I’ve been aware of these gloves for awhile, ever since I started surfing when I moved to San Diego 10 or so years ago. I never quite bit the bullet and purchased them for one reason or another, but now, as a founder of an online surf shop, I really wanted to test out all the interesting and unique surf products out there, and these have indeed intrigued me for quite some time.

Below is my experience with them so far and the pros/cons, as I’ve only taken them out a couple times, but I do recommend trying them out overall.

When I got the gloves I immediately tried them on. It kind of felt like putting a balloon on my hands as they were pretty snug but a good fit. The coming weekend, I initially tried them out in my condo’s swimming pool to “test the waters” per say before I used them out in the wild ocean. I actually tested them by paddling on my inflatable float and swimming freestyle on a few laps back and forth in the pool. I counted my strokes and found that it definitely reduced my overall strokes by about 6 (3 strokes on each arm) or by 3 strokes (when double paddling) per lap. This was positive so I was really excited to take them out into the ocean and try them for surfing.

I believe that Paddling, Positioning, and Popping up (the 3 P’s of surfing) are the hardest and most essential skills you need to progress in your surfing, in terms of catching more green waves, as I do struggle with all of them. This is why I’ll probably always be just an average if somewhat kooky looking surfer. Therefore, I own my kookiness, so I really didn’t care what anyone thought of me when I took these web fin gloves out into the lineup. If these could at least give me a boost for the paddling part, it’s worth it to me! Mind you, I tried them out at my local home surf break Tourmaline, which is super chill. I don’t think I would’ve tried them at places like Windansea, Swamis, or Trestles, ha!

Surfing with Darkfin webbed gloves

I took my 360 Fly 360 action surf camera out with me to film my first experience surfing with the Darkfin web gloves. I wanted to show that I actually used them and am not just blowing hot air here to sell stuff. The waves were super small this day I first took them out to test. The first wave I paddled for I immediately took off on and caught. I felt like I was catching waves earlier than I usually catch them, as it does give a bit of a boost to your paddle. However, per the video below, I still need to work more on popping up faster, because even when I caught the wave a bit earlier, the whitewash still catches up with me fast even if I’m able to catch waves earlier and more often when they are green. I also needed to be further out most of the time, as most of the waves ended up being whitewashers that would’ve caught me vs me catching them, but I definitely think they helped.

The current was definitely stronger that day as well and the wind was blowing so I also believe that it helped me maintain my position in the lineup easier, as when I paddled I felt that I was getting more oomph out of my paddles and covering a bit more distance. When I was paddling parallel to shore, I didn’t notice anymore strain on my shoulders that I heard, from reading prior reviews, was a problem with the gloves. I did notice a bit more strain on my shoulders when paddling out, into the waves though. Therefore, although the Darkfin web gloves can help you get into the waves a bit earlier and catch more green ones, they aren’t a magical cure to speeding out into the lineup on a bigger day or catching more waves and upping your wave count like a pro surfer.

One last item I loved about the gloves (as a surfer and ocean lover) was that I could kind of feel like what it would be to be a sea animal, with webbed gloves/fins of sorts. If re-incarnation was true, I would have to say I would want to be a dolphin in another life. As a surfer I love the ocean and that is their home. Plus, I do envy how they can fly up out of the ocean as they swim fast and body surf the waves. I’ve also had a fascination with trying to catch a fish bare handed while snorkeling and even tried to use one of those underwater scooters once to make me faster. Unfortunately I was still never able to go fast enough to catch a fish with my hands. I even recently discovered the mermaid monofins and mermaid tails you can wear to pretend to swim like a mermaid and purchased one recently to try it out. Therefore, I thought these Darkfin gloves, if nothing else, could be combined with the mermaid monofin set up and I could really swim like a sea animal!

Below is a summary of my overall thoughts on the pros/cons of the Darkfin web gloves:

Pros:

  • Increases paddle efficiency and helps you catch waves a bit earlier – and greener 🙂
  • Great for testing out shorter boards where they may not be as effective (i.e. longboarding surf breaks)
  • Helps you hold your position easier on a windy day or when there is more current in the water
  • Better for smaller days and weaker waves to help you add a bit more power to the weaker waves
  • Great cross training tool for surfing to improve arm strength (& therefore paddle strength) while swimming
  • Makes you feel like a sea animal
  • Perfect for super cold water days when you want to keep your hands warmer
  • The Darkfin, vs. other webbed gloves, truly looks and feels like more of a true animal web/fin replication vs. just some material in between your fingers. Plus the material is thinner and seems more like true skin

Cons:

  • They will not make you a miracle surfer and wave catcher, upping your wave count dramatically
  • Your hands are restricted and feel less free – being in webbed gloves kind of feels like the body does being in a wet suit, when I took them off, my fingers felt free!
  • You might get strange looks out in the lineup, like who is this kook?
  • Probably not best for bigger wave days with a tough paddle out (but those waves are typically stronger and easier to catch anyways), the shoulder strain might be an issue on these days

So the overall verdict, the Darkfin web glove is for everyone, swimmers, surfers, and kooks alike. It’s not a miracle cure, but definitely worth checking out and helpful for giving ya a boost you might need some days (kind of like a pedal assist mode on an electronic bike)! If people give ya weird looks out in the lineup, ask them if they’d like to try them out, I bet they can’t help themselves and will want to at least try them!

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