OR Gloves: aligning warmth, dexterity and weather protection

Think of your gloves as hand tools. And when it comes to choosing gloves, particularly for outdoor activities where different kinds of dexterity versus amounts of warmth are needed, you need to have the right tool for right the job. The type of gloves you will need really depends upon what activity you are doing and where you’ll be doing it.

We refer to gloves as handwear, not because we want to sound smart but because our “gloves” include mittens, liners, modular systems—a whole range of technical products designed to keep your hands warm and still allow you to use them for the task at hand (pun intended) whether you are climbing vertical ice or out for a cold-weather run. We combine a range of specialized materials—from GORE-TEX® fabric to soft shell fabric and PrimaLoft® insulation to Pittards® leather—to build gloves that are durable and dexterous for specific outdoor pursuits. That’s why we have broken our handgear down into the Liner, Ascent, Sidecountry and Ice collections.

Besides being effective gloves all on their own for the proper temperature range (between 55º and 25º F, depending on the model), liners offer versatility when you pair them up with more protective gloves. Think about it this way: You layer your jackets, so why not do the same thing for your hands? Gloves like the BackStop Gloves™, Flurry Gloves™ and the Outdoor Research PL series are perfect for running, backpacking, around town or for use underneath an insulating glove or mitt to add warmth and to protect your hands when you need to pull them out to attend to a task requiring manual dexterity.

Some gloves in this line will probably be used more on their own than as layering. Take the new Sensor Gloves™, which also offer a unique technology. They are built with Radiant Fleece™, a soft, high-loft material that wicks moisture and provides warmth. They also employ TouchTec™ leather, which makes it possible to operate the screen on a smart phone as if you had bare hands. It’s the first technology that allows the actual leather itself to be touch-screen compatible, versus having to use a material with metal built into the fingertips. That technology has some big benefits: the material is touch-sensitive anywhere, including on the sides of the fingers (many people scroll that way), and using a liner inside the glove doesn’t affect its performance.

Ascent takes it up a big notch. First and foremost, all gloves in this line for colder conditions are modular, so they offer a system of two gloves that can be used in different combinations for changing weather conditions. The Alti Mitts™ feature a seam-taped GORE-TEX® shell keeps out the wet, and synthetic insulation in the thumb and back of hand add warmth, but the kicker is a removable synthetic-insulation liner. The liner glove is totally functional on its own, then pull over the outer glove for warmth in the most extreme conditions. On the less extreme side, Outdoor Research makes many other modular gloves for a wide range of weather conditions, such as the HighCamp Gloves™, built with Outdoor Research proprietary Ventia Dry™ construction to keep them waterproof and breathable, and PrimaLoft® One insulation to keep them comfortable down to -15º F.

Sidecountry handwear is all about skiing, and it’s built for ski resort, backcountry skiing or, as you might guess, that zone in between known as the sidecountry. Models like the Remote Gloves™, Northback Gloves™ and Southback Gloves™ offer varying degrees of warmth for skiing in different environments. The new Ambit Gloves™ add TouchTec™ leather to the mix, so no more answering that phone with your nose on the lift.

Ice handwear is much more specialized, and includes everything from unlined gloves for dry-tooling to warm models for the alpine. A unifying theme is GORE-TEX® with X-TRAFIT technology, a process that binds the layers in the palm—outer, membrane, insulation and/or liner—into a single waterproof and breathable über-layer. Because the layers in the palm don’t slide against each other, GORE-TEX® with X-TRAFIT offers greater dexterity for handling ice tools, rock gear or, for that matter, ski poles. You’ll find this technology in the Warrant Gloves™ and Alpine Alibi Gloves™.

When it comes down to it, remember your gloves are an important tool—choose the best tool for the job based on what weather you may encounter and how much you dexterity you will require. And it’s always wise to look at modular gloves and/or pack an extra pair.