Monday, 13 December 2010

First Look: Montane Extreme Mitts

Yeah, I have a problem. Gloves. I'm a fussy bastard. No one makes the perfect glove. Actually that's not strictly true. There are some perfect liner, shell and back-up gloves out there. My quest has been for the perfect warm, weather resistant but breathable, hard wearing mitt for winter adventures. When PTC* first blew the whistle on the Montane Extreme Mitts earlier this year I was intrigued. No membrane, pile lining, lightweight and only £30?! Could these be my one true glove?

Design and construction:

The outer layer is constructed from Pertex Classic 6, a tough, wind and weather resistant but breathable woven fabric. The lining of the palm is a pile called Dryactiv 2000 and the back of the hand is lined with 100g Primaloft Eco insulation (good choice Montane!). There is a pre-curved finger area with a 'hypalon' reinforced palm. The cuff is long and part elasticated wrist with a velcro strap that is easy to adjust with a gloved hand or even your teeth. There is a plastic 'D' ring just inside the cuff for 'idiot cords' (not supplied) and the mitts come with a stuff sack too. Quality appears good so far. A season ski guiding will soon highlight any weaknesses in that area.

Fit and weight:

It's with the fit that I had my first surprise. I normally wear a Medium liner glove and go for Large shells or over-mitts. When the Extremes arrived I pulled them on over my bare hands and immediately thought 'Uh oh. These are going back'. Too tight. Especially on the thumb and as the only digit that has to stick out on it's own in a mitt it's the one that always gets cold. Tight gloves restrict circulation and increase the risk of cold hands so back they went to be replaced by some Extra Large. Be aware of this if you have shovels for paws. My Extra Large sized pair weigh in at 136g.

Use:

My 'system' comprises of a couple of pairs of liner gloves, the Montane Extreme Mitts and some great big Gore Tex shells that will go over everything if necessary. This gives me loads of potential combinations. Liners, liners & shell, liners & mitts, mitts, mitts & shells or even liners, mitts and shells in serious weather.

Initial impression:

I've only had them out on a couple of day hikes so far but I do know one thing: these puppies are WARM! Really warm. The Primaloft insulation and pile lining mean almost instant warmth when you pull them on. Because they don't have a membrane they also breathe far better than most manufacturers 'Big Dumb Mitts'. My only concern with their design is how the Primaloft insulation handles any moisture build up on longer trips.

The materials seem really tough so far, especially the 'hypalon' reinforcement. I've no qualms about 'palming' down granite boulders in them, something I would never do in my Buffalo mitts. It will be interesting to see how they cope with some ski touring. Cross country skiing generates a lot of heat and I'm pretty sure the Extremes will be too warm when grinding up hill or in most Spring conditions. In the depths of winter and in high mountain terrain is where I expect them to shine. They should be great when I'm working as a ski guide too. When carrying out delicate repairs or adjustments on my client's gear I need to be able to use dexterous thin liner gloves and then stuff my hands back into warm mitts. I've already added some idiot cords so I don't drop or forget them.

I'll let you know how I get on with these over the winter. Mind you, why wait for my recommendation? At only £30 they're very good value and they could be worth a punt for anyone who suffers from cold hands at this time of the year.

22 comments:

Mark Roberts said...

Awesome. Thanks, Joe. I was hunting in REI last week on a glove quest and had no luck. Like you say, nobody makes the perfect glove. I'm tempted to get the Resolute with the PowerDry liners. I'm now almost tempted to get the Extreme also!

Joe Newton said...

Mark - the Resolute might be a good choice if you need to buy a shell (it's eVent too!). If the Resolute 'mitt' had a hypalon palm I might have been tempted. I already had shell mitts so the Extremes were the ones for me. PowerDry liner gloves are awesome. They dry so quickly and so far seem more robust than the merino ones (Arc'Teryx)I tried last winter.

Mac E said...

I'm still trying to fit the perfect glove combination, those look pretty good at the price although perhaps the primaloft is overkill for UK conditions. I'd like to see someone make shell mitts with a removeable pile liner in trigger finger style, i.e. a mitt with forefinger and thumb on both hands.

Mark Roberts said...

Mac, I was just about to write that I like the photo-friendly trigger finger of the Resolutes' inner.

And Joe, I do need a shell, so I might just go for them.

Dave Hanlon said...

Undersizing of gloves seems to be catching on. Buffalo's need to be bought a size up too! Silly realy given that most folk will want to get liner gloves inside a BDM. Rumour has it Santa has a pair of resolutes put aside for me :-)

Mac E said...

Ah, the Resolutes inner is Pertex/Pile with left and right trigger fingers, that's interesting, pity they don't have some kind of grip print/fabric on the finger and thumb though. I do like the look of them but would have preferred trigger fingers on the shell.

I wonder if it's the difficulty of seam sealing the finger that makes it nigh on impossible to get unlined shell gloves (or trigger finger shell mitts) made from eVent/Gore-Tex rather than a fabric shell with an eVent/Gore-Tex mid liner and brushed fabric inner layer.

Gustav Boström said...

Seems like a decently priced mitt. I use old Swedish army leather mitts with old army wool mitts with a hole for the trigger finger. For skiing I combine these with classic Lill-sport skiing gloves.

This is a really cheap and performant system. If it is too warm to ski with the wool mitts, but too cold for gloves, I can use the Lill-sport gloves in the leather mitt. For hunting and photography purposes it is also very convenient to just quickly drop the mitts and leave them hanging on their wrist-straps.

Joe Newton said...

Mac - yes, the Primaloft insulation may be a bit of an overkill in all but very cold conditions. It's interesting to see your vision of the perfect glove system, it appears we all have our own ideas! The Resolute inner mitts would be great with a grippy palm.

Dave - the Resolute mitt will be a nice way to start Christmas morning and surely more enjoyable than another pack of socks. Unless they're big thick technical merino socks!

Gustav - wrist straps (idiot cords) are crucial this time of year. Mitts dropped on the floor get cold and lost!

Mac E said...

Like everything else Joe, we all have different ideas although to be perfectly honest I'm not even sure what my perfect glove/mitt system is :-)

The Montane Extreme mitts are very high spec given the price (£30 in the UK) you can pay almost as much for a fleece glove!!

Anonymous said...

What about the Norwegian classic, the Helly Hansen Polar Mitt? It is just snowproof nylon and pile, priced less than 20 Euro. You can use it on its own, even when skiing. Or as backup for rest, otherwise wearing a pair of thinner skiing gloves, e.g. from Hestra. These mitts have kept me fine even when temperatures dropped to minus 30 Celsius.

Joe Newton said...

Anonymous - I had heard of this legendary mitt that sounded like a beefy Buffalo mitt. Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be available anymore :-( A pity, it sounded very promising.

Anonymous said...

Should still be out there:

http://www.skisalg.dk/helly-hansen-polar-mittens-p-1078.html

P.S. Great blog.

Anonymous said...

Been following your blog from the sidelines for a while, its a great one!

do you have any experiance with Outdoor Research gloves, specifically the Alti?

Joe Newton said...

Anonymous - I will keep my eye out for a pair of the HH mitts but they still lack some form of palm reinforcement, an omission that the Buffalo mitts also suffer from. A simple stippled silicon pattern would be sufficient (and allow the materials to continue to wick and breath). I have actually recently discovered an ancient pair of them in my landlord's basement.

The other Anonymous - thank you! Whilst I haven't got personal real world experience with the well regarded OR Alti mitts I have picked up and worn a pair briefly. They are VERY warm, pretty heavy and have a waterproof membrane (something I'm keen to keep separate from my main mitt). They are also very expensive compared to the Montane Extreme mitt. In ultra-harsh conditions such as working in high altitude or polar environments then I could see their potential worth.

Mark Roberts said...

I spotted the First Ascent Summit mitts the other day:
http://j.mp/ePL1rE

It seems to be a rip-off of the Alti. It looked very warm, but they are evasive about it's waterproofness.

Joe Newton said...

Mark - if they're NOT waterproof then I'd be more interested!

Mark Roberts said...

Why is that, Joe? I was hoping they were something like the Resolutes, with a breathable waterproof exterior I could use as a shell.

Joe Newton said...

Mark - the Resolutes are almost perfect (maybe just needs a silicone stencilled grip palm on the inner 'lobster' mitt). I like to make sure that I have a completely separate WP/B shell. That way I can wear the WP/B shell over either the inner or insulation or both, depending on conditions. The FA mitts look like they have insulation in the outer shell.

Mark Roberts said...

Yes, they do I believe.

I have some Resolutes on their way from the UK. I decided to plump for them because of the eVent mitt.

Dave Hanlon said...

My resolutes are in the bag :-) First impressions are very good. I'll spill the beans on them soon.

Joe Newton said...

Mark - let us know how you get on with the Resolutes. I'm still interested in getting a pair myself.

Joe Newton said...

Dave - ahh, did Father Santa Christmas Claus bring you a pair?! You must have been a good boy this year ;)