A good alpine glove is essential for keeping those digits functional in cold weather. Whether you want to to slay waterfall ice or blue glacier ice, the Outdoor Research Project glove may be a great fit. In fact, these gloves are so good that some bum stole them from me at the base of a climb last year in Banff. I liked them so much that I snagged a new pair for 2018, so consider this a *very* long-term review.
Outdoor Research Project Gloves Features:
- Gore-Tex Grip insert for waterproof/breathable performance that’s ultra-tactile
- Pittards® Oiltac Leather Palm
- Enduraloft and Primaloft Gold insulation
- Molded EVA foam padding
- Carabiner Loop
- Sculpted neoprene cuffs with pull-on loops
- FlexAction™ wrist articulation matches natural hand position
- 3DFit technology™
- MSRP: $139
Don’t let your gloves be a distraction
Outdoor Research’s Project gloves are, in their own words, a project. They’re like the result of a really awesome science experiment, trying to get the perfect fit for the human hand and wrist as they hold ice tools, place screws and handle ropes. They’re the type of outdoor gear that makes you stop and think how far gear has come in the last decade or so. The design and construction are incredible.
The fit is a good place to start. Outdoor Research’s 3DFit Technology is only available on a select number of gloves, and the Project is perhaps the most refined of the bunch. This is how OR describes their process:
Traditional glove pattern relies largely on computers, where a pattern is developed in two dimensions. That makes sense on a computer screen, but less so when you transition that pattern to real life, particularly when it comes to gripping scenarios such as holding a ski pole or an ice axe, or considering how a glove changes shape through a range of different hand positions.
So, the big promise here is that the Project will offer improved dexterity without sacrificing warmth or durability. By the OR size chart, I should wear an XL; my hands are 10″ in diameter with a length of 9″. The XL fits like… well, it fits like a glove. The finger length is perfect for me, with extra space to heat up nor pinching when I make a fist. The glove doesn’t have any slop throughout the hand or palm, which is important when you’re clutching a tool for dear life.
It’s tough to describe a particularly dexterous glove. It’s much easier to describe a glove that fits poorly and doesn’t move well. However, the Project stands out by how much it disappears – a good glove shouldn’t draw any attention to itself. It helps that the fingers come gently preserved, and I was pleasantly surprised that even my little pinky can pivot in ever possible direction with hardly any impediment. Overall dexterity is aided by some inherent stretch in the base fabric. These gloves are just really good.
The warmth of the glove is intermediate. Obviously, they’re no expedition glove – emphasizing dexterity and emphasizing extreme warmth aren’t really compatible. With that said, I spent several days ice climbing in Canada with temperatures in the low to mid 20’s in the Project gloves. They were entirely appropriate for those temperatures. For colder days, I’d recommend climbing with the Projects and then swapping them out for belays with a heavier glove stuffed into your jacket. The glove scores extra points on durability by layering extra fabric over critical seams.
The grippiness of the glove is very good overall. The palm is made of a product called Gore-Tex Grip. This is basically a technology that laminates together the several layers of a glove’s palm/fingers so that there’s no slop between the layers. So, basically the waterproof membrane, insulation, and outer face material are bonded together and move together. This is really important in ice climbing, where having a secure and predictable grip on the handle of your tools, or finicky screws, is critical. The actual grip of the glove comes courtesy of Pitard leather, which is grippy and durable.
Padding of the glove is a bit non-conventional, but maybe I’m just more familiar with old-fashioned gloves. There’s not a great deal of knuckle padding, for example, but there’s a nice piece of foam above the tendons of the back of the hand and a wonderfully placed piece of padding just above the carpal bones. You’ll be glad for the protection in that very crucial spot. This is speculative, but it could even help prevent wrist injury in the event of a fall, since fracturing carpal bones can be common in impact events.
Other features of the glove aren’t particularly flashy, but work well. There’s a carabiner loop and generous pull tabs, which each perform their function well. There’s also an effective siliconized cuff closure system, which is easy to grab. There’s no gauntlet, but the glove seals well on its own. Waterproof performance has been excellent over the course of my testing, including some unpleasantly warm, wet climbs here in Spokane.
- Excellent tactility without compromising much durability or warmth
- Very grippy, thanks in part to the Gore-Tex Grip technology
- Excellent overall fit, effective closure
- Waterproofing works well
- Availability can be tough; these gloves are often sold out
- Some might wish for more conventional padding (eg, on the knuckles)
The Bottom Line: Outdoor Research Project Gloves
If you’re looking for a lightweight, high-performance glove for technical sends or wet-weather ski tours, the Project is likely all you need. It’s grippy, it’s dextrous, and it’s completely waterproof. Outdoor Research has yet another winner on their hands.
Buy Now: Available from Backcountry.com