Saturday, 8 January 2011
Gloves and Mitts, Henri Lloyd & SealSkinz
I've been trying to come up with a layering system when it comes to gloves etc but it's difficult, more difficult than I imagined it would be as there are so many compromises involved. Ideally it would consist of a liner glove that would provide some warmth while allowing a good degree of dexterity, that's relatively easy but the problem with most liner gloves is that they lack grip, that problem is partly cured on the Balck Diamond midweigh fleece gloves I got for review but they aren't perfect in this respect. The next layer is trickier especially in winter, do I go for a waterproof lined glove, a water resistant lined glove (softshell?), or look for the same in a mitt. Mitts are warmer but provide less dexterity so I'd need to remove them to operate my camera etc and so it goes. I've read reviews on other blogs of some of Montanes recent offerings and the Resolute Mitt looks very good as the pertex/pile inner mitt is 'Trigger Finger' or 'Lobster Claw' style which is basically a mitt with one finger. The only thing that put me off the Resolute mitt is that only the liner is 'Trigger Finger' the shell is a normal mitt.
I tried everywhere for a Trigger Finger (on both hands, military issue generally only have a trigger finger on the right hand) and had pretty much give up when I found some on ebay from a brand/sport I hadn't considered. The mitts are branded 'Henri Lloyd' a brand usually associated with sailing. They were advertised as a Gore-Tex shell mitt with trigger fingers on both hands which was exactly what I was looking for. As it turns out the mitts aren't really Gore-Tex Shell, they have a Gore-Tex insert but it's thin enough that you don't feel it but wasn't really what I wanted as 2 layers takes longer to dry. The other obvious issue is that they don't come with an liner insulating layer and the only way around that problem would be to try to make some. The end result is that short of buying a pair of Resolutes simply to get the liner I'm not really any further forward. The shell itself is made from quite stiff fabric, the kind of stuff outdoors brands used about 10 years ago, mine are size large and large they certainly are, it would be no problem to fit a pertex/pile liner and a pair of liner gloves underneath. There's a wide velco/webbing strap at the wrist and a captive cordlock/shockcord on the cuff so no problem sealing them up. I did try them with gloves underneath and the trigger fingers do improve dexterity quite a bit so I don't know none of the outdoors brands don't make them and really don't understand why Montane didn't make the outer shell of the Resolutes in trigger finger style unless it's simply that seam sealing a mitt is easier. The mitts cost £45 but to be honest although I wanted trigger finger mitts I might have been as well getting the Resolutes in the 1st place, I also notice that the mitts I have aren't currently on the Henri Lloyd website.
Going off at a tangent to a degree I was looking for an all in one glove that would be waterproof, reasonably warm, breathable and thin enough to provide dexterity and provide good wear resistance and grip primarily for skiing. I looked at some of the Mountain Equipment gloves but in the end found something that looked like it would work from SealSkinz. Prior to ordering I asked for opinions on Outdoors Magic and the general consensus wasn't good, most people said of SealSkinz in general that they weren't waterproof, weren't warm and weren't very breathable which wasn't a great start when you're looking for a waterproof, warm and breathable glove, being thus advised I ordered them anyway.
The ones I ordered are called 'Activity Gloves' but they're also listed as 'Winter Riding Gloves'. Given the advice I'd had on OM I decided to approach them in the same way I'd approached Paramo, as a weather resistant softshell that if it turned out to actually be waterproof would be a bonus.
The gloves are quite nice to be honest, I ordered Large and the fit is snug if slightly short on the fingers. The back of the glove is like a softshell fabric while the palm including fingers and thumb is full leather (sheep leather unfortunately), the index finger has an extra layer on the tip either to increase wear resistance or grip while the back of both thumbs have a nice soft fleece layer as a nose wipe. The waterproofing comes from a Porelle insert and the gloves are lined with a soft brushed fabric. They're quite short, elasticated at the wrist and a neoprene cuff with a a velcro strap to tighten them.
I've worn them quite a bit since I got them just for everyday stuff, the leather palm means they're ok for driving as they provide plenty of grip, they're reasonably warm while active and the dexterity is as good as can be expected, I can operate my DSLR while wearing them. I haven't really tried them in heavy rain although I did wear them when messing around on my snowboard and they kept my hands dry and warm. At £40 there are plenty of other options but so far I'm happy with them, they're too close fitting to wear the Black Diamond midweight gloves underneath but should be ok with a silk liner.