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Arc'teryx LEAF Gloves
4/26/11 - In previous writeups, I've focused mainly on the garments offered in the Arc'teryx LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces) line. Featured here are some items from the LEAF line of gloves, which are models that are also available from their commercial line.
Note - Reiterating what I've said in other glove writeups: When it comes to gloves, there's always a balance to be struck between dexterity, tactility (sensitivity to manipulation by feeling), and insulation or protection. Just to give the reader a common frame of reference for how much tactility the following gloves have, I performed my regular test of loading 9mm rounds into a pistol magazine. This requires picking up the round, identifying the right end, inserting it into the mag - both by looking and again using only feel. I also did my 'coin test' - picking coins: a quarter, nickel, penny and dime from the hard, smooth, flat surface of a table.
The more durable and insulative a glove is, it's a good bet that it'll be less tactile. It's not good nor bad; it's just a matter of fact. It's up to the user to decide what tasks he'll be using the gloves for and which features are most important, the majority of the time. Sometimes, you'll just have to take a glove off to perform a certain task, like manipulating the controls on a camera or weapon in very cold weather, when a bulky glove won't allow it.
While it doesn't get very cold where I live unless I go into the mountains, I test gloves by wearing them on my pre-dawn motorcycle commute to work, when it's almost always chilly (and quite cold in winter), especially when combined with the wind chill of 50 mph. My hands are completely exposed and can get very cold.
Venta LT - The Venta LT is a light weight, windproof, breathable glove that incorporates WINDSTOPPER® technology with light insulation. It's targeted at high-output aerobic activities in cooler conditions such as skate skiing, X-country skiing or trail running. The 720N WINDSTOPPER® stretch fabric has a smooth, moisture-resistant exterior that is treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish to shed moisture and snow. The inside surface of the 720N has a Micro Check backer texture, which is a micro fleece in a tiny grid pattern (shown below on the right). It's a low loft insulation and designed to wick moisture away from the skin for rapid evaporation. Lezanova goat skin leather lines the palm and part of the thumb to provide protection against ski poles. The stretchy, trim-fit cuff is made out of Rentex stretch knit, which is a polyester/lycra blend. It's very comfortable and seals out wind effectively. It'd normally be worn under a sleeve cuff instead of over it - I've shown it over just for illustrative purposes. The leather pull tab makes it easy to don the glove, and also doubles as a clip-in loop. The Venta LT also features anatomical shaping for fit and comfort, and seam-free fingertips. It's available only in Black, and weighs 2.5 oz.
I have small hands with short fingers, and usually wear between an XS and S men's. Yes, I have little Hobbit hands. I usually get the smallest size I can fit into so that there is the minimum of excess material at the fingertips, and also to get a tighter fit. I got the XS men's Venta LT, and found that they have a more generous fit, and fit about a half size larger on me, but only in girth around the fingers. The gloves could have accommodated fatter fingers, while the length was just about perfect. A bit more room is normal for an insulated glove, where too tight of a fit will compress the insulation and not provide the same degree of warmth.
The Venta LT is designed as a lightly insulated glove meant for mainly aerobic activity. I wore them on some chilly evening jogs and they kept my hand warmer than they needed to be, since it was only in the low 50's. On my morning motorcycle commutes, with wind chill bringing the temperature down to the mid 20s, and no aerobic activity to get the blood circulating, my hands did get chilly, which didn't surprise me since the Venta LT are only lightly insulated and not really meant for static non-activity. They were about equivalent to my regular leather motorcycle gloves, which aren't insulated either, but quite thick. The motorcycle test is mainly to see how warm and wind resistant the gloves are under pretty repeatable conditions; when I test different gloves on the same commute over a short period of time for comparison. Based on this, the Venta LT are definitely warmer than uninsulated tactical gloves like flight gloves etc.
I also performed my 9mm magazine loading test and coin test. Dexterity as well as tactility (feel) is pretty good, as the insulation is thin and allowed me to feel the 9mm rounds and load them into the magazine both when looking and without looking. Due to the smooth nature of the 720N WINDSTOPPER® fabric, the fingertips don't provide much traction, which makes it more difficult to perform finer tasks that require some grip at the tips. When it came to my coin test, I couldn't pick up the coins as the fingertips would not grab the edges of the coins. I'd love to see some tacky rubber added to the fingertip of the Venta LT, which would greatly aid in finer tasks. For activities such as shooting (both pistol and carbine), I found that the Venta LT was fine, except that again, I'd prefer more grip on the fingers. I could manipulate all controls on an AR and pistol and perform mag changes without issue. The Venta LT is a good choice for the role it's designed for, unless you're planning on performing any tasks that require fingertip grip or picking up small items.
Cam SV - The Cam SV is a rugged softshell glove featuring a wind-proof, weather-resistant and breathable outer shell made of Burly™ double weave in a 'rawhide' colour (it's a less green shade of the LEAF crocodile colour). The burly doubleweave softshell fabric is used in the hand and cuff area for extra mobility and breathability. The glove is treated with DWR finish that helps shed water and snow. A full wrap of durable 0.7mm Lezanova goat skin on the fingers and palm with aggressive articulation is pre-shaped to the hand for excellent mobility. The fingertips are seam-free for comfort.
The leather on the palm extends to the wrist to form a pull tab, which can also be used as a clip-in loop. Near the tip of the middle finger is a clip-in loop that enables the gloves to be attached to a carabiner with the finger-tips facing up, so the glove does not fill with snow. The slim-fit cuff has a die-cut adjustment strap with velcro closure. The cuff can be worn outside or under a sleeve cuff. I preferred to wear it under, and cinch it up tight to keep the glove secure around the wrist, and my fingers at the ends.
The inside of the glove is insulated with a layer of Polartec® Thermal Pro® Velvet, which also serves to wick moisture and keep the hands dry. The back of the hand and fingers have a higher loft insulation, while the palm and gripping surface of the fingers have a lower profile insulation for reduced thickness. The cuff itself has no insulation around the wrist.
Like the Venta LT, the Cam SV glove fit me perfectly in finger length, with a bit of extra room otherwise. Not a 'skin tight' fit, but 'comfortable'.
The Cam SV glove is more heavily insulated than the Venta LT, so I expected it to keep my hands warmer on my chilly motorcycle commute. I wore them during the same period as I did the Venta LT, with the wind chill bringing the temperature down to the mid 20s. They did not disappoint, and I was actually surprised at how effective they were. They were completely wind-proof; I could not feel the wind through them, and for the first time in a while, I didn't have cold fingers or hands. They kept my hands comfortable, and warmer than my regular uninsulated leather motorcycle gloves. I also liked the fact that there are few seams on the palm, and no extra padding or panels sewn on. The insulation in the Cam SV feels quite luxurious; it's exceedingly soft and comfortable, while the Lezanova leather is very supple. I did immerse my hand in a sink full of water, and it took a while for water to make it through the seams. These are water-resistant gloves, after all, not water-proof; and can succumb to extended exposure to water.
Of course, I also performed my 9mm magazine loading test and coin test. Dexterity is unrestricted due to the soft leather and stretch material used. Tactility (feel) is reduced, which is to be expected, due to the insulative layer surrounding the fingers. Still, I was able to load 9mm rounds into the magazine both by sight and feel, as they're not that difficult to handle. When it came to the coin test, I was able to pick up the quarter and nickel, but not the dime nor penny from the table. With the insulation, the fingertips are more 'rounded', and couldn't grab the edges of the thinner coins. The reason that I was able to pick up the quarter and nickel with the thicker Cam SV and not the thinner Venta LT was the leather fingers. The leather provides traction that the smooth synthetic fabric doesn't. I found that the full leather fingers and palm on the Cam SV provides very good grip on most surfaces.
Carbine and pistol controls manipulation wasn't an issue with the Cam SV - reloading, flipping safeties on and off, releasing slide locks etc aren't a problem, even with the 'fatter' fingers. Pressing tiny buttons on a compact digital camera did result in some fat fingering, which is to be expected. For cool/cold weather where good dexterity and grip is required, I think that these would be a good choice in glove.
Alpha SV - The Alpha SV is an anatomically superior, advanced waterproof GORE-TEX® glove, engineered using Arc'teryx's new Tri-Dex™ technology; Ideal for use in the backcountry under temperate/arctic conditions. The Alpha SV consists of an outer waterproof shell, and a removable inner fleece glove liner. Having a removable liner allows for quicker and easier washing of the liner if it gets wet, and also enables the shell to be used with other gloves.
The Alpha Project - The two initial goals of the Alpha glove project were to improve on water-proofness and fit. To do that, Arc'teryx looked non-traditional methods of achieving those goals. Rather than the standard method of sandwiching a water-proof/breathable membrane between an outer shell and liner, they instead used waterproof/breathable GORE-TEX® Pro Shell fabric with a removable liner, which emulates the layering system in their GORE-TEX® shell garments. How the hand works and the relationship between each of the fingers was closely studied, and the pattern that Arc'teryx came up with eventually became the patent pending Tri-Dex™ Technology. Rather than a boxed construction, the pattern for each finger consists of a single piece of fabric that has three lobes (with the fingertip at the center) that are joined together to form an articulated and shaped finger, with the minimum amount of construction needed. It's sewn together and trimmed to micro-seam allowances (1.6mm), then seam tape is then applied. The seam tape flattens out the already tiny seam; all but eliminating it. The same Tri-Dex™ pattern was applied to the design of the fleece liner, which was also sewn together with micro-seam allowances; which was a first for sewing fleece. The result is a liner and shell that are perfectly matched in shape and pattern, which provides greatly improved articulation and fit.
Shell - The Alpha SV shell is made out of 410N GORE-TEX® Pro Shell 3L, with Lezanova goat skin leather covering the fingers, thumb and palm. The Pro Shell 3L is waterproof and treated with a Durable Water Repellent finish to shed water and snow. The Tri-Dex™ Technology mentioned above creates a glove that is pre-shaped to the hand, with the curvature of the fingers already built in. The micro-seam allowance reduces bulk and weight, and increases comfort as there are no seams to speak of that can dig into the hand. All seams are sealed with tiny GORE seam tape (see the photo below of the shell turned inside out). Just behind the hand is an elastic wrist strap that secures with a cam-lock buckle. It's secured and opened quite easily with one hand. The extended gauntlet cuff is designed to fit over sleeve cuffs, and has a one-hand adjustable elastic draw cord. The cuff is cinched up by pulling on the plastic pull. The ITW Cyberian cord lock has a pull tab that when pulled, loosens up the elastic cord. All adjustments are readily accomplished with one hand wearing a glove. The shell doesn't come with dummy cords or a leash, but you can easily rig one up by attaching it to the loop to which the cord lock is sewn to.
Liner - The Alpha SV liner is made out of Polartec® Wind Pro® High Loft, and also utilizes the same micro-seam and Tri-Dex™ construction as the shell. This identical shaping ensures a perfect fit between shell and liner, which is not always the case when the liner is made from a differently designed pattern than the shell. The liner is thick and has the same pre-curved fingers that the shell does, reminding me of a black bear paw for some reason. It's a great fit on my hand - wonderfully comfortable and soft. A The inside of the cuff is laminated which keeps the cuff open, making donning the glove easier over sleeves. The insulation is reduced in the wrist area as it's not generally needed as it overlaps a jacket sleeve.
Like the other gloves, the Alpha SV have a 'short and fat finger' fit - they fit my short fingers just fine, with some extra room left over in girth. If you have long, skinny fingers, you might find the fit a bit loose. I performed my coin test, and on a smooth table, I was unable to pick up any of the coins. I wasn't really expecting to, given the thickness of the gloves. I just couldn't get a grip on the edges. However, when I put the coins on a concrete surface, I was able to pick them all up. Took a little trying, but it was possible. Having a bit of surface irregularity allowed the coins to tip up just enough for my finger to grab the edges, and that was enough. As with the Cam SV, the tackiness of the leather has a lot to do with it.
I was also surprised to discover that I could manipulate everything on an AR-15; I hadn't expected to. An oversized trigger guard does help because of the fat fingers (in this case, the Magpul trigger guard). While I could manipulate a Glock, the trigger finger was too bulky to fit into the trigger guard for me to feel safe doing it. I also tried the 9mm mag loading test, and was able to load 9mm rounds into a Glock magazine, but only while looking - not by feel alone. Overall, I found that while feel (tactility) is reduced, as expected from an insulated glove such as this, dexterity is surprisingly good, as long as you can see what you're doing, or don't try to do something ridiculous like text on your cell phone.
The cam lock buckle for the elastic cinch strap on the back of the hand doesn't give me too much confidence, even though I didn't have it come loose. It doesn't take much of a pull on the end of the elastic strap to pop it open. I had some issues with a similar set up on the Arc'teryx knee pads, which kept popping open, and I'd prefer a more positively locked buckle. I'd also like to see the loose end secured down with velcro, as it can flap in strong wind.
These gloves are waterproof. I left them immersed in water for a few hours and they remained completely dry inside. The elastic strap does get saturated, of course, but the leather seems to be relatively water resistant. It gets damp, but doesn't hold much water (at least from my experiment). We had some heavy rains this winter season, and I wore the gloves while trying the Sphinx and Gryphon pants out in the rain. The results were as expected - warm and dry hands. I didn't get the chance to wear them up in the mountains in the snow, unfortunately. The cold morning motorcycle commute was no match for the gloves, as they were completely wind proof and warm. The toastiest my hands have ever been. The Alpha SV shell fits over both the Venta LT and Cam SV gloves, should you choose to use it as a waterproof shell over them.
The Tactician came about because some helicopter crew customers liked the Cam SV, but needed an all-leather version as exposed non-FR synthetics (like the soft shell fabric used on the Cam SV) are a no-go for air ops. The Tactician was born, and was also picked up by the Outdoor/commercial side of Arc'teryx.
The Tactician AR is designed as a windproof, lightweight but rugged work glove with a soft lining and velcro wrist closure for a comfortable, secure fit. The Tactician is made of 0.9mm Lezanova goat leather with heavier 1.1mm leather in the palms. It's made of thicker leather than the Cam SV, which uses 0.7mm leather in the palms and fingers. The leather has a DWR, but is not intended to make it waterproof. A chemical process during the tanning of the leather is applied which helps keep the leather soft after it dries if it gets wet. The Tactician AR is available in two colours - Rawhide (shown here), or Black/Deep Dusk. The Rawhide colour of the leather matches the Rawhide shade of the Cam SV softshell fabric very closely, and is a damn good-looking colour.
While the Cam SV has a full wrap of 0.7mm Lezanova goat skin on the fingers and palm, the Tactician uses thicker 1.1mm leather in the palms and 0.9mm elsewhere, including the fingertips. That's why it has that extra seam between the palm and fingers that the Cam SV does not. The glove has aggressive articulation and is pre-shaped to the hand for excellent mobility. The fingertips themselves are seam-free for comfort.
The leather on the palm extends to the cuff to form a biner loop for clipping in. The slim-fit cuff has an oversized leather tab with velcro closure, and the Arc'teryx logo stamped on it. I'm really glad to see that the loop velcro patch is large enough to offer a wide range of adjustment. I have skinny wrists and I can snug the Tactician's cuff down tight, so the glove doesn't slip forward.
On the Cam SV, the back of the hand and fingers have a higher loft insulation, while the palm and gripping surface of the fingers have a lower profile insulation for reduced thickness. On the Tactician, the glove is lined with the same low profile material as used on the fingers of the Cam SV. It's very light insulation, and serves a comfort, moisture-wicking liner. The inside of the wrist is lined with smooth polyester fabric.
I'd say that the Tactician AR fits my hand slightly snugger than the Cam SV, especially on the fingers. Finger length is about the same.
The Tactician AR is intended for slightly warmer weather than the Cam SV, being lined, but uninsulated. The thicker leather makes up some of the difference, though, so there's not much difference between them in warmth that I can discern. I tested the Tactician along with the Cam during my morning motorcycle commute, which has been quite chilly for the past fwe months. I think that the Cam SV might have the slight edge in warmth, but not by much. The leather on the Tactician is completely windproof, as expected, and like the Cam, offers very good traction. I also liked the fact that there are few seams on the palm, and no extra padding or panels sewn on.
I also performed my usual 9mm magazine loading test and coin test. Range of motion/dexterity is unrestricted due to the design of the pre-shaped fingers and soft leather. Tactility (feel) is slightly reduced from that of the Cam SV, which is to be expected, due to the thicker leather used on the palm and fingertips. I'm still able to load 9mm rounds into the magazine by sight, but it was hit and miss trying it by feel with my eyes closed. When it came to the coin test, the results were the same as the Cam SV - I was able to pick up the quarter and nickel, but not the dime nor penny from the table. While the leather is thicker on the Tactician, the slightly snugger fit on the fingers evens things out. As on the Cam SV, the leather provides very good grip on most surfaces.
At the range, carbine and pistol controls manipulation wearing the Tactician proved to be very similar to the Cam SV - reloading, flipping safeties on and off, releasing slide locks etc weren't a problem. That may also have due to my familiarity with the locations of the controls, as I didn't really need to 'feel' them to know where they were. As with the Cam SV and other thicker gloves, there's not enough tactility to operate small buttons, like on a phone or compact camera. That's to be expected, as the Tactician AR is designed as a 'rugged work glove' for cool weather, not primarily as a shooting, high dexterity glove. If you're looking for a more rugged, all leather version of the Cam SV, the Tactician AR is it.
Masley Enterprises Waterproof Combat Gloves
2/25/12 - The Waterproof Flyer's Glove and Cold Weather Flyers Glove from Masley Enterprises Inc., don't look too different from the issue Nomex flight gloves at first glance. But looks can be deceiving, as they're both waterproof combat gloves, and provide better protection from the elements than the issue flight gloves. Their Handlogic glove sizing system enables the customer to choose a glove that offers the best fit for their particular need.
Masley Enterprises Inc., is a Delaware-based company, and was started by Frank Masley, who represented the U.S. in three winter Olympics ('80, '84 and '88) in the Luge (so he's no stranger to cold weather). After that, he spent 11 years at the W.L. Gore company as a textile engineer, and as a glove specialist, which involved him in the engineering, design, manufacturing, marketing and sales of gloves. There, he learned about hand physiology and what attributes were needed for dexterity and comfort in hot or cold conditions. He also concentrated on fire service and military gloves. In 2000, he opened his own small business where he put his expertise into producing gloves for the military. All materials and labour are performed in the US, and are Berry compliant.
HANDLOGIC® sizing system - One of the issues with gloves that I'm sure most of us have encountered is sizing. I have small hands and short fingers. I'm between an XS or S in glove size, depending on the manufacturer. I've found that glove sizing is pretty inconsistent between manufacturers, and even between different models made by the same manufacturer. Military glove sizing can be even more confusing. None of the sizing charts I've seen actually correlate finger length to hand width - they're all based on hand circumference measured around the palm. This is like choosing pants based only on waist size, but without any choice in inseam length. Granted, the differences between finger length and leg length is on a much smaller scale, but having a standard sizing chart would be nice.
So, recognizing this sizing problem, Masley came up with the Handlogic glove sizing system. You can read more about it in the patent application. This hand sizing tool utilizes the palm width and index finger length to determine the optimum glove size. The tool has an index point which is the web between the index finger and the middle finger. There are horizontal lines which correspond to index finger length, and vertical lines which correspond to palm width. It's very easy to use; customers download it from the website, print it out, place their hand on the chart and select the correct size that corresponds to where their hand matches up with the lines. Rather than the standard five sizes (XS, S, M, L and XL), the Handlogic system has eight sizes, based on the finger length and hand width relationship. The system works for both men and women, so it's a unisex sizing system. Should your hand fall between sizes, then you'd select up or down based on your needs. For more dexterity and improved sense of touch, you'd pick the smaller size so that your fingers are at the tips of the gloves. I'd rather have glove fingers that are a bit too short than too long. For a bit more warmth (with insulated gloves) or easier donning/doffing, at the expense of a snugger fit, you could go up in width.
Waterproof Flyer's Glove (WPFLY)
- The Waterproof
Flyer's glove (WPFLY) looks at first glance to be a issue summer
flight glove, but closer inspection reveals quite a few differences.
Here's a the description:
Upon comparing the WPFLY to the regular summer flyers glove, you defintely notice that there's a bit more going on. It's not as thin, more robust-feeling, and has a natural off-white lightweight lining inside of it. That's the Gore-Tex glove insert. Also, the WPFLY doesn't have exposed edges of seams from the transition from leather to Nomex, unlike the issue glove.
The WPFLY is slightly warmer than the issue summer flyers glove, so I'd categorize as a 'cool to warm weather' glove. It might be too warm for hot weather.
I have small hands with short fingers, and usually wear between an XS and S men's. I usually get the smallest size I can fit into so that there is the minimum of excess material at the fingertips, and also to get a tighter fit. The size 66N (XS) for the WPFLY fit my hands perfectly, with the fingers being slightly on the short side, which I wanted for fingertip dexterity. Excess length at the fingertips makes it much harder to feel and handle small items. I was initially concerned that the Gore-Tex liner would invert when I pulled my hands out of the glove, the way some glove liners have done (what are they thinking?), but I needn't have worried as the liner is securely sewn inside the glove all the way to the fingertips. There's also a small elastic loop inside the cuff for hanging the glove or attaching it to a carabiner on gear.
Another thing I liked about the WPFLY is that the elastic at the wrist goes across the whole wrist, instead of the short length of elastic on the issue flyers glove. This keeps the glove more secure and reduces the amount of reseating the glove on the hand if it starts to slip off.
Cold Weather Flyer's Glove - The Cold Weather Flyer's Glove (CWF) is a fire-resistant GORE-TEX® glove for use inside and outside of vehicles in cool/cold weather. It's actually a waterproof combat glove; the name "Cold Weather Flyers" glove caught on before Masley decided on a name and it just stuck. Like the WPFLY, it's waterproof and breathable for comfort, and retains the dexterity needed to fire and manipulate weapons. It has more durable in-seamed stitching and reinforcing patches. It's available in one color: Foliage green Nomex with Foliage Green leather.
The CWF is made of the same pattern as the WPFLY, with a slightly shorter length cuff (about 3/4" shorter). Instead of the natural grain leather used on the WPFLY, the CWF uses 'digital goatskin', textured leather. The CWF has additional leather reinforcements on the palm and outside web of the thumb, and across the back of the hand. The fingertip of the index finger also has a leather 'cap', and the tips of the middle and ring fingers are further reinforced on the sides. Besides the elasticized wrist, the CWF has a cinch strap with a metal buckle, just like the waist adjustment on the sides of BDU trousers. The strap has more 'bite' to it, however, and stays securely tightened instead of loosening.
Notes/Observations - I think that I happened upon the Masley glove website once, a little while ago, and moved on quickly when I saw what I thought were regular flight or tanker gloves and I didn't see any short cuff shooting gloves. It's easy to miss the small print and dismiss the gloves by their pictures alone, as they look pretty 'ordinary'. They don't have the super-tactical patterns, vents and molded rubber or plastic protection that some tactical gloves have (some designs go a bit overboard on the doo-dads). But for gloves, simpler is sometimes better. Less seams can mean less seams to fail, or cause discomfort. It's only when I looked more closely at what these gloves offer did I realize that they're far from 'ordinary'. The one small nitpick I have with seams is that the seam allowance for the leather reinforcements on the CWF gloves is slightly larger than I'm used to (distance of the seam to the edge of the leather). This means that there's a bit more excess leather around the edges that can roll or curl up over time. Unfortunately, the real issue is that achieving small seam allowances on the order of 1mm to 1.5mm has been difficult on gloves made in the U.S.A., while quality glove sewing factories overseas are able to sew with small seam allowances. This is one of the reasons why much of the glove manufacturing for many manufacturers is done overseas.
When you do a web search on 'waterproof military gloves', or 'waterproof tactical gloves', you don't really come up with much. You either get Sealskinz or gloves that look like ski gloves. I don't consider the knit Sealskinz knit gloves very suitable for shooting, and the ski-type gloves are way too bulky. Plus most of the gloves only come in black. When you narrow it down further, to include fire-resistance as a requirement, you have to know where to look or you probably won't find it. The only other gloves that I'm aware of that offer similar fire resistance, weather resistance, and aren't too bulky and insulated for shooting, and don't only come in black are Massif's Sentry and Vigil gloves, which I've featured on the previous page. The Sentry and Vigil, however, are only water resistant - not water proof. There aren't many gloves like the WPFLY and CWF out there.
As I mentioned above, the CWF (Cold Weather Flyers) designation can be a bit confusing, as it implies that it's intended for colder weather than the WPFLY. Actually, both the CWF and WPFLY are uninsulated gloves, and offer the same moderate cold, wet protection. There is no thermal insulating material in either glove. It's only the relatively thinly constructed Gore-Tex DirectGrip® glove insert between the outer shell and skin. I asked Masley about this, and he replied that based on end user feedback, the comfort range for the CWF and WPFLY gloves is 20°F to approx 70°F with moderate activity, and for durations of about 2-4 hours. They are not much hotter than standard flight gloves at higher temperatures. The ability of the glove to provide comfort down to 20°F is due to keeping a boundary layer of dry air next to the skin and keeping the wind out. The waterproof barrier keeps wetness out and the high breathability allows sweat vapour to escape.
Water testing - One of the first things I did was put both gloves on and immerse then wrist-deep in water. There were a couple of things I wanted to find out - whether they were truly waterproof, and whether the fabric would soak up and wick the water up the cuff. In the past, I've come across some gloves that had waterproof membranes, but due to their outside construction, allowed the water to migrate up the hand and into the sleeve, even though the area inside the sleeve had no direct contact with the water.
I immersed my hands past the wrist elastic on both the WPFLY and CWF gloves, and allowed the water to saturate the leather and Nomex fabric. Both the leather and Nomex have a DWR treatment to repel water, but immersion for extended periods will obviously defeat that. While the leather and Nomex did eventually saturate, I was surprised to find that the Nomex fabric didn't wick the water as I expected. The part that was immersed in the water was saturated, but beyond that it was dry. I'm interested in this because when wearing gloves with rain gear, I'll typically wear the cuffs of the gloves inside the jacket cuff, instead of over the cuff, to prevent water from running down the sleeve inside the glove.
As for waterproofness, both gloves kept my hands completely dry - they're totally waterproof. I was pretty impressed, being used to the more bulky waterproof gloves. I also wore the WPFLY gloves when I got caught in the rain on my motorcycle, and they kept my hands completely dry on that occasion.
The Nomex fabric dries pretty quickly as it doesn't seem to hold water. I noticed that the digitally textured leather on the CWF did saturate quicker than the smoother leather on the WPFLY, probably because it's more porous. The leather on the WPFLY is actually quite resistant to getting saturated, and I really had to open and close my hand to squeeze the water into it. Once completely saturated, the leather on the CWF took about twice as long the the leather on the WPFLY to dry completely. To help speed up the drying of the gloves when completely soaked, it helps to squeeze a dry towel while wearing them, as the towel will absorb much of the water from the gloves. The Nomex fabric doesn't seem to pill as much as standard flight gloves.
Fit, feel etc - Using the HANDLOGIC® sizing system to figure out my size, both the CFW and WPFLY fit my hands perfectly. They feel more substantial than standard flight gloves, and slightly warmer in warm temperatures. When it's colder, the difference becomes much more noticeable, especially when there's wind. I don't fly in helicopters or anything quite that exciting, but I do ride a motorcycle on my commute to work. That's where most of my wind and cold resistance 'testing' is done. Very unscientific, but the best I can do. So, I wore the WPFLY and CWF gloves to and from work. Nope, they don't keep my hands as warm and toasty like some other bulky insulated gloves I've tried, but they do make the cold morning ride quite bearable. Totally windproof. It's important to remember that these are not intended to be primarily cold weather gloves for keeping your hands super warm and toasty like bulky ski gloves, but cold weather combat gloves, which will allow you to manipulate and fire your weapon, and access your gear while still keeping your hands quite comfortable and dry.
I also did my standard 9mm magazine loading test and coin test. Dexterity is unrestricted and tactility (feel) is slightly reduced from that of the regular issue flight glove, which is to be expected. I was able to pick up and load 9mm rounds quite easily into the magazine both by sight and feel. When it came to the coin test, I was able to pick up the quarter, nickel, penny and dime easily from the table. I was actually able to do it easier with the WPFLY and CWF than with the thinner issue flight glove. How was that possible? On the issue flight glove, the leather part of the fingertip is smoother and more rounded. Even though it was thinner, I had trouble getting traction on the penny and dime with the issue flight glove. The fingertips on the CWF and WPFLY are a bit stiffer, and the seam on the index finger actually helps grab the edge of the penny and dime.
At the range, carbine and pistol controls manipulation wasn't an issue with either glove. While not as tactile as thin shooting/tactical gloves, they both provided enough feel to flip safeties on and off, press magazine releases and perform all weapon manipulations etc. The lack of a seam at the web between the thumb and palm makes these gloves comfortable for shooting.
So, which one to get? Given that the CWF and WPFLY pretty much perform very similarly, the main deciding factor between them would be the style from the added reinforcements on the CWF, and the wrist strap. In summary, the Masley Enterprises WPFLY and CWF both offer quite a rare combination of fire-resistance, tactility and shootability in a wind/water proof glove. All this in a package that's more durable, and not much bulkier than the standard issue summer flight glove.
Patrol Incident Gear FDT- Alpha Glove
1/8/13 - The FDT-Alpha (full Dexterity Tactical) Glove from Patrol Incident Gear (PIG) was designed from the ground up as a tactical shooting glove; offering a combination of features that have not been available together on one glove until now.
Patrol Incident Gear is a maker of tactical gear, including plate carriers, chest rigs, etc. and is the 'house brand' of SKD Tactical. SKD are good guys with a good sense of humour.
Background - The FDT-A glove has actually been out for about a year at the time of this writing, and the ones shown here are from the second production run. Back in 2011, Joe from SKD had mentioned that they were working a tactical glove designed specifically to provide the shooter with the dexterity needed for proper weapon manipulation and control. So, I eagerly awaited the materialization of this glove. In January 2012, I received some pre-release samples to try out. Unfortunately with the samples, the fingers were way too long and I could not use them, so I gave my feedback to SKD about the issue. Granted, I have short fingers (I have small hands, and wear size small) but I took a measurement of about half a dozen gloves from other manufacturers, and the FDT glove samples were a full half inch longer than the rest (and actually corresponded to size large in finger length), which resulted in a lot of excess material at the fingertips. When it comes to dexterity, it's better to have the finger length a little too short than too long and bottom out on the fingertip vs. the web beteen the fingers, if one were to choose between the two. I also had a couple of other people with small hands try them, and they also felt that the fingers were too long. By the time SKD received my feedback, production had started already, so I had to wait for the 2nd production run for the finger lengths to be corrected. I have no idea whether the other sizes had finger length issues, but customer feedback seems to indicate that it was isolated to the small size. Shown below are the 1st and 2nd run side by side. Besides the finger length (which is now perfecto!), you can see minor differences between them in colour, and the PVC labels orientation has changed.
So, the goal of the FDT-A glove is to provide the best dexterity for the shooter by minimizing impact on the shooter's grip. This means that padding and extraneous layers have been eliminated on the palm and fingertip tactility has been optimized. The FTD-A was developed by a Rogers Shooting School advanced graduate; drawing from over a decade of experience instructing law enforcement and military personnel.
The FDT-A features several industry firsts, allowing unrestricted access to all your firearms controls and manipulations, without the overwhelming bulk of unnecessary padding and layers. With the FDT-A, the 'less is more' philosophy applies, as the less you feel your gloves, the better you can shoot with them.
Features/Manufacturer's specs (* indicates industry firsts for a tactical glove):
Notes/Observations - I waited patiently for a year for SKD to do a 2nd run of these gloves, made even harder by all the rave reviews customers were posting, and when I finally received them, I wasn't disappointed. They're the closest thing to everything I'd want from a 'perfect' shooting glove; given that everything is going to be a compromise.
For a pure shooting glove, my favourite for years has been the Southwest Motorsports (SWMS) Vent CT, which was discontinued a few years back and then made by Camelbak. The single layer Clarino palm with no reinforcement or extra padding/layers made it the most dextrous/thin glove I had owned. The one drawback to the Vent CT was durability; the thin mesh back was perfect for hot weather use, but wasn't very abrasion resistant. I was very disappointed when SWMS stopped making them in grey and Camelbak only offered them in black. My other favourite shooting gloves are those offered by Outdoor Research, which offer better durability with their models that use leather palms, like the Crossbow and Longbow.
The issue with many tactical gloves is that they get beefed up to improve protection for the hand and increase durability, but then dexterity suffers, making them less than optimal for shooting. Given the variety of gloves I've gone through with my writeups, I began to wonder whether anyone would come out with a glove that provided protection in the right places without compromising shootability. I can honestly say that the FTD-A is the first tactical glove I've used that does that.
As mentioned above, the SWMS Vent CT is my gold standard of dexterity/feel for a shooter's glove - its thin, single layer palm is devoid of panel and seams, which makes it very comfortable when shooting. The snug fit has no excess material to hamper weapons manipulation. On some gloves, such as the OR Gripper and Vigil gloves, the large seam between the thumb panel and the palm panel made gripping a gun uncomfortable, because it's right where the backstrap is. While the PIG FTD-A has a multi-piece palm, the seams are low profile enough such that they do not affect comfort when gripping a pistol grip. This is accomplished by having the panels overlap and sewn flat, rather than having both exposed edges on the inside. The palm, thumb and fingers have the same thickness of material, except for the index finger. The index finger has the thinnest Clarino available. This gives the FTD-A the most sensitive trigger finger of any glove I've tried, short of a latex glove.
The short cuff design of the FTD-A, which ends forward of the wrist, allows unhampered rotation and flexing of the wrist, and the low profile wrist adjustment tab keeps the glove securely on the hand. The lack of an elastic cuff contributes to this security, because sometimes, gloves with elastic cuffs will expand and allow the glove to slip forward on the hand. The low profile velcro is also a nice touch, as it's much less snaggy and bulky than regular velcro. The wrist tab is flat and thin - just like it should be. The only way to get it thinner would be to use the die-cut hypalon tabs used on some jacket cuffs. The 550 cord pull tab is bartacked and can be cut off or tucked inside the glove if desired. I've never had an issue with the loop catching on anything so I've left them intact. Plus, I hang them off a carabiner on my gear.
The back of the PIG FTD-A is relatively straightforward and unpretentious without any fanfare. I actually prefer a simpler glove vs. a more complex one. The back of the hand and fingers are covered in stretch nylon, which is neither too thin nor thick. It's well ventilated. The knuckles are protected by thin padding and a black panel of stretch 1000D Cordura fabric. On the first production run, there were some reports of blown seams on the gloves. This was most likely due to the use of non-stretch Cordura on the knuckles for the first run. The use of stretch Cordura allows the knuckle pad to flex with the hand (when making a fist), putting less stress on the seams. Users should see improved durability with the current production run.
Now, the fingers is where it gets really interesting. There are 'Flex Joints' sewn into the backs of the fingers which allow the fingers to bend without stretching the fabric. Usually, gloves are constructed pre-shaped to allow for articulation, depend on material stretch, or just have excess space on the back. The FTD-A's method of accomplishing this means that the material is less stressed and always snug, whether the finger is bent or straight. The index finger has two flex joints while the others have one. It does make a difference in feel and flexibility.
Looking at the palm side of the fingers, you can see that the fourchettes and Clarino are tailored - the Clarino narrows at each finger joint then widens again. This is to reduce bunching due to excess fabric when the fingers are bent. I'm impressed at the attention to detail in a tactical glove at this price. The sides of the fingers use a thinner mesh nylon which also reduces bulk and increases ventilation.
It should be obvious that the FTD-A is not a cold-weather glove; and best used in hot-mild temperatures. Definitely better than no gloves at all in chilly weather, but don't expect toasty fingers when the temperature drops. However, they're definitely better than not wearing gloves in cold weather, and you can perform detail tasks with them that you can't with bulkier cold weather gloves.
Fit, feel etc -
The current production (2nd run) gloves finally fit me true to size for a shooting glove. Some gloves fit slghtly on the larger side, some on the tight side, but these are snug and form fitting without being 'tight'. They're meant to be a close fit, and to act as much like a second skin as possible. They really feel very comfortable and unrestrictive, and one of the best fitting tactical gloves I've tried. Now to the important part - dexterity and tactility.
I performed my standard 9mm magazine loading test and coin test. Dexterity is unrestricted and tactility (feel) is the best I've felt on a tactical glove, due to the fit of the fingers and the thinner Clarino on the index finger. I was able to pick up and load 9mm rounds easily into the magazine both by sight and feel - no problems at all. When it came to the coin test, I was able to pick up the quarter, nickel, penny and dime easily from the table. While I can also do this easily with the Vent CT and some other gloves, the wrap-over construction of the FTD-A glove fingers allows me to feel the coins, not just grab them with the material. On other gloves with box construction, there's a seam right at the finger tip between the pad and the tip. This seam results in a loss of feel right at the seam. The wrap-over construction of the FTD-A means that there is no folded material or seam right at the crucial tip of the finger, so everything can be felt through the single layer of Clarino. This design combined with the thinness of the Clarino provides tactility I have not experienced in a tactical glove before.
To challenge the FTD-A gloves even more, I tied my shoe laces with them - something I can also accomplish with the Vent CT and a couple of very close-fitting gloves. Any excess material at the fingertips makes it very difficult to do that. The final challenge which put the FTD-A over every other glove currently have? Typing (by feel - without looking at the keys). The only glove that comes close is the OR Gear Crossbow, which is the most tactile cowhide glove I've ever used. I just typed this entire paragraph while wearing the FTD-A gloves. You may laugh at a typing test with tactical gloves, until you try it. Then, you'll see how important the lack of seams on the fingertips and proper fit is. Try to do it with fingers that have excess length is an exercise in frustration. I picked typing because I think that it's a good standard of measure of the tactility and fit of a glove designed for detailed work, that anyone can try out themselves. 'Tactical' tasks are not limited to weapons manipulation and shooting; they can also include operating buttons and dials on a radio/comms equipment, NVG/GPS units or even a cell phone; donning and doffing tactical gear or accessing contents of pouches. It becomes even more important when those tasks have to be performed in low light or in the dark, and rely on touch. Having to take your gloves on and off becomes a hassle.
As I expected from my initial tactile/dexterity 'tests', the FTD-A gloves performed very well for shooting. Carbine and pistol control manipulation, shooting, reloading etc. were even better than with my gold-standard Vent CT. And that's saying a lot. I was also able to operate the controls on my digital SLR and compact cameras. Usually I have to take my gloves off for that. I used the FTD-A gloves during an overnight shooting/camping trip and was able to perform all tasks in the dark with them, like mounting and adjusting NVGs etc.
Okay, what do I feel can be improved or changed on the FTD-A gloves? I've mixed feelings about the small vent holes on the palms and fingers. While they help provide ventilation for the palm, and less sweaty in hot weather, they are also an entry point for fine sand and dirt. I noticed this when putting my hands on the ground when getting into and out of the prone position. The sand particles were small enough, but to get rid of them I'd have to take off the glove and shake it out. I think that I'd eliminate the vent holes on the Coyote and Foliage Green gloves, and keep them on the Black, if it's intended more for urban use.
Another feature that I'd love to see on the FTD-A gloves is some silicone grippy dots or pads incorporated onto some of the areas to increase friction/grip. Clarino is synthetic microfiber leather, and has benefits over real leather. But the one thing I've found is that it's not as grippy as real leather (suede, in this instance). It can be somewhat slippery on smooth surfaces. Adding some silicone grip features increases friction and therefore reduces the subsequent gripping strength needed. Silicone features do lose their grippiness in dusty environments when covered with dust, but can be quickly 'renewed' by wiping them off with something damp. Too much grippiness where it's not needed can also be a detriment, and I would not cover the entire glove palm with it. I would add silicone grip features only in the areas indicated below in the picture - where most of the gripping strength is applied and needed.
The PIG FTD-A is a darn good first glove for SKD (or anyone) to introduce, and the 'Alpha' implies that more variants are in the works. Because tactical gloves are consumable items, SKD offers no warranty on them, and recommends that the customer examines the gloves for fit and workmanship before removing the hang tag, so they can be returned if issues are found. That being said, SKD priced the FTD-A gloves low enough (on par with Mechanix tactical gloves with an equivalent amount of protection) so that they can be worn to destruction and replaced without too much grief. Given the current technology of available/suitable materials, there's always going to be a compromise between durability/protection and tactility/dexterity - they have an inverse relationship. If shooting and weapons/equipment handling and manipulation is your priority when looking for a tactical glove, the PIG FTD-A sets the new gold standard (at least for me).
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