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Review: Sealskinz Hunting Gloves

I do not hunt. Still, the hunting gloves from Sealskinz fit my needs almost perfectly.

Like a … glove.

SealSkinz Hunting gloves

There. I said it. Or wrote it. I do not hunt. It is not that I have anything against hunting. While I do strive to eat less meat in order to reduce my carbon foot print, I am not a vegetarian. I do eat other animals. Mea culpa.

As long as I accept the practice of raising and breeding captive animals for the sole purpose of killing and eating them, I can hardly oppose the killing and eating of non-threatened animals that have lead free, natural lives.

No, I have nothing against hunting. I have several friends who hunt. I just don’t do it myself. If there is one thing I have learned from my hunting friends, it is that hunting is a costly and time consuming activity. Life is too short and my income to small for me to immerse myself in another one of these. Also, I suspect that the world is a safer place without me stalking the woods with a loaded firearm…

No such thing

While I do not hunt, I do spend as much of my free time as possible outdoors. On foot, on a bike or on skis. In boats and canoes. In sun, rain, snow, sleet, hail, wind and everything in between.

My native Norway offers all kinds of weather, sometimes even in one single day. However, there is one kind of weather we don’t have. Bad weather. According to a popular Norwegian proverb, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.

I am not totally convinced about the first part of the saying, but the second part is spot on. There is an awful lot of bad clothes out there. In the Norwegian woods and mountains, bad clothes cannot just ruin the day. They might very well kill you. For real.

If you want to enjoy our beautiful Norwegian nature on anything but a perfect summer day, you will need good clothes. For more than half the year, that includes a hat or cap and a good pair of gloves or mittens.

Traditionally, we Norwegians wear knitted woolen mittens for winter activities. When combined with a windproof outer layer, they will keep your hands warm in almost every imaginable sort of weather.

However, mittens come with one serious drawback: They are clumsy. Have you ever tried to assemble and operate a camping stove while wearing mittens? My guess is that you have not. Because that obviously wouldn’t work. In order to do things like that in adverse weather, you need good gloves. Supple, nimble, yet warm and water resistant gloves. Like the Sealskinz Hunting Gloves, for example.

Sealskinz Hunting Gloves

openpalmMaterials: Nylon, elastane, Coolmax, fleece, sheepskin

Features: Windproof, water resistant, breathable

Temperature range: Around -5 to +5 Celsius

Suggested retail price: £ 50 (I found mine on sale for NOK 299,-).

Design and construction

The hunting gloves have a neutral, subdued look. Mine are olive green, a color that certainly hints to their original purpose. However, the gloves also come in a more «civilized» black. The back of the hand and three fingers are made from a rip stop nylon fabric, while the palm, the inside of the fingers and the entire trigger finger are made from black sheep skin. The back of the thumb is covered in fleece, probably for wiping sweat or rain from your face.

The gloves are lined with Coolmax, a sort of super breathable mesh fabric. The gloves are quite thin and supple. Still, they feel warm and comfortable down to around -5 degrees Celsius, so i suspect that they also feature a thin insulating layer.

SealSkinz Hunting glovesThe fingers are somewhat pre-curved, something I believe is referred to as a gun cut. This supposedly makes it easier and more comfortable to hold a gun. I have no idea whether or not this is true, but it does make it easy to handle just about anything else, from the handle bars of a mountain bike to a knife or a pair of skiing poles.

The gloves have medium length neoprene cuffs with generous patches of Velcro for closure. The sleek cuffs fit nicely underneath all sorts of jacket sleeves and cuffs, eliminating that chilling gap effect.

Performance

I bought the hunting gloves on a book tour in rural Trøndelag in 2013. I wore them for five weeks touring Trøndelag and Lofoten in all sorts of weather. Since then, I have worn them for everything from sailing to skiing and from camping to trail running and mountain biking. They have even served as work gloves while I felled, cut and split a rather large birch in the pouring rain.

Birchgloves

The gloves are very well suited for moderate activity between -5 and +5 degrees Celsius. In vigorous activity (fast cross country skiing, for example) on windless days, they will keep you warm down to about -10. On wet and windy days at sea, they will come in handy even up to +10.

Even though the Sealskinz website states that these gloves are waterproof, I find that claim somewhat exaggerated. Yes, they will keep your hands dry for hours in a light drizzle, or for up to half an hour in a real downpour. After two hours of mountain biking in the pouring rain, however, my gloves – and fingers – were totally soaked.

The supple materials and clever, pre-cut construction make the gloves surprisingly supple and nimble. While I cannot get my keys out of my jeans pockets or open a nail nick folding knife with the gloves on, I can comfortably handle and use anything from a small knife to the valves on my camping stove, and using my DSLR in the cold is a dream. I have successfully cooked entire meals in the snow-covered backcountry without removing these gloves. This makes them ideal for family skiing trips where you need to put skis on and off, remove ice and snow from bindings, connect a pulk to its harness etc.

The leather palms offer a secure grip on everything from logs and axe handles to steering wheels, even in wet conditions, and the gloves work wonderfully for both bicycling and driving

Durability

After two years of hard (ab)use, the hunting gloves do not look like new anymore. Still, they hold up surprisingly well. Despite numerous close encounters with rocks, broken branches and other sharp, hard and abrasive surfaces, the gloves have sustained no cuts or tears. The Velcro is also holding up surprisingly well, and the gloves do not seem any less waterproof now than when new.

An occasional treatment with a leather balm keeps the palms soft and supple, while the nylon fabric seems to need no care or maintenance at all.

glovescarry

Conclusion

Although the SealSkinz hunting gloves are not exactly cheap, they are certainly well worth the money. Of course, there is no such thing as a glove that works perfectly for every activity and weather condition, but this glove might very well be as close to that ideal as you will ever come.

A long story short

Pros:

  • Slim profile
  • Supple, nimble and versatile
  • Great grip!
  • Windproof and water resistant
  • Rugged and hardwearing
  • Work well in a wide range of weather conditions

Cons:

  • Not totally waterproof
  • Not very warm when wet

Conclusion: If you’re only going to buy one pair of gloves, these are a rather safe bet.

This review first appeared over at EDCForums in a somewhat different version.

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