Sweaty hands. They are almost never a good thing, and the gaming industry has gone to great lengths to alleviate the problem. Holding a plastic controller for hours on end is the perfect storm scenario during which sweaty palms will inevitably rear their ugly heads. Because of this, an entire anti-hand-sweat industry has sprung up, offering palm antiperspirant, moisture-wicking gloves, and many other products that are designed to take that nasty sweat slick off your hands (literally). But, there has to be a better way, right? I haven’t met many gamers who want to add the extra step of putting on potentially restrictive gloves, or worse, rolling on a little hand deodorant, in order to keep their sweaty palms at bay. In fact, I would personally rather deal with a slippery controller than do either of those things. However, it is conceivable that, perhaps, the answer to this age old dilemma (I mean, at least since the 80’s) doesn’t lie with your hands. Maybe, it lies with your controller. Lucky for gamers everywhere, Squid Grip took the road less traveled and decided to fix your controller, instead of your hands.

Squid Grip Review: Solving Sweat, Augmenting Comfort

Everything included in your Squid Grip packet
Everything included in your Squid Grip packet

The awesome folks over at Squid Grip sent me a set of grips for my Xbox 360 controller recently, and I finally got the chance to sit down and see if controller grip is for me. Admittedly, I was a little hesitant at first. I don’t have a stock Xbox 360 controller, and after making the decision to invest in a custom one, I basically treat it like a game-controlling extension of my family. Those of you who have shelled out the cash for a Scuf Hybrid or some other amazing controller know what I am talking about. The idea of putting grips over its beautiful, shiny exterior made me cringe a little. Finally, after scrutinizing photos of controllers that already had Squid Grip applied to them, I decided that I really liked the way that the grips look, and that I was really just more afraid of applying the grip incorrectly (think iPhone screen protector bubbles *cue the horror music*), and not being able to get it back off. Finally, I took the plunge.

In The Box

  • Instructional Leaflet (Read it. Trust me.)
  • Two Latex-Free, Anti-Microbial, Peel and Stick Grips
  • (1) Squid Grip Badge Set (includes 4 badges) Yes, they are customizable, and YES, they are awesome.
  • Squid Grip Decal (for your stickering pleasure!)

All of this comes contained inside an easy-open cardboard packet.

Application

After sufficiently psyching myself up, I began the application process. Determined to do it right the first time, I read through the entire instructional leaflet. Here is what you need to know:

  • Clean it – Remember all that sweat we talked about in the intro to this review? Yeah.  You don’t want all that grime, residue, and oil blocking the adhesive on your grips. They might stick for a couple of days, but once they start peeling because you were in a hurry, you’ll be upset and I won’t feel bad for you. The instructions recommend using an alcohol wipe or a damp cloth. Whatever you choose to use, make sure that your controller is completely clean (and subsequently dry) before you proceed.
  • Use light pressure – Until you know that you know that you KNOW those grips are where you want them, use very light pressure during the application process. Gaming gods forbid you have to peel them off and adjust them, you don’t want to have them stuck more than nessecary. Once they look good, you can always go back and apply additional pressure.
  • Hands OFF! – Two tips ago, I told you that your controller needs to be clean. If that’s true, then it stands to reason that your sweaty, oily hands should not be touching the adhesive on the grips. It is a little difficult to hold and position the grips without touching it a little, but try to keep it to a minimum so that your Squid Grips stay nice and sticky. Its probably a good idea to wash and dry your hands prior to starting this process, although the leaflet does not say this specifically.
  • Avoid stretching – the geniuses at Squid Grip designed their grips to fit the designated controllers perfectly. Stretching the grip during the application will cause the grip to fit poorly and also put stress on the adhesive. You don’t want either of these things, so lay off the stretching altogether!

After I learned everything there was to know about the application of the grips, I began the process. With a thoroughly cleaned controller in front of me, I began to remove the backing from one of  the grips. I found myself holding the grip by its edges without the slightest clue which side of the controller to put it on. Don’t panic, Faith.

I  grabbed the leaflet with my free hand and found the photograph that breaks down which grip goes where. Be aware that each grip is made specifically for one side of the controller or the other, and finding out what side that is while you are holding the super-sticky grip is not ideal. With hindsight as my aid, I recommend laying the grips out alongside the controller, exactly like the photo in the leaflet. No confusion, no mistakes.

After averting that crisis, I was ready to apply the grips. I want to take a moment to thank whoever came up with the idea to place those awesome little holes in the grip where the seam of the controller belongs. After the application process, you will want to thank them, too. Each grip has small set of four holes (or in the tutorial videos, a slit in the grip). These holes should be aligned with the seam in the plastic on the side of the controller. If you can get these holes right on the seam, you’re golden. Really, it’s that simple. I am not sure if the PS3 grips come with the same holes, but if they don’t, they really should.

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Breakdown of hole alignment in the instructional leaflet

I began by doing just that. After the plastic seam was placed right beneath those holes, the rest was pie. I smoothed the top of the grip, working my way from the seam toward the middle of the controller to ensure that there were no air bubbles. I repeated this smoothing step on the bottom of the controller, following the direction of the grip. It may seem a little confusing when it comes to exactly where each part of the grip should lay in relation to the controller, but I assure you, trust the grip. As long as the holes are aligned with the seam, each portion of the grip will go where it is supposed to. Just smooth it down carefully.

In the end, I was very happy with the application of the grips. It was significantly easier than I had originally anticipated, and it is really refreshing to see that Squid Grip has made every effort to help their customers through the process by providing .PDF files, helpful walk through videos, and of course, that incredibly thorough leaflet.

But, Do They Work?

We know. That easy application stuff is all well and good, but it doesn’t mean anything to you if the grips don’t actually do what they say they are going to, right? Once I was done applying the grips, I was ready to sit down and put them to the test. Sorry to get all gross on you guys, but I have some seriously sweaty hands when I game, and I have yet to find anything that really solves the issue for me outside of just dealing with it. While I was really, REALLY hoping that these grips would do the job, I wasn’t convinced that the fix would be that simple and unobtrusive.

I sat down for about 3 hours (long enough for my  hands to really work up a sweat) and tried to take notice of any differences regarding my controller while I played (I know you guys are going to ask: Battlefield 3). My general expectations were that the grips would simply make it easier for my sweaty hands to grip the controller, thus rendering my slippery palms not such a big deal. I was surprised, however, to find that my hands sweated significantly less while gripping the Squid Grip, vs. gripping a bare controller. Although I’m not sure why my hands were less sweaty (I’m sure there’s some fancy science involving sweat and plastic behind it), but they definitely were. While there was still some sweat involved, the presence of the Squid Grip rendered it inert and I had no trouble at all with my usual slippery controller syndrome. In addition to sweat control, these grips are insanely comfortable. Seriously. Like a pillow top Sealy for your hands.

After counting my trial run with Squid Grip a success, I began to think a little more about the grips. I don’t know about you, but I am willing to bet money that my (and your) controller is a fairly germ-laden place. Having small crevices, like where the grips meet the controller plastic, where germs and bacteria can hide sort of grosses me out. Because of this rather disgusting thought, I was thrilled to read that all Squid Grips are made from anti-microbial materials. The folks at Squid Grip also had the foresight to include thorough cleaning and removal instructions for the grips as well.

If durability is a concern, look no further than Squid Grip’s ‘Water Test’ video. It speaks volumes about the durability of their grips and hey, who doesn’t love a good visual aid?

The Bottom Line

So, what’s the bottom line here? In a nutshell, I think I am in love. Squid Grip looks professional and pretty bad a$$. It’s easy to apply (as easy as anything adhesive can be, anyway) and it adheres really well to the surface of a clean controller.  As far as performance goes, I don’t think I could have asked any more of the product. While common sense should tell you that a grip on your controller cannot stop your hands from sweating entirely, the grips are significantly more ‘skin friendly’ and you will notice a marked difference in palm-sweat production. That said, whatever sweat does occur will likely not interfere with game play due to the grips doing what they are intended to do…helping you grip the controller better.

If you have sweat issues, or just want a more comfortable grip on your controller, I would highly recommend Squid Grip. If you can get over sticking them to your pride and joy, they really are worth it, and at $14.99, the price point is significantly less that other sweat-controlling alternatives.