Last summer, I narrowly avoided degloving my ring finger when my tungsten wedding band got caught between two rocks after I rolled over in my kayak. If you’ve never heard of degloving, it’s an injury where most of the skin on your finger gets ripped off because your ring is stuck on something but your body is still moving. Jimmy Fallon did it by falling at his house, and there are lots of gory photos all over the Internet. (Maybe just trust me on that one.)
Back on shore, after an embarrassing swim from my kayak, I realized that I still had most of my skin, but there was also a nasty gash. To treat the wound, I had to pull the ring up over both the cut and my swollen knuckle, which was excruciating and made me look like a total mess in front of my friends. I ended up getting a staph infection, which sent me to the hospital with a hand the size of an orange.
By the time the penicillin did its magic and my scar had healed enough to wear a ring, I decided I wasn’t willing to risk another injury like that. Instead, I decided to buy an Athletic Qalo Ring bundle ($46 for three), which has three different colored rings, all made of pliable, medical-grade silicone. The rings have a matte finish, so they don’t look like shiny rubber, and have a tiny bit of stretch so they’ll come off way before your skin will.
I don’t wear Qalo rings all the time. I still much prefer the impossible-to-scratch tungsten ring my wife put on my finger during our wedding. She bought it for me because she knew I could use it to open beers—proof we’re a good match. However, when I’m out rowing, climbing, or lifting, it’s nice to know the Qalo won’t contribute to an injury. And since it’s relatively inexpensive, I don’t worry too much about losing it.
Unfortunately, my wife hates the way the Qalo looks on my finger. She’d rather I go ringless while out playing. And some people do prefer to take their ring off an leave it at home before heading out. Neither of us are all that worried about me appearing single, but I do like being clear that I’m married. It’s something I’m proud of. The statement I’m interested in sending isn’t “back off of this semi-athletic, highly neurotic piece of meat.” It’s more “I’m married, and that’s a big part of who I am.”
Even though I don’t use the Qalo to ward off the single-and-ready-to-mingle crowd, there are those that do. Jefferson State Crossfit owner and Outside gear tester Billy Brown only wears Qalo rings because he’s constantly in the gym and wants to be clear he’s taken. “I lost my wedding ring while crossing a river on a gear test, so I just stopped wearing a ring,” Brown said. “But that led to a bunch of awkward conversations with people who thought I was single, so I figured a Qalo would be a perfect way to fly the ‘spoken for’ flag.”
Like me, Outside copy editor Aleta Burchyski switches between the band her husband gave her on their wedding day and a Qalo ring, which she wears at the gym. She’s often complemented on her hunter green band and it allows her to focus on form instead of her finger during strength-training sessions. “I just love my platinum and diamonds too much to put them through kettlebells,” she said.