April 14, 2009

Glove Review Roundup (2009)

Glove Review Roundup (2009)

These past few days I've been working on a flurry of end-of-season gear reviews. First up: gloves. Swany was kind enough to send a pair of X-Change II's a few weeks ago. Thanks to this year's very strange Spring weather, we got to try these in a huge range of temperatures, from balmy SoCal 60's to frigid single-digits and 60mph winds below Palmyra Peak.

Quick take: in moderate to moderately-cold temps, the X-Change II is a sharp inbounds glove with some crossover (backcountry/mountaineering) appeal.

Speaking of single-digit temperatures, it was soon obvious I needed a warmer glove to cope with Telluride's unusually bitter cold weather. That led me to pick up Black Diamond's formidable Prodigy glove. Like the X-Change, the Prodigy is an Alpine glove, but the Prodigy specifically targets in-bounds freeriders who need extra warmth. The Prodigy is easily one of the warmest gloves I've ever tried. You'd probably have to switch to full-mitts to find something significantly warmer.

With the spring backcountry and hiking seasons now upon us, I've also got reviews up of two wind-blocking fleece gloves. Don't underestimate the usefulness of a good windproof fleece glove. These are lightweight and tremendously versatile. Black Diamond's Windweight glove is my pick in this department: light, comfortable, and impressively warm.

Less successful is the North Face Pamir. While the Pamir gets points for using Gore's proprietary Windstopper™ technology, its attempt to enhance grip with an extensively siliconized palm proved to be a flop. I'm coming to the opinion that grip is just always going to be a liability with fleece gloves.

If grip is your priority, rather than trying to press-gang a fleece glove into service, you're best off grabbing a pair of a dedicated climbing glove like the Black Diamond Torque. The 2.8 ounce Torque is a lightweight stretch-shell spring glove with absolute lock-down grip on smooth metal tool shafts. The Torque's sticky fabric grips even better than bare hands, for the ultimate in security on axe handles and ski poles shafts.

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Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow