GLOVES BUYING GUIDE

FINDING THE RIGHT GLOVES

 

Here at Mountain Equipment, like so many climbers and mountaineers, we’re glove-obsessed. One of the reasons we really care about gloves is because they are absolutely vital; cold hands quickly become useless. Choosing which gloves to buy can seem like a daunting process. But it need not be.

This buying guide aims to highlight the key aspects of glove design, what pair might be best for your needs, specific features of Mountain Equipment gloves, and how to care for your gloves in the long term.

WHAT ARE THE BEST GLOVES FOR…?

 

Searching for the ideal pair of winter climbing gloves, or the perfect gloves system for winter mountaineering or summer trekking? Read our blog for expert advice about the ideal gloves for your specific needs.

STYLE IS IMPORTANT

Depending on whether you are climbing, mountaineering or skiing, your gloves need different attributes. Dexterity is really important to a climber; for a mountaineer it’s about adaptability; and for a skier breathability is key. Consider also the type of wrist closure – do you want the glove to go under or over your jacket cuff, and do you want a cinch option or do you want a gauntlet with a long wrist? This is often down to personal preference. Do you prefer gloves or mitts? Gloves are more dextrous but less warm than mitts. Small features can be important too, for example climbers might look for carry loops to attach their gloves to karabiners.

STYLE IS IMPORTANT

Depending on whether you are climbing, mountaineering or skiing, your gloves need different attributes. Dexterity is really important to a climber; for a mountaineer it’s about adaptability; and for a skier breathability is key. Consider also the type of wrist closure – do you want the glove to go under or over your jacket cuff, and do you want a cinch option or do you want a gauntlet with a long wrist? This is often down to personal preference. Do you prefer gloves or mitts? Gloves are more dextrous but less warm than mitts. Small features can be important too, for example climbers might look for carry loops to attach their gloves to karabiners.

WARMER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER

Where are you going, and therefore how warm do you need the gloves to be? Thicker gloves are almost always warmer than thin ones, and mitts are usually warmer still. Lightweight gloves are usually sufficient when working hard even when it’s cold, but you may prefer something warmer if moving slowly, if you have poor circulation, or if it’s absolutely freezing. Remember that you are trying to keep your hands comfortable, not just hot, as overheating and sweating hands aren’t pleasant and can lead to damp gloves which don’t insulate well. This is why having both a thin pair and a thick pair of gloves with you is a good combination.

WARMER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER

Where are you going, and therefore how warm do you need the gloves to be? Thicker gloves are almost always warmer than thin ones, and mitts are usually warmer still. Lightweight gloves are usually sufficient when working hard even when it’s cold, but you may prefer something warmer if moving slowly, if you have poor circulation, or if it’s absolutely freezing. Remember that you are trying to keep your hands comfortable, not just hot, as overheating and sweating hands aren’t pleasant and can lead to damp gloves which don’t insulate well. This is why having both a thin pair and a thick pair of gloves with you is a good combination.

THERE ARE ADVANTAGES TO WATERPROOF GLOVES

Gloves that feature a GORE-TEX® or Drilite® membrane are waterproof. In wet and cold conditions this is essential, but it can make the gloves less breathable and slower to dry if they do get wet inside. Sometimes this is inevitable due to water or snow getting in through the cuff or having to put on the glove with wet hands. Gloves without a waterproof membrane will get damp in wet conditions but tend to dry quickly and some people like their simplicity. In cold and dry weather they have advantages over waterproof gloves.

WATERPROOFNESS OF GLOVES

Gloves that feature a GORE-TEX® or Drilite® membrane are waterproof. In wet and cold conditions this is essential, but it can make the gloves less breathable and slower to dry if they do get wet inside. Sometimes this is inevitable due to water or snow getting in through the cuff or having to put on the glove with wet hands. Gloves without a waterproof membrane will get damp in wet conditions but tend to dry quickly and some people like their simplicity. In cold and dry weather they have advantages over waterproof gloves.

FIND THE PERFECT FIT

This is perhaps the most important factor when buying a glove or mitt – do they fit you? Gloves or mitts that are too tight won’t insulate well and make your hands feel cold, while if they are too big then they can lack dexterity. Trying them on is the best way to work out which sizes and designs suit you.

Our more technical gloves come in one of three different fits: Climbing Fit, Mountain Fit, and Active Fit. The degree of pre-curve to the glove plays a large part in these category designations, with Climbing Fit gloves being aggressively pre-curved for gripping ice axes, Mountain Fit gloves having less pre-curve for more all-round use, and Active Fit Soft Shell gloves having little pre-curve but they are exceptionally comfortable and another good all round option.

SIZE & FIT OF GLOVES

This is perhaps the most important factor when buying a glove or mitt – do they fit you? Gloves or mitts that are too tight won’t insulate well and make your hands feel cold, while if they are too big then they can lack dexterity. Trying them on is the best way to work out which sizes and designs suit you.

Our more technical gloves come in one of three different fits: Climbing Fit, Mountain Fit, and Active Fit. The degree of pre-curve to the glove plays a large part in these category designations, with Climbing Fit gloves being aggressively pre-curved for gripping ice axes, Mountain Fit gloves having less pre-curve for more all-round use, and Active Fit Soft Shell gloves having little pre-curve but they are exceptionally comfortable and another good all round option.

CLIMBING FIT GLOVES

MOUNTAIN FIT GLOVES

ACTIVE FIT GLOVES

DAVE MACLEOD’S GUIDE TO WINTER GLOVES

 

There are a number of factors to consider when making a glove purchase for a specific activity. With this in mind, we’ve called upon Dave MacLeod, Pro-Team athlete and fellow glove obsessive, to impart some words of advice to help winter climbers everywhere to make an informed decision when it comes to glove choice this season, in this guide to climbing gloves.

MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT GLOVES FEATURES EXPLAINED

 

Depending on whether you are climbing, mountaineering or skiing, your gloves might need different features.

SHELL FABRICS

Shell fabrics must keep out the elements and withstand the abuse that gloves inevitably receive. We use a wide range of different shell fabrics in our gloves, from relatively lightweight Drilite® Loft fabrics to very durable Exolite Soft Shell and highly durable nylon options.

CUFF CLOSURES

Some of our gloves have low-bulk cuffs while others feature gauntlet style. Which one you choose is largely down to personal preference. Gauntlet style cuffs are easier to take on and off, and the option of wearing them over a sleeve makes snow less likely to enter the glove whilst your arm is raised up when climbing. However, they are bulkier and heavier than gloves with neater cuffs.

LININGS & INSULATION

We select each lining fabric with the intended use in mind. Fibre pile is fast drying, and easy to get on even when wet, microfleece offers better grip, high loft fleece gives low bulk warmth, and brushed tricot gives improved dexterity. Our warmest gloves and mitts use synthetic insulation such as our own Polarloft® insulation or PrimaLoft® and, in our Redline Mitts, 800 fill power goose down.

KARABINER CARRY LOOPS

The red loops we put on some of our gloves and mitts are to hang them from. They allow the glove to be hung from a karabiner without inverting it, thus stopping it filling with snow or rain. Some climbers prefer to shove gloves in their jacket or into pockets, but the karabiner option is a favourite of others.

LEATHER

Leather can offer exceptional toughness, grip, softness, weather-resistance and dexterity. We use several types of leather in our gloves, and each is selected with a specific end use in mind. Pittards® Armortan® goatskin for ultimate dexterity with excellent durability, Pittards® Oiltac® for the upmost grip; water resistant goatskin for superb all round performance, and cow leather when maximum durability is required.

NOSE WIPES

There are a lot of different materials used for nose wipes on gloves, and most of them don’t last very long. We use reversed suede leather for our nose wipes. It is extremely soft and comfortable without sacrificing durability.

GLOVES CARE GUIDE

CAN MY GLOVES BE MACHINE WASHED?

Fleece gloves can be machine washed according to the care label, but gloves with leather components should be hand-washed in lukewarm soapy water, and only when absolutely necessary. Use soap flakes or a specialist outdoor cleaning product to do this, and rinse very thoroughly. If they are really dirty they can be machine-washed, but we don’t recommend this as it will reduce the lifetime of the product.

HOW SHOULD I DRY MY GLOVES?

Fleece Gloves should be dried according to the care label and can withstand moderate direct heat.

Gloves with leather components should be dried naturally away from direct heat whenever possible, which means not on radiators, in front of open fires, and not in a tumble drier or scorching-hot drying room (though most drying rooms are fine). Regular exposure to direct heat can result in cracks in the leather.

However, we are well aware that sometimes the Gloves you must use the next day are soaked, and relatively high heat is the only way to dry them fast enough. If this is the case then thoroughly wring out the gloves to get excess moisture out, shape them into a hand shape while they dry, and try to remove them from the heat source as soon as they are dry. Do not expose leather Gloves to heat sources hotter than your hand can comfortably cope with: if it’s too hot for your skin then it probably is for the leather too.

THE LEATHER ON MY GLOVES IS CRACKED - WHAT CAN I DO?

If the leather on your Gloves has started to crack or has got rough and hard then chances are it has got wet and been dried multiple times, or has come under a lot of abuse. To prolong the life of the leather, rub wax into the Gloves, just as you would with a pair of leather boots. Specialist Glove Waxes are best, though normal water resistant leather boot wax is also suitable.

MEN’S GLOVES

WOMEN’S GLOVES