I will be the first to say that I have been opposed to webbed gloves in the past and have maybe even heckled a few of the people in the line up that have tried some. The ones I’ve seen have looked ridiculous and didn’t seem to help the users do anything but look more novice and uncoordinated. However, while watching a recent video I caught the one and only big wave hell man Jamie Sterling wearing a pair of webbed gloves with board shorts on, check it out STOKE TV here: http://www.dailystoke.com/video/darkfin-surf-gloves-jamie-sterling-devolution/. Gloves and boardshorts? I was intrigued and after a little investigating I was quickly referred to Darkfin Gloves website https://www.darkfingloves.com/.
Darkfin is the only manufacturer in history to ever use natural latex rubber to produce a webbed glove which basically boils down a biodegradable, eco-friendly product. The main reason being that if the user were to loose a glove in heavy surf, the ocean water combined with UV light would allow for it have as little of an environmental impact as possible. Darkfin has been experimenting with gloves and marine propulsion since the early 1980s and have refined it over the years to finally get the product they offer today.
The most standout feature is the rear web design which creates a 3 dimensional surface area in the palm of your hand. This unique application increase in surface drag more than any other glove that has webbing just sewn between the fingers. More importantly, Darkfins’ rear web feature allows for your hands to have almost the same amount of dexterity as you would have barehanded. You can zip your wet suit, hide your keys, and do up your leash with no trouble. They also claim to increase your paddle horsepower by as much as 70%!
I decided to test the gloves on a nice peaky little day. My first impression upon opening the protective UV storage bag they come in was that they were pretty cool looking…even the monster from the black lagoon would be jealous! The natural rubber they are constructed of makes them feel like a pair of your Mom’s old yellow dishwashing gloves but more bad ass. They had a nice fit and slipped under my wetsuit with ease. It was offshore but really windy which usually makes paddling a bit more challenging; the tide was also high so I’d have a short paddle across the channel before getting to the line up. I saw a nice empty spot firing towards the middle and I started to make my way down for some field testing.
Just grabbing my board on the way down to the beach, I felt like I had a better grip and once I hit the channel and started paddling, I noticed an immediate difference! Me and my little 6’2” were smoking the guys on longboards and I was in the line up in no time! After a short rest and a surprise clean up set I finally stroked into my first wave. I was almost too early as I wasn’t used to the added paddle power but I made the drop and rode out on a nice little right. As I quickly mastered the learning curve of the gloves I was catching more waves, getting deeper, and actually conserving more energy than any webless day I’ve had. The rip that day was also strong but I held my position with no problems. The last wave of the day was a drainer that doubled up right off the take off. I shocked myself and at the last minute went for a late takeoff, making it with time to spare and only having to use just two power strokes to get to my feet. Hand drags and face saves have more impact as well and if you have to ditch your board and take one on the head, you can get deep and well out of harms way with just a few strokes down.
Overall I was really pleased with these gloves and couldn’t believe what a difference they made in my wave catching abilities. I probably won’t wear them during every session but I will definitely make them a standard for the next big swell that comes to town. Competitively priced around $25 I don’t see any reason every surfer shouldn’t own a pair, you won’t be disappointed! As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend.