Travel Essentials – Mechanix Gloves

I know you’re reading this headline and thinking “How could Mechanix Gloves be essential to travel?”  Well these gloves are essentials to those traveling with heavy items, or schlepping heavy items by hand … or simply dragging a heavy bag long distances through an airport.

Having spent years traveling with heavy carry on bags, such as a fully loaded Pelican 1514 case that can weigh in at more than 50lbs (22.65kg) and sprinting from one end of a terminal to another, up stairs, down escalators, and the long long walk from Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) Terminal D to the far side of Terminal A … or arriving at Paris Charles de Gualle Airport (CDG) in Terminal 2B and departing 2E … my hands hurt.

If you have ever carried a fully loaded brief case, or completely packed camera bag, you know the discomfort of the red-blistery feeling in the palm of your hand. This pain is worse in the winter with the dry weather, or after a long flight dehydrating your skin, leaving you susceptible to itchy or even cracking skin.

To avoid the discomfort of ‘carry-on hands’ I pack a pair Mechanix Original gloves with me in my bag. Mechanix Gloves are compact, light weight, take up virtually zero space in my bag and provide just enough padding and a barrier between the palm of my hand and handle of my bag to make carrying the heaviest loads comfortable.

While Mechanix Gloves were originally intended for auto racing, and are now used by aircraft carrier crews, tactical law enforcement units and many others … they are great for manhandling your baggage.  The gloves are short ending at the base of your wrist, non-insulated, so they are fine all year round, the synthetic leather palm provides excellent grip and decent palm padding against even the most rigid baggage handle, and the reinforced finger tips are nice for that ‘up & over’ heft when tossing your bag in the overhead bin.

The gloves come in a variety of colours…while mine are white-on-black, the gloves also are available in black-on-black so your hands don’t stand out (I just didn’t feel like shopping around for the black-on-black after I lost my last pair).

If you’re a photographer, Mechanix Gloves are also great for shooting in hot situations where sweaty hands leave you prone to slippage while gripping your camera. The design is great for nimbly being able to access all the buttons on your camera with ease.

The Mechanix Gloves come in ‘Original‘ with a cinch over the wrist of ‘Fast Fit‘ with an elastic wrist for quick on and off of the glove.  The Mechanix Original and Fast Fit run between US$15 and US$25 depending on where you purchase them.

Below is a photo of my Mechanix Original Glove and my Pelican 1514 case (you can see why the black-on-black would be preferred to the white-on-black in this photo).

Happy Flying!

a person's hand holding a toolbox


  1. You know how I dealt with the discomfort of ‘carry-on hands’?

    I sold all my heavy, bulky, annoying Canon dSLR junk and bought a Leica M9 w/5 lenses. My entire ‘kit’ fits just fine inside my Domke photo vest – no Pelican cases nor Mechanix gloves required.


  2. Roland,

    While I’d love a kit of two M9s and a handful of lenses its just not that practical for how I shoot and what I shoot. Of course if you wanted to loan me your kit for the next 6 months so I could see if the switch to Leica was viable I wouldn’t argue :0)

    Happy Flying!

    – Fish

  3. Seems to me this is pointless.

    the Pelican 1514 has wheels so you DON’T need to carry it.

    just another post shamelessly promoting a sponsor.

  4. Shilo,

    Flying With Fish not only has no ads at this time … it also has no sponsors. I have chosen to remove the ads from Flying With Fish so I could write whatever content I chose to without any conflicts of interest. I am not a paid endorser for anything, not to mention Mechanix sure as heck wouldn’t choose Flying With Fish for a sponsorship, this is not their target audience and I certainly cannot be ‘bought’ with a pair of US$15 gloves.

    The Pelican 1514 does have wheels, however the pull handle grip is thin plastic and the entire pull handle assembly is prone to significant movement by its design. These two factors cause the handle to hurt not only my palm, but the palms of many people.

    While the Pelican 1514 has wheels, its wheels are small, making it difficult to haul up and down stairs.

    There are other cases that have wheels but also put considerable strain on travellers hands such as the Tamrac 660/661/662 as well as other fully loaded bags.

    I started using a glove when traveling an average three trans-continental flights per week primarily with the original Think Tank Airport Addicted backpack. This back pack would fly out with me generally hauling 60+lbs (27.51kg) of gear. I chose a backpack over a roller because of how I was working. The ease of a backpack was ideal but the weight caused me shoulder discomfort due to friction caused by the weight. This discomfort caused me to often carry the backpack by its handles in the airport at the end of the day … but that weight caused friction pain in my palms which I solved with gloves.

    Next time you travel with a Pelican 1514 fully loaded at 50+lbs , even if you pad the handle as I do (I use two Brookstone neoprene wraps over each other taped to the handle), try pulling the case for 1/2 a mile and tell me if your hand doesn’t hurt a little bit. I know mine does.

    Happy Flying!


  5. I have to question which airline allows you to bring on a 50lb carry-on? and why are their gates so far that you have to go 1/2 mile with that carry-on?

    I do travel quite a bit, with my pelican case among others, and have yet to encounter the problems that you claim are alleviated with the use of these gloves.

    Maybe, just maybe, instead of wearing the gloves as a quick fix, you should seek medical attention for the pain you are sufferring.

  6. Shilo,

    What airline allows you to bring a 50lbs carry on bag on board? Those who do not weigh carry-on bags. Many US airlines list no maximum carry on weight. Mexicana allows 51lbs of carry on baggage. Quite a few allow 40lbs.

    You can see official carry on baggage size and weights for many worldwide airlines in the guide I created here:

    Why are gates so far apart? Have you flown through PHL arriving in Terminal F and departing Terminal A with US Airways? I have done it quite a few times…as well as a few times when the buses were not running to Terminal A. Arrive at Terminal 1 at LAX on Southwest and depart an international flight from the Bradley International Terminal. Even worse is the mix-match of Terminal 2 buildings at Paris CDG or having to depart HGK from the Gates in the 50s or 70s. Arrive into Incheon on Koren Air and depart on Asiana can result in a very long walk. So why are the gates so far apart? Because airports are big places.

    …also many people complain about the discomfort of the Pelican 1510/1514 pull handle when extended. I am not alone in this. If I asked my doctor he’d tell me to use a lighter case or find some way to pad my hand.

    Happy Flying!

    – Fish

  7. As a doctor, I applaud your efforts. Wearing task-appropriate protection is an important part of taking care of your health.

    I’m happy that Shilo doesn’t suffer the discomforts that many others do, but puzzled at the seeming antagonism displayed towards protective gear.

    Keep up the good work, Fish!

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