But investing time in researching the essentials of equipment will pay dividends and probably save you money in the long run.
Choosing the best gloves for your activity can be complicated with so many technical developments in fabrics and design features. So, Carolyn Budding, of outdoor gear specialists Extremities has gathered together some key factors to consider to ensure you buy right, buy once.
What specific activity will you use the gloves for, e.g. walking, climbing, skiing, running?
While for some activities there may be obvious choices such as ‘running gloves’, for others there can be an extremely wide choice. Some activities such as ski-ing may use a combination of gloves / mitts which may suit your requirements the best. Also, it is not unusual to use a ‘layering system’ for gloves, just as you would do for clothing, to get the best effect and respond to changing climatic conditions.
Often gloves will be referred to as:
- Base layers – a thin layer to use next to the skin, generally silk, merino or a synthetic fibre
- Mid layers – ideal to use on their own or under a waterproof or thicker mitt or glove
- Outer layers – could also be waterproof, with insulation such as Primaloft, or duck down.
2. What do you want the gloves to do, for example: keep your hands warm, protect from the windchill, keep hands dry or a combination?
Windproof Gloves are designed to keep off wind chill but generally do not have many thermal properties. Some windproof fabrics such as WINDSTOPPER are also breathable, so they prevent the chill from penetrating but allow perspiration to escape.
Waterproof gloves have a waterproof liner inside which is often breathable, such as Gore or X-Dry. Essentially, the sealed waterproof membrane is made up of tiny holes which are small enough to stop rain seeping through, but big enough to allow moisture to escape.
Thermal gloves can have a variety of properties – and most will, of course, feature a waterproof membrane too. Today’s insulation has come a long way in recent years with synthetic polyester developments such as Primaloft giving excellent thermal protection. The weight of the glove will indicate its warmth – a 10oz wadding will give ultimate warmth. Of course, for natural thermal properties you can opt for luxury fibres such as lightweight silk or Merino wool – both work as excellent base layers beneath thicker gloves in extreme cold conditions.
3. How much dexterity will you need?
Do you need some parts of the glove, such as the palm, to be particularly durable? For everyday use a touchscreen finger and thumb are essentials – for a sleeker look check out gloves which have touch compatible fibres sewn in rather than pads on the digits. For good everyday grip a silicone palm is a valuable design addition. For activities such as climbing, a denser silicone print padded palm is preferable, while in winter a full-leather palm adds warmth, grip and durability to this vital piece of kit.
Finally, here are some jargon busters, to make sure you cut to the chase when buying your ideal glove.
- Breathable: The material will allow water vapour to pass through to avoid the build-up of sweat and condensation. Some waterproof membranes are breathable.
- Wicking: Material actively transports sweat away from the body to keep you more comfortable.
- Taped seams: When a waterproof fabric is sewn, the seams are sealed using a waterproof tape which is applied with heat and prevents water coming through. This makes the garment fully waterproof.
For more in-depth information, Extremities has created a need-to-know Technology of a Glove video guide, to help enthusiasts make informed choices.
The guide at http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/p/the-technology-of-an-extremities-glove/ explains the benefits of modern specialist fabrics, such as Gore-tex, Windstopper, Polartec, X Block and X Dry. It shows a number of experiments to illustrate key fabrics’ properties as well as outlining the advantages of particular design features.
Adds Carolyn: “Quality gloves are a significant investment, and time spent understanding the technical detail can mean the difference between a wise purchase and one that doesn’t quite meet all your needs.”
“So, understanding the functions and benefits of different fabrics and ensuring you pick gloves with the right design features for your particular requirements makes sense.”
For more information on Extremities products and UK-wide stockists, visit www.extremities.co.uk