The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

If They’re Good Enough For Seals, They’re Good Enough For Us

A while ago I wrote about how we keep our hands warm when sailing and a number of commentors mentioned they really like Sealskinz gloves. Well, when something gets that much good press, who are we to argue? So we went ahead and bought ourselves a pair of Chillblocker Sealskinz gloves. And yes, you all were right—they’re awesome!

Now, we haven’t had a chance to try them in tough conditions (we only got them after last year’s Arctic trip) but so far they’ve managed to keep our hands warm, even when they were wet (unlike neoprene), during normal early spring weather on the North American East Coast. They allow for enough dexterity that I can work electronics buttons (most, not all, some are too small) and even manipulate the small safety line on the anchor brake stop. And they don’t slip on halyards like neoprene gloves do.

So, to date, we are very impressed and will get another pair as soon as possible (so we can stop arguing about who gets to wear the one pair we now have and who gets stuck with the neoprene gloves). We’ll continue to give them a workout and report if anything changes!

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Do the new gloves enable you to balance a ball on your nose?

John Harries

Hi Westbrook,

With a nose the size of mine, that was always an option.

Doug & Dale

Seeing your rusty anchor chain in this blog reminds me of my equally rusty chain and the nagging questions in the back of my mind (the one that no longer remembers important facts): 1) what can one do to prolong the life of anchor chain that’s beyond regalvinizing, and 2) when does one really need to replace chain with superficial rust — would not classify our as corrosion?
Sorry this has nothing to do with sealskin gloves — what we call a hyperwarp! Cheers! D&D

John Harries

Hi Doug,

I don’t know of anything that you can do to stop the rust on chain, other than re-galvanizing, which we don’t recommend.

As far as replacement, a bit of superficial rust is probably not a problem. After all fishing boats use un-galvanized chain and they literally can live or die by it’s reliability.

Our chain looks pretty nasty in places, but when I checked it with a caliper last year prior to our Greenland trip, the total wastage was immeasurably small, when measured against new chain. And that chain has had a very hard 15 year life.

That said, we will replace it this winter, just because it is making such a hell of a mess.


Hi Phyllis

I can thoroughly recommend their winter hat, too. Totally waterproof and toasty warm!

Best wishes



Thanks Phyllis.

Looked at Sealskinz. No mitts tho. Mitts are better I would think – much warmer – and for fine fingerwork, just remove to do the job.


just back from sailing Greenland and Iceland – several of the crew had bought these gloves based on the spec of being warm and waterproof – absolute rubbish. Everyone had soaking wet hands and freezing fingers in sub-zero temperatures. I only got all feeling back nearly 2 weeks later.
I also agree with the comment on sizing – fingers far too long for the hand size! I will not be buying another pair and nor will the rest of the crew!

John Harries

Hi All,

Do recognize that the Sealskinz gloves are part of a several glove arsenal that we use for different conditions, not the be all and end all. The point being that they are, in our experience, way better that the neoprene divers gloves that we used to use in very wet and very active conditions. See this post for more.

Jerry Levy

I’ve got them – and the socks too. Love them, but there is a problem when you tell others what kind of gloves you have. Looks of horror and disgust are not uncommon.

John Harries

Hi Jerry,

I had never thought of that. But then we are residents of Atlantic Canada and see these things differently. 🙂

Joe Ogle

I have enjoyed your website for many months and respect your expertise. After reading about sealskin gloves I immediately purchased a pair for my wife, as she needs to work outside in the cold and wet. When she came home last night she complained about her hands getting cold and feeling wet while she wore these gloves. The temperature was around the mid 40s and she was raking and picking up wet pine needles. She was not a happy person with the gloves. I read somewhere that sealskin gloves purchased in the UK seem to be made better. Hmmm, could this be? Her gloves look like the pair shown in your picture.

John Harries

Hi Joe,

Hum, not sure. We bought our gloves in the USA, so that’s not the problem.

Note that there are several different weights of these gloves. Maybe your wife would be happier with a heavier weight.

Also, in our experience, there are no breathable gloves that will keep your hands completely dry over a long period of touching wet materials like ropes or pine needles. She might be happier with rubber gloves, like fisherman use, for this purpose.

We don’t think that the sealskin gloves are perfect, just a lot better than anything else we have tried. See this post for more.