About a month ago Northern Standard sent me a set of their bike polo specific Northern Standard Gloves: The Enforcer.
Lemme cut to the chase: if you want gloves that are exactly what you dreamed of for the sport, go ahead and pick up a set of these.
Light, flexible, and cool on the hot days we’ve been experiencing here in PA, the Enforcers provide a great balance between the protection you’ll appreciate when someone take a swipe at your hand, and the dexterity needed to make goofy-handed shots.
Let’s start with the package: Yes, that’s a reusable little string tote bag. You’re winning already Northern Standard. From the back of the package:
“Ultra-tough stretch nylon exterior for maximum flexibility and durability covering a 3 layer pad sandwich of EVA foam and PE plastic.
Full grain leather palm with 2nd reinforcement layer held together by strategically placed double stitching and reinforced stitch zones.
Full leather wrapped fingertips for extra durability in one of the highest stress areas.”
Having moved from the standard stinky lacrosse glove, I was particularly interested in two points: the amount of protection on the top of the hand, and whether I’d experience any reduction or increase of movement.
I wasn’t disappointed with my first concern: the top of the Enforcer feels like pure armor for the hand. The padding, broken up to allow a better fitting, creates a shell that doesn’t add bulk like lacrosse gloves. Each fingertip has a bit of the padding, too, which I wish I had whenever I pinched my digits between a bike and the wall.
The glove attaches via a heavy-duty rubbery velco’d strap, and it’s high enough on the wrist that I’m reminded of the comfort provided by boxing wraps. This is important, as it’s something that is generally missing in both bike gloves and lacrosse gloves: good wrist support. The Enforcer provides that support, eliminating some of the pain associated with long days of pickup. They also have a leather strip coming down off the palm, which makes it easy to put the gloves on and have a bit more protection.
Moving up from there, the palm feels solid. The leather adds some padding but not nearly so much that you can’t feel where the mallet is in your hand. The rubberized gripping material does its job well, though I’m waiting to see how well it holds up after six months or so. Regardless, I don’t think the glove would suffer if those hexagonal grip areas didn’t exist, so I don’t particularly care either way.
The stitching is remarkable in that the entire glove feels solid. While a bit tight on my hand when I first started using it (I got a medium sized glove), it stretched out wonderfully in quick order and now feels like a custom fit piece of equipment. There are no hot areas where blisters would form.
You’ll notice in between the fingers (along the sides of the non-exposed areas) there is a mesh fabric. I didn’t realize that this existed until I felt a breeze go through my glove. Lemme tell you: with all of the advances this glove brings, the mesh material for airflow is my favorite. Even while playing hot n’ heavy in the heat, my hands didn’t get overly sweaty and the gloves don’t smell like a dead body in a sauna.
Along the outside of the palm is that carbon palm wrap. I was a bit concerned that it would be small for my fat hands (causing it to pinch if I fell), but in truth my palm has plenty of wiggle room. Furthermore the addition of the carbon wrap does make me feel better about taking a spill, and who doesn’t like that feeling of security, huh?
Speaking of falls, let’s review the crash pad: a little square of added material for spills, the crash pad does feel squishy but durable. I haven’t fallen down on it yet, but I have noticed that it serves the purpose of providing a little bit of a grip for my mallet and for my steering hand.
The main differentiator is the padding, however, which is something that surprised me. Because of the sandwiching that Northern Standard did, the padding is about as streamlined as you can get. Streamlined, but stronger because of it.
I had Troy (our own huge swing, hackasaurus Irishman) take a bunch of swings at my gloved hand as I rested it on a flat surface.
I’m not saying you should try it, but he was able to hit me hard enough that he was no longer comfortable with the violence. I could feel he was doing it, but it wasn’t anywhere near too much for me to hide my tears. I have no doubt that a poorly swung mallet or speeding ball would do my hands much harm at all.
Each finger has 2 separate pads, and this allows for complete articulation of the fingers. I’m not going to say “oh, you can’t even tell you’re wearing a glove!”, cause that would be a lie. What I will say is that it felt great to have the glove on, and I didn’t feel as though I was losing any movement in my hands by wearing them.
Playing with the Enforcers on felt like having a piece of polo equipment that I didn’t know I was missing. It felt right for the sport – and I think that’s the best indicator of how in tune these gloves are with the needs of a bike polo player.
Now – let’s talk about that price: $79.00. Yeah. Yeah that seems like a lot, especially for bike polo. But let me make the defense:
- You’re spending money on lacrosse gloves or regular bike gloves – and these are better than both of those.
- By all indications, these gloves are going to last a long time. I tore through my lacrosse gloves in a few months and had to buy new ones.
- They are designed for bike polo. They are perfect for it, even.
- Stop being a dummy.
Ok – that last one isn’t really a defense as much as a “come at me bro” statement. But I mean it: if you want to buy gloves that offer the balance between protection and movement, these are your gloves. I know that, as the market stands now, I’m not looking around for anything else.
Do any of you polonaughts have these gloves on your digits? Any arguments you want to get into? Lemme know below.
Oh – there is one more feature: the brow wipe fabric that makes up the thumb area of the glove. I wear a facemask so I’ve never used it, but it sure seems like it’d to the job.