Sean Childers reviews one of the more popular choices among ultimate-specific gloves.
July 26, 2016 by Sean Childers in Review, Sponsored with 0 comments
Disclosure: Ultiworld was compensated for writing this product review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own and are not subject to approval from Mint Ultimate.
I’m of the opinion that every serious ultimate player should own a pair of gloves. While I’m not as certain about the exact conditions that merit pulling them out, there certainly is a threshold. As someone who played four years of ultimate in the Northeast, those wet, cold conditions where discs can otherwise slip out of your hands are pretty frequent in the winter. At a certain point of slickness, your flicks are going to struggle, and gloves can certainly help.
But what gloves should you get? I’ve worn a few different options, including non-ultimate gloves (before the market was saturated with options) and a few of the ultimate-specific brands. Many of these options share a number of similarities, but no one seems to have yet perfected the ultimate glove. Still, from a playing perspective, I believe Mint have produced perhaps the best model that I have encountered.
The most notable distinction about Mint gloves is their style: they look great. Many other gloves that ultimate players play in have a cheaper and thinner look to them. Mints appear much sturdier, like something you’d find in other sports. They also have a nice color scheme, with a solid red and black theme.
While the look of the glove is perhaps the least important element, it’s also one area where Mint probably stands out the most. They’re certainly a bit more inviting to put on.
Feel & Durability: 3.5/5
There are two important things to know about the feel of Mints. First, in line with their look, they feel a bit sturdier and thicker than other gloves I’ve used while playing ultimate. It’s not quite like wearing a baseball or softball batting glove, but it’s also not like wearing nothing. If you’re looking for a glove that doesn’t feel like you’re even wearing a glove, then the Mints are probably not right for you (though I don’t really think that impacts throwing much; more on that below).
Second, the Mints feel tight, and you should definitely pay attention to the sizing guide online while placing an order. If anything, I would encourage ordering a size “up”; I’m a medium or large in most clothing, and don’t feel like I have large hands compared to my frisbee peers, but nonetheless fit better in the Mint XL size.
This sizing makes Mint a good option for younger players and others with smaller hands.
In terms of durability, the gloves certainly have a limited number of high-impact layouts in them before you’ll notice the material around the fingers breaking apart. I noticed this after just a few layouts, though it wasn’t severe. I’d estimate that you can get 50-100 uses out of each pair of gloves, and confirmed that figure with a friend who has played in Mints for a couple years.1
I personally find wearing gloves comes with the same general trade offs, no matter what the brand; you often get a slightly firmer grip in normal conditions (and a much firmer grip in wet or bad conditions), but your throws can sometimes “stick” in your hand a bit longer than they would without gloves, or can slip out of your hand at a unexpected point. It’s a bit easier to throw harder and further, but a bit more difficult to feel your fingers on the disc and make any subtle adjustments to your grip that might add nuance to your throw.2
The Mints are no different in this regard. In particular, even in normal conditions, I notice my flicks moving quicker, maybe with a tiny extra distance. In cold conditions, I can feel my fingers inside the glove longer than if they were completely exposed, to the extent that I’m noticeably less miserable. In slight wet conditions, the gloves can make your forehand throws normal, even while other players take an extra half second to secure their grip. I’ve found that the Mints don’t nullify really wet conditions (think substantial rain or snow on the ground), but still provide an advantage.
While the Mints also help with the backhand grip in really challenging conditions, I personally find there to be more “downsides” on the backhand side. I actually don’t even wear gloves in favorable conditions, because I think it makes my backhand slightly worse. It’s hard to describe well, but finding the exact right moment to let the disc leave your fingertips is a bit more challenging with less touch and more material between your fingers and the disc. Because the Mints seem to have a bit more material than some of the other glove options, if you are a player who really experiments with grip or likes a ton of “touch” or “feel” between your fingers and the disc, the Mint may be worse than thinner ultimate glove options. In my most recent 10 hours playing with Mints, I noticed two or three throws “stick” and come out unexpectedly.
The biggest “downside” with Mints is that these advantages and disadvantages seem pretty universal across all the athletic gloves I’ve played frisbee in. So while I think Mint has really pushed the ball forward on look, feel, and durability — as compared to some of the cheaper glove options — there isn’t really anything groundbreaking in what many people would consider the most important purpose of gloves — namely, how it affects throws. I’ve yet to play in a glove which I thought was a universal positive — one that only made some throws better, and no throws worse — and the Mints are no exception. So at least in normal conditions, I personally prefer throwing without gloves and Mints don’t change that.
Cold Weather Use: 4/5
As I have found with most gloves, Mints don’t really impact your ability to catch the disc, except when it is really cold and just having an extra layer can make catching hard throws less painful than it might otherwise be. Because Mint is thicker than some of the other options, this is one area where they have a slight leg up on the competition. If you’re a serious player that lives in a colder climate and you dread the sting in your hands after winter throwing sessions, then Mints are probably your best option on the market. When D.C. had a particularly cold winter, I wouldn’t go to goaltimate or practice without making sure I had my Mint gloves in my bag for just that reason.
Similarly, having a glove on in cold weather just generally improves your happiness if you aren’t playing a ton of points. When I was coaching in the winter, I would always wear Mint gloves, because I knew I would throw the disc in drills at least a few times each practice. They’re not heavy enough to prevent your hands from being cold, but it’s better than nothing in terms of warmth and better than massive ski gloves if you need to consistently throw and catch.
Warm Weather Use: 4/5
As I’ve mentioned, I don’t personally wear gloves in warm weather. But I did wear them at a few practices for this review and generally found that Mints breath very well. There are different surfaces on the parts of the glove that don’t touch the frisbee, which I think helps the rest of the glove breath. Also, it means you can wipe sweat on the material on the back of the thumb without it interfering with the utility of the glove.
So, despite having somewhat more or thicker material than other options, I think Mints are just as good in warm conditions as anything else.
The Mints come in at $35 for a pair, which is $10 more than either Friction Gloves and Layout Ultimate Gloves, and quite a bit more than the cheapest non-ultimate specific gloves you see players employ, though not out of line with the cost for premium gloves in other sports (baseball or football).
If you can avoid losing your gloves and you think you would prefer the Mints, or if you play in cold climate where you’d wear gloves a lot, then I think that extra $10 is clearly worthwhile — they’re probably going to last a bit longer than the competition. But if you think you’re only going to wear gloves in the absolutely worst conditions (a few times a year), then I can see the argument for saving the $10.3
Overall, Mint is a very good glove for ultimate, scoring high in areas like look and feel, and being above-average in durability compared to others on the market. When you look at their testimonial page, you’ll see these themes echoed throughout most reviews, which call out the comfort and durability — plus the improved grip in rain — much more than any impact it has on your throws.
I think that’s consistent with my opinion that they’re not quite perfect from a throwing perspective. So while I use them in specific circumstances, I still find myself weighing the tradeoffs and downsides that they’ll have when making the decision about whether to put them on before a big game. While Mint is currently one of the top gloves available for the sport, I wonder if there will be further improvements, or an even better product one day in the future.
It is worth noting, Mint does offer a hassle-free season’s guarantee for unlimited replacements with free shipping inside the US. ↩
I might also suggest that it makes throwing a bit less fun. ↩
And as I mentioned at the outset, I’d recommend everyone get a pair of gloves to have when desired. ↩