It’s been a year since I purchased a set of KUBI dry gloves. I figure a year is plenty of time to run them through their paces and give an honest review. From what I gather it’s a pretty popular system in UK/Europe but not so much in the United States. Anyway, that seems to be changing fast.. I can’t say for sure how many dives I have with them since I switch back and forth between wet and dry gloves depending on the water temperature but I would conservatively say about 100-150 dives using this system. Once the water drops below 45f (7c) I try to use dry gloves exclusively here in New England unless they’re very short dives or shallow dives.
Prior to using the KUBI dry gloves, my only other experience with dry gloves was using a set of compressed neoprene and kevlar dry gloves from DUI that directly attach to the zip seals on DUI drysuits. The DUI compressed neoprene zip gloves are bomb proof and I can also highly recommend them however having dove both, I prefer the KUBI dry gloves. Being able to take your gloves off on the surface while kitting up to me is essential. It allows me to have fine motor control on the surface to make any adjustments prior to donning my dry gloves.
There are plenty of guides and YouTube videos online describing how to install the KUBI gloves so I won’t get into that part. I’ll leave the Internet divers to do that… I will just say there are two attachment methods. You can get a set of permanent rings glued onto your drysuit or you can attach a set of rings to your existing latex wrist seals, I choose the latter. I have latex zip seals attached to my DUI FLX Extreme drysuit and I choose to install the KUBI rings onto my latex zip seals. I believe this offers the best of both worlds configuration that way I can easily swap to another set of zip seals if I want to take the rings off my suit. To be honest, I don’t really bother. When I am not diving dry gloves I simply leave the rings on my drysuit and just use 5mm wet gloves. I didn’t take the rings off my suit at all this year.
If I happen to rip a latex wrist seal I can just decide to use dry gloves for that particular dive. I try to always keep an set of extra zip seals in my drysuit bag in the event I happen to rip a seal. One other point to make, while a lot of people seem to love the new silicone zip seals I don’t think they are great for installing Kubi rings. The silicone seals in my opinion are far too soft and easy to damage. I went through one set of them in less than about 50 dives…
The KUBI dry glove system is extremely similar to the now defunct Diving Concepts dry glove ring system. The rings install in almost exactly the same way and gloves go on pretty much the same. On the KUBI system the major difference is the rings are made of anodized aluminum (or should I say aluminium?) that come in 3 different sizes (80mm, 90mm and 100mm) which unlike plastic ones are extremely strong and are resistant to hot and cold conditions.
The 80mm rings work well for small hands and 100mm are great for gorilla-sized hands. 90mm are somewhat in between. I have small hands and use the 80mm rings on my suit which provide a very low profile compared to the Diving Concept rings.
Putting the gloves on..
Don glove liners, use bungee/surgical tubing under latex seal for equalizing, push gloves on fingers and then push down on glove ring with equal pressure on two sides and they will simply snap on without any issues. They say not to use lubricant on the o-rings but I think a very light coating is fine. The better alternative is to simply lick the o-ring before donning the glove and it will slide on just as easy.
I’ve had exactly one leak so far and it was my own fault. I pinched part of the glove liner. Luckily I noticed it on the surface and was able to reset the ring and ended up doing the dive with one slightly damp hand.
I replaced the cheap glove liners that came with the KUBI system with some Polartec fleece glove liners from REI. I also still use the set that same with my DUI dry gloves.
I’m still using the original set of gloves that came with my system. I believe they’re Ansell Marigold g17. You can also use generic Atlas or Showa chemical gloves found at most hardware stories. The recommendation is to use the unlined version of the gloves however there are several threads online claiming that the cotton lined gloves work fine but require a different size o-ring to install. I prefer unlined version myself so that I can easily wash the glove liners.
After a year of abuse (actually more like 3-4 months), the KUBI plastic covers / labels have come off both the gloves ring and the suit rings themselves. They must have used pretty bad glue. Either way, it doesn’t affect the functionality of the dry glove system at all. I don’t mind it at all and prefer them that way so it doesn’t trap salt crystals. The anodized aluminum is scratched a bit on the outside but the inner ring is perfectly fine and still seals.
Equalizing the gloves
For most people, it is highly recommended that you have some way of equalizing the air between your dry gloves and wrist seals. It will allow warmer air to move between your drysuit and gloves and help with compression/cold in your hands on deeper dives. My hands are always significantly warmer if I can equalize them.
Some people use the thumb loop from their drysuit undergarment while others use a small piece of bungee or surgical tubing. I find that if I am not going below (50-60ft..ok an arbitrary number..) I really don’t always bother with equalizing my gloves. The added benefit on shallow dives is if you do happen to rip a glove then you won’t flood your suit.
Last weekend I got to experience the difference by forgetting to put a piece of bungee on my left hand. After 60 minutes at 100ft in 39f degree water, my left hand was nunb (a very dry numb) and squeezed while my right hand, the one with a piece of bungee was perfectly fine. If you don’t think equalizing your glove makes a difference then you should try this little experiment yourself.
The other solution of course would possibly be to wear much thicker glove lines or something like the ones Fourth Element seals.