Are the Black Diamond Glissade gloves the best value all round mountaineering glove?
Rating (out of 5)
Value For Money: *****
For most climbers, glove choice is something of a nightmare. It’s impossible to find one pair that does everything perfectly. For winter climbing in the UK you need something dexterous yet warm, the former being particularly important on more technical leads. They also need to be waterproof as we’re not blessed with the cold, dry conditions they get in the Alps. Added to the mix, most gloves tend not to last much more than a season, particularly if you’re doing mixed routes and to top it all off, they generally cost a bomb.
So is there a glove out there that will do everything the UK winter climber and mountaineer requires it to without compromise? Well, to be honest probably not, but a few do try…
Recently Black Diamond suggested we test their Glissade glove, saying: “the Glissade is the quintessential winter glove and is our most versatile design.”
The Glissade gloves I tested were men’s size Small. I felt that I was borderline Small/Medium when I tried them on so went for the Small option. I always size my gloves on the tight side as they usually stretch to give a neat and precise fit. This was the case with these. For climbing use there’s nothing worse than gloves that are too big. Floppy fingers and thumbs reduce dexterity and get caught in gear and karabiners. There was none of this with the Glissades. They fitted literally, like a glove!
I’ve used my Glissades all winter for mountaineering routes in the UK, snowy approaches, more technical ice and mixed routes in Scotland and the Alps, as belay gloves and for skiing. They’ve handled all of these pursuits admirably but some better than others.
As a ski glove I found the Glissade to be excellent, providing more than the warmth (provided by 100g of Thinsulate insulation) of their -1 centigrade rating and the BDry insert keeping my hands dry, combating moisture both inside and out. The gauntlet design fits very well over my jacket cuffs and the elastic cinch closure is easy to adjust and secure.
I actually found the Glissades to be a little too warm for extended periods of energetic activity such as skinning or slogging up to the Ben. For this I would normally choose a lighter weight softshell glove. However, as soon as it comes to skiing down hill or plunging your axe shaft into powder on steep approaches, the Glissades were perfect. In fact, these gloves are ideal for all round mountaineering situations.
As a technical climbing glove the Glissades work too. But I suppose this where they have their limitations too. For a glove of this warmth, dexterity is excellent and they are easy to get on and off (even with damp hands) due to the fixed inners. The low bulk means that you get good levels of feel when gripping ice tools or ski poles and they don’t pose any problems when handling karabiners, cams or wires.
When climbing, they performed best for me on pure ice routes (as opposed to mixed ground) but are not an out and out ice glove as they lack any knuckle or finger tip protection. They also don’t have the articulation (pre-curved hand shape) that something like the Specialist glove has. Saying this, I have actually climbed some pretty technical ground in these, such as the direct entry to Supercouloir on the East Face of Mt Blanc Du Tacul, and found them to perform very well. I never got cold hands either and it was a chilly February day with winds up to 60mph!
The main downside of these for more technical routes though is going to be durability, particularly on mixed ground. The Glissades don’t have leather on the fingertips so these are going to wear out pretty quickly if you are climbing a lot of mixed stuff. I normally do most of my technical climbing in Punishers or Specialists to be honest, but I wouldn’t discount these and I’ve now taken to carrying my Glissades as a spare pair as well.
So to round things up, the Glissade glove is the perfect glove to go for if you like to do a bit of everything in the mountains in winter. Black Diamond produce other gloves which will be better suited to each individual activity but that’s going to be a lot more money and a lot more pairs to carry than £50 for one pair of Glissades. This really is a top quality, all round glove at an excellent price!