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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340
amssb-opa@natick.army.mil

Date: July 21, 2003
No: 03-26

Modular gloves layer on warmth

NATICK, Mass. -- Trigger fingers, as well as the rest of the hands, will be ready to react wrapped under the Modular Glove System developed by the Special Operations Forces (SOF) Special Projects Team at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center here.

The glove system brings a significant change for the SOF community in hand protection, according to Stephanie Castellani, project officer.

"It's new and never been done before," Castellani said. "It's a great improvement because they've never had anything baseline that all the (SOF branches) have agreed to, and (the system) lays the groundwork for future improvements with new materials and technology."

Most importantly, the gloves pass the "trigger test."

"Function is first. They have to be able to manipulate their weapon systems," said Richard Elder, an equipment specialist with the SOF Special Projects Team. "Safety used to be the primary concern, but if he can't shoot, he'll toss it for something else." Now special operators won't have to buy gloves on the commercial market to find a product that works for them.

Starting as a science initiative in 2001, the program transitioned to a fielding initiative in the past year, Elder said. In testing, special operators from different services wore the modular gloves while mountaineering, skiing and snowshoeing on a glacier in Alaska.

Eight companies submitted a glove system through the Small Business Innovative Research program, but the glove system from Outdoor Research in Seattle, Wash., was chosen in the final selection.

It's composed of a Nomex contact liner, intermediate wet/dry glove and extreme wet/dry glove with a removable insulation liner. Comfort ranges from minus 20 degrees to 45 degrees F depending on which individual glove or combination is worn. In all, there are five ways to dress with the glove system.

The Nomex contact liner was designed for the first layer. It's constructed of a Malden Mills Powerstretch fleece with Nomex and soft, flame-resistant Pittards leather lining the palm and fingers that provide a lightweight, flexible glove with an acceptable grip and abrasion resistance.

"This is good alone at temperatures above 40 degrees or when handling hot weapons," Castellani said. "For dexterity and tactility, everyone loved it."

The intermediate wet/dry glove worn with or without the Nomex contact liner protects from 10 degrees to 45 degrees F.

Except for the palm, the glove's shell is made with three types of Gore-Tex laminate materials for waterproofing and windproofing while providing moisture vapor transfer and abrasion resistance. AlpenGrip, a proprietary polymer material with a slightly rubbery feel, is used for the palm for complete waterproofing and high abrasion resistance while retaining flexibility. Attached inside the glove is a waterproof liner coated with brushed polyester to improve moisture wicking.

Even when the intermediate glove is worn over the contact liner, Castellani said tactility is still acceptable. Part of the credit goes to the shape of the glove with its curved fingers and tapered fingertips.

In colder climates, the extreme wet/dry glove protects from minus 20 degrees to 20 degrees F worn in combination with the Nomex contact liner or intermediate glove.

The same AlpenGrip palm with Cordura Gore-Tex material for the shell, waterproof liner with brushed polyester coating and curved, "box-cut" fingers with an articulated thumb for dexterity are found in the extreme glove.

What's different is a lengthened top portion of the shell to protect the wrists and a removable Moonlite Pile insulating insert. Pocket heaters can be placed into either the intermediate or extreme glove, according to Castellani, but the extreme glove insert has a pocket on top designed specifically for that purpose.

The extreme glove also uses hook and loop fasteners at the wrist and forearm for a snug fit.

"It's a bit bulkier, but you need the extra bulk for the extra warmth," she said. "It's been tested to minus 29 degrees F, so it exceeds the minus 20 requirement."

Fielding is scheduled for late summer beginning with the 10th Special Forces Group in Fort Carson, Colo. The glove system will be sold commercially, enabling conventional forces to purchase the item, according to Elder.

For more information about the Soldier Systems Center, please visit our website at http://www.natick.army.mil.


This page last updated on 28 February 2003.