With colder weather officially in place over the Rockies, I recently found myself plagued with chilly hands again as fall moved to late fall and on towards winter. Normally to combat the issue while backpacking, I’ll go to the waterproof eVent Rain Mitts from Mountain Laurel Designs that we reviewed in Issue #2, combined with a pair of DeFeet Duragloves for warmth as a liner. With the eVent mitts seam sealed and with the liner gloves thrown in, this combination comes in at 3.9oz altogether. (Size large all around) This works really well for walking – Where not much dexterity is required and usually my hands are either hanging by my side, reaching for a hydration hose, or holding on to my shoulder straps just for a different hand position as I hike along.
Recently however, I was faced with a non-backpacking situation where this combo didn’t work quite so well. The Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River drains much of the southern Wind River Range, and as you might imagine, several species of trout inhabit its waters. It was on a November trip with a flyrod to its upper reaches that my hands first started to feel the chill of the weather again since early spring. But my backpack lay in wait on the shore with the MLD overmitts packed into an outside pocket. I waded back to shore and after warming up, I donned the eVent mitts and resumed fishing. While the eVent mitts are nearly perfect for use on the trail, they just didn’t enable the needed dexterity for flyfishing. Unable to use my fingers individually, manipulating a flyline was quite a challenge. Add the slick outer fabric of the mitts to the equation and I essentially gave up after wading and fishing through just a few pools. A new solution was needed.
I knew I needed gloves instead of a mitten, and I knew I needed something thin without much insulation to get in the way. I also wanted something relatively affordable, lightweight, and durable. Something both waterproof and breathable was definitely a requirement. It was at this point that I came across the Marmot Precip Shell Glove. Advertised for about $45 and with a 4.2oz specification per pair for a size large they seemed like a great solution. I measured my hands per the Marmot size chart – While I normally wear a large glove, Marmot had me spot on at a medium according to their measurements. A few days later a medium sized pair of gloves arrived and I was able to check them out in person.
According to the description the gloves are lined, but upon receipt they seemed quite thick for something described as a shell glove. However, construction was excellent and the liner didn’t seem to interfere too much with dexterity concerns. In effect, the liner is essentially like the liner gloves I normally wear anyway, simply integrated into a shell glove in a single unit. I’ve had several bad experiences with leaky “Waterproof” gloves in the past…So I couldn’t resist filling the Marmot gloves with water to see how they stacked up. The results were second to none. Even filled with water, there wasn’t a single leak. Impressive, and this type of test far surpasses the water pressure that you’ll experience in the rain or during a quick dunk while filtering water, for example. Sizing seemed to be a bit tight – I’d say if you’re at all unsure to size up. Still however, I could use the gloves with my liners in the Marmot suggested size, but it was just a tad on the tight side for my liking. Without an additional liner, the fit was pretty much spot on. (Marmot says the gloves are sized to be used with an additional liner glove, but I still suggest sizing up if you plan to do so) I’ve used the gloves on several excursions at this point with no noticeable wear. The gloves are tough and for any conceivable recreational outdoor activity I don’t think durability will be a concern. An elastic wrist cuff is already built in and the gloves have short gauntlets that extend over or under your sleeves per your preference. You can cinch the gauntlets down with one hand. Keeper straps are also built in that allow you to take a glove off without losing it if you need to complete a particularly complex task. A sticky palm material both aids in durability in high-wear areas and aids in the grip department, and a soft fabric is integrated into the thumb if you need to wipe your nose on those cold days. To round things out, a clip is built into the gloves to hook them together for storage – Ever have that problem where you can only find one of your gloves? On the downside, the size medium gloves weighed in at 4.85 oz. upon receipt – Over spec but still pretty light for a lined, waterproof, windproof, and breathable set of gloves.
The gloves are breathable, but like all waterproof breathable garments, only to a certain extent. In 40+ degree weather during high exertion activities like running the Marmot breathable membrane wasn’t able to keep up and sweaty hands were the result. However, during lower exertion activities this wasn’t an issue, and they worked great for running and biking when it dipped into the 30’s and below. While walking, my hands stayed warm into the 20’s, but if the gloves aren’t enough when it gets really cold you can always add a liner underneath to boost warmth. (Just be sure to get the right sized shell gloves) A lot of this will of course depend on the individual, what else you’re wearing, and the activity.
While I still like the eVent mitt / liner glove combo for hiking and backpacking this glove has been great for other outdoor ventures like fishing or biking … Anywhere were additional dexterity is desired along with waterproof / breathable / windproof protection. The gloves on their own don’t weigh that much more that a mitt / liner combo and would be quite suitable for cool to cold weather on the trails as well. While a mitt & liner offer a lot of adaptability, the Marmot glove offers a liner and shell in a one stop shop, but with fewer options as the weather changes and in a less breathable package than eVent. In the end the Precip Shell Gloves turned out to be a great solution for cold, wet, and windy weather where you actually need to use your hands depending on the task at hand.
What’s your strategy for keeping your hands warm and dry this season?