Cold hands will usually make for a miserable hunt. Keeping my hands warm and protected is a priority. In preparation for my Colorado elk hunt last fall, I thought the SealSkinz Sporting Gloves would be a great fit. I tested them, but wanted to utilize them while hunting with a firearm. I haven't done much firearm hunting in the past few years, but this year I finally broke that streak. When I started hunting for deer and bear in California, the temperatures had dropped and I needed to keep my hands warm. That's when the SealSkins Shooting Gloves came out. I had these for over a year and finally had the opportunity to test them out in colder weather while using a firearm. Throughout the season I have been using them and here is my review.
From the SealSkinz website:
These Gun-cut gloves feature a fold-back magnetic trigger finger enabling precise control.
- Totally waterproof, breathable and windproof
- Magnetic fold-back trigger finger cover is quiet and enables precise control
- Coolmax® liner for moisture control
- Outer Shell: 14% Spandex 20% Polyester Nylon, 66% Polyamide/Nylon
- Micro-pourous Membrane
- Inner: 50% Polyester 50% Coolmax
They have a VELCRO strap on the wrist and if you know me at all, I don't like VELCRO at all for hunting. The long cuffs are great if you don't wear a watch (see photos above). I typically wear a watch while hunting, so this was an impediment as the cuff completely covers your wrist. I opted to test it with the watch on and then with it off. I definitely preferred the gloves with no watch on. Getting back tot he VELCRO, I actually think it works great for these gloves. I will only be using these gloves when hunting with a rifle or shotgun, so the noise the VELCRO makes isn't much of an issue. Plus, if you want them waterproof, you need something that will help cinch down on your wrist. This works very well.
The trigger fingers have a magnetic, flip-back cover that allows you to keep your fingers covered and warm until you need to fire your weapon. I prefer to feel the trigger against my skin, so this is a very cool feature. It is a bit difficult to get it off and flipped back quickly, so you have to practice. I had to figure out a trick to get mine off of my fingers. I do like this feature though. The magnets are strong enough to attach to other metal on you, so prepare yourself for that. I found that if I was crawling on my hands and knees I had to take time to get small bits of iron off the magnets each time. These will stick to metal items in your pocket, too. Be cautious of sticking your hands in your pockets too often during a hunt.
The gloves are waterproof and windproof when you first start using them. Keep in mind that if you dunk your hand or stay out in the rain for hours on end, the open spots (trigger fingers, as mentioned above) will get wet, but the enclosed, covered parts will remain dry, for a time. In my opinion, nothing that is breathable can remain completely waterproof, but these held up well. I hunted in the wind and my hands stayed very warm as well. I would much rather wear these in the wind than in the rain. Also, when you flip the finger covers over and over, they will stretch and leave large gaps where water can get in.
Not warm enough in extremely cold weather, the SealSkinz Shooting Gloves kept my hands warm in just about everything else. I used them when it was warm while hiking, cold while scouting, and cold while hunting. They kept my hands comfortable for the most part, but I wouldn't say toasty, except for the warm Cali days of hiking. My fingers did get cold at times in the cold weather which made for removing the gloves a challenge. Cold fingers don't allow for easy mobility. That being said, I didn't have issues with my hands getting overly cold or overly hot.
The SealSkinz Shooting Gloves retail for $75.00, which is a tough pill for me to swallow for hunters in SoCal or hunters on a budget. I plan on hunting more in the colder months, but it doesn't rain a great deal here, nor does the hunting involve cold temperatures for long periods of time. I will continue to wear these when I hunt with a rifle. Every time I have used these I have been happy with the performance, but I haven't used them consistently for an entire year or two. If I paid $75.00 for a pair of gloves, I hope they would last for a long time.