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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing
Showing posts with label gloves. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gloves. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Full Spectrum of Gloves?

When the rock does this to a set of picks in a few pitches...think what it will do to gloves?

                          How every alpine glove eventually ends up.

One of the topics that came up in the requests was more glove info.  Most of us are on a constant search for a better glove.  That might be a warmer, more durable, more water proof or easier to dry glove.  It depends on your need at that moment for that particular adventure.  If anything it is worth noting that few of us climb in the same gloves.  And there are a gazillion manufactures out there.  I am about as anal on my glove choices as I am on my boots always buyer and reader beware ;-)

Here are some examples of the glove styles I use constantly.
full leather gloves
glove liners, both wool and synthetic
wool gloves or mittens
all synthetic gloves
leather and synthetic combination gloves

                                                    Dave in his prefered BDs.               
(I own mittens but so seldom use them I'll leave them out of the conversation)

The brand names that I prefer at the moment are Outdoor Research and Mountain Hardware.  My partner's (all of them)  most commonly used glove is one form or another from Back Diamonds.  And I have used BD gloves myself.

The flip side to Matt's pair of BD gloves above.

And all better now ;-)

 It wouldn't have been my first choice but still good enough to get Matt up the Ginat last week in less than stellar weather.

The brand name gloves I have used a lot in the past are:
Helly Hensen
Black Diamond

Here is how I divide up my glove choices and there is some over lap generally.  But easy to get some cash  wrapped up in gloves.

Liners/approach gloves
leather/rap or bush whack (think 10' high slide alders or Devil's club)
XC ski
DH ski
tech climbing gloves
alpine climbing gloves
cold weather gloves

My first go to glove is the BD Polartec liners either Midweight or the Heavyweight.   And I generally loose them before I wear them out.  And I wear them out by melting them on a stove.  Awesome glove.  Works for approaches, XC skiing, spring DH skiing, as a lwt tech glove or a warm weather alpine glove or nasty bush wacking.  Many designs like them but these are the best I have used.

Leather? I use them in the alpine on bush wacks and  on nasty steep raps with 7mm twins  My favorites are a pair of thin steer hide I buy at Lowe's.  But they have to fit perfectly and they aren't cheap.  They generally last 4 or 5 years with consistent use with a chainsaw and around the yard.  I'm also partial to the Metolious full finger belay glove.  Although i never use them for belaying.  I like a glove you know isn't going to come apart in use.  This is the glove I use for the free rap off the Midi's bridge in cold winter temps.  It is awesome and cheap.  Mine are now 10 years old and just getting broken in.  Nice glove!

I use  my gloves for all sorts of stuff but the only skiing specific gloves I use are made  by these guys:

I generally have pretty warm hands and seldom suffer through the scream'in barfies even in pretty cold weather.  So a lwt XC glove often gets used for DH skiing.  I like Model ”S” 0103-00 for what it is worth.
These make a decent thin dry tooling glove as well.

Thomas Smiley photos:


Alpine climbing for me generally means winter.  In spring, summer and fall any combination of gloves on this list can and generally do get used.  But winter I have some old favorites.  Mtn Harware and OutDry are my favorites along with a couple of pair of the OR gloves.  You can read more on the Mtn Hardware Hydra and the OR Vert in earlier blogs.

I have found the OurDry to keep my hands dry even when the entire outer shell and insulation is soaking wet and frozen stiff.  Not the best situation but then my buddy's are often in some version of the Black Diamond Gortex or BDry and have wet hands and frozen gloves.  Some difference but not a lot.  OutDry seems more durable as it is harder to punch a hole in the water proof liner..."I think".  But nothing scientific here just anecdotal evidence. 

The one thing I have convinced myself of is that thin gloves like the Hydra work very well in some pretty cold conditions. When it gets colder I used to be convinced a removable liner was mandatory.  Not any more.  Truth is when it gets really cold and I need a warmer glove,  I really need more insulation.  Liner may or may not be useful depending on how good the glove is and how easy it is to use.  If it is that cold drying the glove out hasn't been a problem as the inner of the glove doesn't get very wet.

I used the Mtn Hardware Typhon this winter as my back up, warmer glover to the Hydra.  Dave was using the Mtn Hardware Jalapeno when he got cold or wet enough.  I thought the Jalapeno easier to use and just as warm as my wool lined Typhon.  Typhon's liner comes out, the Jalapeno's doesn't.

From  Mtn Hardware I now use the Minus One, the Hydra, the Torsion and the Typhon depending on temps, use and need..  I'll likely start using the Jalapeno next winter. 

I like a thinner glove with leashless tools so I don't have to remove my gloves for any reason.  But get cold enough and the thicker gloves require me to pull the gloves off more than I want.  Removeable liners that stay on when you pull the shells work well there. Big gloves, the Typhon and Jalapeno for example, are like good double boots, a pain in the ass to climb in...but without them you (me anyway) wouldn't still be climbing.  

One of the things I found interesting this winter is the gloves I can generally climb with in Canada just weren't warm enough in the Alps this winter.  That was a surprise.  Thankfully I took some warmer gloves along but I wasn't happy climbing in them generally.  It took so getting use to the thicker and stiffer gloves on technical ground and with my (tight) Nomic or Ergo handles.   I used the Quarks with a more open grip some specifically for that reason.  While I didn't have cold hands on that trip it was PP planning all around on my part. 
Look around and try what you think will work for you.  When you find some that do, be smart and buy 2 pair.  Gloves are like climbing footware you'll want the RIGHT pair for every occasion

Pray you don't end up with this glove collection!  And these are just the good ones ;-)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Glove tech!

My buddy and uber hardman, Jon Jugenheimer, has a good idea I hadn't seen before for improving on our climbing gloves.  I'm a big OutDry fan but worth a look here to see what Jon and his friends have been doing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mtn Hardware Minus One Glove

This is a retread from last month that got buried so I thought it worth an update after I got more climbing use out of the glove.

I like a couple of glove manufacturers products. But I have to say I have been really impressed with the most recent OutDry products from Mtn Hardware. (and now the same technology is in the Scarpa boots) The newest glove I have been using is the Minus One..which is a thin, technical glove intended for leashless climbing and dry tooling in moderate temps.

It is a perfect fit for those uses.

It is not climbing but the temps dropped here to -10C over night and I had a bunch of outdoor household chores to take care of as we got several inches at snow and the temps continued to drop. This glove was good enough to use hand tools with and get everything done outside before our pipes could freeze up.

Last weekend I used the same glove on water ice with a good bit of free running water. I intentionally stuck my hands in the fire hydrant size spout of ice water on one climb to see just how water proof the OutDry system was. ( I had dry gloves in my pack and it was an easy day out)  These guys really are water proof. Although depending on the glove it may take some time to actually dry the leather out on the exposed side of the glove. I have since water proofed the leather as well on my Minus Ones. You'll still stay warm and dry either way. But no question the wet leather would freeze if it was cold enough.

Newest ones don't have a palm reinforcement that is pictures in the stock photo below but the thinner palm is awesome on a tight Nomic or Ergo handle. I wouldn't want to do a lot of rappelling in them though as it would get expensive quickly I suspect.

I've since used the Minus one in -20C temps on dry ice and a couple of rappels over a weekend and been satisfied.  Then out with them again as my only glove (forgot my spares and approach gloves) in temps from 0C to -15C with everything from running water to a full on wet snow storm while wallowing in crotch deep trail breaking.  The kind of day every thing gets wet.

Ten full days of climbing, rapping and belaying on these.  I am impressed so far.
Best to save these guys for climbing.  Knee deep wallowing will get anything wet, the Minus One being no exception.  They will handle your sweaty hands and generally stay dry inside but they can be easily over loaded if you allow snow in from the outside.   But they did dry over night internally.  The leather palm soaks up water pretty quickly even after being treated but it generally dried fully over night.  I have 10 days of climbing on this pare and am happy they are holding up much better than expected so far.  They  have kept my hands warm even on the chilly days -10C.  Much warmer that expected for their weight.

Down side besides price?  The rubber strap and velcro closure at the wrist.  I find it annoying as it could have been done in nylon just as easy and get in the way less.   But minor flaw and I suspect Mtn H was trying to give some added wrist support by using the rubber strap.

Buy them on sale for around $80 is the best I have seen or retail at $100. Great glove for the intended use. I am impressed as a light weight, highly technical, cold weather leashless glove and it is a lot warmer than expected.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Brand loyalty?

Brand loyalty, in marketing, consists of a consumer's commitment to repurchase or otherwise continue using the brand and can be demonstrated by repeated buying of a product or service or other positive behaviors such as word of mouth advocacy.[1]

Brand loyalty is more than simple repurchasing, however. Customers may repurchase a brand due to situational constraints (such as vendor lock-in), a lack of viable alternatives, or out of convenience.[2] Such loyalty is referred to as "spurious loyalty". True brand loyalty exists when customers have a high relative attitude toward the brand which is then exhibited through repurchase behavior.[1] This type of loyalty can be a great asset to the firm: customers are willing to pay higher prices, they may cost less to serve, and can bring new customers to the firm.[3][4] For example, if Joe has brand loyalty to Company A he will purchase Company A's products even if Company B's are cheaper and/or of a higher quality.

more here:

A climbing partner and I were out training yesterday. Like everyone I suspect, we eventually got around to discussing gear. When the topic of gloves came up I mentioned 2 specific MH gloves. Josh mentioned he liked OR better.

I climb in a OR Vert more than any other glove, so fair enough.

Which made me think about brand loyalty. I first thought I didn't have any brand matter what you you might think by reading the blog.

Then I rethought that idea this morning before I started writing. Of course I have brand loyalty. But I don't suggest brands when I talk gear. I suggest specific models from specific brands. The difference is subtle but important.

An example? I love my La Sportiva Trango Extreme Evos. But for several reasons I think the Batura is one of the poorest mtn boot designs available currently. And I have climbed in both boots a lot to come to that opinion. Good brand, with easy examples of one bad and one good product for my use. But La Sportiva boots may not fit you. Good brand for me generally because the boots will fit...but they may be not be a good brand for you because they don't.

How useful a specific model of that brand is to you is something totally different yet.

Truth is I just want to go climbing!

So when it comes to brand loyalty I am swayed by the guarantee and over all quality from my own experiences. Eddie Bauer, Outdoor Research, Mountain Equipment Coop, and REI sway me because I know they will take care of anything they sell. No questions and no hassle. North Face, La Sportiva, Kayland and a few others you had better get ready to take a cold bath if my personal experience is anything to rely on. Their customer service can be a little..shall we say...lacking.

There is so much amazing gear available from boots to clothing to hardware.
Don't get stuck on brand names. Look for features, your and other's experiences to find gear that will work the best for you.

I own and mix and match crampons from Grivel, Black Diamond and Petzl. Any one of the manufactures could do "something" better imo. My favorite Frankenstein 'pons are only slightly better than what you can buy off the shelf from any of the three. But I know enough now that most anything can be done better if you look at it critically and know what the intended use will be. So I look at making anything better for my own use. Sometimes it is hard or next to impossible for what ever reason. Sometimes it takes only a few minutes and some imagination.

I don't think MH is any better than OR, but I have found two MH gloves I like better than anything OR currently offers. But I will still use my OR verts the majority of time. MH is no longer so easy to get a warranty replacement on a "life time" warranty. OR? Still stellar customer service.

It is a individual item thing not a brand name thing. But it pays to look at both.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I suspect for the majority of those that will read this, it is preaching to the choir.

If not it is worth rethinking your game plan.

Originally there were some pretty strong opinions as to why leashless climbing was not an advancement in ice climbing. Held some of those same opinions myself in the past.

1975 Terrodactyl and a 2009 Nomic

The advancement in tool design with specifically engineered additional hand support has changed all of that.
The added option of an umbilical makes it even easier to transition to leashless with little risk.
At least two manufactures (Grivel and Black Diamond) are now producing umbilical systems that make loosing a tool *almost* impossible even if you do drop one or just as likely leave them at the last rap station. If you are interested take a look at the umbilical blog posted earlier.

Leashless climbing is easier. You are able to shake more often and it is much easier to do so, prolonging endurance and pushing the pump farther out. Your hands will be warmer because of it and you can use less effort to grip the tool because your glove system can be much, much lighter for the warmth required. All this adds up to climbing faster and reducing the strength required to do so.

The umbilicals, if you decide to use them, offer a mobile self belay. Leashless climbing is here to stay. It is a much better climbing system on hard ice and mixed as long as you are taking advantage of the newer tools specifically designed for leashless climbing. You have many really great tools to chose from today.

Black Diamond Fusion II over layed on top of a Petzl Nomic

Monday, October 25, 2010

More new leashless gloves.

The last two winters some of my favorite climbing gloves have been by Mountain Hardware.

Specifically a $50 "go to" glove for me, the "Torsion" (or it's kissing cousin the OR Vert). The Torsion isn't totally water proof but works great on steep technical ice unless it is really wet. For colder conditions or a lot of water I have been using the OutDry lined "Hydra" which is a stellar technical glove and cheap for what you get I think, at $100. It is warmer than the Torsion but still light enough to climb hard in. It is an exceptional pattern for technical climbing leashless. More details on both of these gloves back a ways in the Blog. Worth the extra click if you are are looking for gloves.

The new gloves to me....

Just picked up two of Mtn Hardware's glove styles that are new to me and I think worth checking out. Although prices have obviously gone up. Both are again lined with OutDry. Which seems to really work better than Gortex in similar styles. And both are leather reinforced in the heavy wear areas. The "Pistolero" as a light weight, mostly leather, highly technical glove that will replace my Torsions I think by the feel of them @ $100. And a slightly warmer version of the "Hydra", with a removable wool/synthetic liner, the "Typhon" @ $130.00

I get to look at a lot of gloves locally with REI, Mtn Hardware, Feathered Friends and Marmot all having good size retail stores local to me . These two models from Mtn Hardware are some of the best I have seen for my own use. Gotta like Mountain Hardware's life time warranty as well when you are dropping C notes for a single pair of gloves likely to get trashed in less than a season.

Fit? I wear a XL in most every glove. And it needs to be a generous XL. Hydra is fine in the XL, maybe a little loose. Pistolero is perfect, same slightly loose fit. The Typhoon is a little tight, maybe the same sizing pattern (I'd bet $ it is) as the XL Hydra but the wool/synthetic liner makes them a little tight. I may be wrong on the sizing because the next two pairs I mail ordered don't fit tight even with the wool liners. The glove build pattern however is not the same. The Hydra still has less seams and less bulk because of it. Looks like enough improvement on the Hydra durability wise though with the dbl thickness leather wear pads and leather finger tips to risk it and pay the extra $30. if you are going to do a lot of raps in them. The wool liners aren't worth the extra $30 to me. But I was thinking a really light polar fleece liner would work better and seems similar to the close fit as my BD liners in the Hydra.

I tried on 3 pairs of each to make sure I got the biggest pairs and all seem the same in size.

If I wore a Large and wanted a warmer glove than the Hydra the XL Typhon would rock :) But a XL Hydra would as well with a light weight liner of your choice and save $30.

There are a few minor improvements and the extra leather reinforcement in the palm and fingers on the Typhon. But the Typhon's build pattern is way more complicated and a bit more bulky. Are the changes worth the extra $30.00 compared to the Hydra for you? It is a toss up for me but it has convinced me to use the Typhon as my cold weather rap glove and save the Hydra for climbing when I can.

I'll write more once I get to use them as intended.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More on leashless gloves

My Outdoor Research, Verts, after 50+ pitches of water ice and dbl rope rappels. Seams, material and leather palms still intact and still good to go after some literally smoking raps on thin, twin ropes.

I keep being reminded how a really lwt, breathable and not water proof glove like the OR Vert performed this winter on Canadian ice. The longer climb I did where the gloves where soaked through and my boots filled with water while rapping down comes to mind. I was able to literally wring the gloves out twice on route and put them back on. As the sun went down I was prepared for the worse and ready to pull a dry pair of gloves out of the pack when I got a chance but half way down the decent I noticed the Vert gloves were warm and dry again. "Amazed", isn't too strong of word.

So may be being water proof isn't such a big deal in radically changing conditions and may be getting the gloves dried out while still in the field is even more important. For those that can remember back that far the wool Dachsteins come to mind as a mitt that never failed, no matter what the conditions were. They did breath and they were not water proof. They are a hard act to follow actually when I think back on it. Every water proof glove to date I've used just gets wet from my perspiration and have been very difficult to dry out. More food for thought for glove choices.

I have also found out recently that both OR and Mtn Hardware offer "lifetime" guarantees on their gloves. A guarantee I tested this week with Mtn Hardware. Money well spent on any of these gloves imo.

Here are two more models that I am now using and easily fit into my glove selection and my criteria from the previous post on leashless gloves.

"My list of features for a good glove?
Leather palms and fingers, Shoeller material in the glove body, nose wipe, medium to long, well tailored, wrist cuff. Both finger and cuff hangers and preferably a low profile velcro seal on the cuff and wrist. Or at least a better elastic draw cord arrangement than what is common in most everyone's design. Easy to turn inside out to dry....or at least easy to dry. Thin removable liners might even be better if you could minimise the bulk. And most importantly FLAT SEAMS on the bottom of the little finger and hopefully those seams on the side, not the bottom of the finger. Seams there, when climbing leashless, will make your life miserable in the extreme."

Either could easily become a favorite with the other three climbing gloves I am using. Mtn H's Torsion is certainly a best buy money wise if you buy into the non water proof glove idea.

They also fit my personal want list very closely, hitting every point except drying easily. But easy enough.

Mtn Hardware Torsion retails for $60. Little more insulation/bulk than the OR Vert and a much better cuff. More insulation means they are a little harder to dry out. A very nice glove.

Mtn H's spiel:
"Torsion Glove
A snug soft shell glove for alpine climbing. Articulated cut for excellent dexterity, with flatlock seams for a comfortable fit. Durable, water-resistant goatskin palm and fingers stand up to rock or ice.
Alpine Climbing / Mountaineering
Weight 3 oz. / 98 g.
Lining Brushed Tricot
Body Deflection™ Soft Shell
Palm Material Water-resistant Goatskin Leather

These are the OR Storm Tracker glove. $69 retail. Thin glove and maybe better dexterity than the Vert. Nice cuff length even with the added hassle of the zipper. A little steep price wise compared to the other lwts but these guys rock as a technical climbing glove. Durability my be a question so we'll see if that O.R. "INFINITE..guaranteed FOREVER works" :)

OR's spiel:
•Intended Usage: Versatile backcountry work glove for ultimate dexterity
Breathable/water-resistant WindStopper Soft Shell fabric; tricot lined
•Full leather palm
MotionWrap AT construction for added dexterity
•Elasticized wrist chili
•Gusseted entry with locking zipper

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Leashless Gloves?

The simply amazing OR Vert.

Two items in winter climbing are a major concern for me on every trip. Those are boots and gloves. Match the wrong set to a climb and things can be miserable. Get the right set of boots and gloves for the effort and temps involved and things can sail sweetly along with you living in comfort and warmth.

Gloves for me are as much a chance choice as a well researched project. Kelly Cordes has a good article on his blog and a bunch of real world users that added their own data points. Nice to see what I came up with over a few seasons as choices for my own use are pretty much what was recommended there.

Dig around in Kelly's site for glove info. There is more besides this link.

I am a big believer in carrying multiple pairs of gloves. Although with the best gloves (I am using now) the extra pairs required is going down. Another caution...these gloves and my glove system WILL NOT work well in cold weather if you are climbing on leashes.

The "go to" BD HeavyWeight

First glove I use a lot and really like is a simple Black Diamond liner glove call the "HeavyWeight". Cheap at $30 a pair and seem to last for ever. I use them on every approach that requires a glove. They are a must have for me.
BD's info and spec.
Style Number: BD801066_cfg
Ideal for gaining vertical without overheating.
•300 g (11 oz) Polartec® Power Stretch® fleece
•Full goat leather palm with Kevlar stitching
•Silicon-imprinted fingertips
•Knit cuff to seal out the weather

The OR ExtraVert

The next two gloves are from Outdoor Research and considered part of their "work glove" line up. Still on the grand scheme of things fairly cheap. $50 for the Vert and $60 for the ExtraVert a pair which seems like a real deal price wise to me. I am most likely to actually climb in the VERT. But the ExtraVert was the glove that first brought me to OR. I've found over time that climbing leashless and with the right amount of clothes (with good wrist seal designs) I can go even lighter on my glove choices. Wrist seals on the shell gear and half glove extensions on my inner layer allow for the lightest gloves while still having warm hands in even some pretty cold conditions.

The third glove and one of my all time favorites, like the OR Vert, a pair I am most likely to be climbing in is the Mountain Hardware Hydra glove. These guys rock for cold weather leashless climbing. Big enough internally to take the HeavyDuty or any lwt liner if required on cold belay duty. But also climb every well and are warm just as they come.

The exceptional MH Hydra

From the MH web site.
Hydra Glove: A flexible soft shell glove designed for alpine climbing, with OutDry® Waterproof Technology. We bond the waterproof, breathable OutDry® membrane to four-way stretch soft shell fabric, sealing out water, wind, and cold. Lined with high-pile fleece for comfort.
MSRP: 100.00
Gender Mens
Usage Alpine Climbing / Mountaineering
Weight 7 oz. / 190 g.
Lining Velboa™ Raschel
Palm Material Water-resistant Goatskin Leather
Body 4-Way Stretch Nylon Soft Shell
Laminate OutDry® Waterproof Technology

I have all sorts of other gloves/mitts but these are what I am actually using and have for a few seasons now. Couple of things worth noting. All have a leather palm. Leather palms and fingers are durable for raps and most importantly easy to place screws with. Decent grip on rubber wrapped shafts as well. All but the ExtraVert are very easy to dry out. The Verts I have soaked through and literally had to wring water out of several times on the same climb and then could wear them dry while rapping down in below zero temps. I was impressed. If only boots were so easy! With a tiny bit of redesgn the Vert from OR could easily lead the field in gloves for my style of climbing.

My list of features for a good glove?
Leather palms, Shoeller material body, nose wipe, medium to long, well tailored, wrist cuff, both finger and cuff hangers and preferably a low profile velcro seal on the cuff and wrist. Or at least a better elastic draw cord arrangement than what is common in most everyone's design. Easy to turn inside out to dry....or at least easy to dry. And most importantly FLAT SEAMS on the bottom of the little finger and hopefully those seams on the side, not the bottom of the finger. Seams there, when climbing leashless, will make your life miserable in the extreme.

Outdoor Research and Mtn Hardware are both very close to my "ultimate" glove.

There are obviously lots of gloves out there. I've tried all sorts of off the wall answers that were not climbing specific. And BD has an entire line of climbing gloves I have never seen. No one seems to carry them all locally. Others must make good gloves as well I suspect. Look around! Some of the better cross country ski glove manufactures make awesome gloves that will work great for leashless climbing. After all the best gloves I have found are "work" gloves from OR. OR doesn't even consider either model than many of us are using climbing gloves! Even REI makes some nice gloves that can do double duty. In fact one of my favorite gloves to solo shorter alpine and ice in is the REI Minimalist. But you can't easily place a screw with the super sticky rubber palm and they are a bitch to dry out. It takes a least a full day and some times more at home to get them dry with that glove turned almost inside out. At $35 a pair or better yet $15. a pair on sale I use them from time to time. A leather palm and a OutDry liner would make the REI Minimalist a real keeper imo even at $60.

Like anyone would take note and actually make a climbing specific glove for today's standards?!

The REI Minimalist