Hats, hats, hats…
Hats, hats, hats… Outdoor Research has a style to suit everyone and every outdoor activity, which one would be your choice?
Rab recently updated their glove range, to include a number of Gore-Tex lined models for the first time. From light-and-dextrous climbing gloves to full-on insulated mountain mitts, there's a Rab GTX glove for pretty much every occasion from winter hillwalking through winter climbing to the Alps and beyond. Here I'm looking at two of the more Scottish winter-oriented models, the workhorse Guide 2 GTX and the slightly lighter, more technical Pivot GTX.
Weighing 245g for a pair of size Large, the Guide 2 is one of the thicker, heavier gauntlet-style gloves I've used. These gloves are built to be warm, first and foremost, and they feel like they should take a lot of abuse (the clue is in the name - working as a guide must be hard on your handwear). For all-round winter mountaineering they are the business, and I've appreciated them on icy hillwalking days too. Of course there's a price to pay in terms of reduced sensitivity, but you can still climb in them in the easier grades - and if the weather's wild then this is the pair I'd want to be wearing.
Fit and feel
From overall hand size to the relative length of your digits, everyone's hand shape is different, and so it follows that not all models of glove will fit every user equally well. Nothing I say in this review is going to beat trying them on yourself. It's worth mentioning that the Guide 2 GTX only comes in men's sizing, whereas the Pivot GTX is offered in both men's and women's versions.
I first looked at the Rab Guide glove in 2014 (see here), and then at the Guide Glove Short in 2018 (see here), and got on well with their balance of warmth and dexterity, with the original Guide in particular still being my all-time favourite gauntlet style glove for fit and overall versatility (though it's well-worn now after six years). For the new Guide 2 GTX, Rab's designers have started from scratch.
Both the older models had long, thin fingers, which just happens to match my hand shape really well, where I can find other gloves too broad and stumpy. The Guide 2 GTX is comparatively long-fingered too. The relative length of most digits still suits me, especially the long middle finger, though in the new version I have excess length in the little finger (thankfully the least important when it comes to handling tools etc). And as for every gauntlet I've ever tried, the gap between fingers and thumb could be deeper. In the new model the fingers have got wider, and while users with chunkier hands may welcome this, for me this is just empty space which does slightly compromise the overall dexterity. Shaping around the fingertips felt closer and more sculpted in the original Guide, too, whereas the new version is a tad boxier. There is some slightly obtrusive internal stitching at the fingertips, too.
While it's hard to compare a new glove with one that's bedded down over several seasons, I think it's fair to say that the new Guide 2 feels less dextrous, and this does affect how much technical climbing I'd want to do in them. On me the fit feels fine for lower grade winter mountaineering, but they would not be my choice for a challenging lead. Think warm winter workhorse, rather than fiddly technician. However as they get broken in the dexterity is improving.
A combination of insulation is used on the Guide 2, to good effect. For the palm side you get 100g/m2 of Primaloft Gold, an industry-leading synthetic fill with excellent warmth-for-weight and breathability. Here it's Primaloft's 'grip control', a non-slip version of the insulation that's better for holding stuff. On the back of the hand, where you want more warmth and don't need to worry so much about bulk, the Primaloft Gold is backed up by a deep pile lining (as with the original Guide glove). This is really snug, and though I suffer more than averagely cold hands I've yet to get numb fingers this winter in the Guide 2 GTX. If you want a very warm glove that's still acceptably sensitive for manual tasks, this could be it.
On the back of the fingers and around the cuff is a durable synthetic fabric with a very slight stretch to aid freedom of movement. The palm and fingertips, meanwhile, are Pittards Armortan leather. Soft, pliable, tough and grippy on an axe shaft, the leather has a nice quality feel. Of course, it does wet out in damp snow, though the membrane keeps that dampness on the outside; I'm sure you could cut down the absorbency by waxing the leather. I loved the old Guides for their toughness, as several years of use will attest, and while there's a fair bit less leather in the new version they do still feel like they're built to take abuse. I'll have to report back in another six years.
While the old Guide Glove was eVent lined, Rab have moved over to Gore-Tex for the Guide 2 GTX. Given that their new shell range is also Gore-Tex it makes sense to offer that consistency into the waterproof-lined glove range too. However as a user I struggle to tell the difference in a glove. Both seem to me to work well, keeping me largely dry inside (making allowances for the big hole you put your hand through), and not getting unduly sweaty when I'm working hard (within reason). Here Rab have used 'Gore-Tex Warm', which is a glove lining optimised for - you guessed it - warmth.
If you like a big protective cuff then you're in luck. The Guide 2's cuff is significantly longer than the old Guide's, and nicely shaped too, with a wide opening for easy entry and a more fitted shape at the wrist. Rab have done away with the original's elasticated wrist in favour of this tailored fit, and I think that's an improvement since any tightness in the cuff risks impairing blood flow to the hands. Although it's roomy the cuff is not excessively bulky, so it fits fine under jacket sleeves. And you can tighten it via a one-handed drawstring. One final thing worth noting here is that the outside fabric also runs up inside the wrist, which helps keep the insulation dry if there's any snow or moisture blowing about. Little touches like this are a sign of thoughtful design.
I rarely want to clip a pair of gloves to my harness (keeping them warm in a jacket is preferable), but should you wish to then Rab have provided the obligatory finger loop that allows them to hang opening-down to avoid them filling with spindrift. More useful, for me, are the stretchy wrist tethers that come supplied - though these are removable if you like. And the last feature of note is the soft nose wiping patch, which I do find myself using most days.
These are excellent tough gloves, with a workmanlike balance of warmth versus dexterity that errs more towards colder days in the mountains than fiddly technical climbing. My main concern is the price. Rab's original Guide Glove was great too, not least because it was only £65, a brilliant price when we reviewed it in 2014. OK, time moves on and prices rise, but since gloves easily get lost or trashed affordability should still be a concern. On the other hand (see what I did there) for £110 you're getting a well designed glove, with premium materials and build quality. And did I mention it's very warm?
Designed for long winter days, the durable yet dexterous nature of the Guide 2 GTX Gloves make them well suited to dedicated winter mountaineers, outdoor professionals and guides. The robust outer uses GORE-TEX® Warm waterproof technology with a supple Pittards® leather palm and digital leather reinforcement. This is combined with PrimaLoft® Gold synthetic insulation and a high pile lining to ensure warmth, dexterity and protection on cold, damp climbs.
The mapped 3D construction, pre-curved shape and PrimaLoft® Gold Grip Control of the Guide 2 GTX Gloves make ropework and tool handling easier, reducing hand fatigue on long days. In addition to this, the roll-top fingers and thumbs give a more precise fit, minimise seam exposure and increase durability. The cuff of the gloves can be quickly adjusted using one hand, and the protective outer extends inside the cuff of the glove to reduce freeze-thaw melt when clearing snowy ledges. An integrated pull-on tab and removable leash make sure gloves are firmly attached, and are easy to put on and take off.
For more info see rab.equipment
At 209g for a pair of size Large, the Pivot GTX is significantly lighter than its bulkier sibling. With less insulation and a smaller cuff it is noticeably not as warm, but as you'd expect the tradeoff is greater dexterity. Of the pair, this is the one designed more for technical climbing, and it's certainly the one I'd prefer to wear on the lead.
Fit and feel
This glove is available for both men and women (albeit in a more limited size range). Also reasonably long-fingered, happily for me, the Pivot GTX seem a tad slimmer-fitting than the Guide 2. There's a closer, more sculpted feel in the fingers, which have a pronounced pre-curved cut for easy grip. If anything the fingers are a fraction shorter than the Guide 2's - they're certainly shorter than the original Guide's - and again I'd ideally like a bit more depth in the gap between fingers and thumb.
However, dexterity is excellent - thanks both to the cut and the thinner insulation. Though it's slightly annoying (given the attention to detail elsewhere) that I can feel a ridge of stitching on the inside of each fingertip, this doesn't interfere much with the sensitivity. For fiddly tasks, from tying in to juggling with axes and placing gear, the Pivot GTX is a really nice dextrous glove, as good as any insulated gauntlet I've used for winter climbing. Most waterproof gloves are comparatively clumsy, but I've found these OK for fiddling with a camera and navigating with a map and compass, and as such they're pretty decent (if a bit over-specced) for hillwalking as well as more vertically-inclined days.
The Primaloft Gold insulation is mapped to give you less bulk (100g/m2) on the palm, and more thickness (170g/m2) on the back of the hand where warmth is needed and the extra bulk won't get in the way. These gloves are markedly lighter and thinner than the Guide 2, and they lack that lovely fluffy pile layer against the skin. In the moderately cold and unpleasant winter conditions I've been out in so far I've found them warm enough on the move, be that climbing or steaming uphill on a walking day. But when stationary at the belay, or on long windy slogs across snowy summit plateaus, I've generally wanted to swap into something thicker.
If you go out with several pairs of gloves on a typical winter mountaineering or climbing day (and you certainly should) then these are the ones you'll want to save for 'best'.
The synthetic outer fabric doesn't feel quite as burly as the Guide 2's, but it does have more stretch to help with the dexterity. Again, you get that lovely Pittards Armortan leather, which is soft, supple, durable and non-slip on a metal axe shaft. In this case there's extra reinforcement in particular in the crook of the thumb, which is going to get the most wear from axe handles.
I've noticed that when the gloves are damp and the temperature then drops, the leather can get frozen and stiff. That's hardly a surprise, and after a bit of re-working on the belay the leather softens up again for climbing. If you're often using your hands on the rock (clearing snow for instance) then the shiny leather surface soon scuffs (see photo below). Again that's not surprising, and for now the marking is only skin deep. Longer term, perhaps the leather would benefit from a bit of waxing TLC.
Unlike the Guide 2, Rab have used a Gore-Tex Active lining here. This stuff is optimised for maximum breathability rather than warmth, which makes sense in a glove designed first and foremost to be worn on the lead. As an end user breathability is always hard to gauge, but I certainly haven't yet had sweaty hands in the Pivot GTX.
On the Pivot you get a slightly shorter cuff than the Guide 2, but it's the same general idea - broad opening for easy entry, and a sculpted fit at the wrist instead of possibly more restrictive elastication. The cuff features a neat one-handed pull cord, and fits neatly under the sleeves of a shell. The lining material is less absorbent than the brushed Bemberg lining of the hand, which makes sliding them on easier and helps prevent the inside of the cuffs getting too damp.
As with the Guide 2, you get a finger clip, a nose-wipe patch, and that nice removable elastic tether. In addition the Pivot GTX features a bit of well-placed knuckle padding. If we do get any meaningful ice this season, that's going to be welcome.
A well-designed waterproof gauntlet for more technical climbing, the Pivot GTX prioritises dexterity over warmth. It may be borderline in colder, wilder conditions, and it's a bit refined (ie pricey) for general winter hillwalking and mountaineering, but for more demanding leads it would be an excellent choice if it suits your hand shape.
The ultimate winter gauntlet, the Pivot GTX Gloves are designed for technical alpine and ice climbing. Made using GORE-TEX® Active waterproof technology and PrimaLoft® Gold synthetic insulation, these robust and flexible gloves provide superb warmth and wet weather protection on bitterly cold climbs. Standing up to the harshest of conditions, they have extra knuckle protection and reinforced digital leather in high wear areas to increase durability.
Designed with a mapped 3D construction and a pre-curved shape, the Pivot GTX Gloves maximise tool dexterity and minimise hand fatigue on steep ground. The supple Pittards® leather palm uses PrimaLoft® Gold Grip Control to further enhance responsiveness and comfort. The Pivot GTX Gloves also have roll-top fingers and thumbs to give a more precise fit and reduce seam exposure. A single-handed cuff adjuster can be quickly altered in cold conditions, and an integrated pull-on tab and removable leash allows for quick transitions.
For more info see rab.equipment
See this product at the Joe Brown - Snowdonia shop
|Pivot glove - in stock. Free shipping.|
See this product at the Needle Sports shop
We need your help.
UKHillwalking is a vibrant site with rich content and an amazing community. So far, all we’ve asked is that you visit and interact with the site, but we are now in uncertain times. We need to look at new ways to ensure we can keep providing our content and features whilst maintaining our key aim of allowing free access to everyone.
If you appreciate UKHillwalking then please help by becoming a UKH Supporter.
Decent gloves don't tend to come cheap, but this season Alpkit have pulled off an affordable range that we think compares well with pricier alternatives. Dan Bailey road tests four models.
They're so warm, dextrous and well made that Kevin Woods struggles to find fault with Mountain Equipment's new Super Couloir gloves.
This waterproof insulated glove is just as tough and dextrous as the original Guide Glove, but with a less bulky cuff it fits more easily under your sleeves, says Dan Bailey
Handwear with central heating sounds great, but does the technology meet the needs of climbers and hillwalkers? Dan...
Mitts: perhaps not the sexiest of outdoor clothing, but if the weather is at its worst, or you suffer from cold extremities, then these are...
You may only have two hands, but in winter you can never have too many gloves. This collection spans a range of makes, models and prices. We've...