The Best Sailing Gloves We’ve Owned Aren’t


Pictured above are three examples of sailing gloves we have thoroughly product tested* on a cruising boat.

Two pairs are a little over a year old and are our second sets of the same brands since we started cruising. One pair is almost 10 years old. All have been used for sailing and also for anything else in our cruising life that we would like gloves for. The oldest pair has been used the most, in the most varied conditions, including years on the rock wall. The only pair that hasn’t disintegrated under hard use is also the cheapest pair. Can you guess which?

Tip: Yep, as the title suggests, our favorite sailing gloves are not sailing gloves; they are Metolius rock climbing belay gloves.

Slightly less sensitive than a sailing glove, our climbing gloves are a gazillion times more durable. You can buy cheaper leather gloves (such as for construction) but these climbing gloves are made from great leather which (important in my mind) form fits to the shape of your hand over time, using high end construction with stitching that doesn’t fail, and made with extra leather right where ropes slide through your hands.

The sailing gloves we’ve owned have some durable leather in the high use areas but also have a lot of soft leather of some wimpy type which rots. There is enough of this soft leather that when it rots there is nothing holding the palm of the glove onto your hand, rendering the glove useless. As far as we can tell, this soft leather rots when subjected to salt water and abrasion…which is exactly what the gloves are supposed to be protecting our hands from.

I understand that as cruisers** we put many more hours on the water than most sailboat owners, that we no longer work for money, and for both reasons we care a lot more about durability and cost than aesthetic and a slight improvement in sensitivity. With that said, we’ve wasted enough money and we won’t be buying sailing gloves for cruising again. 

((Editors Note: See this subsequent post on contacting Gill to get replacement gloves!))

*We paid for all of these over the years out of our own pockets – not that we wouldn’t take freebies, we would be delighted to, but these weren’t.
**Well, there are cruisers and there are cruisers. So, I guess I should say “cruisers who are actively moving their boat around”.


  1. Perfect timing! I was just going through the mental debate about replacing my sailing gloves. Debate because the last two pair were the same brand you're picture shows, and both had rotted out in less than a year, just like yours! I wondered if I'd got a bad set, but clearly it's just an inferior product. Headed to "Maine Sport" - our local outdoor sports place - to look at climbing gloves!

    1. Keith - I will update the blog with this info but in the meantime, email "" with your ONO number from inside the gloves, a photo of them, and your address and ask for a new pair of Gills...



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