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Reviews > Clothing > Gloves > Kombi Backcountry II Gloves > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

Kombi Backcountry II Gloves


Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Feb 27, 2009

Field Report: Mar 20, 2009

Long Term Report: May 6, 2009


Image of Kombi Backcountry gloves
Image from Kombi Sports website



Personal Information:
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Age: 32
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA

Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 16 oz (0.5 L) of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.


Product Information:


Manufacturer: Kombi Sports
Website: http://www.kombisports.com/
Year of manufacture: 2008
MSRP: n/av
Weight: (stated) n/av
Weight: (actual) 2.6 oz (73.1 g) for one glove
Rating: Mid-weight
Colours/sizes available: Black and Grey/Small to Extra Large



Initial Report:
February 27th, 2009

I received the black colour glove in a men's size medium. I typically wear either a men's medium glove or a woman's large glove. The Backcountry II gloves are billed as a versatile mid-weight glove. They have an adjustable wrist strap which consists of a webbing strap with bungee loop on the end that threads through a buckle. The top of the cuff has a cinch closure that can be worked one-handed. The gauntlet of the glove is also low profile, such that it can be tucked under or worn over a jacket cuff. The palm of the glove is all leather and the leather wraps around over the top of the fingers for extra protection. The back of the glove is a Malden Power Shield soft shell. There is a hook on one glove and a flat ring on the other glove to hook the two gloves together. I received the men's medium. The gloves have a soft Accu-Dri lining material and use 3M Thinsulate Flex for insulation. There is a soft stretch panel on the palm at the base of the thumb.

Close up of thumb stretch panel   Close up of wrist tightening system

My initial impressions of the Kombi Backcountry glove was how nice the interior felt. The Accu-Dri lining material is very soft and feels very nice on the hands. After that I was taken with how full the leather coverage was over the palm of the hand, around the finger tips and to the top of the gauntlet. The leather not only extends around to cover the finger tips but also has full coverage between each finger. The leather is quite supple which makes me wonder how well it will hold up under wet conditions and how it will dry, something I will look into further. The men's medium is a good fit if a little big around in the fingers. I feel the extra space on the fit can allow me to use the gloves with a liner glove in more extreme temperatures. The wrist strap is easy to work with the gloves on. The material on the back of the gloves is a nice soft shell material and I am interested to see how well it sheds moisture and for how long.

Interior material of Kombi glove   Close up of attachment clip

I tried the gloves out on the walk home and was impressed with the softness of the interior. They are a real treat against my hands. The gloves are quite light and I like the amount of dexterity the gloves seem to give me. While the fingers are a bit too big around for my fingers, I was still able to work the zipper on my jacket and press the buttons on the call box to my building. I am not sure what to make of the stretch panel located at the base of the thumb and will be evaluating its usefulness over the course of this test.

Leather extending over the finger tips

My test plan over the next couple of months will be to use the Kombi gloves on all my outdoor activities. This will include backpacking in the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park, plus dayhikes as well as occasionally car camping. I will be specifically interested in looking into how well the gloves stand up to wear and tear, how well they shed water and snow, as well as how well they keep my hands warm and protected.



Field Report:
March 20th 2009

I have used these gloves on one day hike as well as one overnight trip. I have been wearing the gloves to and from work as weather permits to evaluate how the gloves hold up on durability.

Trips:
The first trip out with these gloves was on a simple overnight backpacking trip. This was a 1 mi (1.6 km) hike in to the shelter. Elevation gain was about 500 ft (152 m). Temperature was a high of 50 F (10 C) at the beginning of the hike and dropped to a low of 13 F (-10 C) overnight. There was some blowing snow and about 4-6 inches (10 - 15 cm) of snow on the ground. I wore the gloves either by themselves or with wool liner gloves. The liners were used more in camp when I knew I would be pulling the gloves on and off to set up camp or to eat. While the dexterity of the gloves is much more than I expected, there are times when either bare hands or almost bare hands are required. I could not work chopsticks with the Kombi or liner gloves on. I was able to work zippers and buckles to unpack my air mat and sleeping bag to set up camp for the night. My hands stayed warm while I was moving but did cool down as did the rest of me once I stopped moving around. The gloves are quite comfortable to wear although I do find the fingers a little wide for my fingers and this causes some loss of dexterity. The finger length is perfect for my fingers though and I would rather have the right length finger than a tighter fit around my finger. Wearing thin liners does take up some of the extra space making for a better fit. The Kombi gloves worked well with trekking poles and I didn't notice any interference from the trekking pole strap with the wrist strap of the gloves.

The next trip out was a day hike down to the tallest waterfall in Virginia. The hike was a 6.5 mi (10.5 km) out and back style hike with about a 1000 ft (304 m) drop to get down to the falls. Temperature was about 40 F (4 C) and there was a light rain when we started hiking and a heavy drizzle by the time we got back. This was almost a 4 hour hike. The gloves were fine at the beginning of the hike especially since it was a downhill hike with rain. However once I warmed up the gloves were a little warm on the hike back and I found I was pulling them off and on to keep my hands from getting too hot. The soft shell exterior of the gloves beaded the rain on it and I didn't notice any seepage. I did find that pulling wet hands into dry gloves is not an easy thing. The gloves do well to keep my hands warm.

Rain beading on the soft shell exterior

I have been wearing the gloves to and from work as the weather permits to better evaluate long term wear. While carrying the gloves, I noticed that there is reinforcement along the back of the glove just above where my knuckles would fall. I am not sure what this is for but as of yet it doesn't seem to add or detract from the gloves.

Impressions and Comments:
So far, I have been quite pleased with the way the gloves have worked. I like the way they feel against my hands and the soft shell kept the light rain from soaking into the gloves. The gloves still manage to give me enough dexterity that I am able to tighten pack straps, and work zippers. The back strap has not slipped and I find it has held the position I initially tightened it to nicely. There is an elastic stitch across the front of the glove that gives enough stretch that I can slip the gloves on without having to readjust the back strap each time. The bungee loop at the end of the wrist strap not only comes in handy for tightening the wrist but also makes a convenient hang loop for the gloves off a carabiner. The length of the gauntlet is a bit short. It is hard to tuck things into it but I might be trying to tuck items that are a bit bulky. I will further evaluate as spring approaches and my layer thickness decreases. I do find that the amount of thickness to the gauntlet does allow me to easily tuck it under the sleeves of either my rain shell or my rain and thermal layer.

I did recently notice a small tear in the leather on the gauntlet. I am not sure if I caught the glove on something or how this tear happened. It is quite small now and I will keep an eye on it to see if it increases in size or if other tears should occur. I am not sure when this appeared or how it happened.

Tear on the gauntlet of the the glove

Wrap-up
Pros so far: comfortable, good dexterity and nice feel on the hands. Cons so far: some small tears in the leather, fingers a bit too wide around for my fingers



Long Term Report:
May 6th 2009

I have used these gloves on five days of backpacking and one day of hiking during the entire test period. I also wore these gloves initially to and from work as the weather dictated to further evaluate long term wear.

Trips:
I only managed to do one more trip with these gloves but it was a 3 day two night trip up into the White Mountains where I saw a lot of snow and temperatures right around the freezing mark. The gloves kept my hands warm when I first started hiking but once I got some heat built up I found that my hands started to get a little too hot. There was some hand sweating but the gloves seemed to wick the moisture away. I removed the gloves and carried them in a side pocket until I needed them. The first day saw about 4 mi (6.5 km) of hiking with a nice circuit around Lonesome Lake. The next day was about 6 mi (9.5 km) leading up to Kinsman Pond with a circuit of the pond, then North Kinsman Peak. The gloves saw a lot of use on the second day as I did some glissading down the sections of North Kinsman Peak that required I put my hands in the snow. The gloves were damp but the inside still felt dry. The last day was 5 mi (8 km) in the rain to get back down to the car. The gloves were wet at that point and felt very heavy.

Impressions and Comments:
The gloves have performed very well in the amount of time I had to use them. I was pleased with the warmth level of the gloves and found it worked well around the freezing point as camp gloves and as hiking gloves when used down to about 13 F (-10 C). They might work well if used below that temperature but that was the lowest temperature I encountered while hiking. The dexterity I had with the gloves was much more then I expected given that my fingers didn't fill up the finger pockets completely. Other than few small partial tears in the leather, I haven't noticed any other signs of wear on the gloves with use. The soft shell on the back of the gloves still beads up water although water eventually soaks through given enough time as evidence on the last day of backpacking in the rain.

The gloves have remained very comfortable over the test period and I am still pleased with the softness of the gloves, both the soft material inside and the suppleness of the leather on the outside. The straps are still easy to tighten and loosen on the fly. The fact that there is an elastic section on the other side of the gloves, allows me to tighten the glove appropriately but I am still able to pull the glove off quickly if needed. The gloves generally dry in a good amount of time but the last time they took longer to dry as conditions were not optimal. The first night they were set on a carpeted floor then shoved back into a stuff sack for a ten hour drive home. Then they were hung to dry. Even after that rough treatment, the gloves are still supple and I didn't notice any foul smells coming from the gloves.

I found the gauntlet length mostly worked well for the glove. As the gauntlet is soft and not very long, it was easy to pull sleeves down over the gauntlet. It was a little more difficult to keep sleeves tucked into the gauntlet though. I suspect this might have been due to the light nature of the rain shell I was trying to keep tucked into the gauntlet. As the gauntlet isn't very long, it worked better to pull the gauntlet into the sleeve than try to tuck the sleeve into the gauntlet. With the shortness of the gauntlet and the thin material, I didn't have any issues with this and found it made for a better seal to keep snow and rain out of the gloves and sleeves of my coat.

Wrap-up

I feel that these gloves either alone or with thin liners will become a good addition to my winter hiking needs.

Pros:

    - warm, comfortable interior
    - easy to cinch tight
    - wicks moisture adequately

Cons:

    - finger circumference a bit large
    - durability of leather palms questionable


This concludes my long term report on the Kombi Backcountry II gloves. Thank you for following this test series and I hope you found it useful. I wish to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Kombi for giving me the opportunity to test these gloves.


Read more reviews of Kombi gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathryn Doiron

Reviews > Clothing > Gloves > Kombi Backcountry II Gloves > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron



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