By Rick Shandley
Alti Gloves by Outdoor Research are warm, comfortable and heavy-duty. As late winter temperatures continue to bite down in the canyons and high elevations of Northern Colorado, Alti gloves being worn in some frigid mountain weather.
When the mercury dips to 20° F and much less, the Outdoor Research (OR) Alti Gloves weigh in with the assurance your hands are protected. Much like the previous winter in February and March, it looks like the deep snows may be wet and heavy for 2013. Late February is also the time when these snow-bearing weather patterns come with driving wind that accelerate the wind chill factors, piles snow into untenable drifts, and threatens inadequately-insulated human flesh. Gloves are not a fashion deal, they are a barrier to warm and protect your frail human condition from the weather, and Alti Gloves do this without question.
Long, skeletal, bony fingers like the digits on this writer’s hands are vulnerable to low temperatures even when aerobic activity is involved. Always on the lookout for high-quality insulated boots and gloves, we found the OR Alti Gloves exceeded expectations in temperatures that averaged below freezing (15 to 19 F) during the day and dropped into single digit temperatures (2 to7 degrees F) when the world went dark. Wind was also a factor that dropped the temperatures even lower. During the review period, the Alti Gloves provided tangible warmth in single digit temperatures with a stiff wind chill factor added to the equation.
ALTI GLOVE LINER
Like many of the best high altitude mountaineering boots, combining an insulated inner liner with a stout insulated and weatherproof outer layer can be an effective “modular” construction. And so it is with Alti Gloves. Alti Gloves use 170grams of PrimaLoft® One laminate insulation in the removable glove liners.
Basically PrimaLoft® One is a laminate layer of ultra fine micro fibers are arranged in a fabric to provide insulation by trapping air, reflecting body heat, and creating warmth in a manner that is thermally efficient. The big difference is when conditions get wet down loses its insulation capacity. In wet conditions, PrimaLoft° One is 24-percent warmer than current synthetic insulations.
It’s the PrimaLoft® One layer along with the Moonlite Pile Fleece, working in tandem with the GORE-TEX® laminate layer on top of the PrimaLoft® One layer of the outer glove shell that prevents moisture and cold from getting to your skin. Working together, both PrimaLoft® Loft One and GORE-TEX® laminates are water resistant, windproof and breathable components that bolster the Alti Glove’s ability to provide warmth and dexterity in severe cold conditions. Just as PrimaLoft® One insulation values can be quantified in terms of warmth and thermal efficiency, we would like to see the measured insulation value of Moonlite Pile Fleece. No worries, though, fleece is an insulator, and the interior of these Alti Gloves are warm and comfortable.
Velcro is used to secure the Alti’s inner glove liner to the outer glove shell on the underside of the wrist. In a similar fashion, Velcro is used for the nylon wrist strap to snug the liner onto your wrist before inserting your hand into the outer shell.
An inner and outer glove combination might seem a bit awkward to slip in and out of, but the product design makes it easy to pull the Alti Gloves on and off. You discover right away to secure the liner onto your hand first, then deliberately fit your hand into the outer glove shell. The fingers line up very well, and they did not tend to “swim” inside the outer glove shell. We really enjoyed how this Alti Glove worked in both fit and function of this two-layered glove assembly.
At first it’s easier to put the inner liner glove on, then the outer shell. But after wearing them for about a week, the pair of Alti Gloves we reviewed are easy to slip the hands into as one glove, without the need to put the liners on separately from the outer shell of the glove.
The bottoms of the glove liner fingertips have leatherette traction pads that aid you in grip and finger dexterity. Although it may not be recommended, the Alt Glove liners do work well by themselves when you need a little more feel in your grip without giving up the insulation. These inner glove liners are truly the heat center of the Alti Glove. You can feel the warmth being generated by the PrimaLoft® One when you pull them on your hands before leaving the comfort of a tent or vehicle.
Pockets for heat packs designed into the inside of the liners on the back of the hand. We did not use heat packets during our test period, but will plan to acquire some as this winter still has some bone numbing cold in the high country. Yet, without the heat packs, we found thin glove liners also work well with the Alti Glove as a third “base” layer.
ALTI GLOVE OUTER SHELL
You can see the quality of the tight stitch work and pre-curved construction of the outer shell of the Alti Glove. Alpen Grip® is a leather-like material lining the palm area giving you a tough surface to grip gear and rope. It’s a tough surface that runs from the bottom of your wrist area and lines the underside of each finger on the glove. Leather Fourchette bolsters the top of the glove across the knuckles, tops of each finger, and the sides of your first and pinky fingers. These shored up areas of the palms and the fingers prevent abrasion from rocks, ropes, and gear.
At the wrist, the Ladder Lock Wrist Cinch adjustment strap is easy to cinch down with a gloved hand. Likewise, the SuperCinch Gauntlet closure can be worked with a gloved hand or your teeth to quickly snug the glove over your cuff, or get out of the glove.
Additional insulation is built into the outer shell with a layer of 100 grams of PrimaLoft® One which adds significant warmth to the total glove combination. GORE-TEX® fabric inserts provide a degree of efficient wicking to allow moisture from your hands to exit, and a waterproof barrier to keep moisture out of the nylon shell.
Lanyard chords are attached to the outer shell of the Alti Gloves. We really liked this thoughtful feature as you can suspend the gloves on your side, using attachment points on your parka or a longer lanyard at your waist, to keep the gloves on your person when not in use. Also, a composite buckle snaps the pair of gloves together when not in use.
Overall, the Outdoor Research Alti Gloves hit a high-water mark in terms of performance in Rocky Mountain winter cold. They weigh less than a pound per pair. And the warmth to weight ratio is note worthy. Do your research. If you’re mountaineering and winter backcountry activities compel you to assure your hands are warm, and protected from frostbite, the OR Alti Gloves are a great place to start.
With an MSRP of $159.00, these OR Alti Gloves are an investment that will not only last many seasons, but you’ll know what you are getting in terms of quality and value in the construction of the product. You can expect a total of 270 grams of PrimaLoft® One performance in the Alti Glove combination, Moonlite Pile fleece in the inner glove liner, and pockets for heat packs.
However, you can research the insulation values and temperature ratings for PrimaLoft° One insulation. Google it! And you can determine if that insulation value is enough for your individual use, circulation health, and budget. But you need information in order to determine which products will work for you, and Outdoor Research tells you exactly what kind of insulation you are buying. This alone says tons for quality and value, not to mention OR products are guaranteed forever.
The Outdoor Research Alti-Mitts are possibly even warmer hand insulators because the fingers stay together and warm each other. But when your activities or preference leads you to research winter alpine and mountaineering gloves with fingers, you’ll be starting at the top by considering the Outdoor Research liner gloves. They may appear a bit bulky, but Alti gloves offer good dexterity in handling an ice-ax, working with ropes, ladders, and any hardware you have to deal with.
We can tell you, from our viewpoint, the Alti Glove inner liner in combination with the outer glove shell offers solid warmth and comfort in some harsh cold conditions. Outdoor Research products, in general, are a known quantity for designing, testing, and producing equipment that can be relied upon when all you’ve got in the wilderness is your gear. The Outdoor Research Alti Gloves are important pieces of gear we can highly recommend you take into consideration for your own comfort and safety in harsh cold conquests.