In recent years it has become a common business practice for companies - well known for one product line - to increase the variety of their product lines even though the newly added products seem disassociated from what they are known for. When I recently received a box from CamelBak I was fully expecting a pack / hydration system, but I wasn't expecting the four pairs of gloves that were also in the box. Gloves? From CamelBak? Yep. Check it out.
I received four pair of gloves from CamelBak to test and I'm going to start out with their Hi-Tech Impact II CT Glove. Shown right these gloves will look familiar to most of us who have worn gloves as part of our protective wear in uniform. I won't tick through ALL of the features listed for the gloves, but allow me to highlight the stuff I believe matters most.
First, properly fitted, the gloves are comfortable and allow for decent dexterity. Designed to protect the hand, the padded palm and knuckles are meant to protect your hand from impact and vibration. Such padding can often cause a restriction in movement, but the padding on the knuckles (in this case) is designed to flex and move when you bend your fingers, grip things, make a fist, hold your weapon, etc. Since we perform different functions with different parts of our hand, other parts of the glove have less padding but other protective or performance designs. For instance, the palm heel (the "meat" of your palm) is reinforced with Kevlar to protect from abrasion (it is NOT "cut proof"). The finger tips though have thinner layers of leather and a coating of thin kind of sticky ("tacky" is the term CamelBak uses) material to help with fine touch sensitivity and dexterity at your finger tips.
So, if you're doing a job where you need good dexterity in your hands but the conditions are such where your hands might be taking some abrasions or impacts, this is a good pair of gloves to wear. I did some minor roap work with them as well as some shooting. I had no issues or challenges functioning with them on.
The next pair of gloves I want to look at are the Impact CT gloves. Look at the name of the gloves and you can see this is essentially the fore-runner to the pair above. There isn't quite the same amount of padding on the knuckles but that is about the only different in the designs.
All the way around the padding doesn't feel as thick and my hands definitely moved with less resistance in these gloves. That said, they still provide pretty good levels of protection. I would consider them somewhat of a compromise between protection and greater dexterity.
Next on the list is the Vent Grip gloves. Not yet listed on the CamelBak website, the Vent Grip gloves are made of a very thin mesh material combined with leath to provide nothing more than a thin barrier against hot surfaces. That may not seem real important - unless you've ever gotten into your vehicle on a hot summer day adn grabbed the black steering wheel. You can burn yourself pretty quick - and having a thin layer of protection is often all that is required. I think it would make more sense to make such gloves out of a lighter color material (OD, tan, something) but they serve the purpose very well. Additionally, since they are so thin, if they fit you properly (aren't baggy or saggy) then comfort and dexterity are excellent.
The final pair of gloves I received are their Heat Grip CT gloves. Specified as good for "light to medium duty", these gloves are pretty simple in their design. They don't have padding on the palm or the knucklews and they don't have the tacky aplique material on the finger tips. What they do have is a pretty smooth seamless leather palm that is reinforced at heavy stress points and warps around the backs of the fingertips for better protection. The back side of the glove is made of a stretchable mesh material that allows for comfort and breathability so these gloves don't make your hands sweat off. As with all things leather, a minor bit of break-in wear is required but it happens quick with these gloves. By the time I'd handled various tools, knives and guns over the course of just a few minutes the gloves moved easily and were comfortable.
So, as I started out saying: I was surprised to see CamelBak enter the field of tactical gloves. However, I am not disappointed with the results. Visit them online to check out their full line of gloves and see which ones will suit your various needs.