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Reviews > Clothing > Gloves and Mittens > Outdoor Research BackStop Gloves > Test Report by Derek Hansen
Photo courtesy outdoorresearch.com
|Manufacturer||Outdoor Research, (Seattle, Washington, USA)|
|Year of Manufacture||2011, made in China|
|Available Sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Available Colors||Black, Olive|
|Listed Weight||2.2 oz (62 g) size L, per pair|
|Measured Weight||2.2 oz (62 g)|
"WINDSTOPPER fabric provides total windproofness and maximum breathability". "Designed to provide maximum wind protection as well as high breathability." "With a WINDSTOPPER lining across the back of the hand, you'll be protected from stormy gusts when gripping poles or on a winter trail run. But, with highly breathable Radiant Fleece construction on the palm, heat and moisture that builds from the exertion will quickly escape leaving your hands protected, dry, and comfortable."
OR products feature an "Infinite Guarantee" and can be returned or exchanged by calling 888-467-4327 (Mon–Fri, 8 am–5 pm PST) or by filling out their online return authorization form.
|Care and Use||
Machine wash cold water. Wash separately. Powdered detergent. Do not bleach. Do not use fabric softener. Hang dry. Do not machine dry. Do not iron. Do not dry clean.
14 Feb 2011
The Outdoor Research Backstop Gloves are made with a unique blend of windproof and breathable fabric and are listed as "high-energy liners." One the back of the hand is the GORE-TEX WINDSTOPPER fabric, and on the palm is the soft 100-weight fleece. The hang tag lists the fabric blend as 95% Polyester and 5% Spandex. The WINDSTOPPER fabric has very little stretch.
On the palm side there are a few strategically-placed silicone patches for improved grip and abrasion resistance. The gloves can be attached together by means of a wrist clip.
Upon receiving the gloves and trying them on, I realized I selected the wrong size (M or Medium). When I used the online measurement tool, and knowing these were liners, I thought I had the dimensions spot-on. Well, the gloves fit very snugly but with very little stretch or flexibility. My fingers fit right at the edge of the gloves. I know that WINDSTOPPER fabric does not stretch well, but I hoped that the fleece portions would provide more flexibility. The really tight places included the wrist and the top portion of the glove and the fingertips.
I need a little more flexibility in the fabric and room for my fingertips, not to mention the tight squeeze around the cuffs, so I decided to contact Outdoor Research and negotiate an exchange.
I contacted Outdoor Research via their website customer service tool. Within 24-hours, I received an email response with a friendly note and a return authorization number. I was encouraged to send the package with insurance and tracking since they considered the gloves my responsibility until they received it.
The note indicated that an exchanged product will take about two weeks to get back to me. When I receive the exchanged pair, I will update this report with more detail and any additional likes and dislikes.
While these gloves are listed as liners, the description given by Outdoor Research implies that these can be used as outer wear in their own right, especially during high-impact use where the combination of breathability and wind protection would be useful. I look forward to testing these gloves both as liners and on their own.
UPDATE - In the process of getting this report edited, the new gloves arrived in the mail! I was happily shocked, but my surprise doubled when I saw the shipping date: February 9 -- the same day I was contacted by customer service. Not only did Outdoor Research promptly contact me, they sent out the replacement gloves the same day, without waiting for my gloves to return. I must say, I am impressed with this service. I am eager to test these gloves and I'm happy I won't have to wait two more weeks to begin!
26 Apr 2011
I have used the Backstop gloves dozens of times during the past few months including multiple bicycle rides, trail runs, a few day and snowshoeing hikes, and three overnight backpacking trips. Here are some highlighted trips:
Feb 19 ~ Old Caves Crater, Flagstaff, Arizona. About 3 mi (5 km), elevation 7000 ft (2100 m). Blizzard conditions with wet snow. Temperature in the 30s F (~0 C).
Mar 4-5 ~ West Fork of Oak Creek, near Sedona, Arizona. About a 6 mi (10 km) hike with an elevation of about 5000 ft (1500 m). Snow and ice along the trail and high, cold water in the river. The temperatures were in the upper 40s F (5 C).
Mar 11-12 ~ Wet Beaver Creek, near Camp Verde, Arizona. Overnight camping trip with the Boy Scouts. We camped at an elevation of 3800 ft (1160 m) and did a few day hikes, including ascending a small mesa at 4120 ft (1256 m). We hiked about 2.5 mi (4 km) total. Temperatures during the day were in the upper 60s F (16 C) and low 40s F (4 C) at night.
15 Mar ~ Grand Falls, Arizona. A 2-mile (3 km) day hike with the family to Grand Falls on the Little Colorado River at an elevation of 4800 ft (1463 m). Lots of water and mist with temperatures in the 60s F (~15 C).
Mar 18 ~ Mount Humphreys, Kachina Trail, Flagstaff, Arizona. About 3 mi (5 km), elevation 10,000 ft (3050 m). Deep snow and varying conditions. Temperature in the upper 50s F (10 C).
16 Apr ~ Oldham Trail, Arizona. Mountain biking with friends in the foothills of Flagstaff. A short 5-mile (8 km) trip with some new riders, including myself. Temperatures in the 60s F (~15 C).
Apr 22-23 ~ Snow Canyon Overlook, Utah. I led a group of my children, nieces, nephews, brother, and cousin on a backpacking trip on the Red Mountain Trail to the Snow Canyon Overlook in southern Utah. 4.6 miles (7.4 km) of hiking. Elevation is 5000 ft (1524 m). Temperatures were in the 40s F (4 C) at night with a light sprinkling of rain.
My first real use of these gloves was while bicycling to work. While biking, I've really been able to test the WINDBLOCKER fabric and can attest to its usefulness in cutting the wind. Even in 20 F (-7 C) weather with wind chill, my hands were fine and warm on the handlebars.
The grips work really well in warm and cold temperatures. I think the pads are well-placed.
The fabric has been comfortable, but one thing that really annoyed me was the plastic clip located on the right hand, not far from the thumb. I often use my gloves to wipe sweat from my forehead and the plastic clip is in the right place to be absolutely annoying: it scrapes my face and gets in the way.
Living in high desert country, I know my skin is often really dry. This has become more obvious when I put the gloves on as it feels like sandpaper scraping as the fabric picks up all the dry areas on my hands. Once in place, the gloves feel fine.
While a bit difficult to see, I tried to take a photo showing my wet palm. The dark, wet area begins at the base of my palm and extends to my finger tips. This wet area must be due to sweat as it was not as exposed to snow during the hike.
One real tough test for these gloves was when I did a snowshoe up Old Caves Crater during a blizzard. The flakes were coming down hard and wet, but they didn't seem to be sticking to the gloves. I opted for no shells since it seemed I was moving fast enough that the liners alone would be fine. After about a mile (1.6 km), I noticed that my gloves were getting wet. The flakes were soaking into the liners and my hands were getting cold. Since I had worked up a lot of heat, I figured the liners would dry out if I placed them inside some shells. When I made the summit and set up a hammock for a break, my hands were freezing. The gloves were completely soaked and not anywhere close to dry (about 30 minutes of hiking in liners when wet).
With other synthetic liners I've had, I could still wear them wet to get some insulation, but the Backstop gloves were not performing at all and I was left with just my nylon shells to make it back to my car. I was glad the shells alone worked and my hands warmed back up, but the liners were not used for the rest of the hike. I was really disappointed.
I was just surprised at how much water the gloves absorbed and how cold they turned out to be.
On another snowshoeing trip, I made sure to wear my shells the entire trek, even though there was not much snow falling. I was nice and warm the entire trip, but when I made it to the top, I was shocked to find how wet the liners were -- they had soaked up a lot of sweat from my hands. Out of the shells, my hands were getting cold in the wet liners. I've never thought of myself as a heavy hand sweater -- I've never had gloves wet out from sweat before. Luckily, this time I brought spare liners that I wore inside the shells back down the trail. In comparison, the replacement fleece liners did not wet out and my hands remained warm for the rest of the trip.
On my most recent backpacking trip in southern Utah, I attempted to use the gloves as I tied and untied dozens of knots while pitching and moving tarps (we had a group of 10 on this trip (all in hammocks) -- seven of which were between 6 and 12 years old -- so I was tying a lot of knots. I found that for some guy lines, I had to remove the gloves because I simply did not have the dexterity necessary.
During a few trail runs, I brought the Backstop gloves to keep my hands warm. For these trips, the conditions were dry, but the cool mornings necessitated using the gloves. After about a mile (1.6 km), I would be warm enough that I needed to vent heat a little. On some liners, I can roll up the cuffs and keep my fingers covered. With the WINDSTOPPER fabric, however, I couldn't stretch the gloves around my palms so I either took the gloves off completely or wore them through the entire run. I could see the back of the gloves wetting out from sweat on these trips.
On a few hikes where I had moderate exertion, I found that the gloves did not keep my hands warm. I had to really work up some heat before the gloves were feeling warm. Sitting around camp or a moderate hiking pace wasn't always enough to get or keep these gloves warm. I'm not sure if that is due to the breathability of the palms or not.
I have really struggled over the field test period with how I feel about these gloves. During moderate exertion while backpacking or hiking, in dry conditions, these liners have done well. The grips on the fingers and palm work really, really well and I wish I had them on other gloves I own.
However, I have been really disappointed with how quickly these gloves wetted out. It has been my experience that synthetic fabric performs better in wet conditions (doesn't absorb as quickly, dries faster) than natural fabric like cotton or wool. And where wool is a superior performer when wet, synthetics are usually not far behind. I did not find this true with the Backstop gloves. Instead of wicking moisture away and evaporating, the gloves seemed to retain moisture and kept my hands freezing cold. Sadly, I felt it necessary to bring a spare set of glove liners with me when I went hiking in the snow in case the Backstop liners got too wet and cold.
Usually I can throw a pair of glove liners in my pack and use them in a any conditions, year-round. Right now, I feel like the Backstop gloves are only good in certain conditions with the right shells and activity levels.
PRO—Excellent wind resistance. Great grip.
CON—Retains moisture. Freezing when wet. Slow to dry. Placement of glove clip near right-hand thumb is annoying when drying sweat from my forehead.
23 Jun 2011
I've taken the gloves on about six additional day hikes and two overnight camping trips. Here are three highlighted trips:
14 May ~ Flagstaff, Arizona. Took the Boy Scouts on a 12-mile shakedown day hike up and around Mount Elden in Flagstaff. The trek started at 6 AM to ascend the 2300 ft (700 m) elevation change (base elevation at 6900 ft/2100 m, and topping out at 9200 ft/2800 m). Temperatures in the morning were a brisk 35 F (2 C) and topped off to a dry 70s F (~20 C).
3-7 Jun ~ Various locations, Utah. While returning from bereavement leave, my family took several day hikes in the mountains of northern Utah, and Capitol Reef National Park, while taking in the sights at Grand Staircase/Escalante, and Bryce Canyon.
20-21 Jun ~ West Fork of Oak Creek, Arizona. Took relatives along the 6 miles (10 km) of trail and slept in hammocks. Temperatures in the 80s F (~30 C) during the day and 40s F (~5 C) at night.
I had a few more good experiences with the gloves during moderate and dry conditions. While doing our long day hike around Mount Elden, I was one of the only ones in our group with a few extra layers to stay off the cold and wind we encountered on the all-but-bald east face. The gloves kept my hands warm while also wicking moisture and breathing well enough that I never overheated, even though it was a strenuous climb.
I was also glad to have the gloves during the night of my Oak Creek backpacking trip as the temperatures dropped lower than expected and I needed the extra insulation. I was up and down a lot that night tending to the needs of my kids and had to fiddle with zippers, strings, and straps while gloved. I only took my gloves off once to tie a knot in a particularly small string.
I'm really in the middle of the road with these gloves. I'm disappointed that they soak up moisture so much; this really ruined some of my hikes and I had to bring backup gloves whenever I expected moisture. The windstopper works great, but it isn't that flexible, so the gloves lose a little stretch making them a bit stiff for liners.
PRO—Good warmth when dry.
CON—Slow to dry when wet.
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