Gloves are a funny thing really as ultimately they are there to offer some protection to our hands, whether it is merely to protect them from the cold and wet, to protecting them from a threat or damage from doing a job. There is a whole host of different manufacturers and indeed gloves on the market and you quite often find that its hard (if not impossible) to find a pair of gloves that cover all of your needs.
Sealskinz have been going for quite a few years now and specialise their range of products around being waterproof yet breathable and they have quite a range of specialist gloves too, one of which I have reviewed and are called the Sporting gloves. These are one of the few gloves within Sealskinz range that are not actually classed as waterproof, however this is because they have a removable fore finger and thumb, so the rest of the gloves are actually waterproof and will protect your hands from the elements, but if you immerse your hands in water, then it will pour in through the holes.
Sealskinz have given these gloves a thermal rating of three out of five, so these are a mid range of gloves and to be fair I have worn these on some pretty cold days and although they are not the warmest of gloves, theyre not bad at keeping your hands warm and keeping the worst of the elements from your hands. The glove is made up from a mix of Nylon, Polyester and Elastane, with the palm of the glove being a soft sheepskin leather, with the fabric part of the gloves being of a ripstop design to make them hard wearing. The lining of the gloves are made from a product called Coolmax, that is designed to move moisture away from your body and is also quick drying so if it does get soaked, it doesnt take much to dry the gloves out again. The cuffs of the glove have a handy fold over design that is held in place by Velcro that works well and they come far enough up the arm to offer decent protection against the elements. There is a small overlap where the fore finger and thumb close over, which means that there are no cold draughts that enter the gloves and although not a large overlap, I found that it worked very well indeed.
As mentioned the Sporting Gloves have been designed with a fairly specialist skill set in mind and as such you can remove the fore finger and thumb from both gloves and hold these out of the way by the use of strategically placed magnets that have been placed around the gloves. I know that on older variants of these gloves, these were held back by the use of Velcro, however I have to say that I think the use of magnets is a huge step forward, however you might need to be aware of this if you are thinking of using these gloves in certain occupations.
I found it quite easy to remove the finger and thumb of the glove whilst wearing them, so there is no need to take the gloves off to do this, however it does require both hands to do it, so if you are carrying a weapon, you will need to have it on a sling or in a holster to do this, otherwise it is a case of putting the weapon down. There is a another type of glove called the shooting glove where only the fore finger is removable, however I opted for the sporting gloves, as I am one of those real ale swilling types that loves the smell of black powder and by having the ability to remove both the fore finger and thumb, I was able to fully load and use a percussion musket, including loading the top hat percussion cap, whilst wearing the gloves, which is a real bonus in the colder wet weather. I trialled these gloves with quite a wide variety of weapons and I found that they worked well with all of them and it was useful to have the versatility of having the finger and thumb either in place or removed as the situation best dictated.
I have to say that I initially thought that these gloves were a little pricey when I first saw their price tag, however after a few hours of use, I really saw their advantages and I think that they are well worth the money. These are quite a specialist type of glove so they are not going to be for everyone, however I think that these will appeal to quite a few different types of sportsmen and all things considered they are good value for money and I would have no reservations around recommending them.