/ Ice Climbing gloves fit advice

L DocLemurian on 08 Oct 2016

Hi there,

I need a mixed/ice climbing advice. I'm quite new to this area, and would like to buy a good pair of gloves.
The problem is the following: as far as I checked in the shops there are two kinds of glove fits:

- The grip-shaped glove, typical example the BD Punisher. The glove has such a shape like its already gripping something. When I try these, my fingers reach the very end of the gloves when they are in the gloves natural gripping position, but when I straighten my hand it feels small/restricting.

- Normal shape gloves, like Rab/Arcteryx fit. When I have these of gloves on, some of them fit my hand more or less good when in a generic position, but when I bend my fingers into a gripping position, the end of gloves' fingers slide a bit forward and there is a smallish gap.

Which one should I go for? Or the ideal glove should not have this kind of tradeoff, and is good in both positions?

Another questions: what's with these glove liners? Should I size my gloves with a glove liner (merino/powerstretch)? They seems to make gripping the ice tool much harder....
Post edited at 19:27
TobyA on 09 Oct 2016
In reply to DocLemurian:

Gloves in gloves always seems stupid to me, and having ice climbed a lot and lived in a cold country for a long time I could never get it to work. Thin gloves in mitts is OK but even that isn't great.

Finding gloves that fit is very trial and error - I've got some quite good ones which are more precurved and have had other good ones that weren't.

For technical ice or mixed get the thinnest that you can that do the job and take big gloves or mitts for belays and walking home.
L DocLemurian on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to TobyA:

Thanks for the reply!
Ok, so there is no silver bullet here as far as I understand. Try until I find the perfect one.

Do you have some advice on what are the most important points the gloves should not miss?
I would try it with the ice axe: grip, hang on it and such, and also play with carabiners and rack in general, rack them on the harness, etc...
nniff - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to TobyA:

> Gloves in gloves always seems stupid to me, and having ice climbed a lot and lived in a cold country for a long time I could never get it to work. Thin gloves in mitts is OK but even that isn't great.

Quite the opposite for me -
I always wear a pair of thin polypropylene inner gloves. I find it keeps my hands markedly warmer, I think trapping a layer of air close tp my hand (but what do I know). I also find getting a damp hand back into a glove well nigh impossible if I have to take a glove off for anything, but straightforward with an inner.

Personally, I go for the fit with my hands in a relaxed position, but if a glove is hard up against the end of your fingers, you'll get cold.

BD Punishers and liners for me. OR Warrants I find are quite a lot colder on the fingers.
L DocLemurian on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to nniff:

The BD punishers are not for relaxed hands, they are definitely precurved.

As I mentioned I have limited experience with ice and mixed climbing. I did some drytooling once (on the continent) using a pair of Marmot XTs. I tried with glove liners (thin powerstretch) and without. The glove-liner version felt very insecure. It felt like my gloves will roll down on the ice tools and had to grip much harder than without the liners. It was really exhausting after a while. I'm not sure if thats normal, but without it went pretty good.

The damp-hand-problem exists only with BD gloves (Arc/Punisher). They have that stupid second liner, which really makes in impossible to get the damp hand back. I found other brands much more forgiving (Arcteryx/Marmot/Mammut).
nniff - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to DocLemurian:

Not much that I agree with in what you have posted:

If I relax my hands, my fingers have a natural curl, which is about the same as a pair of BD Punishers.

Powerstretch is far too thick - thin polypropylene is what you need, as a liner, not a second pair of warm gloves.

The damp hand problem isn't restricted to BD Punishers - I have the same problem with Marmot XT (which I wore for years before changing to Punishers). Marmot XT still in use on my bike though.

Other than that......
L DocLemurian on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to nniff:

As I said I'm a beginner with ice climbing, I'm interested in every kind of experience and advice. I use the Marmot XT to generic mountain stuff, maybe my hands don't get that sweaty there.

Can you help me out with a polypropylene pair of gloves that is good? For something really thin, 120 weight merinowool came to my mind. At least that is what I see in outdoor shops.

Unfortunately the new Marmot XTs are not as warm as the old (2008-9 ) ones. I have both pairs and there is a considerable difference.

nniff - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to DocLemurian:

something like these:

http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/clothing-accessories/all-gloves-mitts/hi-wick-thinny-glove/ A bargain at under 3 at the moment.

but pretty much any one size fits all stretchy synthetic glove. Usually about 6/pair. Not ones with sticky pads - unhelpful in context.

Merino tends to get a bit baggy, although having said that I've got one pair of slightly thicker merino gloves that go inside OR Warrants because the latter have naff insulation on the fingers compounded by their fingers being rather loose on me. They're demoted to reserve pair, having lost our to an old pair of Punishers that are held together with seamgrip.

Works for me - and has done since the mid-80s. Never had the hot aches either - although whether that's down to gloves or physiology or waggling my fingers a lot I wouldn't care to say.
indigo on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to DocLemurian:

I've used Punishers for years - they are about the best I think. The fit is always a compromise between dexterity and warmth. I prefer them on the snug side and I'd size them with fingers bent ie. as you would be holding your axes. Liners are good if you intend to take your gloves on and off. Otherwise I think its debatable as liners can constrict your hands slightly within the glove and may actually make your fingers colder. I use very thin helly liners sometimes. Depending on your circulation, Punishers won't keep your hands toasty all the time so expect the hot aches. Below about -15C and depending on your circulation and how gripped you are, Punishers start feeling seriously cold to me. I got frostnip in the tips of my little fingers last year in Norway. I've bought a pair of Enforcers for colder conditions - great gloves - much warmer but much thicker and so much less dextrous. Always a compromise. Mike
L DocLemurian on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to indigo:

I'm just afraid of the BD gloves. I have a pair of BD Arcs and at least once in critical situation I could not properly get them on because of that stupid freemoving inner layer. Otherwise the BD Punisher fit me really snug, it is really on the edge of being small, but just a little bit, maybe after break in it would be the perfect one.

From other recommendations shorted the list to the
- Outdoor Research Extravert and Alibi II gloves
- Mammut Nordwand gloves
- Arcteryx Alpha FL gloves
- Mountain Hardwear Hydra Pro and Lite

Does anyone have experience with these?
indigo on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to DocLemurian:

They do become a little more roomy when you break them in so I'd definately buy on the snug side. I don't have a problem with getting them on and off and if you wear a liner that should help in that department too. Whatever you buy I'd major on dexterity. Mike
george mc - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to DocLemurian:

Glove choice incredibly personal and pays your money and takes your choice. Whenever you find gloves that work for you immediately buy several pairs. As I've found often in the past by next season the buggers will in all likliehood have changed the design (to "improve it") and you'll be back to square one...

FWIW BD Punishers are my glove of choice - warmth, dexterity and tough - simply tired heaps they work for me. Oh and I took my own advice - got three sets on the go (second lot! BD for now seem content with the design and have been for more than a few years) - one brand new pair, one comfy pair and one pair increasingly becoming well worn. Bit jawdroppingly expensive outlay in the short term but defo worth the investment long term.
L DocLemurian on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to george mc:

Ok, so it seems everyone here uses Punishers. Except for Toby maybe.
Are they really that good? Or maybe phrased differently, are the competition that bad?
nniff - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to DocLemurian:
Well, they're the best I've ever used. The last pair were beginning to get a somewhat worn out and I replaced them (for some reason best known to the devil on my shoulder) with a pair of OR Warrants that cost substantially more. Unfortunately, the latter are also substantially colder and have amess of a wrist closure. So I've slapped some more seam grip on the Warrants and will probably manage to justify buying another pair when there's a still a sound pair of less worthy gloves in the cupboard.

A winter or so ago, four of us were out on a minging day on Ben Nevis, floundering around in a mess of wet soggy snow, damp dripping rock and wet ropes but trying to get something done. All told, a standard fiasco leading to a retreat in disarrray. Somebody compalined that their hands were soaking, at which point I mentioned that mine were still bone dry. A third stated that that was as good a test of gloves as you'll get. Wouldn't disagree.
Post edited at 10:19
J_Trottet - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to DocLemurian:

As mentioned above, a lot of it comes to what fits (for example, I don't get on with a lot of gloves as I have large palms but short fingers so get space at the front of the glove which sometimes gets caught).

Another consideration is durability, I'd personally shy away from anything with softshell between the fingers as I've found that it'll start tearing after a couple of routes. The more leather the better but even then, if you're climbing lots of mixed you'll find that gloves lasting more than a season is a big ask. Important not to get anything too expensive in that regards.

Gloves to consider which have worked well for me in the past/ I've heard good things about:

-Rab baltoro
-Rab guide
-OR Lodestar
-ME Super Alpine

Caveating that how warm your hands will stay is subjective to how your hands cope with the cold. The gloves I've listed there tend to be thinner leading gloves which means a good pair of mitts or a pair of warmer gloves for belays may be necessary. In general I've found that you need multiple pairs of gloves whilst out in winter if you want to keep your hands warm, I have as a minimum 3 (approach gloves - thin, maybe waterproof, lead gloves - thin and durable, belay gloves - thick).
taddersandbadger - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to DocLemurian:
Another vote for Punishers as a good allrounder, but agree with others there is no single glove that does it all. I carry at least 3 or 4 sets and change between them. Often thin or none on the walk in, changing to a dry fingered pair at the base of the route, plus dry base layer and belay jacket on. Gear up then change to thin dexterous climbing gloves if leading or slightly oversized but thin mitts with hand warmers in them if belaying.
At the belay, set up, then back to belay jacket, mitts and hand warmers (using a guide plate!) with my lead gloves inside my soft shell against the skin.
Any other spares are in a small daypack wrapped around a 500ml water bottle filled with boiling water at the start of the day, which is drunk on the walk out or sooner if things are not going according to plan....

Hope that helps!
Post edited at 15:51
L DocLemurian on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to J_Trottet:

Thanks for the tip on avoiding the softshell fingers. Do the punishers have full leather fingers? The marketing pics show them from the knuckle, and I can't tell.
TobyA on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to DocLemurian:

> Ok, so it seems everyone here uses Punishers. Except for Toby maybe.

Nope, actually I've got a pair as well.

In my old life in the far north, winter climbing was predominantly ice fall climbing - all your runners are screws so your gloves need to be dexterous enough to get a screw off the rack, place it, grab a quickdraw, clip it then clip the rope in. Punishers are excellent for that, but some warmer gloves are ok too. But when it comes to UK mixed (or indeed mixed elsewhere, where you are needing to say, get #2 wire off a rack of ten, or place a smallish cam - then Punishers are already a bit clumsy. I tend to use some sort of thin softshell gloves with leather palms and put mitts/big gloves on to belay. I was thinking back to way back when I lived in Scotland (the 90s!) and I did use liner gloves then - my standard set up was thinnies and then sticky-thickies over them. This worked well for harder pitches but was totally un waterproof and not that warm, so you needed mitts to change into. It was though about as cheap as you could go, which as a student at the time, was a prime consideration!

Many ways to skin this cat, and you'll soon find out, many ways to cold fingers and curse whatever gloves you do buy! Have fun.