We think it's fairly safe to say members of the SnoWest SnowTest crew were the first snowmobilers to wear Mechanix Gloves when we went riding.
Mechanix Gloves were not designed for snowmobiling but we grew attached to them because we grew tired of the bulkier gloves that were on the market. The biggest attraction with Mechanix Gloves was that they were thin and allowed us to grip the handlebars and mountain bar better. You could also operate the buttons on the handlebars (warmers, etc.) and push the reset buttons on the odometer without having to take your gloves off. You could also work on your sled out on the snow with these gloves on, instead of having to take bulkier gloves off to replace a spark plug or belt or whatever.
We're the first to admit Mechanix Gloves weren't the warmest gloves but if the sled's handwarmers worked, we managed well enough. Of course, that was the days before mountain sleds started the move to little or no windshield.
And waterproof the Mechanix Gloves were not. Once they got wet, off they came and a new pair were put on. We remember times when we could wring out the water that the gloves soaked up after we dug a sled out. Another attraction was that the Mechanix Gloves were cheap. For about 25 bucks you could get a pair.
Then along came different versions of thin gloves from more traditional snowmobile clothing manufacturers. They offered a bit more protection, mostly in the warmth area, and some were even windproof.
We tested three of those pair of lightweight gloves side by side last winter just to see if there were any differences between them. We already knew we preferred them over the Mechanix Gloves, although we still have a pair or two of the Mechanix Gloves in our gear bag for when we need to work on our sleds and want to use the less expensive Mechanix.
Here are the three different pairs of gloves we tried:
Klim Inversion Glove
The lightweight Inversion Glove utilizes Gore Windstopper material and the palm is made of Clarino leather, a material that is fairly durable and has a decent grip, even on the slickest of handlebar grips. Klim also uses double Kevlar stitching. The Inversion has a seamless tip construction on the fingers and features stretchable neoprene cuffs. Klim also claims the Inversion Gloves are highly water-resistant.
The gloves retail for $45.99.
HMK Factory Team Glove
Another handy feature on the HMK glove is the snow proof wrist gusset with a hook and loop closure.
The gloves retail for $44.95.
Scott USA S1
Also a lightweight glove, the Scott S1 uses neoprene construction for the most insulation you can expect from a lightweight glove. Unique to the S1 is a cord to help you pull the gloves on. The cord goes across the wrist opening but doesn't really get in the way once the glove is on.
The gloves retail for $39.99.
All three pairs are indeed lightweight and definitely not bulky. We can easily operate, push, pull, reset, grip any buttons or knobs on our snowmobile without any problems. While it's a bonus to be able to do all those things with gloves on, what we really like about all three pair is the feel of the handlebars and mountain bar while wearing them. Okay, not so much the feel but being able to grip the handlebars and mountain bar. Honestly, sometimes a bulkier glove makes it tougher to grab the mountain bar on sleds where the mountain bar isn't rigid. If the sled has a mountain bar that is "droopy" or has a narrow clearance between the handlebar and the mountain bar, it can be harder to get a gloved hand around it.
However, some days we just had to put on a heavier glove because it was so cold or the handwarmers weren't working on the sled. We won't make the claim that the lightweight Klim, HMK and Scott USA gloves are warm. But they are tolerable unless it's really cold. We're kind of stubborn when it comes to swapping out to heavier gloves. We like the feel of the thin gloves so much that it has to be very cold before we'll make the change.
We found the Klim Inversion gloves to have the best wind protection, due to the Windstopper material. That feature allowed us to wear them a little bit longer than the other two pair. And we can wear the Klim Gloves while riding sleds with little or no windshield because they offer wind protection. When riding those same machines while wearing the other pairs of gloves, we found the backs of our hands got colder faster, sometimes forcing us to change gloves. Windstopper does make a difference.
Waterproof? Not hardly. Each of the pairs of gloves might withstand one digging out of a sled (depending on how stuck it is) and not get soaking wet, but none of the gloves are waterproof. And once they get wet, well, it's time to change because they get cold, too. When they are wet, they are next to impossible to get back on as well. Perhaps, by just a minimal margin, the Klim gloves are easiest to get back on if they're wet. The HMK gloves are close too, but again, none are that easy.
Once any of the gloves get wet, they don't dry that fast because of the neoprene, although, interestingly enough, any waterproofness any of these gloves with neoprene in them is because of that material.
Another advantage of the lightweight gloves versus bulkier ones is that they're lightweight and easy to carry so you can take along an extra pair in case the first pair get wet and you need to change.
At the end of the day, we were happy with how all three different pairs of gloves performed. If forced to choose one of the three, it would most likely be the Klim set simply because of the Windstopper.