Overall Rating ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
With the OR Lucent Heated Gloves I think I’ve found the ultimate belay glove! Now that’s a bold statement and there are some caveats but these gloves have been a revelation.
After such an enthusiastic opener I’d best explain what makes it such a special glove. At first glance the OR Lucent Heated Glove is a well made, waterproof and well insulated ski glove, according to OR;
GORE-TEX® inserts make these gloves waterproof, and lightweight synthetic EnduraLoft™ insulation adds extra warmth and cold-weather protection. Other features include a fleece palm lining, molded EVA on the back of the hands and abrasion-resistant goat leather strips on the palms.
However this is only part of the story. What sets these gloves apart is the ALTIHeat technology which provides active battery powered heating to the back of the hand. Now lovers of simplicity will be shaking their heads in disbelief that we now live in an age were you may need to charge up your gloves (oh and headtorch, camera, phone, watch – where did I leave the plug board!) before going on the hill but bear with me. The wrist gauntlet of each glove has a zippered compartment on the palm side to accommodate a small lithium ion battery pack. This powers the AltiHeat element across the back of the hand and down the back of the fingers and thumb. On the outer side of the gauntlet there is a small square button, easily operated with the gloves on, a long press turns it on and a short press cycles through high, medium and low, each level indicated by a change in colour red, orange and green respectively. Charging these batteries takes around 6 hours and they are forecast to last 8 hours on low, 5 hours on medium and 2.5 hours on high. The gloves come supplied with a carry bag and charger together with various international adaptors to cater for all your travels. Spare batteries are also available at a very reasonable cost ($20 on the US website). In use the high setting was sinfully toasty (almost sat near the fire in the Clachaig warm!) making me a little guilty my partner wasn’t getting any benefit . Medium was a gentle background warmth and green barely noticeable.
In use I never ran out of power partly because I was only using them for belay duty but also I never felt the need to crank them on high for very long. I climbed with my usual routine, belay gloves tucked into my jacket, and when I arrived at a stance I’d rig the belay, swap into the OR Lucent Heated Gloves and click onto high, stick my belay jacket on, pull in up the slack by which time my hands were toasty warm and then click down to the lowest setting. Using the OR Lucent Heated Gloves I noticed a couple of unforeseen benefits. Firstly on the long belays typical of mixed climbs I remained that bit more comfortable and alert with no risk of chilled hands. Secondly when leading I could risk lighter more dextrous gloves knowing I could easily rewarm my hands when I arrived at the belay. Even with damp hands I found no issues with the lining inverting when pulling the gloves on and off (a pet hate of mine and many winter climbers). There are some down sides, these are hefty big gloves and they are not suited to lead climbing anything but straightforward snow and ice as they lack the dexterity. Weight wise they approach the weight of a light belay jacket 507grams! There is no way to lock off the buttons, so at times I found that they had switched on when stuffed into my jacket. On the walk in I’d disconnect the batteries to avoid this but that’s not a realistic option on route. If OR could add a nose wipe (don’t skiers get runny noses?) and a hanging loop on the fingers for drying and clipping on the harness during spindrift free euro ice trips these would be perfect.
The price will put many off (especially if you have a habit of losing gloves) but if you suffer from cold hands (perhaps Reynaud’s sufferers like myself) they would prove to be a worthwhile investment. Don’t forget that OR’s products are backed by their ‘Infinite Guarantee’ meaning they’re guaranteed forever so that may give you more peace of mind with such a hefty investment, providing you don’t drop them (though they do provide removable idiot loops to mitigate that risk I always remove wrist loops preferring to stuff them in a jacket rather than dangle and fill with spindrift). If you’ve currently forgotten what it’s like to have cold hands just spend a few seconds watching this proving that even ‘The Manbeast’ can suffer cold hans! (thanks to Kev for the video)… 😉
Though really designed for skiing they are surviving the abuses of winter climbing very well and show no signs of failure. Despite being a bit of a weight weenie I’m more than happy to take these on single day ventures and to be honest as they function as a great glove even without the battery power you could use them for overnight trips just using battery juice on route if you can take the weight penalty. They only miss out on five stars overall because of the price and bulk but I’m hooked and already wondering what the lighter OR ALTIHeat StormTrackers might be like for leading…
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