The OR Stormtracker Sensor is a weatherproof and versatile glove that work well for aerobic and mountaineering tasks in cold conditions.
Any winter climber will tell you that gloves can make or break a days climbing and we are not talking just a single pair for the day here. If you climb in the adverse conditions that Scotland brings it’s fairly likely that you will have a pair for the approach, a pair to belay with, two or more pairs to lead with and maybe even a ‘bail me out’ pair sealed in a waterproof bag in the bottom of your sac.
Outdoor Research (OR) have an enviable reputation for making top quality gloves across a whole spectrum of uses. My favourite leading gloves for the last three years are the excellent OR Lodestar – the fact that they have lasted 3 years (I have two pair that I swap about alternate pitches) speaks well for their durability. Over the years we have reviewed a number of different OR models (Luminary, Lucent Heated and Lodestar) all of which have performed well. The Stormtracker has been a stalwart of the OR range for a while now so I was interested to try them in their new ‘Sensor’ guise. Billed as an all rounder the Stormtracker Sensor is a GORE® WINDSTOPPER® soft shell, tricot lined glove that allows you to operate touchscreens. A leather palm boosts durability and means they can cope with the abuses of rope work and handling sharp tools which make up a typical winter or alpine day in the hills.
Having found a perfect fit with the OR Lodestar in a large I went for the same size in the Stormtracker Sensor but for me personally this was not such a good fit. I don’t think I would be able to cope with a medium but I found the Large too long in the fingers which compromised the dexterity a little. Really what this shows is that much like buying footwear, glove fit is intensely personal and you really should try before you buy just as different ‘lasts’ used by footwear manufacturers glove makers have different fits (even from the same company). The Stormtracker Sensor is also lacks the pre-curved shaping of the Lodestar but does incorporate ‘darts’ of stretchy fabric at the knuckles to aid dexterity and reduce stress on the fabric.
The Stormtracker Sensor made a great approach come mountaineering glove when you are moving fairly constantly, it balances sufficient warmth with breathability and good wind and moisture shedding ability. Using walking poles or an axe piolet cane style they work great but the fit was not secure enough for me to feel confident technical climbing with them though it would certainly be possible and others may find the fit better – as mentioned above it’s a personal thing. The GORE® WINDSTOPPER® outer meant that they didn’t wet out like my normal approach gloves and though considerably warmer I didn’t get too sweaty wearing them though this is obviously temperature dependant. One niggle I did find which is common to every tricot lined glove I’ve used is that once your hands get wet (think Scottish mixed climbing) it is difficult to put them back on as the liner catches especially if you have numbish fingers. Beyond that they make a great allrounder – breathable and light enough for aerobic approach work and durable enough for climbing. I’d often find with fleece gloves that they would get soaked from wet snow etc on the approach and then be useless later in the day on the descent, with the OR Stormtrackers they were almost always usable later in the day as their weather resistance prevented them becoming soaked.
The ‘sensor’ feature which allows you to operate a touchscreen works perfectly but bear in mind that you will be limited to fairly basic gestures and operations as you’re wearing gloves, there is unlikely to be any rapid double thumb typing which is not an issue for those of us over a certain age 😉 Never the less you can update your Facebook status and make friends back home jealous of the great time you’re having without getting cold digits in our digital world which has got to be a result! They may seem a little pricey compared to a plain fleece approach glove but they are far more weatherproof, versatile and robust which should help justify the cost – just remember to try the fit.
Richie is the enthusiastic amateur of the team. Enjoying all aspects of climbing but especially alpine, winter and his local grit . Having managed to survive the vagaries of both fluorescent Koflachs and rainbow tights in the 80s he looks forward to an even more stylish future. A shady past in mountain marathons and adventure races, including the Marathon des Sables, means he’s an advocate of fast and light. Though the former is debatable if you’ve seen him on a tricky lead!