What are Patagonia R1 gloves made from?
They might look like black Marigold gloves, but Patagonia R1 gloves are actually made from neoprene. The inside of the gloves is lined with a soft, velvety plush polypropylene lining which adds a bit of warmth and makes putting them on a little easier.
Are they fly fishing gloves?
Yep. Despite the industrial look, the Patagonia R1 gloves are from Patagonia's fly fishing range and are designed specifically for fly fishers. However, they're really just the same as the neoprene gloves surfers and windsurfers wear. Indeed, as Patagonia also caters for these sports, I suspect there's some crossover in the people who buy these to keep their mits warm.
The neoprene is only 1.5mm thick, so as neoprene fly fishing gloves go, they're pretty slimline. This means you can feel your fly line better than most gloves and they're flexible (providing you buy a large enough pair) and not too bulky.
So how waterproof are they?
Technically, the Patagonia R1 fly fishing gloves are not waterproof, they're only water resistant. The gloves themselves do a pretty good job of keeping water out. There are no leaks in them and you should stay dry - so long as water doesn't trickle inside the cuffs. You can pick up fish and put your hands under the water and they stay dry, providing the cuffs aren't submerged.
How long are the cuffs?
There's a bit of extra length to the cuffs to allow you to tuck them under the cuffs of your jacket and minimise the likelihood of water getting inside. Sadly though, that's fairly inevitable if you're casting a fly all day or netting and unhooking trout in the water.
Do they keep your hands warm?
I really feel the cold in my hands (I'm a southerner but live in the north, so it stands to reason), so I've probably got a lower tolerance than some people. However, while they certainly keep your hands a lot warmer than not wearing gloves, they don't really keep your hands toasty - at least not when your hands get wet.
The rubber keeps the wind off, so you'll not feel the wind chill in your hand so much, but I guess that like most neoprene gloves they're really designed to still keep you warm when your hands are wet on the inside. The little layer of water that inevitably gets inside will still stay fairly warm, so you'll be able to fish in the cold for longer.
Can you fish in Patagonia R1 gloves?
I find them fairly comfortable to fish in. You do lose a bit of feeling, so casting a fly line is definitely not going to be as easy as without gloves, but you'll soon get to used to it. When wet, they can make shooting the line a little less smooth, though.
They keep your hands fairly warm and dry and they're thin and supple. You can cast, play fish and unhook fairly easily, but you'll definitely need to take them off to tie on leaders or new flies.
The minor issue is getting them back on when you have wet hands. Like anything neoprene, they're really springy and elastic and they cling to you when your hands are wet, so getting them back on can be a bit of a struggle, especially if your hands are already weak from the biting cold.
Do they get slippery?
Not like other neoprene gloves. They've got a kind of rough textured finish which makes them a bit grippier, so you can always keep a firm grip on your rod handle, even when you're soaking wet.
What's the quality like?
Patagonia rarely make a duff product and the Patagonia R1 fly fishing gloves are no exception. The critical seams are reinforced, they feel really solid and they're very hard wearing. Mine still look like new after several long trips and a fair amount of abuse.
While they could do with being just a tad warmer and a touch easier to put back on, I've certainly not managed to find another pair of gloves which comes close for all-round fishing in the cold and wet.
Two seasons on and they're still looking like new, but there's a tiny puncture on one of the seams. This hasn't made much difference though and my hands have remained dry when I've been wearing them.
How much are they and where can I get some?
I bought mine direct from Patagonia for £27.99. They come in black only and are available in a range of sizes to suit hands of various proportions.
The sizes could be a bit more generous, and they can be tough to put back on when your hands are wet and cold, so it might be worth going a size bigger than you usually take. Try a pair on if you can.
Last season I was using the Sealskinz Ultra Grip Waterproof gloves but they weren't brilliant - these Patagonia ones seem much better. They provide more warmth, more waterproofing, and better grip while holding both the rod and the fly line. If you're after some gloves to keep your hands drier in the wet and keep some of the chill off, the Patagonia R1 gloves are definitely worth a look.
Available from: Amazon