Why Should You Dive With Dry Gloves?
If you have been wondering why you should dive with dry gloves, then you are in the right place.
Over the past two years, more and more divers have been choosing to upgrade their thermal protection when diving in drysuit to add a dry gloves system of one design or another to their gear.
In this post we are going to give you the low down on the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of dry gloves for cold water diving.
- What are dry gloves?
- How Do You Attach Dry Gloves?
- Do They Leak or Squeeze?
- Are Dry Gloves Warmer Than Wet Gloves?
- Types Of Dry Gloves
- Types Of Dry Glove Liners
What are Dry Gloves?
Dry gloves have been around for some time, unlike wet gloves, are watertight. They essentially become an extension of your drysuit keeping water out and your hands dry. When using a dry glove system with your drysuit, such as the Waterproof Ultima or the Kubi systems, the dry glove keeps your hands dry and the thermal glove inside keeps your fingers and hands warm. The dry glove itself does not keep your hands and fingers warm.
Most dry gloves outer gloves are made from a thin shell, like a trilaminate drysuits, they just keep water out. What choice of thickness or material you choose comes down to your style of diving? Some divers that spend a lot of time diving wrecks and caves prefer thicker textured gloves. While divers who make little or no contact with sharp edges underwater will prefer a thinner glove.
They produce little or no insulation in and of themselves. For that, you must wear an additional layer, and there is a range of options. But which ones work best?
How Do You Attach Drygloves?
Dry gloves are usually attached with two sets of rings. One set of rings are installed at the wrist seals of your drysuit. The other two at the wrist section of the gloves. Depending on the brand, the rings are secured by pushing or screwing together, creating a watertight seal.
To answer this question it is best to examine the information below but here is a short breakdown;
- Both Systems can be fitted without suit modification to existing Latex or Silicone seals.
- Neither system can be fitted to Neoprene seals with suit modification (Cutting and gluing)
Do They Leak or Squeeze?
As your wrist seals are still installed the simple answer is yes! However, this is easily avoided by breaking the seal using wrist warmers, straws (small tubes) or small pieces of bungee. This will allow the air to flow between your drysuit and gloves. If the wrist seal has been broken, air from your drysuit will be drawn into your gloves. This will equalise the airspace during descent. If you do happen to feel a slight squeeze, raise your hands above the level of your drysuit. This will force air into the gloves quickly.
We mentioned above that to force air into the glove you can raise your hands above the level of your drysuit. Simply lowering your hands below the level of your suit will force air back into your drysuit and out of your shoulder dump along with the rest of the expanding air.
Leaks can occur but can usually be avoided by ensuring that the gloves have been put on correctly and also that nothing is being touched which may puncture the gloves.
Are Dry Gloves Warmer Than Wet Gloves?
Rubber keeps the water out, glove liners keep the heat in. There are many glove liners on the market in all sizes and thicknesses and what you will wear will usually depend on the water temperature you plan to dive in.
Some wet gloves are great but with your hands being in contact with the water they will cool faster, eventually feeling numb which reduces dexterity and renders your hands almost useless! (Many Tech Diving agencies also recommend dry gloves for this reason and take advantage of the extended dive times they offer). Also, when removing your wet gloves between dives, your wet hands will take an long time to rewarm. That is if they manage to rewarm at all! When removing dry gloves between dives, your hands are as dry as they were when you started and rewarm quickly. Being able to use your hands between dives comes in extremely useful for changing tanks and getting your gear ready for your next dive!
Type of Dry Gloves
There are several different options for dry gloves. You can get gloves that are lined with a synthetic fur or you can get a standard rubber type glove. The type you choose is totally up to you. Both come with their own benefits.
The synthetic fur style dry glove actively trap air in the fur insulating your hands from the cold water, however, tend to be slightly bulkier. The advantage of this type of glove is that there is no need for additional dry glove liners that can be forgotten when packing dive gear. This is also a quicker option as suiting up and donning gear can be completed quicker.The downside to this style of glove is that you do not have the ability to change the layer under the glove to add thermal protection as the water temperatures change throughout the year. The other downside is that if the ring system leaks on a dive (without their being any damage to the glove itself), there is no way to swap out the thermal for a dry option for a subsequent dive.
Types of Dry Glove Liners
There are four primary materials used for dry glove liners, cotton, fleece, synthetic and wool. It will not surprise you that they all work to differing levels to keep your hands warm under your dry gloves.
Some divers choose to use a cotton glove under their dry gloves. These are probably the worst choice of dry glove liners to use. Cotton has a great ability to absorb moisture and is extremely poor at releasing the moisture once it is wet. The problem when diving is that if the liner gets wet before or during the dive, the cotton will absorb the water. It will then hold the water next to the skin cooling your fingers and hands. This moisture could come from a leak in the glove or from sweat, either way it will not be wicked away from the skin.
A fleece glove liner can be soft and fluffy; it feels good next to the skin and due to the fluffy nature of the material holds a lot of air between the dry glove and the skin. It tends to be a faster drying material than cotton and retains most of its thermal protection when damp. The downside of fleece is that if you suffer from a total glove leak, the fleece offers no thermal protection at all. They are a faily cost effective solution, but the lack of protection when soaked combined with their bulky nature, means they are not the best solution either.
Synthetic liners are often thinner and have great wicking properties. They act in a similar way to sports gear removing the moisture from next to the skin. They are a good solution for cool to moderate temperature dives, however, they will not offer protection over extended periods on longer duration cold dives.Choosing a wool based dry glove liner is the choice for the most extreme dives and durations. For years the outdoor sports market have chosen wool as the go-to choice for thermal protection, and for good reason. Merino wool in particular has some of the best thermal properties as the fibre of the wool is soft, comfortable and still offers great thermal protection when wet. It does not itch or shrink like many other wool fibres and has become more and more popular with divers over the past few years. Wool offers very high level of thermal protection, is light weight, and not bulky. This means that even a thin glove can give excellent thermal protection when dry and even when soaked in the event of a glove or seal failure.
If you are a diver who wants to enjoy the UKs colder months or enjoys diving in colder water abroad, installing dry gloves is a must and something you won’t regret. If you are ready to take the plunge and get the feeling back in your fingers this diving season, come speak to the guys at Scuba Leeds to find a solution that is right for you.