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Reviews > Clothing > Gloves and Mittens > Outdoor Research PL400 Gloves > Test Report by Jo Ann Moffi


INITIAL REPORT: October 17, 2007
FIELD REPORT: January 6, 2008
LONG TERM REPORT: March 6, 2008

Outdoor Research PL400 Gloves
Photo Courtesy of Outdoor Research Website

Name Jo Ann Moffi Backpacking Background:

I was introduced to backpacking about 15 years ago when I met my husband. We have been backpacking, canoe camping, car camping, hiking, and participating in all sorts of outdoor activities ever since. We live in a border town (US & Canada), so we spend lots of time in both countries for our outdoor excursions. When making a decision on gear, I like to go lightweight and practical. I don't like to carry around extraneous bits and pieces.
Age 34
Gender Female
Height 168 cm (5 ft, 6 in)
Weight 84 kg (185 lbs)
Email Address jomoffi AT gmail DOT com
City, State, Country Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada

Product InformationOR PL400 Gloves

Manufacturer:  Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufactured In: Sri Lanka
MSRP: $29.00 U.S.
Colour: Black
Listed Weight: 58 g (2.1 oz) Size medium per pair.
Actual Weight: 70 g (2.5 oz)
Material: 300-weight smooth fleece exterior and 100-weight fleece interior.
Listed Measurements: None provided.
My Measurements:
Cuff edge to end of middle finger: 24 cm (9.5 in)
Circumference of glove not including the thumb: 21.5 cm (8.5 in)
Outdoor Research products are all covered by their 'Infinite Guarantee' -- if a product fails to meet the needs of the customer, Outdoor Research will exchange or return it.

Date: October 17, 2007

Item Received: October 14, 2007

Wearing OR PL400 GlovesThe gloves arrived attached to a merchandising hang tag that included the information on the features of the PL400 Gloves. Outdoor Research advertises the PL400 gloves as a double layer glove that is warm enough to use as stand-alone hand wear in bitter cold or as a liner on long days in the backcountry. The tips of the fingers, the whole palmar surface of the thumb, and the palm of the hand have silicone laminated to the fleece for increased grip. They feature MotionWrap construction with minimal seams that are located away from the palm for increased comfort. The seams of the gloves run along the inside edge of the thumb, across the front of the middle two fingers, along the pinkie finger edge of the hand, and along the inside edge of each finger. The gloves are elasticized across the back of the hand at the bend in the wrist. The gloves can be attached together via a small plastic clip when not in use. There is a white 'OR' logo on the back of each glove and the small red OR flower logo on the top of each wrist.

Initial Fitting:
The gloves slide easily onto my hands and fit snugly but not so tight as to be constricting. The fingers and thumb are all the correct length for my digits. The elasticized wrist falls in a comfortable spot. Other than having to lift the edge of the glove over my watchband, the gloves go on smoothly.

I plan on wearing the gloves while hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, canoeing, running, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding and for any other activity that comes my way that I feel the gloves would be functional for. I will be checking on the fit, how durable the gloves are, the warmth in various weather conditions, their function as a liner and a stand alone glove, and how easy they are to care for. 

Date: January 6, 2008

Testing Locations:
Day hiking, trekking, and canoeing in the following areas:
  • Hiawatha Highlands, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The Hiawatha Highlands is a 12 sq km (4.6 sq mi) wooded area. There are 50 km (31 mi) of maintained trails as well as many more unmaintained trails requiring navigational skills to wind through. This area contains a range of forest types including red and white pine old-growth forests and dense boreal stands of jack pine and spruce linked by a network of rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
  • Voyageur Trail, Algoma Region, Ontario. The Voyageur Hiking Trail is an over 500 km (311 mi) discontinuous trail that extends from the Nipigon River Recreation Trail beginning just north of Red Rock, Ontario and ending at South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island in Ontario. Each area has its own local club which is responsible for maintaining and adding to the trail every year with the goal of a continuous, non-motorized trail extending across Ontario. The area I spend most time in is very similar to the Hiawatha Highlands; in fact, a lot of the trails tie together.
    • Lake Superior Provincial Park is a 1600 sq km (994 sq mi) park located in the transition zone between the Great Lakes deciduous and Boreal forests. Its vegetation is comprised of sugar maple and yellow birch in the hardwood areas, white spruce and white birch in the uplands and white cedar, black spruce and tamarack in the lowland areas. The harsh climate and topography has a significant effect of the climate and conditions in the area, especially along the shore of Lake Superior, where wind, waves, and spray create a challenging growing environment for vegetation.
    • Two day backpacking and canoeing trip to the Fenton/Treeby Lakes area in Lake Superior Provincial Park. A 16 km (10 mi) leisurely paddle with a few portages thrown in for good measure. We also spent some time exploring the bush and trails to adjacent lakes in the area. Lots of pine, spruce, cedar, poplar, and birch trees. The rainy weather we have been experiencing has made the ground quite soggy in low-lying areas and has made the creeks and rivers bulging at their banks.
  • Goose Creek State Forest, Frederic Michigan. Part of Michigan's Shore-to-Shore Riding/Hiking Trail. A relatively flat section of trail that meanders through pine and spruce forest with fairly open areas under the trees.
  • Appalachian Trail, Northern Georgia. The Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain to Unicoi Gap meanders along ridges with an elevation range from 762-1372 m (2500-4500 ft) through the Chattahoochee National Forest. Most of the leaves were off of the trees and the trail was leaf covered, thicker in some areas and slippery when damp. There were muddy sections and several creek and river crossings as well as some beautiful areas of fast moving water and waterfalls. The forest is mostly hardwood. The creeks and rivers have dense rhododendron bushes lining their banks. 
Testing Conditions:
The temperature during the Field Test stage has ranged from 24 to -21 C (75 to 6 F) with sun, overcast skies, rain, snow, and wind.

Testing the Gloves

The gloves have been a constant item in the pockets of whatever jacket I was wearing at the time. In addition to bringing them along on all my outdoor excursions, I also had them with me while commuting back and forth to work, running errands, and just general yard work.

These gloves have been a welcome surprise for me on many levels. I am not normally a glove wearer because I find my fingers get cold easily if they are separated from each other. I have found that I am able to wear these gloves in colder conditions than I have with other gloves I've owned in the past. Outdoor Research markets these gloves specifically as liners, but I have yet to use them as such. There will be plenty of days to come over the Long Term Testing stage that I will have opportunity to use them as liners.

Fit and Comfort:
As I found when first trying on the gloves for the Initial Report, they fit well. The gloves have a seam that runs up at least one side of each finger. I had thought that this might be bothersome, but once the gloves are on my hands I don't even notice the seams. The gloves are a perfect length for my hands and extend far enough up my wrists that I don't have a gap between them and whatever I am wearing on my arms, be it a jacket or long sleeved shirt. The elastic around the wrist keeps the gloves comfortably in place.

The outside fabric of the gloves is 300-weight smooth fleece. This fabric catches on the dry skin of my fingers, which is not a pleasant feeling. I am fairly diligent with keeping my hands moisturized and don't consider myself as having overly dry skin, but being that it is winter I do get dryer at the edge of my fingernails and sometimes along the side of my forefinger and thumb. The inside fabric is 100-weight smooth fleece. This fabric is smoother than the outside fabric and soft enough that it doesn't catch on my skin.

The gloves have withstood all of my outdoor activities including hiking, running, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. I used them with poles while cross-country skiing. They fit well into my pole straps and do not bunch or slide when I am skiing. I have also used them with my hiking poles while snowshoeing with the same results.
OR PL400 Gloves Melted
The only thing I have done that has affected the gloves was to use them as 'oven mitts' when cooking up a meal on a cold night while backpacking. Not thinking about anything other than not burning my fingers, I stupidly lifted the pot lid off of the pot of boiling water with the gloves on without using a pot grabber. When I looked down at the pot lid a bit later, I wondered what the heck the black sticky stuff was that was adhered to the edge of the lid. Well, the gloves were great at keeping the lid from burning my fingers, but in the process I melted a bit of the Silicone Grip that is laminated to the thumb and forefinger as well as a bit of the fabric of the thumb and three of the fingers. Ooops! Obviously the gloves are not flame or melt proof!

Ease of Use:
I found the gloves easy to use. There are no buckles or straps, I simply pull them on and off I go. For the most part I haven't had much trouble with dexterity while wearing the gloves, I am able to use my car keys and remote entry (the buttons are fairly prominent), remove the lid of something like lip balm and apply it, find most items in my backpack, zip up my jackets, tent zippers, the zippers on my backpack, unscrew the lid to drink from my water bottle, use my pocket knife, and clip the leash on and off my dog. If I am looking for something small in my pack by just rooting around, sometimes I can't 'feel' what an item is and I need to take the gloves off. My headlamp has a small button for turning on and off. I can use it with the gloves on, but I find I fumble for it so I usually end up taking one glove off. I also find it difficult to tear open packaging on something like an energy bar without taking the gloves off.

The gloves have kept my fingers and hands warm for most of the temperatures I have had them on for. The lower temperatures i.e. -10 to -21 C (14 to -6 F) my fingers would start out cool, but once I started into whatever activity I was doing, be it either snowshoeing or cross country skiing, they would warm up and the gloves were adequate protection against the cold. I couldn't stand around in those temperatures and have warm fingers though, I would need an additional layer or switch to a mitt.

I found that for temperatures that hover around 0 C (32 F) the gloves are too much once I start getting active. I would wear them for the first 15 minutes or so, but I would take them off and put them in my pockets once my fingers and hands got too warm. For temperatures above 5 C (41 F) I don't really need any hand protection at all.

I have washed the gloves once so far in warm water and I laid them flat to dry. They function the same after the wash as they did before and did not fray or show any other signs of wear from the washing.

March 5, 2008

Testing Locations:
I have continued to test the gloves in the same areas as the Field Report: The Voyageur Trail and Hiawatha Trail systems. For more information on these areas, please click here. I have worn them around my home in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario and on any car trips we have been on over the test period.

Testing Conditions:
Weather conditions in and around Sault Ste Marie, Ontario have ranged from 5 to -30 C (41 to -22 F). We have had the whole gamut of winter weather conditions from cold, clear days to full on snowfall. We have also had a few milder days thrown in as well.

Continued Testing of the Outdoor Research PL400 Gloves:

The gloves have been a constant companion of mine for the past four months of testing. Rarely did a day go by when I was not wearing the gloves at some point or another. When they weren't on my hands, they were in the pocket of my jacket or in a pocket of my backpack. They have seen lots of use over the test period around town and on the trail.

Fit and Comfort:
The gloves continue to fit as well as they did from the first day I put them on. No stretching of the fabric occurred. I have also worn them under a light waterproof over-glove. The fit well under the over-glove and kept my hands toasty warm in colder temperatures than they were able to withstand alone.

As winter has progressed, I have had to be extra diligent in keeping my hands moisturized as they still 'catch' on the fabric on the outside of the gloves. The only time I notice this is when I am putting the gloves on or if I am carrying them around. Even when my hands are not dry I still notice the fabric is not really smooth.
OR PL400 Gloves Small Pull
For the amount of use the gloves have had over the test period, they have held up beautifully. The spots that I accidentally melted on my Georgia backpacking trip show no more wear than the damage done originally. The fabric on the outside is a bit 'fuzzy' in spots, but no more than I have experienced with other handwear or that I would expect to be present from normal use. I noticed a small pull on the little finger of my right hand, but I don't know how it happened.

The gloves keep my fingers warm down to about -10 C (14 F) without any help. Any less than -10 C
(14 F) and if I was just standing around or doing light activity I would need an over-glove. With a lightly lined over-glove I could use the PL400 gloves to temperatures dipping closer to -20 C (-4 F). During moderate to heavy activity I could use the gloves alone down to about -16 C (3 F). Any colder than that and I don't generally do any recreational activities. The gloves would be too warm after a few minutes if I wore them in temperatures above -5 C (23 F) while active.

When I was doing a high aerobic activity like running for example, I would get home and my hands would be steaming while I was opening my front door or car door. My hands did not feel wet inside the gloves. Once I got inside either the car or house, I would take the gloves off and lay them out to dry. On the couple of occasions where I would move the gloves within a few minutes of putting them down, I noticed they were quite damp on the outside of the glove, cold and clammy feeling. Outdoor Research doesn't advertise these gloves as having wicking properties, but from the dryness inside the gloves compared to the dampness outside, I would say they do quite a good job of this.

In addition to snowy conditions, we have had some unseasonably warm days with wetter weather: i.e. rain in January, a very unusual occurrence for my neck of the woods. I wore the gloves in this weather too, but they don't hold the water out for too long. The palms are the first to get wet from whatever I was gripping at the time, be it ski poles or hiking poles when snowshoeing.

The gloves don't require any special care, just pull them on and go. I haven't washed the gloves since the Field Report. They don't smell and don't show any significant dirt to warrant it.

Things I Like About the Outdoor Research PL400 Gloves:
How well the gloves fit.
How well they stow in my pockets and backpack.
Bonus wicking properties.

Things I Don't Like About the Outdoor Research PL400 Gloves:
The fabric on the outside of the gloves 'catches' on dry hands.

This concludes my Long Term Report. Thank you to BackpackGearTest and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test the W's PL400 Gloves.

Read more gear reviews by Jo Ann Moffi

Reviews > Clothing > Gloves and Mittens > Outdoor Research PL400 Gloves > Test Report by Jo Ann Moffi

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