What works for me: Gloves

Joe wrote an excellent post 4 years ago about gloves and a lot of what is written still rings true with me, I encourage you to either read or reread the post.

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Gloves like most pieces of clothing are individual choices and over the years I have tried my fairshare. I can even recall wearing Oiled Japara (waxed cotton) mittens with wool lining, they were made in New Zealand by W.K. Backhouse Ltd., and were very effective until the water seeped through and the lining got wet. As Goretex became popular so did the use of the fabric for mittens and gloves. In more recent times I have experimented with goretex mittens, and found they leaked, by far the most waterproof gloves I have used are rubber kitchen gloves, however, my hands tend to sweat inside and as there is no insulation your hands soon get cold.

When it comes to packing gloves I have adopted the “three approach” that is
1. an inner layer
2. a mid layer
3. an outer layer.

So lets take a look at Inner layers.

In liner gloves I have experimented with Silkbody liner gloves and  Ibex Wool liners, in both cases I find these to be okay but prefer the Ibex gloves. Sadly Ibex woollen liners are more difficult to obtain now that I do not live in the USA. I have often worn liner gloves when using trekking poles and as a result I usually get holes in the thumb and the top of the forefinger.

Ibex and SilkBody liners

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I then looked around for other gloves that maybe more suited for use when using trekking poles which led me to Extremities Windy Dry Lite gloves. These are synthetic and are often used when hiking in cold and damp weather. Admittedly these gloves are not really a liner glove, but as a very thin glove which can also do double duty as an outer in warm weather I have placed them in this category, your views may differ.

The fleece inner side of the Windy Dry Lite gloves enables your hand to breathe and the outer  windstopper layer protects your hands from the wind as well as mosquitos in Lapland. These gloves in my view are very effective in a range of conditions, and are quick drying, and they are the ones that I almost always pack. Windy Dry Lite Gloves shown below, for the astute amongst you, yes I cut the tags off not for weight saving but for the absolutely ridiculous location of the tag.

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Mid layer or insulation, it will be no surprise to most that I prefer Possum fur gloves for their warmth to weight ratio, I find them very effective in a range of conditions and even when damp they enable my hands to stay warm. I have been a user of possum fur gloves for more than 8 years and there has been no time when I felt I needed a warmer alternative.

PB300128

Admittedly, for cold winter nights in the tent you cannot go past a pair of handmade wool mitts.

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Outer layer, this is possibly the most problematic layer because you need something to keep you dry, protect you from the wind whilst enabling you to be able to grip your hiking poles. Ideally they will be easy “on and off” and weigh very little.

Last summer I used a pair of ZPacks Cuben Fiber Rain Mitts along the Nordlandsruta and after 2 weeks of solid use they were beyond repair and were no longer water proof. In the past I have carried a pair of the original MLD eVent Mitts for the just in case scenario but I would not feel comfortable using them on a long walk. For longevity it would appear that the Extremities Tuffbags, are an option and with a weight of 80 gms, they satisfy most requirements.

Z Packs Rain Mitts

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MLD eVent mitts, these are the original version and the design has changed over the years.

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Extremities Tuff Bags
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A new kid on the block.
Recently, Heather at Pacer Poles sent me a pair of  OverMitts which encloses the handle, with a small opening for the pole thereby providing a complete coverage of the handle. The benefit of these neoprene mitts is the easy removal of the hand from the pole if needed, and when accompanied by a thin liner glove the walker is provided with the best of both worlds in my view.  I doubt I will ever test the mitts to their lower temperature limits, but I can see them being an asset in windy and wet weather such as what I experienced last summer in Norway. My pair weigh in at 144 gms. which makes them a heavier proposition but the ease of use may outweigh, the extra weight involved. I have been able to use them briefly on my last trip where the windchill had temperaures hovering around zero. My limited use of mittens encouraged me to continue to experiment as I found them to be easy to use and provided adequate protection and warmth, allowing me to wear a liner gloves underneath. The feature I really appreciated was being able to extract my hand from the mitten, check the map or GPS and then quickly place my hand back into the mitten with a minimum of fuss.

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When not in use they can be left on the poles if preferred as shown below.

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And if needed they can also be used as direction indicators for your hiking partners.

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14 Responses to What works for me: Gloves

  1. Four years ago?! Where does the time go!

    Well, what have I learned? I prefer a two-layer system for nearly every situation. I'm into my 4th pair of Rab Powerstretch Grip fleece gloves (I carry two pairs in winter) and these work for almost everything. They're cheap, light and comfortable. Thicker than a pure liner glove but dexterous enough for all but the most delicate operation. They do, however, lack those touch-screen sensitive patches available on many gloves these days. For this reason I also like my Defeet ET Duragloves and I'm happy to carry either/both.

    On top I'll wear a mitt, either Tuff Bags (outside of winter) or a pair of giant, pile-lined Helly Hansen mitts for ski touring. I might try some RBH Vapr mitts after my encouraging initial experiments with VBLs in footwear.

    There are still some others I wear from time to time, mostly on days trips, but the system above is what I'll take on every multi-day trip.

    On the bike, now that is a whole different ball-game…

  2. Time flies when you are having fun, so they say. I must take a look at the power stretch fleece gloves. I had a pair of Defeet gloves but they seem to have gone into hiding, however, I used them a couple of years ago in Lapland and was quite happy with them but find the largest a size a bit tight for my large hands, thus I use the Windylite gloves again. I very much like the Tuffnags as an outer glove, especially for the areas I tend to frequent.

  3. Another impressive collection!

    I would add another type of glove to the discussion. I have a pair of pertex/pile mitts from 'Buffalo' which I bought prior to doing a winter skills course in the Highlands some years ago. They have a bit of a cult following here in the UK and a lot of winter hillgoers carry them as a back up pair. They generate heat quickly (the mitt element) and work when wet (pertex/pile). They are fairly cheap too. See http://www.buffalosystems.co.uk/products/mitts/.
    However, I found the Pacerpole mitts to be very effective in Scottish winter hills when I was up at the end of November. Easy to use, warm, worked when wet and easy to stash as you show up there. I used a light liner glove in conjunction and had my buffalo mitts for camp. Happy/warm hands in some chilly weather.

  4. Have you tried the Hestra liners?

    http://hestragloves.com/en/gloves/liners/
    They work really well for me, the wooly ones as well as the polartec ones, and they ought to be easier to get hold of than the American brands.

    I agree on the MLD mitts. They do their thing well, but feel a bit too delicate for the long run. Saying that, many through-hikers (PCT, CT, AT) are using them and appear to be happy with them.

    I'll have to try the Tuff Bags. They seem to be a good compromise between durability and weight.

  5. Thanks for the tip on Hestra gloves Karl, I have seen them in the shops but never taken a close look. Re tuff bags, I would have preferred to have them in Lapland last summer.

  6. Thanks Mark, I think one of my concerns re the Pacer pole mitts is that they could be too warm for most of my hiking adventures, but certainly over winter they would appear to be ideal and are very easy to use in conjunction with the poles. I am aware of the Buffalo Mitts and products in general and have heard good things about them but have never used them my self.

  7. Agreed. I think in the summer, say in Lapland, a thin liner glove with an overmitt stashed away (such as the Tuff Bags)/

  8. How durable are those Tuff Bags?

  9. Thanks Paul, some useful tips there. Finding the right glove combination can be a challenge especially in winter. I must take a look at the Revolution gloves. In wet cold (possibly freezing) weather I would most likely use woollen liners, Possum fur gloves and then the Tuff bags. I may substitute the possum fur gloves for fleece gloves because of the likelihood of this layer getting damp from sweat and or the potential for moisture to run down the jacket into the tuff bags.

  10. Hi Hike Ventures, in my limited experience I would suggest they could withstand a lot of use before failing, Mark may be able to offer further comments.

  11. I agree with Roger, they are pretty tough. To be honest I hardly use them, I used the Extremities Lightweight Guide glove in the spring/summer and it did the job in heavy weather on it's own (so the Tuff Bags stayed in the pack – just in case). That said for their weight they are 'handy' to carry. I think they will last a long time so could be worth acquiring. I don't know how they compare with the MLD Event Mitts though, they look interesting and are probably fairly comparable.

  12. I have both the MLD and Tuffbags, and find the tuff bags to be roomier and more importantly a certain robustness that the my MLD mitts don't have.

  13. Well I am actually looking for some nice gloves for snowshoeing but my guess is that a pair of power stretch gloves should be sufficient if it is not too cold.

  14. For snow shoeing I would start with my liner gloves (or fleece gloves) and have a warmer pair of mits/gloves for rest breaks and for protection from windchill.

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