Despite what all the manufacturers sell, I donít need waterproof gloves in the winter. What I need are gloves that are warm, have dexterity, are durable, and are as breathable as you can get. Yet despite the soft shell revolution, there donít seem to be any winter gloves that meet the following requirements:
Windproof, or wind-resistant, outer fabric that stretches. Material like that used in Patagoniaís Dimension Jackets would be fine, but hard-faced Gore Windstopper or Polartec Powershield would also do. No Gore-Tex XCR, eVent, HyVent, BDDry, or H2No at all.
Leather palms and fingers, preferably from Pittards. A soft and fuzzy nose wipe would be nice, but the soft shell fabric could also serve this purpose.
A non-removable thick fleece inner. Non-removable liners always (for me at least) give greater dexterity for the same amount of warmth as shell and liner combos. And besides, Iím going home at the end of the day so I donít need to dry glove liners in my sleeping bag. The fleece should be thick, as thick as the pile used on Patagonia Retro Cardigans, and once used in Patagonia gloves.
A long gauntlet that is wide enough to go over jacket cuffs and that closes with easy to handle cords. Also, keeper loops to attach idiot cords.
No straps or Velcro across the wrist.
Now, several types of gloves have come close, but not quite.
Years ago, Patagonia made what I think were called the Fall Line Gloves, but they might have the very first incarnation of the White Smoke Gloves. They meet all of the above but they have synthetic leather palms, which just arenít as pliable or durable as real leather.
Another incarnation of the White Smoke Gloves (before they decided to add a WP/B barrier) have nice long gauntlets, but they have removable liners and fake leather palms.
Granite Gear made gloves that came with a removable WP/B liner (they looked like surgeonsí gloves), and I have a pair of their Parabolic Gloves that I use without the plastic liners. But the soft shell material is only on the back of the hand, and the fleece/wool liners are removable. They do have impressive gauntlets.
And I recently bought a pair of Diablo Gloves made by the British company Outdoor Designs. They will be awesome touring or spring gloves, but the fleece inner is too thin for winter resort use. Also the gauntlet is a little short.
If they can sell soft shell jackets, why not a pair of warm gloves?
Ragg wool! (and toughen up your nose <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> )
My usual winter kit is ragg wool, since it breaths and dries - in snowy nasty bits, I add a synthetic (nylon) overmitt - I'd do goretex for that but I'm cheap and usually by the time I'm working with the overmitt it's cold enough the nylon works just as well.
As you can probably guess, I use these gloves for lift-served skiing. I don't need them to be waterproof because I'm not throwing snowballs or building an igloo, but they need to be very breathable because skiing the bumps builds up a sweat, and they also need to be windproof for that long chair ride uphill.
Ragg wool gloves, even those with leather palms, aren't all that durable when you're using ski poles all day long, and they're certainly not windproof. Sure, an over shell will make them that way, but then you lose the dexterity--which I need for turning the pages of a book while sitting on the chairlift.
I've used windproof fleece gloves often, but they don't have the long gauntlets, and they absorb snow that falls on them--something that can be just brushed away on gloves with a woven outer layer.
I've asked over at telemarktips.com, but the main reason why I wrote this is to perhaps attract the interest of anyone who might know some glove designers. I have heard the comment that softshell gloves are for aerobic activities, to which my reply is, but still, why are all the high-end warm gloves WP/B when you don't need the waterproofing?
For example, Inuit hunters and Himalayan climbers need warm and windproof handwear, but they don't need Gore-Tex. Sure, they wear mittens, but what about us glove wearers?
As for downhill skiers, it might be the handy presence of bars, lodges, and warming huts, but they don't pay all that much attention to clothing performance. At my local area (Montana Snowbowl) you will see very skilled skiers (and not just kids) wear Gore-Tex over jeans, sweatshirts, and cotton waffle long johns. There's plenty of cotton tube socks, and also Gore-Tex and down jackets when it's 40F out and sunny.
The parabolic gloves are nice, the snow country gloves are nicer. I think the snow country gloves are the very best designed and made shell glove-removable liner combination I've ever seen.
You'll just have to live with the strap across the wrist. I just reread your post, the granite gear liners are removable. Well it's late and I'm on my second drink so scrap what I just typed, but I still think the Snow Country gloves are the best gloves ever made.
Outdoor Designs, a British company that specializes in gloves, has some eVent gloves. I have an earlier version of the Proflex Inferno in Gore-Tex, and they are very nice gloves. As I think I've said before, I thought the Outdoor Designs Diablo would meet my original requirements, but it turns out that the inner fleece is too thin for a heart of the winter glove.
Here's a link (and they do have dealers in the US):
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