Winter 2011 Gear: Gloves

Last winter I did a review of the Mountain Hardwear WINDSTOPPER Half Flex Balaclava. Well it’s wintertime again, snowing as I write this post, and even with a few 50ºF days in a row there has been snow on the ground here in New Jersey since the post-Christmas blizzard. So it’s time again to look at the gear I’m using to keep myself warm.

Today it’s the gloves on my hands.

Outdoor Research BackStop GlovesOUTDOOR RESEARCH Men's BackStop Gloves

Lightweight WindStopper Gloves

I needed a pair of everyday winter gloves for those middling days where I’m hanging outside, hiking, or just standing around taking photos, where basic liner gloves won’t cut it but I didn’t need the heavy guns. What I found and since fallen in love with are the OR BackStop Gloves. Just 100 weight fleece, but with Gore WindStopper fabric and a tacky palm they’re light weight and help cut the air and keep your fingers nimble but warm.

So far this season they’ve been warm, dry, the windproof-y-ness has proven itself useful, but in more extreme conditions such as biking in just under freezing air, their lack of insulation does start to show itself. But that is OK by me, because I wasn’t expecting them to be all things all the time.

I bought these gloves a little on the small side. They don’t have the stretch of a liner glove, but I wanted to be able to use them as such in real extreme conditions, and when fiddling with gear didn’t need any loose fabric on the fingers. I picked up the BackStop Gloves at EMS earlier this season. So far they’ve been great, and they look to be quite durable (another problem I’ve had with liner gloves).

Rating by Chris Casciano: 5.0 stars

Manzella Hatchback Convertible GlovesManzella Men's Hatchback Convertible Gloves

Microfleece gloves with windproof finger cover.

When I need to make sure my hands stay warm for long periods of time these have been great. These are heavy fleece gloves with a bit of a grippy palm and fingers, and a windproof cover/mitten that can cover the fingers. Long stints in 20 degree snowy hikes and photowalks haven’t been a match for these, and unlike the less insulated ORs they’ve been able to cut it even on the windy bike rides.

The only downside to these gloves is that they may wind up a bit wet and soggy—not so much an issue if you’re active and warm, but not the greatest gloves for snowball fights, snow shoveling or other cases where you’re putting them on and taking them off often going in and out of your house.

I bought these gloves last season and wore them all year. I think I had gotten them at REI, but I don’t see them on the site now. But you may find the Hatchback Converible Gloves at Campmor.

Rating by Chris Casciano: 4.0 stars

I haven’t put either of these gloves through more technical winter sports use: no ice climbing, kayaking or anything else crazy like that. But they have been great through hours of hiking, days out and standing around with the camera, and in both dry and wet snowstorms.

What About You?

What gloves are you wearing this winter? Where did you buy them and who helped you decide they were right for you? What other things are you doing to stay warm and dry this winter?

Next Up: What I’ve got on my head this winter.

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