KOMBI LATITUDE GLOVES
TEST SERIES BY CHAD EMERSON FIKE
May 26, 2008
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Chad Emerson Fike
Oakland, Maryland USA
5' 10" (1.78 m)
150 lb (68.00 kg)
I have gone camping, usually very close to home, since my teens but only started seriously backpacking around age 30. I do mostly weekend trips and often take dayhikes. My backpacking experience has been mostly in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, including parts of the Appalachian Trail. Each trip has been a learning experience about techniques and equipment. I try to balance weight, durability, and cost with my gear choices.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
January 18, 2008
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.kombisports.com or www.kombiltd.com
MSRP: Not Available
Listed Weight: Not Available
Measured Weight: 6.1 oz (173 g)
Size Tested: Medium
Color Tested: Black/Grey
The Kombi Latitude Gloves arrived with hangtags for Kombi Technical Handwear and Gore Windstopper. Although the Latitudes are listed on the Kombi website as a "Midweight", the hangtag classifies the gloves as "Heavyweight- Ideal for Extremely Cold Temperatures".
The shell of the gloves is described as "Gore Windstopper Taifun; leather palm". In the photos, the grey areas such as the palm, thumb and knuckles are leather. "KOMBI" is imprinted into the leather of each index finger. A small symbol of two interlocking hands is imprinted into the leather part of the hook and loop strap around each cuff. The leather on the fingertips is described as "full finger wrap caps for durability." The majority of the black areas on the gloves are comprised of Gore Windstopper Taifun. I assume "Taifun" is derived from the word "typhoon", but no further information was provided. The material is soft and somewhat stretchy. The Gore Windstopper hangtag advertises the following benefits: "Total Windproofness, Maximum Breathability, & Snow, Water resistant". A "stretch thumb panel" is located where the thumb and palm connects. While not advertised as such, the black material on the back of each thumb looks similar to the "nosewipe thumbs" featured on some other Kombi gloves. A "neoprene cuff with hook and loop strap for precise fit" provides secure coverage around each wrist. This makes the cuff a little bulky but I was still able to fit the cuff of several jackets over top the cuff of the gloves. The right glove has a small black tag reading "WINDSTOPPER" on one side and "windstopper.com" on the other. A small nylon loop and black plastic clip on the right glove allows attachment to a small nylon loop on the left glove. A tag inside the right hand glove indicates the gloves are "Made in China" and that the gloves are comprised of: "Shell: 100% Polyester; Trim: 100% PU; Palm: 100% Genuine Leather; Cuff: 100% Nylon Face 100% Rubber Body; Interlining: 100 % Polyester; Insert: 96% Polyurethane 4% Other Fibers."
The insulation of the glove is described as "X-Loft; Waterguard + insert; and Accu-Dri lining". No further description of these materials is provided. The insulation is very soft and feels like fleece. The lining moves around somewhat freely and a tag inside the right hand glove provides the following explanation and warning: "Caution: When removing gloves pull each finger off individually holding both outer glove and lining. Remove slowly. Your weather proof insert cannot be sewn to the outer glove. If removed in haste the lining may be inverted and it will be very difficult to replace".
The Latitude gloves fit me well. They have a very natural, pre-curved, feel. I am able to flex my hands open without the gloves being too constricting. There is some leftover space in the end of the thumb and little finger but the rest of my fingers seem to fill up the glove. I have never found gloves that exactly fit my hand; I normally have a little extra space at the end of a finger or two. I have no problems putting on or taking off the gloves. Aesthetically, I like the design and color scheme of the gloves. I have worn the gloves while cross country skiing twice and found them to be very warm and comfortable in temperatures just below freezing.
While I like the style and comfortable feel of the gloves, after close inspection I am not as impressed with the workmanship. There are several loose threads. The edges of the neoprene cuffs are slightly frayed in places. There are also some minor issues with the hook and loop straps on the cuffs. As shown in the picture, the stitching failed to sew the grey leather to the loop fabric, creating a very small gap. In a similar area on the other strap the leather material is slightly wrinkled beneath the stitching.
So far I like the styling and fit of the Kombi Latitude gloves. Based upon my limited experience they seem warm and comfortable. I am not as impressed with the workmanship since there are several loose threads and minor flaws.
This concludes my Initial Report on the Kombi Latitude gloves. The Field Report will be amended onto this report in two months time and will include field testing data. Please check back then for further information on the Latitude gloves.
Thanks to Kombi and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
March 13, 2008
Testing has taken place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains including Herrington Manor State Park, Garrett State Forest and Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland and the Laurel Fork North Wilderness, Blackwater Falls State Park, Dolly Sods and Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. Elevations ranged from around 2500 to 4100 ft (762 to 1250 m). Most testing occurred in cold, snowy winter conditions with temperatures ranging from 9 to 45 F (-13 to 7 C). I wore the gloves cross country skiing around 20 times including evening trips ranging from 1.5 to 2 hours to longer outings on the weekends. I wore the gloves on about 6 hikes ranging from short strolls to longer weekend dayhikes. I also wore the gloves during my first real winter backpacking; a short overnight snowshoe trip.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I have found the Kombi Latitude gloves to be comfortable and to fit my hands well. They have a very soft fleece lining. The cuff is a little bulky but still fit under all of my jacket cuffs. It can be a little hard to access a wrist watch due to the long cuff. I had no problems with rubbing or chafing from any seams. The gloves are rather thick and bulky, but not any more than I would expect for a heavyweight glove. Adjusting small buckles or zippers was sometimes tricky, while manipulating the tiny buttons on a camera or GPS was nearly impossible. When I anticipated a need for added dexterity, I wore thin synthetic liners inside the gloves. There was enough extra room for the liners to fit well and not cause the gloves to feel too tight. The liners provided some protection from the cold for my fingers when I had to remove the Kombi's for certain tasks like snapping a picture.
My fingers and hands tend to get cold very easily, but my fingers remained warm during every cross country ski trip. I really appreciated these gloves when my skiing partners were complaining of cold hands. The coldest temperature I encountered while skiing was around 9 F (-13 C). After one evening ski in temperatures around 22 F (-6 C), I did notice my hands starting to become cold while standing around talking for 10 to 15 minutes. The gloves were actually a little too warm in conditions much above freezing. During one sunny 36 F (2 C) ski my hands became uncomfortably warm and sweaty and I switched to a lighter glove. I did experience cold hands a few times while hiking. This was somewhat expected since I generate much less heat hiking than while skiing. My hands felt fine during the beginning of a dayhike in temperatures around 19 F (-7 C), but once we stopped for a break the cold started to creep in. Eventually my fingers became very cold and it was not until we had hiked briskly for awhile that my hands warmed up. My two fellow hikers also complained of cold hands. My experiences were similar on other hikes. My hands remained warm while hiking, but seemed to get cold when I stopped for lunch. The gloves performed well during my one night of winter camping. A couple of times I did remove the gloves to warm my hands by the fire, but for the most part they kept my hands comfortable even thought the temperature was around 18 F (-8 C). Experiencing cold fingers is rather common for me, no matter what gloves I am wearing.
The gloves are advertised as having an "Accu-Dri lining", but they did not seem to breathe all that well, nor did they dry quickly. After skiing, the gloves were almost always damp inside from sweat. Part of this excess moisture may be due to the fact that this is a heavier glove than I normally wear while skiing. My hands are typically comfortable in a lighter glove in temperatures above 25 F (-4 C), so some sweating was expected. I did not have a problem with sweat or dampness while hiking. I customarily place all my damp gear on a hot water radiator when I return home. After one 34 F (1 C) evening spent skiing through a near constant barrage of very wet snow, the gloves seemed to soak up a lot of exterior moisture but did not seem to wet all the way through. The gloves were still slightly damp inside about four hours after being placed to dry. The next morning the leather still seemed a little damp but the inside was pretty much dry. The gloves are advertised as having a "Waterguard + insert". No other information is provided, so I am unsure if the gloves are intended to be waterproof. Since I did not have many occasions to see if the gloves were waterproof in the field, I conducted an experiment at home. I put on the gloves and immersed them in a bucket of water. After about 45 seconds water had penetrated throughout the gloves. I never felt any wind infiltrate the gloves. I am unsure whether this was due to the Windstopper material or the thick insulation.
I noticed several areas with loose stitching or fraying during my initial report but these areas have not grown significantly worse during testing. Both gloves show some wear and discoloration in the leather portions of the gloves, especially around the thumbs. The gloves were subject to a good deal of friction and rubbing since they gripped ski poles when I skied and trekking poles during most of my hikes. The stitching has started to come loose on the right hand glove near the cuff (see picture). I have not used the gloves as work gloves or subjected them to any particularly rough use other than picking up the occasional downed limbs on the trail or breaking up some firewood during my one night of camping. I washed the gloves one time after they had accumulated several weeks of snot, sweat and campfire smoke. Despite warnings about the inner lining possibly pulling loose from the outer shell if the gloves are removed improperly, I have had no such problems.
Overall I have found the Kombi Latitude gloves to be warm and comfortable. My hands have been cold at times, but that is common for me in the winter. I am not as impressed with moisture management since the gloves often become damp from hand sweat. They fit my hands well but dexterity is sacrificed by the bulky fit. I noticed several loose seams and stitches initially but these do not seem to have worsened. One rather large loose seam has developed and the leather shows some discoloration and wear.
This concludes my Field Report on the Kombi Latitude Gloves. The Long Term Report will be amended onto this report in two months time and will include further field testing data. Please check back then for further information on the Latitude Gloves.
Thanks to Kombi and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
May 26, 2008
Testing has taken place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains including Herrington Manor State Park, Garrett State Forest and Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland, and the Canaan Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia. Elevations ranged from around 2500 to 4100 ft (762 to 1250 m). The warming spring temperatures during the final months of testing ranged from slightly above freezing to around 75 F (24 C). Unfortunately, most of the temperatures were well above 55 F (13 C) and I found it much too warm to wear the gloves. Overall I wore the gloves on 3 hikes and 1 bike ride during the test period. I spent the final two weeks of the test period on vacation in the American Southwest doing several dayhikes in Arizona and New Mexico. I took the gloves along but never used them in the warm desert conditions.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I wore the gloves during one early season bike ride in temperatures around 43 F (6 C). During this road ride I did not feel any wind through the gloves. This was a rather short ride but my hands did not overheat and become sweaty. The gloves are rather bulky because of the thick insulation. They did not offer much fingertip dexterity for operating brake levers and gear shifters, therefore the gloves were retired from biking duty. To be fair, I do not think these gloves were ever intended to be used for biking, I was just trying to get in some extra testing.
The three hikes I wore the gloves on during this period occurred in temperatures between 40 to 50 F (4 to 10 C). It seemed that about 45 F (7 C) was the cutoff point for where I felt comfortable in the gloves. Above this temperature I could feel my hands becoming too warm. The 40 to 50 F (4 to 10 C) range is usually where I would choose a lightweight glove with minimal insulation, I would not normally choose a glove like the Latitude once it was this warm outside. There is a discrepancy between the advertising information included with the glove and the information on the Kombi website. The hangtag included with the glove indicates the gloves are "Heavyweight, Ideal for extremely cold temperatures". Conversely, the website classifies them as mid-weight. I applied to test these gloves assuming they were a mid-weight that I could use longer into spring. Based on my experience and the amount of insulation I would consider them more of a heavyweight glove most comfortable in temperatures below, or just slightly above freezing. For more active pursuits such as cross country skiing, they were more comfortable in temperatures below 25 F (-4 C). During this phase of testing I felt like I was using the gloves in conditions and temperatures they were not necessarily designed for.
During earlier testing I had noticed some loose seams and stitching and discoloration and wear on the leather palms. I only exposed the gloves to limited use during the final two months of testing and none of these items seem to have worsened. No new durability issues developed during this test period.
During earlier winter testing I found the Kombi Latitude gloves to be warm and comfortable, but they were too warm for me to use as a spring glove. I am not as impressed with moisture management since the gloves often become damp from hand sweat in warmer temperatures or during vigorous activity. I would be more willing to accept this lack of breathability if the gloves were waterproof, but they are not. I was also somewhat disappointed with initial quality and durability. The gloves arrived with some loose seams and stitching. Some additional loose stitching and discoloration and wear of the leather palms occurred while testing.
I expect to continue to use the Kombi Latitude gloves in the future. I will most likely wear them on cold winter hikes and cross country ski trips when temperatures dip well below freezing.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
This concludes my test of the Kombi Latitude Gloves. Thanks to Kombi and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.
Read more gear reviews by Chad E. Fike