In my experience, the mesh heads are easier on your hands than the rubber ones, however you need to toy around with the tension. Oddly enough, the mesh heads seem to have LESS bounce when cranked up, as opposed to a mylar head which is pretty much the other way around.
You should also try a variety of sticks to see what works best for you. There are sticks specifically designed for hitting pads (Vic Firth's "E-stick" for instance) and also sticks designed to reduce the amount of vibrations passed back to your wrists (Zildjian anti-vibe). Everyone is different of course, and individual technique pays a big part of it too.
The most important thing is to not hit too hard. That can take a considerable amount of self control, especially when the band is cooking. Making sure you can hear yourself well enough in the monitors helps immensely too. When I can't hear myself, I instinctively hit harder... that's a no-no.
Of course the very best electric setup that is easy on your hands is the Zendrum!