I’m a big fan of “why not?” purchases. You know the ones: You’re at the hardware store and, in the discount bin, you notice something that’s 10-times-more-ridiculous-than-what-you actually-need-but-it’s-on-sale! So you think, “why not?” and throw the unnecessary, but affordable gadget in your cart. That’s how I stumbled upon my SpitJack Deluxe Barbecue & Fireplace Gloves. These fire-resistant mitts are not made for the backyard, but for Pitmasters who spend their days loading rows of fat briskets and pork butts into massive, two-door smokers that look like tipped-over silos. But there they were, sitting in the discount bin at the hardware store. Why not? I thought. And damn am I happy I grabbed them.
I like barbecuing more than I like most people. My happy place is in my backyard, beer in hand as I babysit a few racks of ribs or a pre-rubbed brisket that are going low and slow. As much as I hate to admit it, however, I am a hobbyist at best. I smoke small briskets in a retrofitted kettle grill, not a gleaming, pellet-fed Traeger. Also, I usually pre-bake my ribs in the oven before I finish them on a hot grill because I don’t have 12 hours to spend watching them. (But, damn, are my ribs good. A modified version of this seasoning and 24 hours in the fridge is the secret. Don’t tell). What I’m trying to say is I’m not at the level where I need a massive pair of grilling mitts. But in the immortal words of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive: I don’t care.
The Spit Jack Deluxe are thick and durable. Made from a heavy-duty split cowhide leather, they feature leather-reinforced palms and an aluminum lining inside that also protects against heat. Kevlar stitching holds them together (and adds a nice-looking pattern on the palm). There’s also a soft-against-the-skin felt lining that helps keep your hands safe from the heat. In short: they are way more comfortable than they have any right to be.
And these things can handle the heat. With them on, I can palm coal or slide over a pork shoulder; I can grab and lift the grill grate if food falls through the slats; I can grab a cast-iron pan or pizza stone off the grill without worry of blistering; I’ve clutched bubbling racks of ribs to quickly reposition them on the grill. When all’s said and done, they just need a quick wipe down to look fresh again.
Now, while there’s no official heat rating on them, the Spit Jack Deluxe have been perfectly capable of withstanding at least 400 degrees. Do I clench my gloved fist around white-hot coals for long period? No. Because I’m not an idiot. That would definitely light them on fire because they’re not super-gloves. That said, if I need to quickly reach in and grab something off the flames — or even rearrange a briquette — they’re good to go.
I have the Spit Jack Deluxe in large — and they are, in fact, quite large. I have long arms and they go nearly to my elbow. As I see it, that’s a bonus: the more skin is covered, the less likely you are to have any mishaps. Another bonus: I’ve had these bad boys for nearly five years and they’ve never let me down. Hell, at this rate, I’ll still have them when that Traeger Elite is actually sitting in my backyard.