A couple of additional replies that arrived after my earlier posting:
From Conrad Anker:
- Gloves are your most important piece of clothing for winter climbing. No debate in my book.
- Gloves affect how well you climb and are essential to keep one’s digits intact.
- I pack a small stuff sack (on old hot pink Chouinard Dry Seal bag just for fun) with gloves for the day.
- Approach – thin fleece with maximum breathability. Count on getting these drenched on the approach between thumping the snow and sweating.
- Lead – Seconding. I bring three pair of gloves that work well with my CF or Fusion tools. Skin tight thin leather (not sure what the name is) for M-climbs or warmer weather, a mid weight with leather palms and the red fleece lining (not seeing it on the web page), and Pursuit (soft shell & thin liner combo) for cold temps.
- Belaying – Back Up. I have a pair of TNF mitts – might be the Absolute – these are the lightest mitten, leather palm and fleece liner. One can second with these and still pull screws and fiddle with gear.
I am not a fan of the Torque. The fabric wears out quickly and the handcuffs impede circulation.
On Meru I did not bring enough gloves. Next time for these types of missions I am bring more gloves. Reason? Drop or wear out a glove and loose your hand dexterity one is setting the stage for the snowball effect of mistakes. Plus it allows for a day to dry out gloves. But then again I might have different priorities for gloves.
From Doug Heinrich:
I certainly have my own opinions about gloves and I really like to hear real users’ take on what works and what doesn’t….
I have a few thoughts on gloves:
1) Dexterity is key – you have to keep your hands moving to stay warm
2) I agree with Will [Gadd] – if your core is warm it will help keep your hands / extremities warm
3) I rarely take my gloves off – hence I climb with lighter gloves (I’ve climbed all day at -30F with an old pair of Dry Tool gloves (light weight Schoeller soft shell gloves that cover the wrist)
4) It’s critical to keep your wrist and lower forearm insulated – gloves with neoprene cuffs work quite well.
5) I hear a lot of people complaining about their gloves inverting and finding them hard to get on and off – I always wonder why they are taking the gloves off during a pitch – seems absurd to me. They are simply climbing in too thick of a glove. The whole idea is to climb in a glove that you don’t need to take off!
6) I hear a lot of people complaining about sweating out the gloves from the inside out…same thing – they are using too thick of a glove. Do they try and lead a pitch with a fleece jacket, down jacket and a hard shell and wonder why they are over heating? Road biking is good example of the thin line of temperature regulation. You are working super hard to hit the summit of a 4,000′ ascent and then you head downhill at 40mph 10 seconds later. They key is to not “sweat out” and saturate your jersey etc…the same rules apply to climbing and it’s much easier to regulate than super aerobic sports where you are hitting the anaerobic threshold like cycling or running up really steep terrain.
7) I hear a lot of people complaining about inserts – Gore or private label PU inserts like the BDry. We offer gloves with and w/o inserts. If you are in a cold dry environment – no insert is needed. If you ice climb in Utah, then climbing w/o an insert is a joke. They all wet out eventually with or w/o an insert, it just takes longer to wet out with an insert. The argument that the inserts trap moisture between the layers is not valid from my POV– if you wet out any glove to the point where it is soaking wet you simply need to wring it out from the fingers to the cuff and get rid of the water. For sure the non-insert gloves will dry faster but they also get wet faster – so pick your poison. The insets also act as a VBL and traps the warm air that your hands are generating. IF you are wetting out the glove from the inside, then you are wearing the wrong glove. Same as base layers, mid layers etc…you have to go with the minimum and add a jacket at the belay as well as belay mitts or gloves. That’s why most of us have moved away from hard shells and wear double-weave pants and tops unless it’s fully nuking….
8) DWR is key – From my POV Schoeller has one of the best DWRs (NanoSphere) on the market and it really makes a huge difference in the gloves ability to shed moisture. I am testing the Polartec Hard Face double weaves compared to the Schoeller – I am hoping the Polartec fabric out performs the Schoeller….it’s much more cost effective than Schoeller.