Product Review: Friction Gloves
By Adam Restad
Out of the spitting winters of the Northwest comes the first American company to distribute gloves for ultimate, Friction Gloves. Chris ‘Hanky’ Hancock of Portland Rhino has struck out to create the first US based ultimate glove company.
A long while ago I reviewed a pair of the Club Ultimate gloves offered by Jump + Reach in Germany. Friction Gloves sources from the same Japanese based supplier, Penguinace. Read on to find out what’s fresh and American about this new venture.
Friction Gloves have tack like the rosy palms of Spiderman himself. I could probably web sling and climb up a sky scraper with these on.
Hands down, my favorite part about these gloves is the consistency it brings to my throws. Warm weather. Cold weather. Wet weather. Whatever conditions that might be thrown at me, I feel confident in my grip with these on. No matter how much suntan lotion I just rubbed all over my teammate’s hairy back I know with the gloves on I can play the next point. My hands could be ice cold or sweating bullets like I’m asking a date out to the senior prom and the disc will always feel the same. Consistency in texture and feel is quite empowering. Rain may affect the glove grip slightly, but no more so than it would affect your bare hands.
The biggest asset Friction Gloves can give players is that they provide a more consistent grip in every condition. I feel that they can be used in any condition and give the player a competitive advantage.
- Chris Hancock, Friction Gloves Founder
I’ve been playing in this specific type of glove for over a year now and, despite the numerous, “Lose the gloves, jackass,” heckles, I’ve never felt like I dropped or threw an errant disc because them. Yes, I may be a crappy thrower to begin with but I project that the gloves are only serving to diminish that weakness. Players like Kurt Gibson of Doublewide, Seth Wiggins of Rhino, Xtehn Titcomb of Sockeye and the entire Japanese national team (Buzz Bullets) have worn the same accessories and they’re throwing just fine. “I remember playing against the Buzz Bullets at ECC and realizing that every player on the team was wearing gloves, in ideal conditions,” states Hancock.
Give yourself 10-15 minutes of throwing around before a game making sure to test out every throw in your ol’ throwbox and I guarantee you’ll feel confident on the field.
Still got to work on this aspect, Hanky. Friction Headwear could be huge.
This will mostly be a regurgitation of the review on the Club Jr. gloves, as they’re produced with the same materials by the same source supplier so I’ll keep this brief. Superb materials are used in the creation these. The grips are sticky but not weighted. They don’t feel like you’re playing with off road tires on your hands. The back of the hand is breathable, wicking, and light. Their construction is sound and professional.
Warmth! If you’re playing ultimate North of the 37th Parallel and you haven’t tried these gloves yet I have no pity for you, you disc dropping, ice-club-handed fool. Or, you have the internal temperature of a Scarlet Fever patient. These gloves will keep your hands degrees warmer and more dexterous than you think. Even in just slightly chilly conditions I have these on. Warm or cool, the material used regulates temperature like an Arizonan nursing home. Yes, your hands will get hot when you play in 80-90 degree heat, but your hands are going to be hot and sweaty anyway. Friction Gloves at least provides a second skin of protection between precious plastic and your disgusting, flop sweat hands.
Where Friction Gloves takes a step beyond the Club Jr. competition is that they have a Velcro wrist strap. My wrists are about the size of highlighter, maybe a bundle of toothpicks, so having something adjustable that I can cinch down just gives me one more level of control in how my hands feel during play.
The only way I feel my 4/5 rating for comfort and material could ever go up for gloves is if a product was designed this well, with materials as high end as Friction Gloves, but made with the express purpose of ultimate in mind.
I’ll admit, no glove you wear no matter how sleek or sporty it may be is ever going to look cool when you play ultimate. I don’t think any person playing ultimate while wearing gloves will ever get more than 3 stars out of 5 in terms of fashion. Our sport has nothing on the Ducks. (Go Ducks!) This is a fact I’ve come to realize as a glove wearing ultimate player.
Glove dissenters are going to heckle. Let them bark. But the bottom line is this: gloves make me a better player, especially in cold weather. So ask yourself, how cool is it to drop a disc in an in ice puddle midst the jeers of your teammates during the first round of Sunday games, then stick your muddy hands down the front of your shorts and sulk to the sideline? Or you could wear gloves. I suppose if you wear the gloves and drop the disc you probably should take up badminton, or curling or… Quidditch.
Plus, it’s really dramatic to get angry at a call on the field and spike not only your hat, but your left and right glove. That’ll really get your point across.
Definitely not a steal at $24.99, but these gloves are your best (and only) domestic option for our US patrons and well worth the cost.
There are cheaper ways to get similar gloves directly from the Japan based Penguince but trust me, the pain is probably not worth it. You have to order through a Japanese website (which is like navigating a hedge maze designed by Gaudi while someone injects you with Red Bull and seizure inducing drugs) then the gloves have to be shipped stateside through a Japanese to US freight forwarder. Through this entire process you’re bound to accidentally be signed up to 10 or 12 email promotion lists. I get more Japanese shopping spam mail in my inbox than an entire anime convention. And, I can’t figure out how to unsubscribe because all the emails are in F******** JAPANESE. Help me.
Friction Gloves are durable, but you’ll probably burn through a pair in about a year. Turns out laying out on turf isn’t just bad for your knees. Constant wear and use will rub down the grip on the fingers and palms losing that all precious tack.
Hancock also talks about expanding the line of his gloves and adding customization options for teams. “I hope to have different colored gloves and a larger variety of print colors in the future,” states Hancock. “I am also working on developing a team order system so that teams can have custom Friction Gloves with their logo on them. I believe that team printing will be a big hit one day.” Perhaps group ordering will drive down the price in the future.
From one glove user to a future glove user: these gloves are quality. I’ll probably never play competitive ultimate without them again.
For more updates on Friction Gloves be sure to check out their Facebook page.