Gear That Outperforms: Gloves

Hakuba MountainLife Blog

Gear That Outperforms: Gloves

People often ask me for reviews and opinions. So occasionally I will list a few gear items which I think outperform the others. Pieces of gear which do their job really well, and make my job more fun, more comfortable, or safer. In this blog post, it is a pair of sunglasses, and a pair of gloves. Let's get one thing honest from the start: I do not get any free gear from brands. Typically I try to buy from brands which support the avalanche and guiding industry, but only if their products are good in the first place. Ski media is full of gear-for-comment articles, often written by people who hardly even use the gear, despite trying so earnestly to sound like experts. I use my gear a lot and appreciate it when something does a better than expected job.

Montbell is a Japanese outdoor brand (a lot of non-Japanese do not know that). They happen to make the one glove that is harder to find than any other: a durable, very waterproof, reasonably breathable, affordable glove SHELL. No insulation at all, just a tough shell with a thin woven gauze-like layer fused to the inside of the glove, so that you do not suffer from that skin-on-rubber feeling. Water almost never gets in, and my hand almost never sweats too much. This glove is magic, I love it. Perfect for full-power skin track setting in mild winter places like Hakuba when things heat up. Perfect for spring skiing when insulation creates sweat, and when you are often handling slushy snow and wet gear (skis, ice axes, shovels.)

If I feel the cold, I use a cheap inner glove, though it has to be thin as this shell has a low-volume fit. On cold days I use a different heavier glove of course - this is not a cold weather glove. It is a spring or high-output glove for applications where you need more durability and protection than a cross country or gardening/work glove can provide. Best of all: no leather to suck water into the glove, no treatment required, no need to dry a cold damp/wet leather glove overnight. The magic is contained within the OutDry layer. Go reasearch OutDry, it is lightyears better than Gortex when it comes to gloves. Being a shell, they are light and low volume, so I always have a pair in my pack.

Negatives: the are a bit slim fitting so making a fist is tight. Also they feel stiff when new, though that softens. And there is no nose wiping patch and the outer shell material is like fine sandpaper on your nose, which gets a bit sore after a few snot dribbling days.

This is the glove I am talking about. They do not seem to be listed on their US website, which is a shame.


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Previous articles...

Where To Get Started in Hakuba's Backcountry. Part 1.

I am converting a few of our Hakuba MountainLife Magazine articles into blog posts to make them accessible to a wider audience. This post has the "Where to Get Started" articles from our 2012 and 2013 issues. There are a few more from the series that I'll post later. They are all aimed at helping less experienced people get going in Hakuba's backcountry, however they should not be used like a guide book. Many people use our professional backcountry guiding service in Hakuba to take them into this terrain safely. Others like to adventure themselves.

Thoughts on Guided Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding in Hakuba

As the local Hakuba backcountry ski season approaches I like to review past experiences and training. This gets my brain back into professional guide mode after being out of the game for the last 2 months in between north/south winters. A great place to start is to remind myself of what is expected of a professional guide, and think about times in the past when I hit the nail on the head, and more importantly, where I did not do well. Don't trust any guide who claims to never do a poor job! Guiding is a fun job with many nuances and challenges.

Guiding in New Zealand

One of the big benefits of pursuing professional guide qualifications under the ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) is that it has opened up new working opportunities that before were just not possible. For example, I have been very very fortunate in New Zealand, where I am working for Alpine Guides Limited. They run a number of guiding operations which I thought I'd describe briefly in this blog post.

Operational Risk Management

We are a backcountry guiding operation, and safety comes first, always. In this blog we describe some of our daily risk management routine. This has been daily habit for several years now, whether we are guiding that day or not. This is what we believe to be the minimum required professional standard of care owed to paying guided customers. Do not assume everyone does this.

Remote Terrain, Kita Alps, Japan

Take a look at the photos in this blog post. One of these days I will run a guided trip into this section of the Kita Alps. It is, without a shadow of doubt, the best ski touring (and guiding) terrain in all of Japan. It won't be an easy trip, nor cheap. I would anticipate at least a 5 day tour. Depending on the depth of soft snow (ski penetration) it takes 8-12 hour just to reach the fringe of the zone, without one single downhill turn along the way. It would be a shame to take two days just to execute that approach move. Tough first day, ey.

Mount Steele, Yukon, Canada

In early June 2016 we made a trip to Mt Steele in Kluane National Park, Yukon. Due to a large storm and inappropriate avalanche conditions relative to the final 1000m of ascent terrain, we did not bother trying for the summit. There were four of us in the group, of which three were old friends from Canmore and originally Swiss migrants to Canada, past and present Mountain Guides, and very active outdoorsmen. The oldest in the group was 72, I was the youngest, 43. Two in the group had been to the summit of 'nearby' Mount Logan in 1977. It was a privilege for me to be invited to join this great group on an expedition style trip.

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