Sealskinz Gloves, Take Two


On an intermittently rainy 6˚C (42˚F) fall day with a chilly northwest wind, John and I were dismantling the frame for our Fairclough winter cover—it’s a long story, which I’m sure you’ll be hearing about—handling cold wet metal framing, wet wood slatting, box cutters, and 1/2″ filament tape. But guess what? Our hands were warm. Why? Because we were wearing our Sealskinz Ultra Grip Gloves. (If this sounds like an advertisement, it is, except that we are not getting paid. We love these gloves!)

A while ago I wrote about the range of gloves we use to deal with the wet, the cold, and the need for dexterity and good grip that sailing in cold climes requires. In the comments to that post, a number of readers spoke highly of Sealskinz gloves. So we duly purchased a pair of Sealskinz Chillblockers and found that they worked very well for wet tasks that required at least some dexterity—a niche that was previously filled by neoprene gloves, though without the dexterity.

When we tried to purchase a second pair of Chillblockers, however, we found out that Sealskinz and Chillblocker (now by Hanz) are two separate companies. So we stuck with Sealskinz (they ship to Canada without complaint) and ordered a pair of their ultra grip gloves.


Sealskinz left, Chillblockers right.

In our opinion, the Sealskinz are even better than the Chillblockers—more dexterous, warmer when wet, and, as their name implies, they have a fabulous non-slip grip. And they don’t look like the designer used Frankenstein as a hand model like the Chillblockers do.

These days we use Sealskinz gloves for somewhat cold days (whether dry or wet); Gill Helmsman gloves for moderately cold dry days (moderately cold wet days mean alternating between the Gills and the Sealskinz); and outdoor mitts for really cold days, with a quick change in and out of Sealskinz to deal with wet tasks requiring dexterity and good grip.

That means we now have a lot of empty space in the glove locker. Hmmm, I’d better find something to put there before John fills it with camera gear!


We have not received any discount or free product from Sealskinz, though we’d take any number of their gloves if they wanted to hand them out. I personally really like the bright yellow ones.

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Meet the Author


Phyllis has sailed over 40,000 offshore miles with John on their McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, most of it in the high latitudes, and has crossed the Atlantic three times. As a woman who came to sailing as an adult, she brings a fresh perspective to cruising, which has helped her communicate what they do in an approachable way, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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14 comments … add one
  • RDE Feb 2, 2016, 11:44 am

    I’ve found that the real trick for keeping the hands warm while working outside in temps down to Zero (f) is to wear surgical gloves under your working gloves. They act like a very thin wet suit and double the apparent insulation factor. At about a penny each, they are the very definition of cheap!

    • Marc Dacey Feb 2, 2016, 7:58 pm

      I do this, as well. It’s a trick I picked up from being an all-weathers bike courier. Another trick for cold but dry days are bicycle riding gloves (full fingered) with woolen “flip mitts” with Thinsulate liners. Flip the tops off for fine work, and on for helming. They have leather palms, too.

      • John Feb 3, 2016, 9:37 am

        Hi Marc,

        I don’t much like the idea of flip top gloves. I don’t think they will be useful for work since they will get saturated. The other problem is that the flipped off part may get fouled in a winch or other gear—at best an inconvenience, at worst dangerous.

        • Marc Dacey Feb 4, 2016, 3:21 pm

          Perhaps if I went where you and Phyllis go, I would hold the same views. It’s only something I resort to here on Lake Ontario just after launch and just prior to haulout. Those Sealskinz look good.

  • TomT Feb 2, 2016, 5:41 pm

    Back in the 80’s I had a kayaking buddy whose nickname was Bomber. It wasn’t until years later that I found out that it was actually Balmer, because he used to smear Bag Balm on his hands to help keep them warm.

    Here is a great old photo of a fisherman wearing longliner mittens:

  • Brian Feb 3, 2016, 4:07 pm

    In Puget Sound, I use Gore-Tex ski gloves when temps warrant (rarely), but these days my go-to mitts are the Atlas coated knit work gloves (or in a pinch even the Harbor freight ones). They’re cheaper than dirt and plenty warm for this climate. I buy them five at a time and use them for everything… helming (great grip), repair work, diving on the hull (great barnacle protection when scrubbing). I keep pairs in the shop, in the truck, and on the boat. The only problem I’ve encountered is the coating tends to fail readily under the strain of a fast moving sheet; they still work however, just a bit worn looking. Probably insufficient for really northern weather, but they have their place. Hard to beat for the price. The surgical glove trick, sounds interesting; will give it a try.

    • John Feb 4, 2016, 8:28 am

      Hi Brian,

      As you say, such a deal! Having said that, I’m generally not keen on any clothing for cold weather that includes cotton, but maybe this is OK because of the blend.

  • Blair Feb 3, 2016, 7:21 pm

    I purchase a set of SealSkins gloves, socks and toques for my wife and I last fall when I was in the UK. They were very expensive but they are incredible products! Staying warm is easy- staying dry isn’t… Once you get wet, it’s hard to stay warm. Their products keep you dry, let your skin breath and keep you warm.

    • paul Feb 4, 2016, 1:31 am

      same here. bought the waterproof breathable socks (2 pair and don’t get stinky…amazing) and the toques. excellent. bought the gloves as a result. haven’t tested them yet but i’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

    • John Feb 4, 2016, 8:25 am

      Hi Blair,

      I think you make a good point about the benefits of “let your skin breath”. I really like that with the SealSkins my hands don’t get all clammy.

  • Andreas Mar 25, 2016, 8:24 pm

    Based on your excellent review of the Sealskinz we decided to give them a go, but when my girlfriend got to the one store that sells them in Stavanger, they were unfortunately sold out of all sizes except for Small (she would probably need medium sized gloves).
    She still tried them on and said that the sizing was a bit odd: the fingers were tiny while the main “compartment” was huge. The store wasn’t restocking them, so if we want them, we need to order them.
    So the question is: in your experience, how is the sizing?
    While it’s nice not to need Frankenstein sized hands, if they are too tight around the fingers they will be cold.

    • John Mar 26, 2016, 7:01 am

      Hi Andreas,

      That’s interesting. I wonder if the gloves that you tried on where in fact Chillblockers. While we experienced different strange sizing than you did, we got the sense that consistency and understanding of the human hand was not their strong suit. And there seems to have been some confusion about these being sold as and by Sealskinz in some countries, as happened to us, see the post above.

      The true Sealskins seem to size and fit very well, at least in the sizes we have (medium and large). The key seems to be to make sure you get the Sealskinz Ultragrip:

  • Andreas Mar 26, 2016, 9:54 am

    Hi John,

    If I subtract the “not” in your second sentence, then our experience mirrors yours: we must have tried on Chillblockers markeded as Sealskinz. We will follow your recommendation and order them from a reputable source, so that we get original Sealskinz.

    Thank you for your help.

    • John Mar 26, 2016, 5:17 pm

      Oops, “not” subtracted.

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