It never fails. Every time the sun goes down and I pull out my mitts, somebody laughs out loud and asks, “What the hell are those?!” And every time I tell them, they scoff and shake their head. Another non-believer.
It’s OK — I know that before this fire burns down to ash, they will don these dirty old mitts over and over again. And inevitably they’ll admit, “I was wrong. These are awesome!”
I’ve seen it happen enough times to know, this is the way. And truth be told, I really do not recall why I wanted a pair of welding gloves in the first place. I’m not a metal worker, and I can’t say I’d ever used such burly hand protection in the past. All I know is that one year, I received a pair of gloves — this pair — as a gift, and I knew instantly they were destined for the campsite.
Now, I will pass this wisdom, this secret, to you. These $20 mitts will give you more value than your favorite tent, headlamp, or sleeping bag. And they will add more fun to your campouts to boot!
What the Heck Are Welding Gloves?
Before I get too deep into extolling the virtues of welding mitts, you probably need to know what exactly I’m talking about. Welding gloves, aka fire mitts, aka (my favorite) forge gauntlets are heavy-duty hand protection that cover the hands and most of the wearer’s forearm.
They’re designed to protect against extreme heat, electric shock, and ultraviolet and infrared radiation. They have nothing to do with Infinity Stones, though you will be tempted to talk like Thanos while wearing them — and rightly so.
These mitts are most often made from animal hide (nature usually does it best), either cow, pig, deer, or elk. The heavier the hide, the more protective the glove, so cow and elk usually offer the most protection.
Vegan alternatives do exist, though I have not personally tried them and therefore cannot attest to their overall performance. Check out the Vegan Foundry for more information if you’d prefer non-animal-derived alternatives.
For the sake of this tribute, however, I will focus on my cowhide leather gauntlets.
Welding Gloves for the Campsite
Let’s get down to (scorching hot) brass tacks: Why am I so hyped on welding gloves as a camp accessory? The long answer is community, togetherness, and making the most of your precious time outdoors — especially in the company of those you hold dear.
But the short answer is fire. More specifically, the god-like power to bend the ferocity and majesty of fire to your will. To the non-glove-enlightened layperson, I’m talking about picking up white-hot burning logs from a veritable cauldron of fire, and moving them about to stoke the flames to your liking.
Let me paint a picture with which you are all too familiar: Your once-mighty campfire has burned down, and only a single, flickering flame laps at a thick log, charred on one side, but seemingly untouched on the other. If only you could turn the wood and feed those hungry embers, your evening under the stars would stretch on into the night — more drinks, more stories, more time.
So you grab the first branch you can find and start fencing with the log, hoping to coax it over with some combination of pokes and swats. Of course, this inevitably ends in the collapse of the delicate, Jenga-like wood pyramid, immediately snuffing out whatever hope of flame remained, casting everyone around the fire pit into the smokey death throes you’ve wrought.
Sound familiar? If only you had a pair of forearm-length welder’s mitts rated to 932 degrees Fahrenheit, you could have simply grabbed the log, turned it over like a half-cooked hot dog, and won the awe of your campmates.
Believe me, I know — I’ve been that hero many times over.
More Than Just Log-Turners
Moving logs around a hot campfire like pieces on a chessboard has proven the most common use for me. But it is far from these gloves’ only application around the campsite.
Seasoned car campers know that a few nights under the stars doesn’t necessarily mean settling for freeze-dried camp meals. A trusty cast iron skillet or Dutch oven is perfectly suited to meal prep over an open fire. But that sizzlin’ hot skillet isn’t gonna pull itself out of the fire — uh oh, did you forget your trout-shaped oven mitts?
Fire gloves to the rescue! Pick up that piping hot pan with one hand or two, by the handle or cradle it from the glowing red bottom — you’ve got the power!
Plus, these thick mitts offer protection from more than just searing heat. Did your Frisbee land in a cactus patch? Gloves. Good lord, what’s that crawling in the tent?! Gloves. Keys fall in deer scat? Gloves.
In just about any scenario where you want your bare hands protected from things that are too hot, sticky, prickly, or creepy, welder’s gloves come in handy.
When you’re ready to level up your campfire game, you can find OZERO welding gloves — or any other brand — at a variety of independent supply stores, giant box retailers like The Home Depot, and online at Amazon for around $20.
No need to thank me. I’m just your average, everyday campfire hero.