Everything you wanted to know about dry gloves; ever.

"When archaeologists discover the missing arms of Venus de Milo, they will find she was wearing dry gloves."

That may not have been an exact quote, but if yer woman Venus was a scuba diver, and I'm sure she was, and enjoyed winter diving, which I'm sure she did, she would have undoubtedly been wearing dry gloves; as it is the only way to survive the frigid waters this time of year.

I have a twitter buddy who was asking me about drygloves (Hi Travis!) and I promised I would write something relative, as he'd never used them. The brief conversation we had reminded me of attempting to find out about drygloves myself, before I donned the legendary 'smurf hands.'

As I recollect, attempting to obtain a straight forward definition was difficult, and I was scared to ask the question; "are your hands dry in those?" Seems stupid; but I bet you're thinking the same thing right now, if you've never used them.

I'm not going to drag this post out, I promise, but I will attempt to explain the basic principals, and the things I wanted to know before I switched from the manky neoprene wet gloves.

Q1. How do they work?

The gloves form a seal, by various means, against the wrist seals of your dry suit.

Q2. How do the gloves attach to a drysuit?

Usually with 'dry rings.' A ring is pushed down the inside arm of the dry suit, and situated at the wrist seal. The glove also has a ring. The two rings snap, screw, push, or whatever, together; and voila - they're connected.

You can also get gloves with their own latex seal attached; this is simply placed over the latex seal of the drysuit; or under if its a neoprene seal.

source: diveoloution

Q3. Are your hands kept dry ... really?


Q4. Do they squash your hands when you descend, as Boyles Law suggests, as per my open water training?


The gloves are effectively attached to the dry suit, but an air channel must be ensured from the wrist seal into the glove. This is often achieved by simply sticking a little piece of bungee or tubing under the wrist seal, half in, half out; then donning the glove. This will allow air to travel into the glove, equalising the pressure.

source: OS Systems

It works the same way a drysuit does, only instead of injecting air directly into the glove, air moves from the suit into the gloves pretty much automatically. Air can be 'sent' there by lifting your hand above the level of the suit; it's rather nice, as warm suit air rushes into the glove.

Q5. Do the gloves inflate on ascent, as Boyles Law suggests, as per my open water training?

No. This is avoided by simply lowering the gloves on ascent, effectively forcing the air back into the drysuit, which is subsequently vented out as usual through the dump valve.

It is possible for them to hyper-inflate if you don't lower your hands on ascent, and it does make you look like Mickey Mouse. You should try this; it's very funny. You should never try this, as it could potentially blow the glove off your hand; probably.

Q6. Are they always blue?

Mostly, but that's really only because the Showa Gloves are cheap, tough, and readily available. Some dry glove manufacturers supply their own; Kubi are black for example; which is obviously cooler and more 'tech.' However the definitive colour is blue; hence the term 'smurf gloves.'

Showa 660 Gloves

All joking aside, the blue dry gloves are much better for signalling. Black dry glove signals against a black dry suit is often difficult to see; even with a 21w hid illuminating the entire ocean. Just my 2 cents of course.

Q7. Do they ever leak?

I've had 3 leaks (I can think of) in the 2 years of using them, and only one ruined a dive. They were all caused by not pushing them on properly; a bit like not sorting out a neck seal correctly. Treat them right and they will be perfect.

Q8. What do you wear underneath?

Anything you like. I wear a wrist warmer, which creates the air channel into the glove, a thin merino wool liner over the top, and a thinsulate motorbike glove liner over that; toasty to 4C.

Some smurf gloves come lined and don't require any under gloves.

In truth you wear any glove you like; I have found layering works well; but go experiment - have fun!

Q9. Which ones should I buy?

I use kwtt dry gloves, because they were cheap; they have also proved to work very well. The rings however are quite big, although I found i got used to them pretty quickly and I honestly don't notice them.

Like all scuba stuff, there are a shit load of options. Look around to see what other divers in your area are using, see what the local dive shop has, check out some reviews online; there are plenty to choose from. Popular brands are; si-tech, rolocks, zip seals (DUI suits only) and kwtt.

Q10. Are they warmer than my wet gloves?


Some wet gloves are brilliant, my old mares were fantastic, however my hands did suffer. The continuous contact with the water makes them prune up, and eventually go numb; as a result, dexterity begins to deteriorate.

Also, once out of the water, wet hands freeze in cold winter conditions and are useless post dive; not the case with dry gloves.

When dry gloves are doffed they are dry, and quickly warm in the air; in short, the recovery time is almost immediate. I often find I have to dissemble Wifebuddy's kit after a dive, due to her tiny, wee, cold fists being useless.


There you have it; everything you wanted to know, and were afraid to ask, about drygloves. What I would stress is; they take a time to get used to. Initially I felt like someone else's hands were at the end of my arms; but not now.

Kit up wearing them, do the dishes in them, type up your thesis wearing them, and always, always, always have sex wearing them.

In no time at all you'll not notice your new dry gloves ...

... or you won't be getting much sex; one or the other.

Safe, dry handed diving everyone!


  1. I'm thinking the only sex you get while wearing dry gloves is lonely :D

  2. Sex is good, but you can't beat the real thing...


  3. Hi Andy. I dived a couple of times last month and ended up with blocks of ice on the ends of my arms. Decided to follow your advice and now am the proud owner of a pair of kwtt dry gloves.
    My question is ... how do you get them on and off and do you lubricate them?
    I haven't fitted them yet as only just arrived so trying to fit the bits together on the kitchen table :)

  4. Hi Philsplodge!

    Good man! You've made a splendid decision! :)

    They push on basically; it will make more sense once you have the rings on your suit. They pull off. I place my other hand on the outside of the ring and push with my thumb against the inside and they pop off nicely. It will make sense once you have them on. If you struggle I'll make a video for you.

    A little smear if silicone grease every few dives is all it needs on the orange o-ring.

    There is a bit of a learning curve, but t doesn't take long to get the hang of it.

    Safe dry-handed diving!

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  6. Hello, is it really necessary to keep the wrist seals attached to the suit if using the Antares ring system with dry gloves? I know they'll prevent the suit from flooding if you do have them, but is it realistic to get rid of the seals?

  7. You must have a wrist seal of some description fitted Andrew, or the system won't stay together. What I have done is use old seals cut back, which is effectively diving without a seal. I've done both, and worked 100%.

  8. Have you tried the KUBI Dry Glove System? A friend of mine just did a review of them over on drysuitdive.com: http://drysuitdive.com/reviews/putting-kubi-dry-glove-test/

  9. Will the KWWT system work on neoprene cuffs as well?

  10. I haven't tried Kubi Toni - but they definitely have a great reputation as an add-on to latex seals. Reports haven't been so good on the suit fitted option sadly. :(

    KWTT is only able to be retro fitted to latex seals i'm afraid Mr Unknown.

  11. I've tried fitting the inner ring into my Otter suit and can I he'll get it through into the latex cuff

  12. It's been years since I fitted them, but I only recall having real problems with the gloves, not the seals. Hope you get sorted!


Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

Safe diving buddy.