Ski gloves aren’t necessarily known for being a pleasure to wear, but the Ortovox Swisswool Freeride gloves might very well change that notion. Not only did the gloves keep hands exceptionally warm, they were soft, flexible, and offered good dexterity and grip on the poles. Although they don’t provide the kind of waterproof protection that some skiers are looking for in a ski glove, the Freeride gloves perform so well in nearly every other category, that it’s pretty easy to overlook that drawback.
The Ortovox Swisswool Freeride gloves were the warmest gloves of the test. Regardless of the temperature or conditions, the merino wool in the Freeride gloves kept our hands warm without ever feeling like they were overheated. While the gloves aren’t exceptionally waterproof, and allowed water to begin seeping into the gloves within 10 minutes of being submerged in the ice bucket challenge, the performance of the gloves on the slopes was so impressive that they still scored high marks in this category.
The Ortovox Swisswool Freeride gloves had the softest leather of any of the gloves in the test and feature an extra patch of textured leather in the pocket between the thumb and forefinger. The wool insulation cut down on the padding in the palm and fingers to give the gloves even better grip on the poles. Like the Gordini MTN Crew gloves, however, the Swisswool Freerides are made from a single piece of leather in the palm that bunches up as we closed our fingers to interfere somewhat with grip.
The soft leather and the thin wool insulation combine to give the Ortovox Swisswool Freeride gloves good dexterity. The tips of the fingers are also rounded which helps to improve micro dexterity. While they didn’t have the kind of feel that the LaSportiva Tech gloves offer, they didn’t have any trouble working zipper pulls, adjusting face masks, and other “delicate” operations.
Both the leather and synthetic material in the Ortovox Swisswool Freeride gloves are the softest of any of the gloves in the test. While this goes a long way to improving the comfort, grip, and dexterity of the gloves, it doesn’t necessarily feel as though it’s as bulletproof as some of the other gloves in the test. The Freerides do have a double patch of leather in the pocket between the thumb and forefinger to prevent wear, but it only has single stitching in the palm. That being said, the gloves didn’t show any kind of wear after a season of tough use.
The Ortovox Swisswool Freeride gloves were the most comfortable of all the gloves tested. The wool lining is both warm and soft but did not stick to our hands when they’re sweaty. The soft leather and synthetic material means that the gloves moved naturally with our hands. And while they don’t necessarily feel like a second skin like the Tech gloves, they do provide so much comfort that we really enjoyed wearing them.
Features & Design
The Ortovox Swisswool Freeride Glove is pretty straight-forward. Other than the glove leash, it doesn’t necessarily score high points for features. Where the glove excels, however, is in its simplistic design that simply makes it a joy to wear.
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HOW WE TESTED
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.