Saturday 9 March 2013

Favourite kit of the winter #2

Warm hands are worth the price!
I'm rubbish at shopping and really susceptible to impulse buying. So when I saw a really expensive pair of  Outdoor Research gloves reduced (last season's model) in the newly opened Field and Trek in Fort William I went for it. I tested some OR kit at Glenmore Lodge last year and loved most of it. Some real thought had gone into designing some bombproof gear and these gloves proved to be in a similar vein.
Winter gloves in Scotland are the bane of my life. Work just destroys them and warmth and dexterity often seem mutually exclusive. The OR Alpine Alibi gloves I've been using this winter though hit that nail right on the head. The first heavy duty glove I've ever worn which felt that I could genuinely use my fingers in them. I've been wearing them over a thin pair of microfleece gloves (my walk in gloves- if they stay dry) and the combination let me slide the Alibis on even when wet (I don't expect waterproof gloves in Scottish Winter, sooner or later they ALL will get wet, when that's a problem I put on a dry pair) - aided by the well thought out pull on loops that OR put at the base of the wrist cuff. And they are WARM. Nearly 60 days winter routes and work this year and I've only had hot aches once wearing these and that was limited to the very top joint of my right hand (previous frostbite there anyway and I usually get them much worse). Its a while since I used a long gauntlet but the bulk on these wasn't too large which can often feel like an issue.
Manufacturers blurb:
Our waterproof and breathable Alpine Alibi Gloves™ are made with X-TRAFIT™ technology and stretch soft shell construction to provide excellent dexterity. Nimble hand-to-tool contact is enhanced through this construction allowing the glove to smoothly conform to the shape of your hand. EnduraLoft™ insulation on the back of hand and thumb and heat pack pockets at the wrists and back of hand provide warmth when temps hover at freezing and the day stretches from sunrise to sunset. The leather palm wraps around the thumb and up the index finger sidewall to provide tough abrasion resistance and solid grip when handling ropes for the belay and rappel. With added features like a secure wrist cinch for a no-slip fit and protective padding on finger knuckles, this glove is ideal for long alpine ice ascents.

Insulated, waterproof glove for alpine ice; rappel and belay
+ Waterproof/breathable GORE-TEX™ insert with X-TRAFIT™ technology + Stretch soft shell construction
+ EnduraLoft™ insulation: 170 g on back of hand and thumb 
+ Leather palm wraps around thumb and index  finger for abrasion resistance and solid grip on belay and rappel
+ Secure wrist cinch with thermo-formed neoprene, articulating wrist harness; bite tab for easy opening and closing
+ Direct injection protective padding on finger knuckles
+ Heat pack pockets on gauntlet and back of hand
+ DuoCinch™ gauntlet closure
+ Removable Idiot Cord

They've obviously got the insulation dexterity right with these.
Any downsides: Worn through at the finger tips and between both fingers and thumbs after about 36 days use. Durability is still an issue. Velcro wrist closure clogs with snow very easily. The plastic skeleton offering protection on the back of the hands has almost all fallen off with use.
BUT the great news is there is an updated version! This looks to have changed the tips and the thumb/finger area and gotten rid of the velcro wrist. The price tag may seem steep but these are THE closest I've come to the holy grail (the perfect cold weather winter glove) I've ever come. I'll be getting a pair.
Objects of desire

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