What are they?
They are gloves. One for each hand. To me gloves fall in to 3 categories:
They are a mid-weight, do everything type of glove, and they are great. They are perfect for winter rock climbing in the UK (belaying, resting while bouldering etc), and winter hill walking. I would guess they would be great for dry tooling or super-technical ice-falls in nice weather. They are made out of some sort of stretchy material. It's like softshell on the outside and feels warm and fleecy on the inside. The tough, grippy palm is a kind of jazzed up leather fabric, with a coating, so they aren't gloves for vegans. They are water resistant and wind resistant, they have a grippy palm and small velcro-style fastened cuff. They are not liner gloves, being a bit too bulky (I think you could use them as liners in an emergency, but they certainly wouldn't be perfect) and they aren't a full on Alpine winter gauntlet.
What did I use them for?
I took them out bouldering up to minus 3 in the Llanberis Pass, I dragged them around Fontainebleau for a week, I took them hill walking in North Wales in full winter conditions and I have patiently belayed my friends on their slate sport projects in the freezing winter wind. I haven't had chance to take them Alpine ice-fall climbing.
The gloves have been excellent in general use - hill walking in bad weather and wearing while bouldering. They feel exceptionally warm for their weight, much warmer than an average liner glove. The fit is superb, at first I thought the external seams looked a little unsightly, but I soon realised they had the seams on the outside for a reason - so they're not on the inside! There's a soft bit near the thumb for wiping snot on, but I'm pretty used to wiping snot on my sleeve, so I didn't get too much use out of that. The cuff is small but does the job, fitting well and keeping the glove on your hand if you remove your jacket etc.
Belaying in cold weather:
Simply put - they were perfect. The strange looking fabric on the palm reminded me of a gecko's foot - and it grips the rope like one too. The grippy fabric is tough enough to stand up to the rope running over it, the shape of the fingers mean that you can curl your hand tightly on to the rope - essential for a firm grip and the snug and robust fit means that the fabric of the glove doesn't get pulled in to the belay device.
A great all round glove. Not for Winter Alpinism, but perfect for summer Alps trips and year round UK abuse. Need to belay in the freezing wind? These will be your friend. No extra whistles and bells, just a simple design that works.
As I didn't get a chance to use them ice-fall climbing, I found this post to be of interest:
TobyA commented in the UKC forums: "My mate has been using a pair for a good two or three years for all his ice climbing and seems to have found them quite good for that. They're worn out now, but I've seen him use them loads for a long time so they seem pretty good value."
See UKC Photo: Jody climbing in the XT Gloves
For more information on the Marmot XT Glove:
For more technical information and a list of stockists: