In memory of our
brave spirited friend, may the long winding trails continue for you.
BLACK DIAMOND POWERSTRETCH GLOVES
BY YI-JIEN HWA
February 18, 2008
1" (1.85 m)
lb (72.60 kg)
I backpacked a few times
in high school and college, but only got "into it" (ok, I'm a little
obsessed) in the last few months. I'm a busy seminary student, but
whenever we can, my wife and I hike in Kentucky's Red River Gorge. We
have a lot of trips planned next year, including leading a bunch of
youth for a week-long trip, and several week-longs and weekends in
various national parks. Being relatively new, we're still figuring out
all the ropes and trying to cut weight, but right now I normally pack
between 40-55 lbs (18-24 kg).
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.bdel.com
MSRP: US$ 19.95
Listed Weight: none
Measured Weight: 1.8 oz (51 g) - Men's Large
While technically these gloves are meant to be liners, they are
versatile enough to be used in different situations as liners or gloves.
They have a smooth, almost velvety, feel to them on the outside, while
the inside is fleece. They are made from midweight Polartec Power
Stretch, and the palms have cowhide leather sewn on, with the overall
result being a sweet, professional feel and look to them. Nice touches
include additional material at the fingertips for durability and the
clips that keep them together and prevent them from getting lost.
Stitching quality is very good overall. Black Diamond says they use
"Kevlar stitching," which I think means that they use Kevlar threads to
stitch the glove. The first pair I used, which was a medium, had no
problems with the finishing; but after deciding that it was too small
and exchanging it for a large, I had some minor problems. Little bits
stuck out from the stitching of the leather more than I liked, making
them irritating to my hands when gripping something. I carefully trimmed
the knobby areas of the leather, with no apparent ill-effects. I just
got my third pair of these gloves recently (see the review below) and
they also had similar problems with knobby bits, so it is not an
FIELD USE AND
To cut to the chase,
these gloves are fantastic performers in temperatures ranging from the
20-70 F (-5 to 21 C) though they have some issues with durability. They
have served me well on over a hundred and fifty miles (240 kilometers)
of backpacking in Isle Royale, the Great Smokey Mountains, Hawaii
Volcanoes National Park, and Kentucky's Red River Gorge, as well as on
an almost daily basis during the fall and winter.
Black Diamond rates these gloves at -2/7 C or 30/40 F (though I'm not
sure whether they mean while exercising, or while resting). While they
are not the warmest gloves worn on their own, as long as I kept moving
while hiking/packing, I found these gloves warm enough for temperatures
down to mid teens to low 20s F (about -12 to -5 C). Despite temperatures
that dropped into the teens F (-12 to -7 C) at night and in the early
morning, these gloves were the way to go while packing in the Smokies.
They provided whole-day comfort while backpacking. I would only resort
to my shell gloves while at camp. For more delicate camp chores like
bear-bagging, when the shell gloves were impossibly clumsy, I would use
these gloves even though it was way too cold, as they were still way
better than the raw winter air. My shell gloves (which have undetachable
fleece liners) are wearable with these gloves, but I found that they are
too constricting worn together, and that the additional insulation does
not make up for the loss of circulation. (An additional note: I think it
is a feature of insulation in general, but I found that with low-aerobic
activity like driving a car or short walks, these gloves will equally
keep in the cold for awhile. Once I started moving a little though,
these babies warmed up real fast.)
While hiking in Isle Royale, I was getting blisters with my improvised
walking stick, so I pulled them on in day temperatures in the high 50s
to low 70s F (15-21 C). Voila! No more blisters, comfortable and dry
hands. In terms of the upper limit of the comfort range of these gloves,
I found them comfortable while hiking in the 60s F (15-20 C). Once it
reached the low to mid 70s F (22-24 C) they began to get hot. Honestly,
I'm not sure whether my hands don't sweat wearing them in lower
temperatures, or whether they wick the sweat away, because in either
case, my hands don't emerge feeling sticky or grimy. The only time I
felt sweaty in them was in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park when we were
hiking down to the beach, and the mercury began to rise above 75 F (24
C) or so. While hiking, I would rate these gloves as comfortable from
20-70 F (-5 to 22 C); while resting however, these gloves are not
comfortable at anything below 40 F (4 C) or so--I wanted to either pull
on a pair of shells, or get on the trail again.
These gloves are supposed to be wind-resistant; but they use that term
rather loosely as I felt anything more significant than a puff. While
riding my bicycle around campus in the 30s and 40s F (-1 to 10 C), these
gloves help a little, but my hands are inevitably chilled. Once I was in
the 50s F (10-15 C) however, they were ok on a bike (which is on average
15-40 mph or 30-60 kph). Higher aerobic activities like backpacking are
different here. While we were hiking on a ridgetop on the Smokies, even
with the wind, they were ok for me while packing in the 20s F (-6 to -2
C). With significant wind however, I found that they chill very, very
fast. Keeping breaks short or shell gloves handy solves the problem and
is good for thermal (and therefore food) efficiency.
Despite being liners, these gloves reduce dexterity somewhat. However,
with adequate patience I was able to do most camp chores in these
gloves. The cow leather is sticky, which helps when hanging on to
something slippery, e.g. trekking pole shafts. The grip of the fingers
is just ok as the material feels a bit slick, but it worked fine for
most tasks. In warmer temperatures, I found it faster to take them off
and do my laces. It would be nice to have an all-leather grip, though
this would compromise comfort on the fingers a little (with all the
necessary sewing), but still something that Black Diamond should
consider perhaps. I, at least, would be willing to pay a few bucks more
for the added functionality and durability.
Overall, I would give these gloves a 9.8/10 for versatility and
performance. Apart from the grip, I can barely imagine them being
The durability of these
gloves, however, is somewhat suspect to me. I am by no means a
gentle-user of my gear. I wouldn't say I exactly trash my stuff, but
when I plunk down that much green for something, I expect it to last for
awhile, and do a good job at it too. Two issues: 1) After only 3 months
of use, there is more pilling appearing on my pair of gloves than I
would like. 2) The gloves developed a hole in the finger tip of the
index finger of one of them. I was not doing anything particularly
abnormal or strenuous so I suspect the material just wore through.
These gloves are so good however, that I returned this pair I am
reviewing to the retailer. They promptly sent me a new pair and I can
only hope it lasts a little longer. After using these gloves I can
hardly bear the sight of those old clumsy fleece gloves that are barely
warmer and so much bulkier. I notice that Black Diamond also sells two
other versions with thicker and thinner Power Stretch: Inner Core, and
Thinner Core--as well as a windblocking fleece glove, the Jetstream. I
tried about 6 or 7 different brands of liner-type gloves at an outfitter
and liked these best. Moreover, of all the Power Stretch gloves, these
are the lowest priced. When buying these kinds of things, however, I
have to say that there is no substitute for going to the store and
trying them on.
|A lil hole...
THINGS I LIKE
- Fantastic performance.
- Great versatility, 20-70 F or -6-21 C comfort while packing; maybe
40-80 F or 5-27 C or so while resting.
- Good workmanship overall.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
- Pilling and durability
- Not particularly wind-resistant.
- Some minor finishing problems.
Asbury Theological Seminary
February 18, 2008