If you are into outdoormanship then you probably own a specific pair of gloves for it. Outdoor pursuits such as bushcraft, camping, hunting and shooting are all pretty tough on the hands and require a wide range of features to offer protection from multiple factors. The primary factor is that you are generally outdoors and it can be cold, wet, dirty at times. A decent pair of gloves in cold conditions can make the difference between a good day and feeling miserable. Once your fingers get cold and numb things get pretty dangerous as well. If you cannot feel your fingers and you are chopping wood.. Well you can imagine the rest..
So apart from keeping our hands from going numb with cold what else do we need from a good outdoor glove? Well hunting, camping, shooting and bushcraft all carry specific risks. Decent gloves can mitigate some of them. Getting scratched or stung on the hands is pretty common. Although not serious for most an infection could be the result for some.. If you are hundreds of miles away from another human then it is very serious. The tools we use can cause injuries. Wearing decent gloves minimises abrasion damage to the hands (common if you use an axe or machete.) Cuts and splinters are also greatly reduced by wearing a tough pair of gloves.
Shooting has its own list of special requirements. You must be able to feel what you are doing to operate the trigger or load ammunition. If your hands are cold or your gloves too bulky then you will struggle.
In complete opposition to protecting from cold, shooting also requires we protect from heat. Barrels and sound moderators can get pretty hot. If you are shooting practical shotgun and you flip the gun barrel down to reload then that hot barrel will be in your hand. Ouch.
The list of features required is only basic but gives an outline of what an outdoor glove should do:
Guard against heat and cold.
Allow hands to breathe.
That is a pretty tough list for a glove to adhere to. It is no wonder there are very few manufacturers who make specific outdoorsman gloves. Out of those few, one Brand stands out as being the most recognisable and arguably the most popular. Mechanix Wear.
Mechanix Wear Gloves.
Mechanix wear started out making durable gloves for motorsport. Way back in 1991 the first pair of Mechanix gloves appeared at NASCAR. Their reputation grew quickly as a tough work glove that could be relied on. Slowly the Mechanix Wear brand evolved from Motorsports to specialize in a number of environments and rolls including several lines specifically aimed at military/hunters/outdoorsmen. Mechanix refer to these as the “Tactical” product line. In this article we will take a look at one of the best sellers in the Tactical line – The M-pact Covert.
Mechanix M-pact Covert gloves.
Until I became aware of Mechanix gloves a couple of years ago I had been wearing gloves designed for mountain biking. Being a regular target shooter in all seasons I needed something that would give me good trigger feel and keep the cold/wet/mud off of my hands. Some shooting disciplines require you to get down into sitting or prone during mid winter with no sheet or mat. I found leather gloves held to much water and the standard waterproof gloves were way to bulky. Mountain biking gloves seemed to provide a happy medium to me. They did have a couple of drawbacks.
The Mechanix M-pact covert share many similarities with MTB gloves without the drawbacks. They have been designed with the shooter in mind while adhering to the rugged durability that has become synonymous with the Mechanix Wear brand.
Mechanix tend to use proprietary names for their material. The main material used is something they call Trekdry. While I have no clue as to the composition I can tell you how it performs. It feels very breathable, my hands don’t sweat in the gloves. It maintains feel and forms well to the contours of the hand as it has a little stretch. It provides enough of a shield to stop wind, rain and so on. It prevents hands from freezing in temps of around -8c (the coldest temp I have used them in). Do bear in mind these are not specifically designed for extreme cold. They are a general use glove. They work well with glove liners if you want to increase warmth. Having worn gloves in freezing conditions for 20+ years at work I found liners are the way forward. Layering creates pockets of air between layers which really helps keep the cold out.
The knuckles are protected by the impact guards which are made of thermal plastic rubber. Mechanix have done a good job balancing protection with flexibility and size. The impact guards allow complete freedom of hand movement. While they will not prevent catastrophic crush or cut injuries they will protect against bangs and minor cuts (by far the most common type of hand injuries). The trigger fingers are especially well thought out as they have knuckle protection but the thermal plastic stops short of running down the finger. This gives a little more room to get your finger onto the trigger.
The palms of the gloves are padded and reinforced with a heavy duty suede like material. The padding is again a good balance between protection and dexterity. The padding also helps minimize movement transmitted by the body to the rifle (such as pulse rate).
The fingers are reinforced on the thumb and forefinger. I was a little concerned that this would reduce feel on the trigger but it was fine.
The fastening at the wrists are your standard velcro type and work well. You will also find loops at the wrist for pulling the gloves on. If you have ever tried to put gloves on one handed in the cold you will appreciate the loops… You can use your teeth to pull the gloves on…
Cutting peel washers to fit and time a muzzle brake. A tricky job with a sharp knife and a Mechanix glove..
Mechanix M-pact coverts meet several safety requirements including EN388 – Mechanical Properties Test and EN420 – General Glove Requirements Test. Both tests are common requirements in many commercial environments where gloves are nessecary. The testing to meet these standards is rigourous and gives evidence of the gloves durability.
The M-pacts have performed really well in use. I have worn them at the range and when I am working. The best feature in real world terms is the excellent grip they offer even when wet. I have used a number of handtools with these and the grip has been superb. They also give great abrasion resistance which is a must if you are chopping wood for an hour or two. My hands never became overly sweaty or hot while working which suggests either I wasn’t working hard enough or Mechanix have made a good choice of materials..
I have not had any serious accidents wearing these so I cannot say much about protection. I have bumped my hands while wearing them and handled nettles/brambles/blackthorn and all was well.
The only slight niggle I have is an area on the inside of the thumb which kept feeling prickly. On close examination I found it was a meeting point where the materials are stitched together. I trimmed the edges back a little with some nail clippers and the prickly feeling went away.
Considering the price of some gloves the Mechanix range offers excellent value for money. The M-pact coverts will run you about $35 in the USA and around £25 in the UK. This is my second pair of Mechanix gloves. The first pair (originals) I still have after 2 years, they are a little battered looking but still fully functional. They have become my “work” gloves for maintenance tasks. The price seems very fair given the durability and longevity.
Mechanix M-pact coverts are a fantastic general use outdoor glove and a great shooting specific glove. The price is superb and so far I cannot question the quality.
Other than the little prickly bit of material I have no issues with them. They are incredibly well thought out. I would say that sizing is important. They are designed to fit fairly snug minimizing bulk. If the gloves begin to fail in any way I will of course update with details.
Mechanix testing/standards – http://m.mechanix.com/magazine/what-you-need-to-know-about-ce-glove-standards
Purchase Mechanix M-pact Covert – http://m.mechanix.com/tactical