Monday, 19 September 2011

Gloves for normal people

I have cold hands. I have always had cold hands and have tried various things to try and make them not be cold. One of the best tips I can give in terms of keeping cold hands warm is wear a hat.
After that, wear some gloves.

Now the problem with this is that if your hands are already cold once you put the gloves on, your hands are probably going to stay cold. This is because there is no heat source in the glove itself (unless you spend a LOT of money on a pair with a battery pack and heater) and all the glove does is insulate your hand from the outside world. (or not).

I'm on a bit of a quest to find decent gloves which keep my hands warm, are either waterproof or quick drying, and enable me to do stuff- like ropework or whatever without getting cold, wet hands. Does such a thing exist? I don't think so, but here are some thoughts on gloves which don't cost horrendous amounts of money which I have used in most normal situations (by that I mean day to day and lower level walking/running as opposed to mountaineering/scottish winter type stuff).

Powerstretch Gloves
Mountain Hardwear Powerstretch gloves
Look smart and are made of Powerstretch fleece. They aren't windproof, and if you stand around doing nothing, they provide just a little more protection than not having anything on. For walking and scrambling they are great, and for running in REALLY cold weather they are good as well. If its just a bit cold they may end up being a tad warm.
They do NOT dry quickly. Despite my thoughts that powerstretch would dry fast, it doesn't. I was on a run with Lynne, me in the Powerstretch and her in wool "thinnies"(see below). It rained, her gloves were dry by the end of the run, mine were still saturated and making my hands cold. After washing them yesterday morning, its now the afternoon after, and they are still pretty wet.
Good for an extra layer on a walk in or a run around, as long as you aren't going to be out for a long time in the wet- thats a quick recipe for cold hands.

Sealskinz active gloves
Sealskinz activity gloves
Waterproof- as in, totally waterproof, but are cut a little odd. I think I might have bought a pair that are a size too small and thus they aren't the warmest of gloves- they basically prevent the flow of blood around my hands. I'm sure if they were bigger, it might help. However, although they are waterproof, they don't actually feel that warm when standing around, not much insulation.

Sealskinz general gloves
Sealskinz general gloves
Warm, waterproof (to a point) and generally pretty good. Love them, but should the water get into them, if they spring a leak or something they get cold and wet very fast. Once wet, they don't dry fast at all. Like the Powerstretch, I washed these yesterday and they are still sopping this afternoon. Also, the different layers of glove (inner, waterproof inner, etc) can get twisted up and its quite a task to get them back into sync to be able to put the glove on. (after drying, even after 4 days I still couldn't get the things on so that my fingers went to the end of the finger hole in the glove).

Sealskinz "handlebar" lobster gloves
Sealskinz lobster gloves- (with extra mud)
Warm, as in Really warm (primaloft insulation), waterproof, 2 fingers in each "mitt" type finger. I have to say, although they aren't the best for articulation, they are fantastic as a glove/mitt combo, used them all last winter, and was very very happy with them. Brilliant. Added bonus is that because there are only 2 "fingers" when they dry a bit funny, its easy to get your actual fingers back in the glove where they are supposed to be. I love them to bits and suspect they will be the main "warm" glove again for this winter). I think they cost around £40

Extremities "thinnie"
Originally bought because it was a cheap glove. In my naiivety I thought it would be windproof, and was very disappointed when I walked outside the shop and down the street and my hands were no warmer than if I had not had gloves on. Didn't use them for years, partially because they aren't warm and partially because of a massive seam down the blade of the hand that just isn't comfortable. They have a new lease of life now, though as fell running gloves, they are as good for protecting the hand (if not better) than the MHW powerstretch, they dry faster than the powerstretch and they don't crazily overheat your hands when you run. Good as a liner glove as well.

Outdoor designs windpro
Outdoor designs Wind pro
Distributed by Equip in the UK who also distribute Rab. These are made with Polartec Windpro which is a slightly windproof fleece material. Wind resistant, (not 100% windproof), warm even when wet and dries quickly. I unfortunately don't own a pair, but Lynne loves hers for standing around wet and windy crags. They eventually wet out and get a bit chilly, but that takes a good couple of hours in driving rain. These got washed yesterday and were dry when we got up this morning. Suffice to say I shall be buying a pair of these, or very similar for this winter.

Outdoor designs Stretch on
Cheap, not exactly anything proof, a good underglove. Dry quite fast, same kind of deal as the Extremities glove, but with less grip. Apologies, I don't have a pair to hand (haha) to take a picture of. They work well, but really don't keep your hands warm unless you are on a mission, keeping your exercise rate high.

Silk Liner gloves
Useless on their own. Buy a pair if you have a bigger glove and want an underglove. They boost the performance of a bigger glove by quite a lot. In the UK, a silk under glove with the sealskins lobster glove will see you through most things. As you can see from the picture, they aren't the most robust of things, but its made of silk, and really, you wouldn't expect them to.

Lynnes wool thinnies
She runs in these, loves them to bits, and has had then for a very long time. Made of wool, an excellent inner glove, brilliant running glove, and dries very fast, even when out exercising. They don't need to be turquoise, just in case you were wondering.

Icebreaker Merino base layer gloves
They look like the silk liner gloves above, and are a little thicker, however, they are as fragile, if not more so. For £20 a pair, they certainly aren't cheap as a base layer glove, are pretty much rubbish on their own, and rip quite suddenly and with little warning. Great if you have lots of money to throw at them, or have hands which never have hang nails or rough patches of skin which might rip and destroy them. Again, sorry I don't have a pair to take a picture of, they self-destructed on me this year.

So, if you want a decent glove for not too much cash, that is warm, wind resistant and grippy, go for something made of polartec windpro. If you are going to be moving fast, get a thinnie, make sure it dries out fast, but take note that weirdly enough, Powerstretch doesn't.
If you want properly waterproof, go sealskins.
And if you want something to be very very warm and insulated, make sure it has primaloft in it.
For a decent system this year, I'd have a pair of Extremities thinnies for running, Wind Pro for standing around in, and the Sealskinz Lobster Mitts for nasty weather.
Having said that, I think that the longer you are out, and the slower you are moving, the more gloves you should take with you. As one pair gets wet and cold, you can always have another dry and warm pair to whip out and put on.
Be prepared.

Hopefully that should have given you a bit of insight into what I have in terms of gloves. Not to say that there aren't a million and one more ideas out there about what is good. I suspect I shall be buying more gloves this year, as I mentioned, I get cold hands. Below are a few links to the companies mentioned above, be prepared, some of them do a LOT of different ones. Before you buy, make sure they fit. Happy Shopping. 

Outdoor Designs
Mountain Hardwear


  1. I wear a pair of extremities windilites over a pair of wool thinnies/magic gloves. Magic gloves keep my hands warm enough but in rain at the OMM last year got soaked and I got cold, going without water/windproofing was daft but more to do with being a thrifty student than travelling light.

  2. I destroyed a pair of silk liner gloves the first day I wore them, and didn't think they made much difference while I was at it. My icebreaker liners are still going strong after two years, and add a good 10 degrees to the efficiency of my ski gloves. Love em. Horses for courses.

    I was kind of looking forward to trying out my sealskins last week, and it was warm and sunny the whole time. What a shame...

  3. I've actually got 3 pairs of wool thinnies (all in different colours!) - even though there's no windproofness to them I often get too hot running in them.