Product Review: Xcel DRYLOCK 7 mm Mittens
I recently bought myself a pair of new winter weight surf gloves. Well, actually mittens, I’ll use both terms throughout this article. But I am talking about mittens. I purchased the Xcel Drylock 7 mm mittens from my local surf shop and had my doubts about how I was going to like them. But I was wrong, for those that are just skimming, these mittens are my ATF….forever.
On and Off – The Xcel Dry Lock Mittens are hard to get into and out of, until you read the box and follow the directions. I did not at first since, well, they’re just gloves, right? Wrong, the box tell you to roll or fold your wetsuit up at least three inches above where it will sit when rolled back down over the glove cuff. Next, fold the glove cuff towards the finger tips taking as much of the cuff as possible with you. Leave the fingers of the hand you are holding the glove with, behind the fold in the cuff, then jam/squeeze/struggle/strain the hand you are trying to glove, into the mitten. Try to get the thumb (widest part of your hand) past the cuff (which will be the tightest point). Keep wiggling/writhing your hand deeper into the glove until you get your thumb in the thumb hole, and your fingers as deep as they are going. Roll the cuff of the glove up your arm, and roll the wetsuit over the glove cuff. Repeat with the other hand, which, will be a little harder since with an already gloved hand.
Getting out of these mittens can be frustrating as well. But, again, if you just reverse the steps used to get in to get out, you should be OK. Roll the wetsuit back until the upper edge of the cuff is exposed, get a thumb under the cuff, try to get it folded all the way around the wrist over the fat part of the hand, then slip your free thumb under the glove and use your legs to keep pressure on the glove pushing away from you, the glove will grudgingly slide off. Don’t pull from the tip which stretches the glove material, this will cause premature degradation of water resistant nature of the gloves.
Are they Warm? – Without a doubt, this mitten is the warmest hand covering I have used to date. I live where the water has been in the high 30’s for almost a month, and will stay there until the end of February. The hassle of getting them on and off is worth it. Once in the water, my hands aren’t usually wet at all for the first half hour or so….and when my hands do get wet, I sincerely believe it is my own sweat that is the culprit. I surfed comfortably for almost four hours yesterday. I was definitely cold at the end, but that was due to long intervals between sets and a strong northwest wind. My hands were toasty. 7 mm Xcel Drylock are the warmth ticket.
Dexterity – Dexterity was not a big issue with these mittens. Certainly if I needed to play a cello or something, I’d need to use fingered gloves, but short of getting my key out from my truck hiding spot, dexterity was never an issue, and the warmth more than offsets any inconvenience that might be associated with having less dexterity. The only action I need to do is get my leash on and off, and that was not a problem. As long as you do not get a back zipper blow out while in the water, you shouldn’t have any problems with wearing mittens.
Price – The Xcel Drylock 7mm mittens were in the $47 range, and fortunately for me, my shop (Surf and Adventure in Sand Bridge) was having a December Wetsuit 20% off sale which was extended to all wetsuit products. To include gloves and booties, hoods etc. So I walked out the door with a new pair of Mittens (which I now love) for $38. I paid $50 for my 5mm Xcel gloves last year, so this was an unexpected bonus for me. The shop also carried another brand of lobster mitten, where the forefinger was separated from the other three fingers, they were at least $20 more expensive before the discount. Also, the lobster glove seemed like the forefinger was too tight, I can see that finger getting very cold. I liked and therefore bought my Xcel’s, I’m glad I did.
Durability – It is too early to tell for sure, but these mittens seem to not be degrading at all over first two months of everyday winter use. I noticed last year, that by the end of a full year, my Xcel drylock fingered gloves were leaking in a significant way. But, by that time (six months of daily use), the water was no longer in the 30’s or 40’s. If my mitten removal technique of getting them on and off helps extend the life of the mitten, I’m hoping that I can get this season and part or all of next season under my belt before they begin to leak.
Propulsive Effects – This glove gives a significant advantage over an ungloved hand in the way of providing paddle power. But a fingered glove gives a slight advantage over the mitten. This is more noticeable when the mitten eventually becomes full of water, it becomes more round and hence just a little less thrust is produced.
Drawbacks – The only drawback besides being hard to get on and off (All thick gloves are hard to get on and off) is that after an hour or so, the sweat or water that does seep into the mitten, begins to deform the glove so it gives less propulsion, this is easily remedied by rolling the wetsuit towards the elbow, getting a thumb under the mitten cuff, and squeezing and manipulating the gloved hand to force the water trapped inside, out of the mitten. Then resetting the cuff and rolling the wetsuit back down over the cuff. I can perform this action to both hands in a minute or so. I might only have to do this operation once or twice in a four hour session. So, this will not likely be a factor for most surfers. My only recommendation to glove makers is to put little durable pumps in them to draw interior water out.
Overall – When this pair of Xcel 7mm Mittens wears out, I am positive I will replace them with another set exactly like the ones I have. Great job Xcel! I may have to try your heavy wetsuit.