Hats & Gloves
Erik Miller

Small Gear, Big Difference: Hats and Gloves!

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Until recently, I haven’t put enough thought and time into glove and hat options for my adventures. Roughing my way through everything without hats or gloves, I usually ended up with cut knuckles, broken fingers, blind spots, and a cold or sweaty head. Sure, I’m a tough guy, never acknowledging pain, discomfort, or weather — and afterwards looking proudly at my scars like war wounds. However, I have come to realize that the correct selection of gloves and hats for specific adventures keeps me happier . . . and thus everyone around me happier. I challenge you to try to be fun when you have just put a splinter under one of your fingernails, split a knuckle on a rock, or just can’t feel your cold fingers anymore.

Exactly!

I’m not going into every sport glove available or even many types of hats in this review — there are just too many to even attempt it — but I will tell you about my favorite hat and glove pair that have been working well for me in most scenarios.

PowerCap Beanie

powercap cubwb-4539 4led beanie, real tree xtra camo
POWERCAP 4LED Beanie, Realtree Xtra Camo

I ran across my favorite hat this winter while preparing for elk camp. I bought it as an impulse buy. (Yes, I’m ashamed of myself.) However, karma or luck happened to be on my side that day.  The POWERCAP 4LED Beanie (Realtree Xtra Camo) turned out better than I hoped for. Originally I bought it so that I could run with my dog in the early morning before sun up. I didn’t want a chest mounted flashlight or carry a flashlight in my non-leash hand. For running the dog it works great! The beam is bright enough to light up the ground in front of me, which is where the lights are aimed. Perfect, I don’t stumble and I don’t flashlight beam other runners.

On to elk camp. The POWERCAP 4LED Beanie worked great. When it rained, the soft fabric didn’t make a sound, kept my head warm, and dried quickly. Hunting under the waterproof hood of your rain slicker is obnoxious — all you hear is pitter, pat, pat, pitter. This is enough noise to drive any hunter insane. Wearing the POWERCAP there is no noise in the rain.

The on/off switch is easily maneuvered and sewn into the  hem line of the beanie, keeping it secure. I didn’t notice the weight of the switch. There were two unexpected bonuses at elk camp to wearing the POWERCAP. First, it is the perfect reading light when everyone hits the cots. It doesn’t put out enough light to be annoying to those around you and the light hits the pages perfectly while lying down. Second, I didn’t have to look for my flashlight when it was time for a late night leak. I just tapped the button on my POWERCAP and strolled out into the darkness without fumbling around in the dark — with two free hands in case of a cougar attack.

I wear this cap whenever I will be out in the dark and it does a great job of lighting up exactly what I’m looking at. What about batteries? The light is powered by four replaceable CR 2032 Coin Cell batteries, which provide up to 43 hours of life.

Realtree Mid-weight Glove

Real Tree Midweight Gloves
Realtree Mid-weight Gloves

Gloves are like women’s shoes: There is an individual pair for every occasion and not a single pair for all occasions. The Realtree Mid-weight Glove is an excellent glove that covers many purposes. I field tested this pair of gloves at elk camp for four days, then cut down a tree and removed the stump, along with some basic landscaping projects. What makes this pair of gloves great?

  • Price: Under $15 a pair
  • Neoprene cuff with easy pull on tab
  • Non-slip padded palm
  • Padded knuckles
  • Touch-screen compatible

To be clear, this isn’t what you would generally call a high-quality pair of gloves — I picked mine up at Walmart — but they’ve done the job far better than I have any right to expect for the price.

During four days of hunting in the Mount Rainier National Forest, I found the Real Tree Mid-weight Glove to be thick enough to push wet tree branches and shrubs away, has excellent grip for handling a rifle, an is easy to put on and take off, even when wet, and kept my fingers warm. I was a little shocked that the touch screen index fingers came in useful when my hunting group had cell reception. I didn’t have to take off my gloves to coordinate hunting and quartering.

The point is, gloves. Whether you’re spending $15, $45, or more . . . I had forgotten how much a guy can appreciate a simple pair of gloves.

Plus, here are a couple of special-purpose options I like:

Glacier Gloves Neoprene Gloves — For cold water fishing and kayak duck hunting. The long wrist and full neoprene body are a must to stay dry and warm.

Mechanix Wear Original Gloves — For mechanic work. These are very handy for the occasional maintenance I do on my vehicles. The fit is tight and the Mechanix grip well on automotive parts.

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