and the search for a perfect glove ends in a good but imperfect solution

12:00 p.m. on December 30, 2011 (EST)
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someone asked about how to keep hands warm a while back.  never been an issue for me - insulated shell mittens have kept my hands fine in the worst weather.  but, i conceded that for those times i need some more hand dexterity, i'm a little bit at a loss.  my fleece windstopper gloves that offer great dexterity can only accommodate relatively thin liners, so they get pretty cold much below 20 degrees.  the insulated shell gloves i have were an inexpensive sale purchase and have a host of issues - non-removable insulation, not much insulation anyway, so....my fingers get cold below 20 degrees.  i don't get cold easily; i just lacked gloves suitable for colder weather.   

given my office is a ghost town this week, i took an hour this morning and went glove shopping to fill the gap.  kudos to hudson trail outfitters for their excellent selection.  i tried two really expensive beasts then ended up with a compromise.

-the outdoor research fireband glove has to be the warmest, bulkiest glove i have ever tried.  they look like mickey mouse's hands (with five fingers).  gore tex shell, removable 'enduraloft' liner.  enduraloft is a dupont synthetic insulation.  well-appointed with a guantlet shell that cinches tight, leashes, nice leather palm.  the gloves are massive, with so much insulation that they don't offer much hand dexterity, so they kind of defeat the purpose of getting a glove to  maximize use of your hands.  i think they would be extremely warm.  they are also extremely expensive, over $300 retail (and available for 33% off on a few websites, but if i can try it on local, i tend to support my local retailer).  on price alone, i had to rule them out. 

-arcteryx alpha sv glove - very articulated gore tex shell glove, leather palms, synthetic fleece insulation.  i wasn't excited.  the articulated fit suggests they would feel great, but they did not.  despite a great deal of maneuvering, the bulky and somewhat stiff fleece liner kept bunching inside the shell, so they weren't particularly comfortable.  much better use of hands with these.  they have a drawcord but no leash, which is a significant shortcoming.  at $230, they were still expensive.  i don't think these would be terribly warm insulated with fleece only.

-hestra heli 3 finger glove - a compromise, but i am pretty happy.  i wasn't familiar with the company, so i looked them up.  swedish outfit, they make the gloves in their own factory [their own factory appears to be located in China, fyi].  these aren't true gloves - they have an independent thumb and index finger, and the three small fingers are within the same shell.  marketed as "lobster mitts," which a number of companies sell these days.  black diamond's lobster guide gloves were on my list to try, but i couldn't find them locally. 

the outer shell has nice, tactile leather palms and employs a proprietary waterproof/breathable membrane that i believe is a licensed version of entrant.  the shell is not seam-taped or sealed, so they probably leak a little - or they will until i go over the seams with silnet.  the liner is a removable synthetic fiber liner, a five-fingered glove made of quallofil or something akin to it. 

i bought them. 

upsides:

-price is very reasonable, just over $100 full retail.

-nice leather palms, need to be treated just like boots (they come with some waterproofing paste)

-good dexterity with the free finger; lobster design may help keep the smaller fingers warmer. 

-removable liner with a good amount of insulating power.  should be easy to dry out and should keep my fingers pretty warm.  they sell a 3 finger (lobster) quallofil liner for 25 bucks and a primaloft liner for $55, which should be a big upgrade in warmth

-waterproof breathable shell

-gauntlet with an easy-to-use toggle and shockcord, plus runaway leashes

-roomy

-tiny carabiner and grommets to hook the gloves to a zipper if you take them off

-durability - reviews of hestra's mittens and gloves suggest they hold up well; this isn't a conclusion from personal experience, though. 

downsides:

-they come with a beefy nylon strap at the wrist, velcro closure.  i personally don't like these and might end up cutting them off.

-true lobster liners cost extra

-the runaway leash has an elastic wrist strap rather than an adjustable leash - means you have to secure it to your wrist, not around the forearm of your jacket.  this might prove to be annoying. 

-untaped seams need to be sealed.

7:27 p.m. on December 30, 2011 (EST)
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So my office isn't the only ghost town this week?

It might sound, to the uninitiated, like you are obsessing over finding the right glove but I understand your search. 

I am have settled for my OR alti-mitts for winter cold stuff.  They pull off easily and the liner mitts have flip open ends for easy use of all fingers.  The shells hang by the idiot strings and are easy to get back on. 

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor-research-men-39-s-alti-mitts.shtml?source=CI&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=74348BLKS

I have not found the magic perfect glove yet either.  If I did I probably would never wear them for fear of wearing them out. 

12:27 a.m. on December 31, 2011 (EST)
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OR Mutant Mitt and liners

7:02 p.m. on December 31, 2011 (EST)
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The alti mitt is my go-to winter mitten. My fingers have gotten cold more than once while doffing the mitts and using my fingers, hence the interest in a cold weather glove.

We will see how the lobster concept works. It was nearly 60 degrees here today....

8:15 p.m. on December 31, 2011 (EST)
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What about gloves that are waterproof and warm, say down to 30F or so?  I have some winter cloves, like skiing gloves, but if I'm out in cold rain they soak through sooner rather then later.  Although they as still warmish, at least as it dose not get to cold. 

I thought about neoprene gloves(like Diving gloves), but they don't have a lot of flexibility.  I also looked at some wind proof fleece gloves, but I find it hard to believe that they can keep the cold out let a lone wind and water. 

Any suggestions?

Wolfman

9:06 a.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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there are several brands of insulated  shell gloves that are pretty good in cold (but not very cold) weather and use some kind of waterproof/breathable membrane - marmot and outdoor research have a number of options.  usually, because they have a leather palm, they can get damp unless you treat the leather with something.

outdoor research makes stretch windblock fleece gloves that are great if you need full use of your hands - and they have enough room for a layer or two of glove liners, so they have been good for me above 20 degrees.  the thumb and first two fingers are impregnated with rubber or some other grippy substance.  they aren't waterproof. 

2:06 p.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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I use a completely different set of gloves for my 'dexterity gloves' they are also reserved as my dry pair if needed.

I use a combo of Marmot stretch wrist gaitors, and the 10$ fingerless ragg wool gloves sold at REI. Very warm, and perfect for any tasks requiring dexterity.

For normal use I use the Marmot stretch wrist gaitors, OR Flurry gloves, OR Endeavor shell mitss. If a really long or really cold trip I usually throw in a pair of smartwool glove liners as well.

12:34 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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I also have a pair of the fingerless wool gloves, they are actually quite warm from what I remember.  I will have to start using them again to see how they do in the winter.  

I am not sure were I read this, but someone recommended using latex gloves (Like used for medical) or other gloves like that for waterproofing.  I think this would keep your hands "Dry" but far from warm and then there is any sweat just stays in the glove.  They might work as a liner, anyone ever used this setup? 

I went for a hike with the kids yesterday, nice hike, but I left my gloves sitting on the dash of my truck.  I know not to smart!  But I did take extra socks in the day-pack, on on the way back I ended up wearing a pair of socks, actually worked very well!  Next time I will make sure everything's loaded before we get to the trail head!!! :)

Wolfman

2:23 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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Have a pair Marmot Altitude gloves which I bought a couple years back and do the job. If I need a bit of insulation I wear MTN Hardwear Power stretch gloves as liners.

I also have a pair of wool fingerless gloves by a company called Goorin Brothers which specializes in high to low end hats from wool ski hats to high end derbys and Fedoras. Have a pair of the Major burns fingerless wool gloves which are great and only cost $12.00.

 

They have shops all over the country and well worth a trip to one if your in the market for something outdoorsy or something a bit more style conscience.

http://www.goorin.com

12:41 p.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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Being in AZ I really dont get into the bitter cold and soaking wet stuff much.  But when wandering around the higher elevations of the desert in the winter it can get pretty cold and wet at times.   I use to carry some fleece gloves and cheap ski gloves, but both failed horrible in the rain. (whoda thought :) )

Ive decided to try the layering system for gloves this time, I picked up some REI Switchback Gloves. They came with fleece liners but Im gonna replace those with something better.  Ive been eyeball'n some of the OR gloves for this job. These will get the bulk of use with the Switchbacks only getting used for the extra layer of protection and warmth.

AH heck! Now you've gone and done it. Im off to the gear shop to go find my new gloves. 

6:19 p.m. on January 6, 2012 (EST)
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I'll check the mail for my kickback from OR.

(hope no one takes that serious)

 

 

 

 

5:17 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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primaloft 'lobster' liners arrived today, from the manufacturer.  they fit, they are warm as heck, and i can't wait to see sub zero weather.  interestingly, they have primaloft throughout; most of these have the fluffy insulation around the end of the fingers and back but some kind of pile fleece at the palm, probably to grip things a little better. 

August 22, 2014
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