One of the most pivotal, yet oft neglected, items in our arsenal is the humble glove. Frequently occupying a lesser position when compared to more stimulating and appealing artifacts such as our UL shelter systems and pertex-shrouded insulation layers and sleeping arrangements, there can be fewer more crucial selections than the glove. Functioning hands are critical and keeping them protected is the fulcrum of safety in the hills.
So it was that I spent some time, as I do with most of my kit selections, weighing the various advantages and disadvantages of lightweight gloves. I wanted something that would keep out the wind, and much of the rain, and which would warm my hands when I pulled on gloves, as is so often the case, when they were already cold. They needed to be minimalist not only in terms of weight but so I could use my hands without encumbrance.
Initially, I looked at Extremities Velo gloves. I liked the weight (78g for size large), the close fit and the windstopper. I had queries about the ability to warm my hands if they were already cold, but I thought they fitted the bill well. I could not order them for a while as they seemed out of stock perpetually. It was an idle Tuesday afternoon when I found myself in Ellis Brigham in Covent Garden, browsing whilst waiting for a meeting. I stopped at the glove rack and happened upon the Mountain Equipment Windchill Grip.
The Windchill Grip is a fleece glove, with Gore Glacier windstopper fabric, a box-finger construction and silicone ME symbol palm for impressive grip. The cuff is extended so it will cover, or sneak under, a sleeve and the elasticated wrist is just about the perfect stretch. As a fleece windstopper fabric glove, it would fulfil the two major criteria I had - warmth when my hands were already cold and wind-resistance. Fleece would also dry quickly so if it got wet in the rain, I was not too fussed. I have always found fleece to be reasonably warm when wet and it shrugs of rain well for quite some time. The palm, festooned with innumerate tiny ME symbols in silicone to provide an almost mucilaginous surface, looks a little like something Batman might find solace in. I've had these sorts of surfaces on gloves before and they often peel off, but there seems little sign of that so far and the tiny sigils are welded onto the fleece fabric unyieldingly.
At around £28, and satisfactorily light - a minimalist design (no clips, drawstrings or other burdensome contrivances) means they in fact weigh 66g for the pair. The glove is machine washable at 30C - very useful as they tend to get dirty easily.
I turned to them habitually on the TMB and found them to be admirable and unfailing - on the Col de la Seigne, when I was far too cold, far too quickly, I pulled them on before wrestling myself into the Montane Prism. My hands were warm within seconds of caressing that fleecy snugness. I've used them going to work recently in the sub-zero temperatures of the early morning commute and they have yet to falter. They've been washed several times and dry within moments. There are far more complicated, technical gloves to be had, but I'd doubt they're as effective, or as light.
Strange how you sometimes stumble across an unassuming champion, among a plethora of supposed superiority.