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Reviews > Clothing > Gloves > Kombi Latitude Gloves > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Kombi Latitude Gloves

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report

January 20, 2008

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 54
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 220 lbs (100 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Backpacking Background: mostly in Minnesota - have hiked all of the Superior Hiking Trail, starting on the Border Route.  Dayhiking in Utah, Colorado and Oregon.  Mostly Spring/Fall season hiker.  Winter activities are primarily single-day snowshoe and x-country skiing outing in addition to the normal cold-weather life in Minnesota.

Initial Report

Product Information

Manufacturer: Kombi/Kombi Ltd.
Year of manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer website: http://www.kombisports.com/
Listed weight: Not available
Weight as received: 6.3 oz (180 g)
Size/color tested:
Large/Back-Grey
MSRP: MSRP not available

Product Description

The gloves arrived with full hangtags, including a description of the glove materials and features:
Picture of Kombi Latitude gloves with hangtagsGlove materials and features tag
Interestingly there was a second tag permanently attached to the cuff with a slightly different view and details of the materials:
Cuff materials tag
As can be seen from the photos and description on the tags the gloves are a combination of leather and synthetic materials, with the leather placed in areas requiring high durability on the palms and knuckles.  The neoprene cuff with hook-and-loop closure provides additional wrist coverage and draft elimination.

The insulation is described by the manufacturer as X-loft, which from the cuff tag appears to be a polyester fleece. The inner liner is very soft, described by the manufacturer as Accu-Dri which from the cuff tag is also polyester, and described by their website as a hydrophilic and anti-microbial fiber.  Another cuff tag gives a scary warning concerning the liner:
Cuff tag with removal warning
I did not experience any issues with the liner in my first day of use, even though I did not follow the careful removal instructions on the Caution tag.  I observed no problems with workmanship or finish of the materials.

Last but not least the gloves have a small clip to hook the two mated gloves together so as not to misplace one of them (see below).  More on this later.
Glove mating clip

Initial Impressions

The Latitude gloves fit me well, though the tips of the fingers are snug, not a typical issue I experience with this size of glove.  The fingers have a very natural curvature which keeps the fingers in a relaxed position and allows full finger flex.

The neoprene cuff does come far enough up the wrist to overlap a watch where I normally wear one, and I quickly learned to put the left glove on first to allow the cuff to be adjusted over a watch with an ungloved hand.  The cuff has a low profile and fit nicely beneath the sleeves of my jacket.

My first day of use was a bitterly cold Minnesota day: temperatures hovered between -5F (-20C) and +4F (-15C) with minimal wind.  At first I experienced very cold fingertips, though after moving around and generating some body heat my fingers did warm up.

Over the course of several hours I drove a vehicle and performed outdoor chores, including much lifting/carrying and some use of tools including a screwdriver and wrench.  I was pleasantly surprised at the fingertip dexterity and was able to perform most operations without removing the gloves.  The leather on the gloves made for a good driving grip, though once the car warmed up the gloves were overly warm and had to be removed.

My only frustration with the gloves was the clip pictured above that is used to keep the pair from being separated when not in use.  My very first experience with the gloves was a bit of a struggle to unhook the clip - the plastic is very stiff and required quite a bit of pressure.  Perhaps I am unusual, but I actually use these to prevent the inevitable "where is the other glove?".  I have purchased some very inexpensive gloves that have had clips that were much easier to use than those on the Kombi Latitudes.

Summary

I enjoyed my one day of use of the Kombi Latitude gloves.  They kept my hands as warm as any gloves I have worn, they feel good on my hands and I found they had sufficient dexterity for performing many tasks.  The gloves are very attractive and I will have no reservations about wearing them to work on a daily basis.

The gloves met my expectations set by their website, though I found their use of proprietary names for fabric and insulation (e.g. "Taifun", "X-loft") made it difficult for me to know what to expect.  They also classify the Latitude gloves in their "mid weight" category, and as they have neither a "lightweight" nor "heavyweight" category it was difficult for me to calibrate my expectations for heft.

This concludes my Initial Report on the Kombi Latitude gloves.  The Field Report will be appended to this report in two months and will include field testing data from two months of Minnesota winter.

Field Report

March 9, 2008

Anecdotal notes:

The following is by no means an exhaustive list of my usage of the gloves - I have selected each of these anecdotes to illustrate a particular attribute of the gloves.

Local dayhike Feb 2, 2008: I chose this day due to the high humidity to do a roadwalk so as to test glove use without trekking poles.  Temperature hovered around 25F (-4C), with a relative humidity at 87% which is very high for these temperatures.  I tested the gloves on my typical weekend amble around Lake Riley, a roadwalk of about 6 miles (9.7km) with flat topography at an elevation of 875 ft (267m).  I covered the route in about 2 hours.  After the first 15 minutes my hands became quite warm, on the verge of being too warm and a bit of sweat began to form on my palms.  During the rest of the hike my hands maintained this temperature.  I felt that the gloves were very comfortable for walking use - they did not feel overly heavy with my arm swing without poles.

SHT snowshoe Feb 9, 2008: used the gloves for 10-mile (16km) snowshoe outing between Finland and Crosby-Manitou on the Superior Hiking Trail.  Temperatures varied between 20-25F (-7 to -4C), light winds.  Elevation varied from 1300-1700ft (400-520m).  Overall pace was 2mph (3.2km/h).  One of the things I was looking for on this hike was comfort with poles/straps.  I found that the neoprene cuff accommodated the straps very well with no slippage, and the finger curvature made gripping the poles effortless.  My fingers were kept warm by the gloves during the entire hike - during the last hour my companion had to switch to mittens to keep his fingers warm as the temperature dropped, but I was able to continue using the Kombi gloves.  I took the gloves off during breaks and found that my fingers warmed up quickly when I put them back on again.  They were almost too warm for these temperatures - I was breaking a good sweat and I found my hands were also sweating in the gloves.

I did experience some liner inversion during this hike: as the above caution notice picture indicates the liner is not sewn to the outer glove, and when I pulled the gloves off during one of my rest stops when my hands were sweating the liner did come partially out of some of the fingers.  With a little bit of poking I was able to get the liner seated properly again.  This problem seemed to pop up when my hands were moist increasing the friction between skin and the normally smooth liner.

U of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Feb 16, 2008: used the gloves on a 3-mile dayhike with a relaxed pace.  Temperatures varied from 20-25F (-7 to -4C), but with winds varying from 5-15 mph (8-24 km/h).  The hike had many exposed ridgelines where we were hiking directly into the wind, with the wind-chill cold enough that I regretted not bringing a balaclava.  The gloves did a great job resisting the wind, and my fingers stayed very warm.

2nd dayhike at same site on March 8, but 6 mile (9.7 km) hike this time, and colder temps: 8-17F (-13 to -8C) with winds from 2-16mph (3-26 km/h) with low humidity.  Once again even with a relaxed pace the gloves kept my fingers toasty.

Backyard, Feb 20, 2008: used the gloves during an observation of the Lunar Eclipse.  Usage was notable as to air temperature of -7F (-22C), and use of binoculars with the gloves.  My hands stayed warm during the 30 minutes of observation, and I was able to focus the binoculars with the gloves on.

Minnesota River Wildlife Refuge Louisville Unit, March 9, 2008: 4.5 miles (7.25km) of casual snowshoeing altitudes around 750ft (229m) temperatures from 15-24F (-9 to -4C), winds negligible.  Usage was notable as this was one of the few outings that I wore my Timex Ironman watch, which was a bit of a hassle when trying to get the cuff to fit over it and seal well.  On the same day I also used the gloves when using the snowblower on my driveway, an activity that typically results in cold & numb fingers, but the Latitudes kept my fingers warm during the task.

Daily use: I wore the gloves almost every day during the test period, often for only the first 10-15 minutes of my commute until my car warmed up.  Undoubtedly Kombi did not design the Latitudes as driving gloves, my intent was to test long-term durability and to get a sense of my feelings about wearing them on a daily basis.  During this time the outdoor temperature varied from -15F (-26C) to 40F (4.4C), with the interior of the car much warmer of course.  Once the heater kicked in, the gloves were too warm to leave on.  In contradiction to my statement in my Initial Report above I found extended use for driving to be problematic: the leather on the gloves is very smooth and slippery and did not grip the steering wheel well.

Observations:

  1. The neoprene cuff worked very well for me with jackets that had elastic or hook-and-loop adjustments that allowed the sleeve to go over the top of the cuff.  The resultant air seal is excellent.  The cuff also mates well with trekking or ski pole straps.  The cuff was bothersome when wearing a thick watch.
  2. The gloves kept my hands comfortably warm at moderately cold temperatures at low exertion levels even in stiff winds.
  3. The gloves were well-suited to light activities above 20F (-7C), but with vigorous activity they were too warm and my hands sweat inside the gloves at these temperatures.
  4. If my hands are moist or sweating, I found it necessary to follow the cautionary note and remove the gloves carefully to avoid inverting the lining.
  5. In very cold conditions I sometimes pull my fingers out of glove fingers and make a fist to warm them up.  The hook-and-loop cuff made it difficult to do this, requiring the cuff to be loosened.
  6. I found the hook-and-loop cuff irritating when I had to remove the gloves frequently, to answer my cell phone, blow my nose, etc.  Its possible to pull the glove off without unhooking the cuff if it is not tightened too far, but impossible to get them back on again without undoing the flap.
  7. The liner material is very soft.  I never felt the need to wear liner gloves with this product.
  8. There is a lot of insulation material at the ends of the fingertips.  This kept my fingertips warmer, but limited dexterity with fine tasks.
  9. As can be seen in the first picture in the Initial Report above, the right glove has the mating clip on the upper part of the glove near the thumb and is very visible.  I would prefer the clip to be on the bottom of the hand where I wouldn't normally see it.
My bottom line with my use to-date: the gloves have kept my fingers comfortably warm in a wide range of temperatures and activities.  They have held up admirably after many hours of use with no discernable wear patterns.

This ends my Field Report of the Kombi Latitude gloves.  During the remaining two months of the Long Term report I will use the gloves as much as possible, but with the weather warming up these gloves may become too warm to use.

Long-Term Report

May 20, 2008

Usage and Conditions

During late March and into April I was able to use the gloves only for three short dayhikes as the temperatures became too warm for everyday use.  Temperatures ranged from 30 to 35 F (-1 to 2 C) on all of the walks with moderate winds.

Observations

The gloves retain heat very well and I find them uncomfortably warm above 35 F (2 C) when hiking.  Above this temperature I find that my palms sweat in the gloves, and I have a distinct sensation of overheating in my hands.

The gloves have held up remarkably well after months of use.  I can find no signs of wear, cracking or discoloration.  They have also retained a very clean appearance - the leather and polyester are quite resistant to dirt and staining.

On one snowshoe outing I was wearing all black and gray clothing with the gloves - my wife commented that I looked disgustingly color coordinated.

Glove with watchThe tight fit of the cuff continued to be an issue with my thick watch as can be seen on the photo of my wrist to the left.  The hook-and-loop closure made it difficult to see the time on my watch.  The "bump" created from the watch face did diminish the cuff weather seal and allowed some drafts.  This also made it difficult to tuck the cuffs into my jacket sleeves unless the jacket cuffs were elastic - the watch with the cuff on top of it makes for a thick wrist.


Summary

I enjoyed my use of these gloves this winter.  They are warm under a wide range of cold and windy conditions.  I appreciated the comfort, the feel of the insulation against my hands, and the way they mate with trekking poles used with straps.

Things I Liked

  • Heat retention, warmth and wind resistance.  The excellent insulation and draft-preventing cuffs make for warm fingers.
  • Finger curvature - great comfort for all-day use.
  • Attractive and stylish - the gray & black colors coordinate with many different colors of clothing.
  • Durability and dirt resistance - these gloves will look great for a long time.
  • Contoured finger shape in combination with the tight cuff work well with poles/straps.

Areas for Improvement

  • The placement and difficulty of use of the glove clips really irritated me.  It was a shame for such a great set of gloves to have something so trivial diminish my experience with them.
  • Prevent liner inversion.  I only had this happen once, and I caught it before it became difficult to correct, but I have some worries that this could occur under very cold conditions if I was careless.
  • Find a way to make the cuffs work better with a wristwatch.

Continued Use

The Kombi Latitude gloves have earned many future seasons of winter use in below-freezing temperatures for walking and snowshoeing.  They have become my preferred hand protection in conditions where very warm gloves are appropriate, particularly when poles (trekking or ski) are being used.

Many thanks to Kombi and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.



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