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Reviews > Clothing > Gloves > Outdoor Research PL400 Gloves > Test Report by Andre Corterier
Outdoor Research PL 400 Men's GlovesTest Report by Andrť Corterier
Initial Report - 05 November 2007
Field Report - 09 January 2008
Long Term Report - 11 March 2008
Personal Biographical Information:
Initial Report (05 November 2007)
Year of manufacture: 2007
I can easily grab things with these gloves and the silicone seems to be doing its job - it makes my grip stick to smooth surfaces as though it's glued on. Of course, with a 300 weight layer of fleece *and* a 100 weight layer of fleece between my fingers and whatever it is I'm holding, I did not expect to be able to make much use of finicky things like keys or small change, and find my expectation met - they seem good for adjusting straps and other larger things, but not small things.
Field Report (09 January 2008)Field Experience:
The gloves have accompanied me daily during the test period. They resided in the handwarmer pockets of my softshell jacket well into December, and now sit in the pockets of my insulated hardshell jacket. Temperatures have varied a great deal, though I've usually worn the gloves only when temperatures dipped to around 10 C / 50 F or below. The lowest temperatures in which I've been out while wearing these gloves so far has been a thermometer-checked -5 C (23 F). I've worn them in strong wind and no wind at all and have been out in strong and light rain. Activities were backpacking, strolling along, jogging and bicycling.
I've had them on only three overnight trips, but have not worn them inside my sleeping bag (it wasn't cold enough).
Specific Questions I Wanted to Answer and my Answers so far:
While I have negative things to say about the thickness of these gloves (marketed as ďlinerĒ gloves), Iíve noted that even after long hours of heavy use of my poles (pushing me up 1700 m/ 5600 ft of elevation gain inside 8 hours) my hands did not show any tendency towards blistering such as hotspots or the like, even though the (cheap, no-name) poles I use do not have a very user-friendly grip. This was a comfort feature I only appreciated the next day. I get that way sometimes Ė I tend not to note the absence of problems. Some time after the temperature felt too warm for gloves on the way down, I noted that as I relied on the use of my poles to alleviate the stress on my thighs and knees, that my hands were beginning to develop painful red spots. I managed to keep these from developing into full-on blisters by alternating my grip and exercising my pain tolerance vis-ŗ-vis thigh muscles a little more. It is only now, as I type up this report, that I realize how much the gloves obviously did for my hands on the way *up*, which certainly involved much heavier, and more constant, use of the poles. I guess Iíll wear them even for cushioning my hands in the future, even though the temperatures might not call for glove use. I am a little saddened that I failed to make use of the opportunity to test to which degree this is possible before sweating of the hands inside the gloves creates its own problems. Iíve found the glovesí breathability to be quite good, though, so I imagine they could be quite helpful in that regard.
The range seems to depend much more on my level of exertion than on the temperature level. When Iím moving about at a sedate pace or resting, my hands have felt cold in temperatures (not far) above freezing. They would admittedly have been even colder without gloves, though itís not a temperature in which I would even wear gloves for short trips (just take it like a man). Theyíve been too warm (again, not far) below freezing when I was jogging. For the main range of a more or less brisk hiking pace in more or less hilly environments, theyíve been comfortable and good to have in temperatures both below and above freezing.
Iíve noted that wind chill is still a factor even though these gloves have two layers. While theyíre not advertised as windproof, I would have assumed that two layers of fabric create a more effective wind barrier than I have found to be the case. Of course, this was particularly notable on my bicycle, when quickly riding to work in below-freezing temperatures before dawn. My hands were clammy with cold when I arrived at work a quarter of an hour later. I should state, however, that Iíve felt more serious impact on similar trips with thinner gloves, and that doing it without gloves is downright painful, even if alternating hands on the handlebars and in a pocket.
For backpacking though, theyíve been excellent as far as warmth is concerned. Iíve been wearing them outside in temperatures from -7 to about 10 C (20 to 50 F) when backpacking. Stomping uphill through a foot of snow in the woods at night, I never worried about my hands. Being able to hold on to my poles (aluminium tubing) in between without my hands freezing was good, the occasional time I had to extend a hand into the snow to maintain (or Ė ahem Ė re-establish) my balance was also no concern (though I was of course careful to shake off any snow clinging to the gloves afterwards so as not to have them soak through). As long as I remained active, my hands never felt cold with the gloves on, even with the temperature dropping down to about -7 C (20 F). I kept wearing the gloves the next day for a while, even when I had taken off everything else except for my baselayer. The sun up on the mountain warmed *me*, but apparently did little to warm the air around me (ambient air temperature was still around freezing). As I was now following the ridgeline a lot, I was carrying the poles in my hand for a while. Their metal remained quite cold, so I left the gloves on. This worked well and my hands did not feel sweaty. It was only during the long, strenuous descent, as temperatures kept going up entering the valleys below, that I felt compelled to take the gloves off.
Manual Dexterity (or Lack Thereof):
I note that the main reason for difficulty is not that the gloves make my fingers thick Ė theyíre not that much thicker than the thin liner gloves Iím used to (which are more like thin socks for fingers). They do, however, pretty much prevent tactile feedback. I canít tell by touch whether my finger is on the button, or how many coins Iíve grabbed, or whether Iíve gotten hold of my keys or my mini-tool when rummaging around in my pack pocket. These things which with bare hands I rummage around for without looking, require me to look at what Iím doing if Iím wearing these gloves. Conversely, I have not been able to store the hood on my jacket in its collar, or even to take it out, while wearing these gloves, because I canít tell by feel whether Iím holding the right part of the collar or just a fold in the jacket, and canít look at it while Iím wearing the jacket. So this requires me to take off either the jacket or the gloves.
This corresponds with the main issue I have with these gloves, or rather the way theyíre marketed. My idea of ďliner glovesĒ hitherto has been that they are thin enough to afford some warmth while minimizing impact on manual fine control, and that they can be worn beneath other, waterproof and/or heavily insulated gloves. Neither is really true for these. Sure, I have ski gloves which prevent me from using my camera with them on, no matter how carefully I look at what Iím doing. But these do interfere with such fine control issues more than I like. They also do not fit underneath any other gloves I have, though I have found waterproof shell mittens in a store I could have worn over them.
I was particularly happy for the silicone treatment of the gloves when needing to hold on to wooden rails on the slopes of Kumotori-san. It was in the middle of the night, the trail traversed a near-vertical slope, and footing was uncertain at best (the slope faced South, so the snow iced over). Not having crampons was my own fault, of course. Anyway, as I noted that I needed to grab the very smooth wooden rails very strongly so as not slip along them, I also noted that it was the silicone treatment which made holding on possible at all. The untreated back side of the glove would have been impossibly slippery to hold on with (I tried this Ė in a more secure spot Ė by putting a glove on backward on the other hand). So I was *very* happy for this feature of the gloves.
The only thing I didnít like was the lack of manual fine control they afford me.
Iíve come to think of them as ďlight glovesĒ, located in a spectrum between my thin liner gloves for shoulder season hiking on one end and the heavy, waterproof insulated ski gloves on the other end (for the kinds of winter I only find elsewhere).
They are now firmly established in that spot of my (limited) glove collection, and will be the gloves Iíll take along whenever I doubt that the really thin liner gloves will be sufficient under the circumstances, particularly on days which feature serious elevation changes.
Iíd like to thank Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
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