Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kayaking Mitts

When kayaking in the winter, it's good to have a pair of mitts or pogies to cover your hands. Pogies are big enough to fasten around the paddle, and let the paddler wear paddling gloves as well. That's particularly nice since my paddling gloves have just short fingers in a cut-off style. They were a gift from my daughter Lila and have been worn for 5 winters, while the pogies were used twice and have been put away for the next time Lila is paddling here. Her hands get chilled even more easily than Louise's hands! It's important to keep warm while paddling, since the ocean is cold here year-round.
Here's a traditional style of kayaking mitts from Greenland which are called aaqqatit. I found a photo from the British Museum website, with a description of these sealskin mitts in their collection. The mitts are distinct in that they have two thumbs. No, Greenlanders do NOT have two-thumbed hands! This design allows a padder to turn a mitt around if it becomes too slippery.

This photo is from the British Museum website

This two-thumbed style of mitt is well-suited to cold water paddlesports, and to fishermen on the North Sea, who traditionally wore a version knitted of wool. The style also makes a lot of sense to anyone who has ever worn mitts or gloves while working outdoors. For one thing, the mitt on your dominant hand wears out much more quickly than the other mitt. For another, it's far too easy to lose one of a pair. And when you live out in the boonies there is no handy store like Ocean River Sports or Capitol Iron just around the corner for picking up a new pair. The upshot is, any outdoor worker ends up with a few odd gloves or mitts.

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