Much though I hate to admit it, you need gloves. I have good circulation and am well acquainted with just how cold I can get without it really being a problem, so I try to do without gloves as often as possible, but too often it is just too cold. Handwear comes with inherent dexterity problems, and because of this my favorite gloves have always been those which give the most protection with the least material and bulk.
Since September of 2014 my favorite gloves have been the Mont Blancs, from Black Diamond. With a light high-stretch material on the palms and under the fingers, and a windproof laminate fabric on the tops, I’ve been able to wear the Mont Blancs well down into single digits (F) provided the wind isn’t too crazy, and circumstances allow my hands to stay dry. The main caveats are their slow dry time, which can be problematic in the backcountry, and a fit which does not suit those with wider hands.
My surviving original pair is at top right above, with a brand new pair at top left, and some Dynafit DNA gloves at bottom. My old gloves are still functional, though enough of the texture has worn off the fingers that grip is compromised. The fit of the new gloves is a fair bit roomier, especially when it comes to length, as is shown below (old glove at left, new one at right). The stretch cuff has also been lengthened.
Glove fit is tricky. Ideally palm width and especially finger width will be adequate, but no more. Just as with footwear, gloves which are too tight can actually make you colder. A big reason I’ve liked the Mont Blancs is that they fit me so well. On first fitting the new ones seems like they’ll do just fine, with the extra finger room being not needed for me, but not excessive either. The palm texture on the new version has a different pattern, but the fabric seems functionally identical.
It is also worth mentioning the Dynafit gloves, and comparing them to the Mont Blancs. Both gloves are around 2 oz a pair, and both have a similar intended purpose. As opposed to the Mont Blancs, the DNAs take the more conventional approach of having a thicker, less stretchy material on the palm and under the fingers. This would seem to provide more durability, at the expense of less windproofing. The DNA gloves do have a more secure grip, though that is a largely theoretical distinction, and are quite a bit less warm than the Mont Blancs in the wind. The DNAs have a big burly elastic cuff, which feels more secure on the hand, but exacerbates the problem the Mont Blancs already have, namely a slow drying suite of materials.
The Mont Blancs are also noteably cheaper, $25 MSRP compared to $40.
I use gloves like these the vast majority of the time. They are good for mountain biking, great for skiing, and even nice for hunting (I can shoot both a rifle and a longbow with them on). Most of the time I just take two pairs, and a set of light shell mittens if it gets cold. Hardface fleece gloves are a good alternative for multiday stuff, being about as warm, fairly dextrous, and much faster drying. I’d still like to see the Mont Blancs in a color other than black. My original two pairs of Mont Blancs were still functional until a few months ago, when one right glove jumped ship somewhere in the Bob.
If these gloves fit they remain a good option.
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