As I reacclimate myself to the jungle, a forgotten bit of wisdom comes back to me. Very underrated as a tactical necessity, the time is now to start training with gloves on. Yes, even in the woods. Perhaps especially in the woods.
Any of us that spent time fighting in cities over the last 20 years can tell you immediately why you need gloves in urban combat. Abrasion is very common in the Concrete Jungle (see what I did there?) just due to the environment. Glass fragments are going to litter any urban battlefield, not to mention bits of brick and the less obvious problems. Like maneuvering around machine guns with very hot barrels. I’m still packing a scar from forgetting my gloves on a simple training day, much less the heat that comes from a prolonged firefight.
Very early on, the ground fighting forces instituted a strong policy of always wearing gloves. And learning the dexterity of doing every task in gloves takes some time. But it can be done. If it can be learned to do things like attach primers to explosive breaches or load shotguns, anything else should be a breeze. But it does require the investment of some hours.
But I’m not doing any of that, you say? Well, it also applies in the woods. Gloves help in two key areas. First, if you are really playing tactical, you have the option of either grease paint on your hands or gloving them up. Grease paint wears off, especially on a high wear area such as a hand, and must be reapplied often. But that isn’t the only reason.
The second has to do with long-term survivability. Vegetation, as anyone familiar with dense green areas will tell you, will cut you to ribbons. Even without something as crazy as elephant grass, the little abrasions and thorn pricks of the swamp will leave you with all kinds of small injuries. Which is annoying in normal times. But during extended periods with limited hygiene, those can turn downright deadly. A small infection not only degrades your ability to use a hand but without access to modern medicine and rest, can actually put you down.
In the late ’90s, anyone in a Recce troop often used Nomex flight gloves. And while they weren’t perfect, they did work. As we stepped into the GWOT where perfect camouflage was a bit less of an issue, a new contender really took the lead. Troops all over adopted Mechanix Wear brand gloves, despite the fruity color scheme. While Mechanix provided an absolutely perfect mix of dexterity and protection, they weren’t really made for soldiers. They were made for, as the name implies, mechanics. Grease Monkeys. And because of that, they were made in colors that either didn’t show filth (black) or were easy to find in the toolbox (red and blue). The running joke on teams was which members were Crips or Bloods depending on glove color. And it was usually a mix because guys bought what they could find on the shelf at the time ahead of deployment.
Mechanix Wear finally figured out there was a huge amount of warfighters using their product and adapted to a bit better color scheme for us. Years down the line now, you can find Mechanix gloves in a wide variety of licensed camouflage patterns. There are also now other styles than the original Velcro closure, such as the fast fit models. And for my money, they remain the gold standard in ninja gloves.
At $24.99 down to $14.49, these gloves are really hard to beat. Now, they do wear out. That is part of the price of dexterity, so I recommend you stockpile a few sets. The originals are a bit thicker on the leather than the fast fit, so they wear longer. The fast fit, however, offers the absolute best tactile feel. I have had both, and I like both for different occasions. If you have never trained in gloves, it does take a little bit away from things like grip on your pistol. But it pays off big time in injury prevention and heat resistance. I recommend you start today.