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By Max McCool

Summer is a great time to break in and get used to a pair of gloves in summer leagues, camps, and the occasional pick-up game. A good pair of gloves is crucial to your game, and every year, equipment companies pour more time and effort into making their gloves everything a lacrosse glove should be: protective, flexible, and comfortable. Depending on who you ask, they should look good, too. STX accomplished all that and then some with its marquis glove, The Gladiator.



The Gladiator mixes the protection of a hockey glove with the flexibility and comfort necessary in a lacrosse glove. With multiple jointed fingers, cleverly placed padding, and just the right mix of mesh in the palm, the Gladiator raises the STX bar and delivers a performance glove for the performance player.



FIT:

The gladiator is a snug fitting glove, keeping the padding in place while the hand moves. This is achieved without a noticeable loss of motion, leaving the glove solidly on your hand, but not enough so as to feel like a burden. The glove hugs your hand right below your fingers, keeping them right where they need to be in relation to the mesh in the palm.



The glove uses a Velcro strap to connect the 3 piece cuff across the forearm. There's both an upside and a downside to this. After playing with it, I couldn't make it as loose as I wanted it, although you can adjust it greatly. However, it does prevent the hassle of the tangles of string that usually tie together a cuff. STX had the right idea in mind, but it's not quite perfected yet.



Another thing STX did was reduce the stretch section between the padding of the fingers and the resting position of the finger itself. This means that your fingers won't stray far from the multi-jointed mini-pillows on the back of your glove, preventing errant lumber from catching the tips of your fingers against the shaft. Everyone who's been hit right on the tip of your finger knows how much that can sting, and can be assured that it won't happen in this glove.



The Gladiator glove is comfortable and fits where it needs to, leaving you with a glove that will stay firm on your hand and keep the protection where you need it.


Flexibility:

STX dropped three joints on each finger, which lets your fingers bend however you want them too. There is one pad for each of your knuckles, keeping your phalanges well protected. On the back of the glove, above your middle two fingers, STX put a "floating knuckle pad." If you have a better name for it, help me out. Basically, when you bend your fingers forward or grip your stick, the pad rises of the back of the hand and uncovers the breathable mesh underneath, keeping your hand well ventilated. It also puts more space between that nasty slap check and your actual hand, which is never a bad thing. Two different pads do this, and then fold back into place when the fingers are extended. This idea of floating padding was tried on the cuff years back, and now it is the norm in glove technology. Look for this concept to be improved upon in the coming years as the gloves keep getting better and better.



The thumb is another plus for the Gladiator, starting in the flexibility department. The cut of the pads allow them to flex and give the thumb good range of motion. It's a big, wide thumb piece that allows your thumb some wiggle room, but it still keeps the pad above the finger at all times.



The cuff is the most restrictive element of the glove, giving players a different feel than the loose cuffs they're used to. It was designed to be streamlined and less bulky. As far as that goes, they pulled it off. However, those people who are used to making their cuffs as loose as they can go, which is less protective (yeah, yeah...), may have difficulty getting used to the Velcro strap that keeps it all together without making a small customization with a small 3 inch velcro strap bought at a luggage store or hardware. Ask your Mom.






Protection:

This is probably the Gladiator's strongest category. The bottom line is that the Gladiator keeps padding where you need it, and makes sure you don't give up flexibility for it. On the index and pinkie fingers, there are pads on the outside of the finger that are also jointed. All padding on the back of the glove, including the fingers, contains a plastic shield that absorbs impact and transfers it to some kind of super foam underneath. A simple slap check test was done on the back of the glove. The glove successfully protected solid slap checks from up to 4 feet without any pain, and the glove was struck in all areas: wrist, cuff, fingers, thumb… all passed the test. The floating cuff protects against any serious wrist drama, but isn't bulky. This is a glove that does what it's suppose to do: protect your hand.



Wrap-Up

This glove is awesome. The Gladiator is a high-performance glove that does what it needs to do without getting in the way. It's extremely light, and outperforms many other much heavier gloves out there. If lighter now means more protective, who knows where STX is taking the glove industry?


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