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.
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.
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.