Whitefish, Montana-based Gilman Grips is making waves from the rower’s seat. These innovative oar handles are a stellar example of the innovation we’re seeing in the outdoor and fly-fishing industries. We sat down with founder Jeff Gilman to learn more about the product and the history behind it.
Gilman Grips: tell us a bit about the company’s history.
The idea for Gilman Grips Oar Handles began with 35 years of big water kayaking experience. After tearing his rotator cuff a few years ago Jeff Gilman hung up his kayak, but not the river lifestyle. To ease the stress and workload on his shoulders, Jeff made the switch to whitewater rafting. Yet, he found traditional oar grips to be uncomfortable, cumbersome and non-responsive. After spending so much time with ergonomic kayak paddles, he realized traditional oar handles simply couldn’t provide him with the same type of connection to the water. So, Jeff set out to make a high-performance oar handle for people who love to spend their days on the river.
What do you think the future will bring for your company? Any big plans you can share?
The future looks bright for innovative products like Gilman Grips Oar Handles. Fly fishing and rafting guides have embraced the grips as a definitive improvement upon the traditional design. With a carefully crafted ergonomic design, Gilman Grips are significantly less taxing on your body, resulting in less shoulder, wrist, and hand fatigue. Once guides have tried our grips they never want to use a traditional grip again.
We plan to bring our product to the river community and set a new gold standard in comfort, performance, and control. Our Kickstarter campaign gives us an opportunity to bring our product to you as soon as possible, so please, make a pledge and be first on the river with Gilman Grips.
Gilman Grips will benefit everyone who rows. It doesn’t matter whether you row a drift boat, dory or raft, our grips bring a level of performance that’s never been available before. Guides, in particular, will greatly benefit from this improved performance given how much time they spend on the water. Rowing, as with any physical activity you do repetitively, can cause joint problems and pain. Our grips can help alleviate the issues associated with the repetitive rowing motion.
How do you feel AFFTA membership will benefit Gilman Grips? What made you become a member?
We became members of AFFTA to help share this great new concept with fishing guides. Your members are the people who will benefit the most from Gilman Grips Oar Handles. Our goal is to help guides stay out on the river a little longer and to row with more comfort and control.
What’s one thing you wish AFFTA members knew about your company?
Jeff has spent his summers on the river for over 35 years and that passion shows up in our product design.
When you’re not in the office, what are you most likely to be found doing?
In the off season Jeff loves to ride single track on his 450. In the winter you’re most likely to bump into Jeff on the ski lift on a powder day.