User Review: Outdoor Research Women's BackStop Gloves
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
Price Paid: Sample provided by Outdoor Research for testing and review
The Outdoor Research BackStop fleece liner gloves with WindStopper have become my go-to gloves for year-round use. For a single pair of 100-weight fleece gloves, they are incredibly versatile and useful.
The BackStops balance fleece warmth and wind protection with breathability sufficient for cold-weather energetic pursuits like skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, trail running, or whatever gets you moving outside in winter. They also can be used as a liner layer in a glove system.
The BackStop Gloves are flexible, comfortable, and fairly dexterous, thanks to small silicone pads on the fingertips that provide good grip. They’ve replaced several pairs of lightweight fleece and wool gloves for me.
As fleece gloves they are best for dry conditions, since they will eventually wet out. Once wet, they may take several hours (depending on conditions) to dry out.
I consider my hands of average size for a woman, but the finger length was a little long and loose for me in the women's mediums, while the smalls were too tight all over. However, the gloves’ overall performance and comfort outweighed this minor fit issue.
- Fleece-WindStopper combo keeps you warm and dry
- Stretchy, flexible
- Versatile, multipurpose lightweight glove
- Works alone or with glove system for year-round uses
- Decent dexterity with silicone pads for extra grip
- Affordable (at $35 MSRP)
- Available in men’s and women’s models
- Not for use alone in very cold weather
- Not for wet days, don't dry super fast
- Fit was a tad loose and long in fingers for me
- High energy people in mild winter conditions may want thinner gloves
Best For: High-energy winter activities in dry, cool-to-cold conditions, or as liner gloves in a cold-weather glove system
Outdoor Research calls the BackStop Gloves the “ultimate high-energy liners.” I think they’re excellent all-around gloves both on their own or as a liner. As opposed to some gloves, the BackStops are useful in a variety of conditions and activities.
Over the past eight months, I've used them alone for winter running and cross-country skiing, spring skiing, and three-season hiking and camping. I’ve also used them in combination with outer shell gloves and mitts while skiing, hiking, and climbing Mount Rainier.
At 1.9 ounces (55 grams) for the pair, I also throw these gloves in my pack when I carry an emergency pair during three-season trips.
Made from a 100-weight fleece with WindStopper on the backs, the BackStop Gloves have an excellent balance of light weight and medium warmth. For this reason, they work well in a range of temperatures, conditions, and activities.
They are closer to a medium weight liner glove than a very thin liner. In fact, they could be too warm for very active people in milder winter conditions. I found them too warm for running in cool (25°F+) conditions, but excellent for running during very cold and/or windy conditions.
The WindStopper on the backs of the hands provides great wind protection. I never noticed any wind passing through the glove onto the back of my hand, even when spring skiing or hiking above treeline.
At the same time, the palms of the gloves remain breathable for temperature regulation. While the exterior is smooth, the interior is soft, fleecy, and comfortable.
The BackStop Gloves will keep your hands warm and dry if used appropriately. The breathable palm kept the gloves from becoming a sweaty mess while hiking up a steep trail or when cross-country skiing. The smooth exterior sheds light rain and snow.
However, these are fleece liners, not waterproof gloves. So, don’t expect all-weather protection.
I used mine for the morning of a mountaineering skills day (hiking up and then sliding around in the snow) on Mount Rainier in August. It wasn’t cold (around 40 degrees) and the BackStops afforded me more flexibility than my waterproof gloves. This was helpful while managing ropes, harnesses, and other gear.
The gloves stayed dry and warm for several hours. Once they wetted out I switched to my waterproof pair. The BackStops, even perched atop my planted trekking poles, took a few hours to dry out and were marginally damp at the end of the afternoon. However, I’d used them beyond their normal use.
These are one of the few lightweight gloves I’ve used that provide flexibility and dexterity, along with reasonable warmth. The gloves move and flex well with you.
The fleece material is smooth on the outside, but has good grip, thanks to silicone pads on the thumb, first two fingers, and palm.
Unfortunately, the pads do not work with touch screens, like on an iPhone or GPS. You’ll still have to remove your gloves for that.
I often remove even lightweight gloves in the cold to use my fingers (tightening straps, adjusting crampons, fiddling with a camera). The BackStop Gloves don’t completely avoid that issue for me, but they come pretty close. The gloves felt far less clunky on my fingers than others of similar weights, and I was able to keep my gloves on more of the time.
The factor that affected my dexterity the most was the slightly long finger length.
The BackStop Gloves stretch and flex well with your hands. I was comfortable whether I was gripping ski or trekking poles or an ice axe, or holding on to rocks to scramble up a rocky trail.
I never felt tight or constricted in any areas, and I’d forget about the gloves after putting them on.
The fit was reasonably good, but not perfect for me.
My hand circumference (7 inches) and hand length (7 inches) measurements both fell between the women’s small and medium sizes, so I tried on both for comparison.*
The medium was the clear winner. The smalls were too tight and constricting all over. The mediums went on smoothly. However, I have about a quarter inch of extra space at the end of my fingers. I wish I could shrink the gloves the tiniest bit all over for a perfect fit.
This personal fit issue was the only trouble I had with the gloves, which otherwise performed solidly.
Durability and Construction
In more than eight months of use, I’ve seen minimal wear on the gloves.
The silicone pads on the front and back of the gloves provide some abrasion resistance. One line is forming across a silicone grip on the right palm, but it hasn’t cracked and is only cosmetic at this point (see photo below).
Otherwise, there are no signs of tears or loose threads. Virtually no pilling, even after using them to scramble up some rocky trails in New Hampshire’s Northern Presidentials (see picture at top).
Since I am active outdoors year-round in northern New England, I have a wide variety of gloves and mitts, some of which have fairly specific applications.
The BackStop Gloves have replaced my older Black Diamond and Wild Roses gloves of similar weight, as well as a pair of Smartwool liners that formed a hole in their first winter.
While the BackStop Gloves won’t work for every application (no glove will), they’re now my first choice for a first layer, versatile, year-round glove. If the fit was perfect for me, I'd rarely take them off.
OR women's small: 6 ½ - 7 inches
Me: 7 inches
OR women's medium: 7 ½ - 8 inches
OR women's small: 5 - 6 ½ in
Me: 7 inches
OR women's medium: 7 - 7 ½ inches
[Editor's Note: Outdoor Research provided a sample of the BackStop Gloves for testing and review.]