When I ski tour with a newbie, one of the things that appears most challenging is gloves. Most people come from a resort background and bring their big, insulated resort gloves. Gore-tex, primaloft, cuffs, hand warmers and the like. And within five minutes of starting the tour, their gloves are tucked into a pocket, already sticky with sweat. What I’ve come to recommend to people is a lightly insulated softshell glove, like Black Diamond’s Tour Glove, and their effort has satisfied most, if not all of my needs.
Black Diamond Tour Gloves Features:
- 100% goatskin leather
- Super soft 150 g fixed fleece lining
- Two layer Pertex Shield® short cuff with hook and loop closure
- Suede thumb patch for runny noses
- Tight, dexterous fit
- Sewn-in lining
- Classic Black Diamond middle finger clip for racking gloves on a harness
- MSRP: $79.95
Up for the demands of the backcountry
We demand a lot from our hands ski touring. We grab things in the snow, buckle our boots, fall over, dig pits and sweat like crazy. Fleece driving gloves wet out quickly and thin, waterproof gloves leave you with icy fingers during transitions. So I often seek out something in between, something with a little waterproofing and a little insulation, but not too much of either. With those demands, the Black Diamond Tour Glove does as good a job as any comparable glove I’ve tried. They satisfy my three main needs in a touring glove: waterproofing, insulation and ease-of-use.
Bring on the water (after treatment)
Out of the box, these gloves are not waterproof. They’re leather. However, they come with leather treatment to help make them waterproof. Untreated leather is porous, but the included Nikwax cream makes the leather of the Tour Gloves almost totally waterproof. After applying and cleaning the gloves, I was able to roll around in the snow, dig hand pits, deal with troublesome skins and hang from snowy trees without fear of a wetted-out glove. The Pertex cuff is a great addition in terms of waterproofing, as the knit cuffs of most leather work gloves are a huge weak point for moisture.
They aren’t, however, the insulated rubber fishing gloves that some of my friends enjoy. A dunk in slush or icy water would obviously wet out the gloves. Here in Utah, we are blessed with low-moisture snow and little winter rain, so my need for total waterproofing is less than some of my friends in the Cascades. For longer or multi-day endeavors in wetter climates, the Tour Glove would likely prove inadequate as your only glove, but if you ski Mt Baker, you probably knew that already.
Toasty enough if you’re not on the leisure train
What I was most curious about these gloves was how warm they would be. As a self-described greenhouse, I’ve found even basic leather gloves (Kincos, Black Diamond’s Dirtbag, Outdoor Research’s Aksel) too warm for all but the coldest, slowest tours. Even when moving modestly, my hands often drown in pools of sweat. I was really hoping that these gloves would not just be a recycled design of those inbounds-oriented offerings, but that they would instead be designed to keep my hands in the Goldilocks zone on the up and down.
Mostly, they do. The Tour Gloves are definitely less insulated than my Dirtbag gloves, but quite a bit warmer than the Arva Thermoline liner gloves. This means that on high-output spring days, my hands still get a little too warm. On those days, anything but the thinnest liner glove will be too much, though.
But, on pretty much any day with cold powder on the ground they’re perfect. Just warm enough for ten minute breaks on storm days without having to shake out your hands. Sub ten degree days, a rarity here in the Wasatch, have proven to be too much for these gloves.The leather/Pertex combo is a good windstop for the weight, as well.
How about using tools?
One of the biggest winter glove questions is dexterity. How often am I going to need to pull my glove off to get something done? How sloppy is the fit? The Tour Glove has been designed as a lighter, sleeker glove than your typical Kinco leather glove. I can manipulate zippers and buckles easily and can often do so without looking, unlike my bulkier gloves of various sorts, including BD’s Dirtbag. Obviously, nothing compares to gloveless, but they are surprisingly solid when manipulating small things. When I tour, I only need to take them off to use GPS. Nothing more. Everything else can be done with these gloves, apart from maybe makeup (but, who has time for that before a dawn patrol?).
I’m excited to used them for some warmer mixed and ice climbing come spring, as well. With the leather fingers and palm, they’re grippy in high consequence situations. The relatively tight fit is confidence inspiring as well. They’ll definitely be skiing off of some volcanoes with me.
I did try these with liners. While they’re a relatively tight fit, I can fit my aforementioned Arva liners inside. This substantially reduces both the dexterity and ease of gloving and de-gloving. They do make them almost passably warm enough for resort skiing, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as a season-long strategy. It’s definitely been a backup plan for me when I forget my regular gloves at home.
One of my biggest beefs with gloves is how hard they can be to get on and off, especially when my hands are sweaty. Pulling off gloves with a semi-integrated fleece liner, I can feel the inner getting all sorts of twisted in there, just waiting to entrap my hand when I put it back on. Or the sweaty leather work glove with no pull tab, which is harder to wiggle into than a skin-tight leather suit.
This glove, thankfully, is neither. The thin fleece inner is sewn into the leather continuously, which makes it almost impossible to wrinkle it within the glove, no matter how sweaty or soaked the glove is. The thin fleece is so far from bulky that even when it does slightly bunch, it hardly gets in the way.
The oversized velcro cuff makes it easy to pull the glove on and off too, even with the other glove on and snow flying sideways as you shiver on the ridge. I’ve been able to, without much trouble, stow both poles, take off a glove, look at my phone, put my glove back on and reorient my poles, all without breaking stride. They come on and off without looking, and without really trying.
As I mentioned, however, even thin liners complicate this picture. With the relatively tight fit, getting them on with liners is more of a wriggle and squirm than easy afterthought.
- Light enough for big exertion
- Insulated (just enough) for cold powder mornings
- Easy to pull on
- Fully integrated insulation
- Nose wipe suede
- Pertex cuff
- Dextrous, responsive fit
- Too light for cold-blooded skiers on cold days
The Bottom Line: Black Diamond Tour Gloves
These are great gloves. They’re not a do everything in any weather ‘quiver of one’ glove, but they will do a lot. Black Diamond worked hard to design a piece for ski touring. And they did. The Tour Glove is perfect for touring. At $80, it is pricey for the five-times-a-year skinner, but for those who constantly find themselves drying gloves and wiping sweaty hands on pants, this is an ideal addition to the pack. I unequivocally recommend these to my friends and anyone who’ll listen. They’re a game changer over traditional leather work gloves.
Buy Now: Available at EVO