiFlex Endurance Seamless Knit Nylon Work Glove
Although a little unconventional, a good pair of work man’s gloves are an excellent option for divers for whom protection is their primary interest. A pair like the MaxiFlex Endurance are a favourite among commercial divers and warm-water wreck divers alike. These gloves come with a micro-foam nitrile coating on the palms and fingers, which is strong and reliable, also resulting in improved grip. The fact that they are a thin glove means that dexterity remains almost unchanged, allowing the diver to tie the finest of knots, or anything else that they may need to do, with almost uncompromised precision. In addition to this, they are also very cheap and available in hardware stores worldwide, meaning that they can be replaced with little problem.
- Black micro-foam nitrile coated palm finger tips, gray seamless knit nylon.
- Micro-foam nitrile coatings are compatible with light oils and will provide good grip and excellent abrasion resistance.
- Excellent dexterity, sensitivity and tactility.
- Extremely durable.
Choosing a Pair of Gloves
When selecting a pair of gloves for scuba diving, the first step is to determine why you want them. Gloves offer two benefits:
- Protection against abrasion/cuts.
However, not all pairs of gloves offer these benefits in equal measure. If you are looking for a glove for warm water use, then your primary focus will probably be on its protective qualities (as warmth is probably not an issue). Alternatively, if you are diving in cold water, then you will be focused on its insulative capability. Equally, if you are a cold water wreck-diver – for example – then you will be looking for a glove that is both insulative and protective. Determining the glove’s purpose will help to simplify the buying process for you.
A scuba diving glove keeps you warm using the same mechanism as a wetsuit does. It traps a layer of water between your skin and the neoprene surface of the glove, which your body then warms, slowing the process of heat loss. When looking for an insulative glove, ensure that the seals are tight in order to minimise water ingress.
For those diving in cold water, or, equally, those whose hands are susceptible to rapid cooling, the insulative properties of the glove you buy are of prime importance. The majority of gloves are made of neoprene, in varying amounts. Just as with a wetsuit, the thicker the neoprene of the glove is, the more insulation it will afford. However, with increased thickness comes reduced dexterity. This is the trade-off of scuba diving gloves. Some companies have worked to reduce this problem, by adding tactile pads to the outer surface of the glove, in order to improve grip and feel. Nevertheless, this problem still remains. That said, however, you must balance this loss of dexterity due to glove thickness, with the loss of dexterity due to numbed fingers as a result of gloves that are too thin.
Either way, before deciding to go for the thickest glove possible, you may want to consider if you really need it. As a very general guide for neoprene density relative to water temperature, we can say:
- >20°C = 1-3mm
- 10-20°C = 5mm
- <10°C = 7mm
This is a very rough guide to glove density, as susceptibility to the cold varies greatly between divers. However, as an approximation, it suffices.
Similarly, there are divers who skip wetsuit gloves altogether, preferring instead to wear dry gloves attached to their drysuit. The argument for this is that if it is cold enough to require gloves, it is cold enough to use a drysuit. The benefit of dry gloves is that they remain completely dry (hence the name!). Therefore, you can also wear an additional glove underneath to increase insulation further. If you’re wishing to learn more about drysuits and their benefits, you can read our article on choosing your first drysuit here.
Additionally, some manufacturers offer neoprene mittens. These are usually only used in extremely cold water. However, given the substantial reduction in dexterity, I would personally not recommend mitten-style diving gloves. A much better option, as mentioned above, would be to use a dry glove system that you can supplement with additional woollen gloves underneath.
Many divers use gloves not for their insulative purposes but, rather, for the purposes of protection. This may be protection against anything from rusted metal edges in a wreck, jagged rocks in a cave, or sharp nylon fishing nets retrieved in Ghost Fishing projects, for example. Similarly, the fingers and thumbs of technical divers can often suffer cuts and abrasions from manipulating multiple stage bottles. Whatever your reason may be for requiring protection, a good pair of gloves can do the job.
If you are wanting protection from a glove, you should look for those that come with special coatings and/or are made from abrasion resistant materials. Kevlar is a favourite among many divers. Equally, dyneema is also another option. In addition to this, many gloves also come with some sort of tactile surface layer to both improve grip as well as add another layer of protection. These are all features you want to have in a glove that will be used for the purposes of protection.