Black Diamond Guide Gloves ReviewNovember 8, 2016
- Poor dexterity
The Guide Gloves were the warmest gloves we tested, but the warmth does come at a cost to the dexterity, and the Guide Gloves were also among the bulkiest gloves we tested. These are heavy duty work-horse gloves that will last years and keep your hands warm in nearly any condition.
The Guide Glove’s outer shell is made from a combination of durable nylon and goatskin leather to provide a solid barrier against the wind and snow. The removable liner is made from a thick layer of wool insulation under a GORE-TEX shell to create a glove that is as warm as any you’re likely to find. Even on days when the temperatures dropped well below freezing, these gloves kept our fingers warm all day long. During the ice bucket test, no noticeable temperature change was detected after half an hour fully submerged. While the Guide Gloves’ exterior shell didn’t keep water from seeping through during the ice bucket test, the GORE-TEX shell on the liner kept our hands completely dry for the duration of the test.
Despite their bulk, the Guide Gloves allow for a surprisingly good grip on ski poles thanks to a double layer of goatskin leather on the palm, index finger, and thumb. The palm reinforcement is stitched not just at the edges but across the center, creating a more traction on the palm, but the bulky insulation on the back of the hand, and the lack of articulated knuckles does make it difficult to wrap your fingers around the poles and get a completely secure grip.
The biggest tradeoff for the warmth of the Guide Gloves is the dexterity. The gloves are big and bulky and cumbersome. The leather on the exterior is soft and supple even when temperatures are below freezing, and the removable liners were thoughtfully designed with the thick layer of wool on the back of the hand and a thinner layer of 100g fleece on the palm of the hand, and while both of these factors definitely help improve the dexterity of the Guide Gloves, the reality is that these gloves were designed to be warm, not nimble.
The nylon and leather exterior of the Guide Gloves is thick and rugged and all of the seams are double or even triple stitched. There is reinforced padding on the back of the hand and a double layer of leather in the critical wear areas, making the Guide Gloves the toughest and most durable of any of the gloves we tested.
Although they didn’t provide the kind of freedom of movement that’s typically associated with extremely comfortable ski gloves, the Guide Gloves were among the most comfortable gloves we tested. The wool liner was comforting against the skin and combined with the supple leather to create a glove that was easy to wear all day.
Features & Design
The Guide Gloves are well-designed as backcountry ski gloves with a long cuff that’s easy to cinch down and release, a finger loop that allows you to clip them to your jacket with the cuff down to keep snow from getting inside the glove, and double layers of goatskin leather that add to the durability and secure grip of the gloves. The removable liner uses a Velcro seal to keep it in place and is fitted so securely that the fingers seldom pull free of the shell even when your hands are sweaty. The Guide Gloves also feature a soft suede nose wipe patch on the thumb that is a welcome addition on especially cold days.
Although they are often not given much thought, ski gloves are one of the most important tools in a skier’s arsenal. To give readers a better appreciation of how gloves perform in different conditions, we tested these gloves in every possible real-world skiing condition we could – from blue-bird days on the resort to cold, wet, blizzardy conditions that keep most sane skiers home. Because warmth and waterproof are such critical elements, we also subjected each of the gloves to an ice-bucket challenge where the gloves were worn for 30 minutes while submerged in a bucket of icy water.
Christopher Cogley is a freelance writer who spends as much time as possible biking, hiking, camping, and exploring the outdoor playground of Western Colorado where he lives with his wife and two boys.