OUT­DOOR RE­SEARCH BITTERBLAZE GLOVES / OURAY ICE GLOVES

Backpacker - - Editors’ Choice Awards -

Pick one: Warm hands or nim­ble fin­gers. That’s usu­ally the choice with gloves, but not with the BitterBlaze (the women’s ver­sion is the Ouray Ice). The se­cret weapon here is Pri­maLoft Gold Aero­gel. Aero­gel is an ul­tra­light ma­te­rial—it’s 2 per­cent sil­ica and 98 per­cent air—that’s a su­perb in­su­la­tor: Un­like down or syn­thetic in­su­la­tion, which trap heat in air pock­ets, aero­gel is a solid that pre­vents warmth from es­cap­ing (it has ex­tremely low con­duc­tiv­ity). And be­cause it’s a solid, it doesn’t com­press like nor­mal fill. That’s why Out­door Re­search puts only a 1.5mm layer of it in the palm of the BitterBlaze, cre­at­ing a form­fit­ting glove that’s shock­ingly warm. (Aero­gel doesn’t breathe well, so the BitterBlaze has 133 grams of breath­able Pri­maLoft Gold on the back of the hand, and the Ouray has 333.)

The Ouray kept one ed­i­tor toasty on a ski tour that started off in the teens in Rocky Moun­tain Na­tional Park. A Gore-Tex liner sealed out wet, pum­mel­ing snow. And dur­ing an as­cent of Hyn­d­man Peak, she en­joyed the are­ogel palm on a boot­pack that re­quired ice axes and a sure grip. “With th­ese gloves, my fin­gers didn’t suf­fer any cold spots,” she says.

Bonus: Testers loved the over­sized pull tabs for easy-on, easy-off. –E.B. $135; 6.4 oz. (m’s L); m’s XS-XL, w’s S-L; out­door­re­search.com

No trust is­sues here

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