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Reviews > Clothing > Gloves > Outdoor Research Snowline Mitt > Liz Neely > Test Report by Liz Neely

Outdoor Research Snowline Mitts

Initial Report

November 17, 2006

Field Report

February 25, 2007

Long Term Report    

April 19, 2007



Outdoor Research Snowline Mitts

Color: Mojo Blue/Grey

Tester's Information

Name: Liz Neely
Age: 38
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight: 145 lb (65.8 kg)
Email address: liz at armory dot com
Location: Santa Cruz, California

Tester's Background:

I've been day hiking for many years, and started backpacking in 2005. My backpacking has been primarily in Central and Northern California, on designated trails. My backpacking trips have ranged in length from 2-4 days, with temperatures from 25 to 75 F (4 to 24 C), and elevations between sea level and 8700 ft (2652 m). I'm not an ultra-light backpacker, but I keep my pack weight between 28 to 35 lbs (12.7 to 15.9 kg) including food and water. I typically hike between 7 to 11 mi (11 to 18 km) per day and I sleep in a tent.


Product Information:

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2006
URL: http://www.orgear.com/
MSRP: $39 US
Listed Weight: size Medium - 6.7 oz (189 g)
Measured Weight: size Medium - 5.4 oz (153 g)
Available Sizes: S, M, L; a men's version is also available in various sizes
Available Colors: Black, Mojo/Grey
Care: Machine wash cold water. Wash separately. Powdered detergent. Do not bleach. Do not use fabric softener. Hang dry. Do not machine dry. Do not iron. Do not dry clean.

Product Description:

These are waterproof, breathable mittens intended for hiking, skiing, and backpacking. They have a waterproof shell and a fleece lining, and a high-grip fabric called Toughtek on the palm side of the mittens. They have elastic around the inside of the wrist, and a tightening strap and buckle around the outside of the wrist. It's easy to tighten and loosen, and it feels secure; it doesn't feel like it would loosen on it's own. They also have a gauntlet that extends about 5 in (13 cm) above the wrist, and it has a pull cord for tightening it. This also is easy to adjust and feels secure.

These are the key features listed by the manufacturer:
  • Waterproof/Breathable Ventia Insert
  • Durable nylon shell; rugged 300D nylon
  • Boxed construction allows free circulation to fingers
  • Soft fleece lining warms hands
  • High-Grip Toughtek LT palm; offers positive grip in cold, wet conditions
  • Anatomical curve for easy grip of ropes and tools
  • Ladder-lock wrist cinch prevents slipping on hand; easy to adjust
  • MonoCinch closure keeps warmth in, weather out
  • Full-length gauntlets keep snow out of cuffs
  • Tension cordlock at gauntlet is easy to grip and operate
  • Sewn hang loops at gauntlet provide option of attaching Idiot Cords


Initial Report   November 17, 2006


Initial Impressions:

I ordered a size medium based on the sizing chart on Outdoor Research's website. The mittens fit me well, although when I fully extend my fingers, my longest finger reaches the end of the inside of the mitten. My hand length, using the measuring technique on Outdoor Research's website, is 7.25 in (18.4 cm); their sizing chart lists the size Medium mitten as fitting up to a hand length of 7.5 in (19.1 cm). The thumbs of the mittens fit my thumbs perfectly and the width of the mittens is very comfortable, with a little wiggle room but not enough room to trap cold air.

One of the main features I have been looking for in a pair of mittens, and have yet to find, is true waterproofness. So, I put these mittens on and held my hands under the shower to see if they were really waterproof. After three minutes, they were still completely dry inside! I have high hopes that I may have finally found a truly waterproof mitten! Of course, during the test period I will be testing them in rain for much longer than three minutes of exposure, but I'm pleased that my initial three minute test proved successful.

The fleece inside these mittens is soft and warm, the fit is comfortable, not too tight, and not too loose, and they are cut in such a way that my thumb has a full range of motion. I was happy to discover that I can operate the gauntlet cordlock and the wrist cinch with the mittens on. I can loosen and tighten both of these without removing either mitten. The High-Grip Toughtek material on the palm and thumb does seem to grip well; I was able to pick up a full glass of milk, wearing the mittens, without any feeling of it slipping out of my hand. Testing will determine how useful this Toughtek is, keeping in mind that these are still mittens, thus I will not have use of individual fingers for tasks requiring a lot of dexterity.

Overall my initial impression is that these appear to be well designed, well made, comfortable mittens, and I'm looking forward to testing them.


Test Strategy:

Below are some specific questions that I will aim to answer and report on. In addition to these specific things, I will also report on anything else I discover about these mittens during the test period.

Comfort/Fit:
Are the Snowline Mitts comfortable? Is the interior fabric soft on my hands? Are they long enough for my fingers, which are somewhat long?
I have already determined that they are comfortable, soft, and long enough (just barely) for short-term use; testing will determine if this also holds true when wearing them for extended periods of time.

Durability:
How well do the Mitts hold up after four months of backpacking and skiing, being washed after each use? Is the stitching still in good condition? Are there abrasions or other wear on the palms?

Warmth:
Are my hands warm enough in the Mitts in the snow? What about in the rain? Are my hands too warm when backpacking? Do my hands get sweaty or does the breathable fabric prevent that?

Waterproof:
I've had trouble finding gloves or mittens that are truly waterproof. Do these gloves stay dry inside even when rained on steadily? If not, how long does it take for them to leak?

Care:
How easy are these Mitts go care for? Can they be machine washed and dried? Do they dry quickly if they get wet on the trail?
According to the care instructions, they can be machine washed, but must be air dried. I will be interested to find out how long they take to air dry.

Usability:
Can I perform outdoor backpacking tasks such as cooking, packing my pack, or tying my boots while wearing these Mitts? Can I properly use my trekking poles with these Mitts on? Do the gauntlets work well to keep the snow out when skiing or do I still get snow inside even with the gauntlets cinched? If snow or rain gets inside the gauntlets, does the wrist cinch still keep my hands dry?



Field Report   February 25, 2007


Field Information

I've taken the Mitts on four backpacking trips and two car camping trips.

The first backpacking trip was a two day/one night trip at Henry Coe State Park, CA. The elevations were between 1500 to 2900 ft (457 to 884 m) and the temperatures were between 43 to 70 F (6 to 21 C). The hike covered about 6 mi (10 km) each day. Because of the warm daytime temperatures, I did not need to wear the Mitts while backpacking, but I did need them in the evening at camp. They did not keep my hands as warm as I had expected; I found that when wearing them in camp, at a temperature of 53 F (12 C) my hands were still cold. I also found it a bit difficult to perform various functions around camp while wearing the Mitts because they are fairly bulky and they don't allow me use of my fingers, since they are mittens, not gloves. I found that, with a bit of effort, I can turn the pages of a book with the Mitts on, which is really nice when reading in camp. However, I found that I can't write very well with them on, as holding the pen is difficult. I also can't operate zippers such as the zippers on my sleeping bag while wearing the Mitts. Since there was no precipitation during this trip, I was not able to test their waterproofness in rain.

The second backpacking trip was a three day/two night trip at Henry Coe State Park, CA. The elevations were between 850 to 2700 ft (259 to 823 m) and the temperatures were between 31 to 65 F (0 to 18 C). The hike covered about 7 mi (11 km) the first day, 8 mi (13 km) the second day, and 4 mi (6 km) the third day.  All three days were fairly cold, although there was no precipitation during this trip.  I found that when I was backpacking in cold temperatures (in the 30's F (-1 C)), the Mitts took about 10 minutes to warm up my hands. I also found that after I got really warmed up from activity, my hands became too warm and damp with sweat, and I had to remove the Mitts. I found that in camp, they didn't warm up my hands while I was inactive, such as eating dinner. I also found it difficult to use my trekking pole straps with the Mitts on, it was easier just to grasp the trekking poles and leave the straps unused.

On both car camping trips, the temperatures were between 40 to 50 F (4 to 10 C) and it was raining. I wore the Mitts while setting up camp in the rain, and they kept my hands perfectly dry. Being car camping, rather than a backpacking trip, I had the luxury of bringing plenty of warm clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags, so I didn't need to wear anything on my hands while I slept.

The third backpacking trip was a two day/one night trip at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, CA. The elevations were between 500 and 1300 ft (152 and 396 m) and the temperatures were between 40 and 55 F (4 and 13 C). The hike covered about 5 mi (8 km) each day. It rained lightly on and off all day on the first day, and was very foggy, but didn't rain, on the second day. I didn't wear the Mitts while hiking since I had found on my previous backpacking trip that it was inconvenient to use my trekking pole straps with them on, and my hands weren't cold once I got warmed up from hiking anyway. I did wear the Mitts in camp, including in a light rain. I found them to be completely waterproof, although not as warm as I would have liked. My hands stayed dry but remained cold. I also wore them inside my sleeping bag while sleeping, but every time I woke up (I wake often during the night while camping), I found my hands were cold and clammy. Eventually I opted to remove the Mitts and let my bare hands warm up against my body - my hands stayed much warmer this way for the remainder of the night.

The fourth backpacking trip was a two day/one night trip at Henry Coe State Park, CA. The elevations were between 850 and 2600 ft (259 and 792 m) and the temperatures were between 38 and 76 F (3 and 24 C). The hike covered about 8.4 mi (13.5 km) the first day and 10 mi (16 km) the second day. It was warm and sunny the first day, but cooled off as soon as the sun went down. The second day was colder and a bit overcast. I only needed the Mitts at night after the sun went down and in the morning before I started hiking. I found that the Mitts kept my hands warm enough in camp while I was eating dinner, and during breakfast the next morning, but that wearing them in my sleeping bag while I slept was not comfortable. I put the Mitts on and went to sleep with my hands inside my sleeping bag. I woke up in the middle of the night to find the insides of the Mitts damp and clammy, which was making my hands cold. As with my previous trip, I opted to remove the Mitts and slept the remainder of the night with my hands bare, inside my sleeping bag. My hands were warmer this way since they weren't trapped with all that moisture and were also warmed by my body heat.


Summary of feelings about the Snowline Mitts after three months of field testing

Comfort/Fit:  The fabric on the inside of the Mitts is soft and comfortable, and the mitts are long enough for my fingers. The mitts seem pretty wide for their length. I have a lot of unused space inside the mitts, but because my fingers are nearly as long as the mitts, I would not be able to wear a smaller size. This excess space might be so that I can wear liners underneath the mitts.

Durability:  So far the Mitts are not showing any signs of wear or deterioration. I have washed and dried them after each trip, and they have held up perfectly. There are no abrasions or other wear on the palms either.

Warmth:  I have not yet had the opportunity to wear the mitts in the snow, but I have found that in general, they do not keep my hands as warm as I had expected them too, when I'm inactive. When I'm active, it takes some time (maybe about 10 minutes) for my hands to warm up inside the mitts, then after another 10 or 15 minutes, my hands get sweaty inside the mitts.

Waterproof:   I have worn the Mitts in the rain several times, and they stayed completely dry inside; they appear to be completely waterproof as advertised.

Care: The Mitts are very easy to wash and dry. I just wash them in the washing machine and hang them to dry on the line. I have found that if I turn them inside out they dry surprisingly quickly. If I forget to turn them inside out, they do not dry on the inside.

Usability:  I have found that I can perform tasks that don't require much use of my fingers and don't require me to handle small parts such as small zippers or a lighter, but I need to remove the Mitts for certain tasks such as unzipping the tent, lighting the stove, or tying my boots. I found it difficult to use my trekking poles the typical way (using the straps for support) while wearing the mitts, but I was able to use them wearing the Mitts by ignoring the straps and grasping the handgrips on the poles with my hands. I found that I can hold my spoon and eat with the Mitts on, but it's a bit clumsy doing this. I can also turn on and off my headlamp, but it takes quite a bit of feeling around to find the button since the Mitts are fairly bulky so it's difficult for me to feel the button.


Additional Testing

I will continue testing the Mitts for an additional two months and report on any changes of opinion I have.  If our Tahoe snow comes in, I will also test them on a ski trip and report on that.



Long Term Report    April 19, 2007


Field Information

I've worn the Snowline Mitts for two days of skiing since my Field Report.

The first day of skiing was at Mount Rose Ski Resort in the Lake Tahoe, NV area of the Sierras. The elevations were between 8260 and 9700 ft (2518 and 2957 m) and the temperatures were in the 30s and 40s F (-1 to 4 C). It did not snow or rain at all while I was there, but there was plenty of snow on the ground. I wore the Mitts all day and my hands were never cold. In fact, my hands were often hot and sweaty and I had to remove the Mitts occasionally to cool off and dry out my hands. The times when I fell down, no snow got into my Mitts - the gauntlets worked very well to prevent that - all the moisture in my Mitts was from my hands sweating. I didn't have any problem removing the cap from my hydration tube with the Mitts on; however, I found it a bit difficult to handle the trail map with my Mitts on, so I generally took them off when reviewing the trail map.

The second day of skiing was at Homewood Ski Resort in the Lake Tahoe, CA area of the Sierras. The elevations were between 6200 and 7880 ft (1890 and 2402 m) and the temperatures were in the mid 30s to low 50s F range (2 to 11 C). The conditions were very similar to those at Mount Rose, no snow or rain fell, but there was plenty of snow on the ground. I again wore the Mitts all day and had the same experience as I had at Mount Rose - my hands were warm enough all day, even when riding the chair lift (inactive). But I periodically had to remove the Mitts to air out my hands because they got wet from sweat. Again I found that the Mitts kept every bit of snow out, even when I fell.


Summary

I agree with most of what I wrote in my Field Report about these Mitts. However, the one area in which I have changed my opinion is in regards to warmth. In my field report, I reported that when I was inactive, they did not do a good job of warming up my hands. The interesting thing is, on my two ski trips during the Long Term Testing period, I found that even when inactive (while riding the chair lifts), my hands did not get cold. I believe the difference is that on the backpacking trips, I put the Mitts on cold hands and my hands didn't warm up very well. On the ski trips, I put the Mitts on warm hands, and they kept my hands from cooling off. This could be because there is quite a bit of air space inside the Mitts, so if my hands are already cold, I would need to generate enough heat to warm up that air space as well as my hands, and, when I'm inactive, I don't generate that much heat. I think thick liners inside the Mitts would probably help with this problem.


Conclusion

I find the Snowline Mitts to be completely waterproof; they are a great way to keep my hands totally dry in rain and snow. I do not find them, without liners, to be very good for keeping my hands warm in cold weather, unless I am very active. Even though I do not like how sweaty they get inside when I'm active, they are the most waterproof hand protection I have found. I will continue using these Mitts when I need waterproof hand protection, although I will experiment with wearing layers under them in cold weather, since they were not adequately warm when I was inactive.



Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Outdoor Research for giving me the opportunity to test the Snowline Mitts.





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