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Black Diamond Punisher and Terminator gloves - spot the difference Review

© Dave Saunders

For the winter season of 2020-21, Black Diamond brought out upgraded versions of their Punisher and Terminator gloves. In general they now offer a closer fit, with insulation mapping that gives a better balance of warmth and dexterity than the previous generation of these models - thinner in the palm and thicker on the back of the glove.

Lockdown-friendly skiing in the Mini Beast From the East - a stern test of a glove's insulation  © Dave Saunders
Lockdown-friendly skiing in the Mini Beast From the East - a stern test of a glove's insulation
© Dave Saunders

It's been interesting having both the Punisher (£90, warmer -10 to +2°C) and the Terminator (£75, less warm -7 to +4°C) to compare directly as there is clearly a lot of overlap in the construction of these gloves - and they both have rather aggressive names in common, too. There are different materials used in a few parts of the gloves and differences in the way the cuffs are constructed. However, these variations are really quite nuanced - they are quite literally 'cut from the same cloth'. When both of my test pairs are in a pile together it is not at all obvious which are which. So, a question worth asking is do you need both; and if not, which to choose?

Travel restrictions have limited the testing of these, however the Mini Beast From the East opened up a few winter opportunities local to me in East Lothian, and I have been able to try these nordic skiing, hillwalking, and even climbing with axes. I have also been able to see how they perform in some very cold conditions which I felt were at times around the limit of the gloves.

Punisher (left) and Terminator (right)  © UKC Gear
Punisher (left) and Terminator (right)
© UKC Gear

Cut and shape

I bought a pair of BD Punishers (large) a couple of years ago and had to flog them on ebay shortly after because the fingers were simply too short for me. The improved patterning in the new versions is very clear. The test pairs, also in large, are now a really good fit for my long-ish, thin-ish hand. Of course everyone's hands are different, and on any glove design there will always be some fingers that fit better than others. As with footwear, the performance of a glove is so dependent on the fit that there really is no substitute for trying them on before you buy them. But I do have to say the cut and the 3D form of these gloves feels exceptional. The curvature of the fingers seems already to map onto the natural form of a relaxed hand. In turn this is almost the same as the shape your fingers take holding an ice axe or ski stick - right down to the way fingers stack toward your pinkie.

In terms of dexterity I find both pairs very good. For instance, I am able to tie boot laces (just) whilst wearing either pair, which is quite a test of any glove. I do not think there is much to separate them in that respect. However they are only going to work if they fit your hands closely, with enough length in the fingers to allow full movement, but no dead space at the fingertips to compromise feel and handling.

The gloves are easy to get on and off - when they are dry. I found during longer snowy days that they did become wet inside and this made getting them on and off much more difficult.

Both gloves have a lovely pre-curved fit for easier tool handling  © Dave Saunders
Both gloves have a lovely pre-curved fit for easier tool handling
© Dave Saunders

And this also makes them nice to use with a ski or walking pole  © Dave Saunders
And this also makes them nice to use with a ski or walking pole
© Dave Saunders

Outer

Both pairs use the same soft leather with exactly the same coverage of the palm, fingers and thumb. There is additional coverage on the exposed outside surfaces of the first and little finger and an extra layer protecting the wear point between the thumb and first finger. Both gloves use the same soft reversed suede section on the outside of the thumb for snot removal.

In the other areas both gloves appear to share the same stretchy nylon outer on the fingers etc. There is an additional layer of tough bonded material across the knuckles; this will protect the gloves rather than your knuckles. The key difference with the Punisher is the back of the hand has instead a layer of waterproof Pertex Shield (which does not seem to stretch). I am not clear what the design logic of doing this is because both gloves have exactly the same BD Dry waterproof membrane underneath this area anyway. 

I have worn the Punisher gloves during some torrential rain. There was no obvious ingress of water which I was quite surprised about as I got a proper soaking. So far I've not tested the Terminator in the rain.

Lockdown-friendly winter climbing in the Punishers  © Dave Saunders
Lockdown-friendly winter climbing in the Punishers
© Dave Saunders

Skiing on my local hills in the Terminators  © Dave Saunders
Skiing on my local hills in the Terminators
© Dave Saunders

Inner layers

Information from the manufacturer indicates the inner layers are very similar. There is a thin (190g) fleece next to the skin, and then the BD Dry waterproof membrane, both of which appear to line the whole of the inside - this structure appears common to both gloves.

Synthetic insulation

Both gloves have a layer of synthetic insulation covering the back of the hand and fingers, and outside of the thumb - in other words the surfaces of the glove facing outwards when you make a fist or grip an axe or pole. The warmer Punisher uses 100g weight of Primaloft Gold, whilst the Terminator uses a 40g 3M Thinsulate - emphasis on the 'thin'. Wearing the gloves makes the difference in loft between them more apparent, with the Punisher being clearly thicker and warmer. However because this insulation is all on the back of the hand I do not find the pared down Terminator any more dexterous than the Punisher.

I tested these in very cold conditions nordic skiing this winter, and was quite surprised to get hot aches - my first time doing anything other than winter climbing. I tend to get hot aches once at the start of the day, and then it does not happen again. A couple of times I wore one of each model at the same time and the difference was noticeable in terms of thermal comfort - however it is not a huge difference. In the tradeoff between dexterity and warmth, both models arguably tilt towards the former.

The Punisher has a slightly longer cuff, with shell fabric  © UKC Gear
The Punisher has a slightly longer cuff, with shell fabric
© UKC Gear

The Terminator's stretchy cuff is marginally lower profile   © UKC Gear
The Terminator's stretchy cuff is marginally lower profile
© UKC Gear

Cuffs

Both gloves have a cuff constructed from a spongy, neoprene-like material with a small gusset and a flush fitting velcro closure. The cuffs are probably the most visible structural difference between the gloves with the longer cuff of the Punisher having the nylon/Pertex face fabrics extending to cover the neoprene cuff, while on the Terminator they don't. The whole cuff of either glove is quite neat and low-profile when fastened. So while shell jacket manufacturers usually seem to want to make it difficult to get gloves inside the cuffs of your jacket, at least these gloves make the job easier.

Both models have some elasticity in the cuffs which is useful because even when fastened securely you can, if needed, still simply pull them off.

The cuffs of both models fit easily under the sleeves of an average winter shell  © Dave Saunders
The cuffs of both models fit easily under the sleeves of an average winter shell
© Dave Saunders

Other features

See those little loops on the fingers, common in many winter gloves, and designed to clip them upside-down at the belay? This is a personal thing but I sometimes cut these off. A few years ago rummaging for gear one of these loops got clipped into a crab near the back of my harness whilst leading - it was quite frightening and in the situation quite dangerous. Has that happened to anyone else?

Summary

Whether you're winter hillwalking, skiing, or alpine mountaineering, you'll often welcome a more dextrous glove that lets you fiddle with equipment, clothing and cameras without forever having to be removed. However it's for technical winter climbing that they really excel. In terms of dexterity, and assuming they fit you, the Punisher and Terminator are both fantastic. There is no doubt these gloves are extremely well made, and the differences between them are so slight that you might not want to buy both pairs. But while the Punisher is marginally warmer, neither are really that warm, and in a Scottish winter context you would definitely not want these as your main or only glove. Best saved for the lead.

But which do you actually want? Well, at £90 the Punisher is slightly pricier, heavier, and warmer, while the Terminator (£75) may be a tad more dextrous (though I couldn't tell). There's really not much in it. 

Black Diamond say: 

Terminator - £75

A lightweight, minimalist climbing glove built for sending steep ice, the Black Diamond Terminator is the modern version of our premier ice and mixed climbing glove. 

Featuring 40-gram Thinsulate® and a fixed fleece lining, this glove offers premium dexterity for hanging ice daggers and tenuous rock sections. The TPU knuckle patch protects against abrasion and an ice tool specific, pre-curved fit provides a secure grip. Our innovative "seamless pinky" construction, where we've removed the seam on the pommel side of the pinky, increases the level of comfort when hanging on your tool. The goat-leather palm adds durability while the 4-way stretch fabric and suede nosewipe keeps you comfortable. The Terminator also has a waterproof BD.dry™ insert for warmth and protection against wet ice.

  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Temp Range -7 to +4°C
  • Weight Per Pair 126g
  • 100% waterproof BD.dry™ insert
  • 40 g Thinsulate® Insulation at back of hand
  • Goat leather palm for durability and grip
  • Fixed fleece lining
  • Seamless Pinky Construction
  • Abrasion resistant TPU knuckle patch
  • 4-way stretch shell
  • Goatskin suede nose wipe

blackdiamondequipment.com


Punisher - £90

With enough comfort to climb WI5, enough warmth to belay and enough dexterity to tie knots in cold temps, the Black Diamond Punisher is our go-to glove for long days, hard climbing and variable conditions. 

With 100-gram PrimaLoft Gold insulation on the back of the hand and 190-gram fixed fleece lining, the Punisher is our mid-weight winter climbing glove. The TPU knuckle patch protects against abrasion and an ice tool specific, pre-curved fit provides a secure grip. Our innovative "seamless pinky" construction, where we've removed the seam on the pommel side of the pinky, increases the level of comfort when hanging on your tool. A waterproof BD.dry™ insert protects against wet ice while the leather palm patch and suede nose wipe add grip and comfort. The Punisher's Pertex Shield rip-stop shell is durable while the 4-way stretch shell at the fingers make for a dexterous, supple feel while climbing.

  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Temp Range -10 to +2°C
  • Weight Per Pair: 145g
  • 100% waterproof BD.dry™ insert
  • 100g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation at back of hand
  • Goatskin leather palm and palm patch for durability and grip
  • Fixed 190g fleece lining
  • Seamless Pinky Construction
  • Abrasion resistant TPU knuckle patch
  • 4-way stretch shell at fingers
  • Pertex Shield rip-stop shell
  • Goatskin suede nose wipe

blackdiamondequipment.com



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I found previous versions of the punisher to be as you describe, well fitting, dextrous but with a major flaw for Scottish winter, very difficult to put on/take off with cold wet hands.

Great for still blue sky days when you are dry and they stay on all day but a £5 pair of ski gloves will work in these conditions.

totally agree. Good quality construction and fit well but hard to put on / take off if actually skiing / climbing which massively increases risk of dropping them etc. That's why I prefer ME gloves
28 Apr

Yup. Nice gloves with dry hands.. else the 'floating' inner is a royal p.i.t.a.


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