The Evolution of Gill Gloves

I have only known one sailor who never wore gloves, and his hands were so hard and callused that I am surprised he had any feeling left in them at all. I remember him saying a poor fitting glove was worse than no gloves at all and that got me thinking that perhaps we needed to apply the same degree of R&D into gloves as we did with all our garments. This was over 10 years ago now, but the latest 2017 range that have just come into stock are refinements based on feedback since of that major redevelopment.


The original principles were getting the best possible fit to ensure maximum dexterity, whether it be winter or summer, male or female and irrespective of the type of boat you were sailing. With ropes getting thinner and harder, durability and grip was paramount. Not only did we need to select the best materials available but assess the performance in a scientific way. The materials were tested on the Martindale abrasion tester, which would abrade fabrics with sandpaper till a hole appeared.

We could count the cycles and record exactly how each fabric performed. Grip is vital and we attached a spring balance to a dinghy forestay and lead the jib sheet through the fairlead. We could then read off the degree of slip resistance in both wet and dry conditions on various materials. Armed with these results we set about designing the product range.

We employed a professional glove designer with vast experience of hand sizes to grade the patterns. We wanted a glove that fitted snugly for maximum dexterity. The glove designer was surprised we didn’t have a women’s range of sizes as the female hand is narrower and has longer fingers. We included a women’s range and were the first brand to do so.

The next innovation was the pre-curved design. We obviously hold ropes with clenched hands so if the pattern allows for this it is far more comfortable. We were also able to design the glove in a way that one piece of fabric wrapped around the fingers without a seam. This was done by inserting V cut’s in the fingers. Our research had shown that gloves usually failed where there were seams in a vulnerable place subject to rope wear. This considerably reduced this issue and improved the life of the glove.

The end result of twelve months research, design and testing produced the most comprehensive range of gloves on the market today. There is a total of 7 different styles for spring, summer or winter sailing from Dinghy to Ocean Racing and everything in between. I think you can see the that the Gill gloves are not just an add on product, but a carefully thought out and comprehensive part of our product line.

Nick Gill