When it comes to ice climbing and mountaineering, protecting your hands might be one of the most important things there is, yet many people just seem to overlook this delicate matter. However, they quickly learn the hard way once they find themselves freezing with very cold hands. Why is this such a big deal? It’s very simple.
Your hands get into contact with most of the things in your environment. In a very cold setting, you need all the protection you can get, starting with your hands. For example, if you are going to practice alpine climbing, you have to find the best ice climbing gloves you can get not just to protect your hands from the cold but to avert other potential injuries.
If you are reading the article, you must probably know a thing or two about these types of gloves. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a treasure trove of information about ice climbing gloves, then you should check out the rest of our article.
What are ice climbing gloves?
As I mentioned, Alpine climbing is a very serious deal, and it needs to be accompanied by the right protective gear, including a pair of handy ice climbing gloves. Our hands are one of the most sensitive parts of our bodies, and they can get affected by the cold and injuries that may be caused by equipment failure.
These could affect your overall climbing performance which could lead to deadly consequences. That’s why it’s a must that you secure the appropriate type of gloves for this type of activity. They allow you to get good grip and dexterity, as well as warmth and comfort while you’re trying to conquer an icy mountain.
They are abrasion resistant and durable, and they can withstand the hard conditions that you will surely face. This is the result of the material they use which is very resistant. The design also makes these gloves perfect for protecting your hands not just from the cold weather.
What makes an ice climbing glove good?
Not all ice climbing gloves are created equal. However, there are certain characteristics and features that you should look for in a pair. Here are some of them:
The capacity to maintain the grip of your tool when climbing is one of the most important things for a pair of gloves. If the gloves don’t have a good dexterity, you might face the danger of getting hurt or worse, that’s why this should be the first thing to consider when buying.
Depending on the activity that you will be doing, the grip might be more or less necessary for some cases, like with skiing and snow sports.
The best mountaineering gloves are the ones that can withstand the rough conditions and terrains of the mountains you climb. This is also really important because it can make the difference between an investment and a waste of money.
Having your gloves get damaged some weeks after you bought them is not good. The intensity of your intended activity is an important consideration whether you need a pair with abrasion resistance or not.
If your gloves are not abrasion resistant, they might still have some protection against the hard conditions, so keep this in mind when choosing.
Waterproof and windproof
This is a plus for some equipment, but you have to remember that in some cases it might play against you. For example, waterproofing is good if you face wet snow, but not as much if you are looking for a very lightweight or breathable fabric. So a certain level of compromise might be needed on your part.
Comfort and movement
The fabric that is used as well as the fit the gloves have, among other things, influence into the kind of hike or climb you are going to get.
The more comfortable and easier to move, your hike will get easier because you will not have problems holding the instruments or moving around the rocks and snow.
One of the main things the gloves need to have is the ability to provide warmth. When doing something in such low temperatures, your hands will surely get cold and they are one of the easiest part of the body to get affected by hypothermia first.
You also don’t want them to be too hot because it might make your hands sweat too much. Again, this is all about striking a healthy balance.
Now that you’ve seen some simple factors to take into account, we will review some popular products to help you pick the best one to suit your needs.
Top Rated Ice Climbing Gloves You Can Buy
Black Diamond Punisher Gloves
Dimensions: 14 x 5 x 2 inches
Specific features: Fixed lining with 100% waterproof Dry inside, abrasion resistant, 4 way stretch, fixed 100g fleece lining, ice tool specific pre-curved fingers
Best Use: Hard climbing, wet and dry ice handling, alpine climbing, mountaineering.
The Black Diamond Punisher Gloves are perfectly designed for your hands to stay protected against the weather, but without getting too warm.
This is accomplished by the fixed 100g fleece lining that allows your hands to be warm enough and protected against the weather, thanks to its waterproof interior.
However, due to its very breathable interior, your hands will not get sweaty and wet. The gloves are very resistant due to their abrasion resistant stretch nylon back, and its goat leather palm. This makes them perfect for hard alpine climbing and also, since they have pre-curved fingers, you can use the winter tools with no problem.
The four ways stretch helps your hand adapt easily to the use of the glove, and they feel warm and soft at touch, but still helping your hands stay protected from the outdoor conditions.
On the downside, these gloves are designed for more active situations, which is why they might not be as warm as other gloves out there. If you are planning on being active, this would be a good thing, but if not you should take it into account.
Rab Baltoro Glove
Specific features: Matrix DWS outer fabric, primaloft insulation on the back of the hand, high pile lining on back of hand, leather reinforcement patch
Best Use: Ice climbing, dry ice handling
These Rab Baltoro Gloves are perfect for you if your goal is to keep your hands warm during your winter activities.
Due to its Matrix DWS outer fabric and the insulation on the back of the hand, your gloves will not only feel warm and comfortable but will also provide freedom of movement for your hands.
Also, due to its Pittards Armortan leather that goes through the palm, you will have a great grip on things and would not worry about slipping. It feels like silk on the inside, but it keeps you protected on the outside thanks to the leather reinforcement patch around the areas of critical seams.
Lastly, they come with a drawcord cuff closure that keeps your gloves secure during all that movement and over your sleeves quickly. You should consider however, that the Rab Baltoro Gloves do not have waterproof features, so if you are handling wet ice or unpredictable weather, you might like to invest in some other gloves.
Outdoor Research Alibi II Gloves
Specific features: Gel padding on outside edge of hand, pittards Oiltac Leather Palm wraps in thumb, pinky and index finger, nose wipe on thumb,pre-curved construction, waterproof, windproof, quick dry, primaloft One 170g insulation
Best Use: Alpine climbing, hard climbing, mountaineering
The Outdoor Research Alibi II Gloves is surely a crowd pleaser as it has everything you’ll need from a great pair of gloves.
They are made out of a nylon stretch softshell in the palm and fingers, and Pittards Oiltac goat leather on the panels on the back of the hand.
These materials allow for plenty of movement, and as they have a PrimaLoft One insulation of 170g – you could easily wear these gloves in hard winter.
The Gore-Tex technology gives the gloves waterproof and windproof ability, all while also being very breathable. They also dry pretty fast if they do get wet. All these characteristics are perfect if you are facing hard or unpredictable weather when climbing.
Also, the gel padding on the outside of the glove, as well as their pre-curved construction allow for a great level of dexterity and good grip of your climbing tools. It is almost as if you were not using any gloves. On the downside, many people consider that the insulation should not only be on the back of the palm, but completely on the glove to provide more warmth.
Mountain Hardwear Hydra Glove
Specific features: 100% leather, 4-way stretch nylon softshell, thermal Q Elite Insulation on back of hand, water resistant on palm, wraparound finger design
Best Use: Ice climbing, mountaineering, hard weather
The Mountain Hardwear Hydra Gloves have a right balance between warmth and dexterity.
The wraparound technology allows for your hand to stay warmer and improves the dexterity by taking the seams away from the fingers, which is the place you need the most warmth and grip.
For superior warmth, they have a Thermal.Q Elite Insulation of 180g on the back of the hand, as well as double waterproofing on the palm that helps your hands stay warm and dry while you do your activities in the snow.
The gloves are also made from 4-way stretch nylon soft shell fabric, which helps the gloves get a better freedom of movement and a good grip. The leather palm is rugged and very dexterous as well.
You should keep in mind, while buying gloves in general and these in particular, that getting the correct size is difficult, so try them on if you can before buying. If you can’t, then look at the size chart and compare the measurements.
CAMP USA GecKo Gloves
Specific features: Microfleece-lined goatskin, primaloft Synthetic insulation on the back of the palm, durable water resistant polyester, keeper strap, reinforced around the index finger and thumb
Best Use: Ice climbing, mountaineering
The CAMP USA GecKo Gloves are a great option for warm yet comfortable gloves.
They make sure to be flexible and adjust to the hand of the user, thanks to their microfleece-lined goatskin. This goatskin leather that covers the palm of the hand helps you get a better grip of the instruments and gear you might need.
You can also count on keeping your hands warm, as the gloves have a Primaloft synthetic insulation that goes through the back of the palm, keeping your hands nice and warm. This is a great feature when you’re facing really low temperatures and need as much movement as you can get.
Also, although not waterproof, they have durable water resistant polyester that helps repel light rain and snow, and helps you keep your hands dry and warm. The keeper strap prevents you from losing them while changing gear.
They are reinforced around the index finger and the thumb, to help you with the grip and help you conserve the gloves, making them very durable.
Hestra Crevasse Glove
Specific features: Impregnated army goat leather and kangaroo leather reinforcement, neoprene undercuff, cordura stretch over knuckles
Best Use: Ski mountaineering, alpine climbing, skiing.
The Hestra Crevasse Glove are designed for hard and active events, so they are perfect for skiing and alpine climbing.
The impregnated army goat leather and the kangaroo leather reinforcement allow these gloves to be very comfortable, very safe and also durable, with a great grip to top things off.
The removable wool liner is a great feature because the wool liners help to regulate the temperature in your hands allowing better breathability. The gloves are not really waterproof or windproof, but can help you a lot when in situations of hard snow and winter.
The only issue you might have while buying or trying the gloves on is the size, so be sure that you determine this factor before buying.
Have a better grip on things?
Ice climbing gloves are important items if you are planning on ice climbing or doing another extreme sport in the winter. Not only do they protect your hands against the hard climate, they also help to keep your hands protected against the elements such as rocks and snow, and even against the tools and equipment you are handling.
That’s why picking the right pair can be a daunting task. We hope that this article has helped you get a better grip on things when it comes to choosing the best climbing gloves.
Are you a frequent climber as well? Which pair of gloves do your swear by? Feel free to let us know of your thoughts in the comments!