UKC

Trekmates Gloves - Strath, Gulo and Thaw Review

© Dan Bailey

From hats to handwear, Trekmates do a lot of accessories. Their glove selection is particularly extensive, ranging from thin liner gloves to waterproof-lined insulated winter models. With spring in the air, and lately on the ground too, I'm looking at three pairs from the lighter end of the scale.

Wearing the Gulo glove on Liathach in early spring  © Dan Bailey
Wearing the Gulo glove on Liathach in early spring
© Dan Bailey

  • Strath: a mid-thickness stretchy fleece glove for sweaty winter walk-ins, or hill days in benign weather
  • Gulo: a windproof glove with a leather palm, ideal for uses requiring dexterity but not lots of warmth, such as spring mountaineering
  • Thaw: a lightweight and packable insulated glove which is snug for its weight, and well suited to cold weather running or backpacking.

Left to right: Thaw, Gulo, Strath  © Dan Bailey
Left to right: Thaw, Gulo, Strath
© Dan Bailey

All three are competitively priced, but have a well-made feel. My pick of the bunch is the Gulo, which combines a Gore Infinium windproof fabric, a Pittards leather palm, and a light brushed inner to good effect, giving you a glove that feels both dextrous and reasonably durable - ideal for wielding an ixe axe on comparatively warm winter days, or scrambling when there's a spring nip in the air.

For info on the full range see trekmates.co.uk

Strath Glove - £20

Whether it's for moderate temperatures, or a sweaty winter walk-in, we all need a simple pair of light fleece gloves. Made of stretchy Polartec Power Stretch, the Strath fit the bill.

Unlike some gloves at this sort of weight and price point, these don't feature a clip to keep the pair secure; but for a thin glove that's less of an issue since you can turn over the cuffs to carry them together like a pair of socks.

Weight

In size XL the Strath weighs just 48g for the pair, so they're not going to trouble you on a lightweight backpacking journey, or stuffed in a rucksack while you climb in something thicker. 

Strath Gloves, saturated on a slushy Ben Nevis but still working (to an extent) when wet  © Dan Bailey
Strath Gloves, saturated on a slushy Ben Nevis but still working (to an extent) when wet
© Dan Bailey

Fit

Quite a tight-fitted glove with long thin fingers, the Strath suits my long-fingered hands, but thanks to the stretchy Polartec fabric I've got by with a smaller size Large in these, while I had to go up to XL in the other gloves in the range (which doesn't happen to me often, as I'm generally a benchmark size L). In size XL I found the Strath simply too long in the fingers.

The touchscreen pads work patchily for me. Easier to just remove a glove  © Dan Bailey
The touchscreen pads work patchily for me. Easier to just remove a glove
© Dan Bailey

Fabric

A blend of polyester and elastane, Polartec Power Stretch has been a benchmark fleecy fabric for many years, and with its high degree of stretch and shape retention it's a good thing to make thin gloves out of since it means they can be skin tight and highly dextrous. The outer face is smooth, which reduces snagging and must help keep out at least some wind and spindrift. The brushed inner side feels nice and snug, and for their weight these do seem to be pretty warm compared to similar stretch fleece gloves I own. Power Stretch is quick-drying too, and feels like it's doing a good job of wicking sweat away.

Pads on the first finger and thumb are claimed to be touchscreen compatible, but while these work sat at a desk in the warm and dry, out on the hill I find it hit-and-miss and tend to have to remove a glove to reliably operate my phone.

Strath gloves on the long, breezy walk-in to Coire na Caime  © Dan Bailey
Strath gloves on the long, breezy walk-in to Coire na Caime
© Dan Bailey

Trekmates say:

Close fitting gloves made from Polartec® Power Stretch®. These gloves are perfect for wearing on their own or under shell gloves for extra insulation.

  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Weight: 48g/pair size XL (our weight)
  • Polartec® Power Stretch® with melange pattern
  • Fabric brushed inside for warmth
  • Close fit for dexterity

Gulo Glove - £38

A thin general purpose glove which would be ideal for bridge seasons on the hills, but could also double for biking, scrambling, and even ice axe-swinging mountaineering in more clement winter conditions, the Gulo combines a leather palm with a weather-resistant back, taking the edge off in cool weather while still offering loads of feel and dexterity. If you're after a simple, lightweight, and reasonably durable glove for a range of activities then I think they're really rather nice at this price. For me, these are the pick of the selection on review here.

Windy on Aonach Air Chrith, but my hands are happy in the Gulo Gloves  © Dan Bailey
Windy on Aonach Air Chrith, but my hands are happy in the Gulo Gloves
© Dan Bailey

As with the Strath, the Gulo has no clip to hold the pair together, but again the cuffs fold over readily so you can store them like a pair of socks and not worry about losing one.

Weight

At 70g for a pair of size XL the Gulo doesn't seem at all heavy for a glove that's both windproof and about half leather. It's just the thing for lightweight spring days.

A slim-fitting glove with Gore Infinium Windstopper on the back of the hand...  © Dan Bailey
A slim-fitting glove with Gore Infinium Windstopper on the back of the hand...
© Dan Bailey

Fit

This is another close-fitting model, and because the leather component offers little stretch you may need to consider going up a size from your usual. Though my hands are fairly slim I could barely squeeze them into my customary size L and had to go for XL. The long, thin fingers and the deep gap between fingers and thumb happen to suit my hand shape really well, but if you have broad hands or comparatively short/chunky fingers you will want to try these on carefully before making a purchase.

...And soft Pittards leather on the palm side  © Dan Bailey
...And soft Pittards leather on the palm side
© Dan Bailey

The short, simple cuff has no fit adjustment, but a bit of stretch for ease of movement, and while it doesn't offer much wrist protection in foul weather it's sufficient for the remit of the gloves. Close-fitting and uninsulated, the cuff slides easily under tighter jacket sleeves.

With roll-top fingers that give you no seams on the fingertip, and a nice pre-curved shape, the Gulo are really dextrous. While wearing them I find it easy to tie knots, operate a camera, and handle either rock or winter tools.

It's good for mountain use in more benign conditions  © Dan Bailey
It's good for mountain use in more benign conditions
© Dan Bailey

Fabrics

On the back of the hand Trekmates have used a Gore Infinium Windstopper fabric, which as the name suggests is highly windproof, while also offering a good degree of shower or snow resistance. This ePTFE membrane may not be the most breathable thing ever made, as I've felt clammy at times when working hard in spring-like weather, but for cool-to-chilly windy conditions it seems spot on. There's a decent amount of stretch in the Gore Infinium, which helps with general dexterity. Inside is a fleecy brushed surface on the back of the hand. The warm bit of these gloves, this doesn't offer loads of insulation, but I've found it enough to take the edge off on fast-moving days when the air temperature is hovering around zero or a bit above.

Well suited to spring scrambling, where dexterity trumps insulation  © Dan Bailey
Well suited to spring scrambling, where dexterity trumps insulation
© Dan Bailey

The Pittards WR100X water resistant leather palm is very soft and supple, and grips well on things like axes and trekking poles. If you were regularly scrambling in these gloves I don't imagine it lasting very long un-scuffed, but few gloves this light are really that tough, and this certainly wouldn't stop me using them on spring scrambles. I suspect that if anything it's the Gore Infinium on the back of the hand that will wear faster, though it's all good so far. The leather part of the Gulo has no lining for warmth, but that helps with dexterity and sensitivity. Since it's been treated it doesn't readily wet out, which would be a pain when you're out in the snow.

Trekmates say:

GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ WINDSTOPPER™ and Pittards WR100X real leather make a glove perfect for activities where wind protection, stretch, dexterity and breathability are needed

  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Weight: 70g/pair size XL (our weight)
  • GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ WINDSTOPPER™ and water resistant outer
  • Pittards WR100X water resistant leather palm
  • Roll top pre-curved fingers
  • Close fitting for increased dexterity
  • Shorter length stretch cuff

Thaw Glove - £35

The thickest and by a long way the warmest of the three, the Thaw has a light synthetic outer, an insulating layer of Primaloft Gold Eco, and a brushed microfleece lining. While this isn't a durable glove for hard manual use its selling points are lightness and packability, and I think it'll be of interest chiefly to runners, hillwalkers, and weight-conscious backpackers wanting to carry something toasty just in case. I'm used to wearing insulated gloves around three times this weight, and I find the Thaw surprisingly snug for something this light.

Thaw gloves in a spring thaw in Glen Shiel  © Dan Bailey
Thaw gloves in a spring thaw in Glen Shiel
© Dan Bailey

This is the only model of the three with a buckle to join the pair. You also get a stuff sack, which features a little hanging clip.

Weight

Weighing just 66g for a pair of size XL, the Thaw is impressively light for an insulated glove with a separate outer fabric and lining. The outside is pretty thin, and probably wouldn't stand up to much abuse, but these gloves aren't meant for mountaineering and you're much more likely to be using them with walking poles than ice axes. They're really warm for their weight, and squash down so small in their tiny stuff sack that you could easily carry them in a pocket, or a bum bag or running vest. Perhaps you won't need to get them out all day; at this weight it wouldn't matter.

Thaw gloves are light enough to carry when running  © Dan Bailey
Thaw gloves are light enough to carry when running
© Dan Bailey

But they feel really warm for their weight  © Dan Bailey
But they feel really warm for their weight
© Dan Bailey

Fit

The Thaw fits as closely as the others, and again I needed to go up to XL from my usual L. The long, thin fingers suit my hand shape, and have a nice pre-curved cut that aids dexterity. It's a shame there are seams over the fingertips, though this sort of insulated glove isn't really ideal for fiddly tasks anyway.

With a mid-length cuff, there's good wrist coverage (one of the secrets to non-wooden digits), and the light elastication at the cuff and over the inner wrist is enough to hold in the warmth without feeling tight or restrictive. As it's soft and comparatively thin for an insulated glove, the Thaw fits easily under jacket sleeves.

They pack into their own little stuff sack, with a hanging clip  © Dan Bailey
They pack into their own little stuff sack, with a hanging clip
© Dan Bailey

Fabric

The outer, palm and back of the hand alike, is an unspecified polyamide fabric - nothing fancy with a brand name, but it seems to do the job in terms of keeping some weather out (and the filling in). It's not properly waterproof, so the Thaw isn't a glove for prolonged rain, or for plunging an axe into wet snow, but there's certainly a degree of water resistance and I've found that light moisture won't trouble them. They're also quick drying in comparison to your average thicker, heavier insulated gloves.

While it is not fully windproof, and you can feel a strong, cold wind more than you would in a waterproof-lined climbing gauntlet, that measure of air permeability seems to help with breathability, and I've yet to notice my hands get sweaty when wearing them running or hillwalking. But do remember that this fabric is really thin, lightweight stuff, and whatever its merits durability isn't going to be among them. With that in mind I wouldn't wear the Thaw for climbing or scrambling.

With cold, wet hands the lining can feel clingy  © Dan Bailey
With cold, wet hands the lining can feel clingy
© Dan Bailey

The addition of a touchscreen-compatible pad on the index finger seems a good idea at first glance, but as with the Strath I find it works better sat at a desk than on a cold, windy hill. I can't reliably operate a smartphone wearing gloves this thick anyway, so for me it's a bit redundant.

Insulation

Trekmates have used 100g/m2 of Primaloft Gold Eco, a fully recycled synthetic insulation that's one of the better available in terms of packability and warmth for weight. You don't get loads of it, but it seems to be just the right amount for use in moderately cold conditions, and not so much that you overheat when on the move. 

For extra comfort and snugness the inner lining is a thin brushed microfleece. This is nice, except when you're trying to put the gloves on with cold, wet hands, when I've found it can be a bit clingy.

Trekmates say:

Maximising warmth while minimising weight and pack size, the Thaw glove can be worn on its own or over liner gloves for excellent thermal protection.

  • Weight: 66g/pair size XL (our weight)
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • 100gm/m2 Primaloft® Gold Eco insulation from recycled materials
  • Brushed microfleece lining
  • Shell: 100% Polyamide
  • Elasticated wrist
  • Stuff bag with key clip provided
  • Touch screen compatible



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