His idea was to design a glove made of the same insulating and water-tolerating material as used in wet suits. Namely, Swan sketched out the first iteration of a neoprene glove, a stretchy, spongy, hand-molding cover that could get wet and still provide warmth and enough dexterity for spinning a fishing reel.
It's now been 25 years, and Glacier Glove (www.glacierglove.com) of Reno, Nevada, sells a line of neoprene hand wear for sports including fishing, paddling, skiing, climbing and cold-weather cycling.
I've seen these gloves around for years, as some models were popular with ice climber friends of mine as far back as the mid 1990s. But until last month I'd never put on a pair.
My test model was the clumsily named Model #802BK, a waterproof winter glove that's a stalwart in the line. It is made of 2-millimeter-thick neoprene and lined inside with a thin sheen of synthetic fleece. They cost $44 and were designed for paddling, ice climbing, windsurfing and biking, according to the company.
The gloves are strange looking, as the pre-molded knuckles and fingers hold your hands in a lifeless robot pose. A single Velcro cinch strap wraps around the wrist, securing the glove to your arm.
For my review, I put them to the test skijoring around a lake on a 10-degree evening. I rode a bike through the cold for several miles. I built snow forts with my daughter, scooping up gloppy handfuls of slush on a warm weekend afternoon.
Even held under the bathroom facet, water on full blast, the gloves did not leak. Outdoors, overall, they worked great, gripping bike handlebars or snowballs with similar aplomb.
They are not as insulating as I'd hoped, however. My hands were cold in temperatures below 15 degrees.
But for fair weather winter days, the Model #802BK works fine. Their allowance for dexterity is above average: I could dial my mobile phone with the glove on.
This spring I'll employ the gloves sea kayaking, cold water running down the paddle, then dribbling off my hands back into the murk, fingers happy and dry beneath a thin protecting shell.
Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; visit www.thegearjunkie.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog and an archive of Regenold's work.