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Reviews > Clothing > Gloves > Outdoor Research StormTracker Gloves > Test Report by Tom Callahan

OUTDOOR RESEARCH STORMTRACKER GLOVES
TEST SERIES BY TOM CALLAHAN - Sep. 9, 2008 to Jan. 20, 2009
LONG-TERM REPORT
January 20, 2009

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Tom Callahan
EMAIL: tcallahanbgt AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 49
LOCATION: Seattle, Washington, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 170 lb (77.10 kg)

For the past 20 years I have lived off and on in Washington State, backpacking in the Cascade Mountains. I get out regularly on day hikes and multi-day trips and usually try to include a good off trail scramble. During the winter I get out snowshoeing at every opportunity. I also enjoy glacier climbing, summiting prominent peaks like Mt. Rainier (14K ft/4K m) and Mt. Baker (10K ft/3K m). My pack weight will range from 15 - 50 lbs (7 - 23 kg) depending on the season and the length and type of trip.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.outdoorresearch.com/
MSRP: US$ 59.00
Listed Weight: 3.8 oz (108 g) size L
Measured Weight: 4.1 oz (116 g) size L
Other details: Available in Chili (red) and Black, sizes S, M, L, XL

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The gloves arrived in a plastic bag, attached to a cardboard display tag. An Outdoor Research and Gore Windstopper hang tag were attached to the gloves. The gloves looked to be what I was expecting going by the picture on the OR web page. The red color was true to the gloves pictured on the web page.

Front and back of gloves
Front and back of gloves


The gloves are made of Windstopper fabric that is described as breathable and water-resistant. This exterior material is smooth to the touch. The interior of the gloves is lined with a smooth and soft tricot material. When I put the gloves on I was impressed by the comfortable feel provided by this lining.

The palm of the gloves are covered with a single piece of leather. This piece of leather extends up and covers the fore finger and little finger, too. This leather has a soft, comfortable feel to it. Another piece of leather covers the middle and ring fingers. The sides of the fingers have V-shaped slots which provide the "Articulated Sidewalls" feature noted by the manufacturer. The thumb is covered by 3 pieces of leather.

Close up of fingers showing V-slots
Close up of fingers showing V-slots


The glove has a straight gauntlet that covers my wrist with 2 3/4 inches (7 cm) of material. The back of the gauntlet has a small, gusseted waterproof zipper. The zipper pull has a rubber coating. Opposite the zipper, the gloves have an elasticized wrist that helps provide a snug fit.

Each glove has an embroidered OR logo. The gloves clip together by means of a small plastic clip.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Obviously gloves don't need much in the way of instructions. The OR display tag does recommend occasional use of waterproofing treatment of the leather palms to maintain performance. Since these are soft shell gloves I plan to clean and waterproof them as I do my other soft shell garments.

TRYING IT OUT

As noted earlier, all the materials of this glove have a smooth, comfortable feel to them. Since this is a soft shell glove I was pleasantly surprised by how plush these gloves feel with the liner. All the other soft shell gloves I have used have been constructed with just the soft shell material, no liner. So I wasn't ready for how good it would feel and how much difference a liner would make. In addition to the comfortable feel, the liner should provide some extra warmth, beyond what would be provided with the soft shell material alone.

The size large fits me perfectly. They slip on easily and are snug on my fingers, not tight. I feel I've got good dexterity with them. While wearing the gloves I was able to open and close a Ziploc bag and operate my digital camera. I could not pick quarter up off a hardwood table. When making a fist or wrapping my fingers around an object, the finger material flexes easily and does not bunch up at the finger joints. When I outstretch my hands, the leather comes snug across the palm but not to the point where I feel it restricts my movement.

Once on my hand, zipping it up provides a comfortable fit around my wrist. Also the rubber coating of the zipper pull makes it easier to grip compared to plain metal pull. The glove material does have a bit of stretch to it. For me, this is enough stretch such that I can easily put the gloves on and take them off with the zipper completely closed.

INITIAL REPORT SUMMARY - Sep. 4, 2008

I am looking forward to testing these gloves. They are well made and fit me perfectly. The gloves have a smooth comfortable feel, especially the interior liner. This should make for comfortable wearing during the course of long days on the trail. Also, the liner should provide additional warmth, beyond that of typical, unlined soft shell gloves.

During testing I'll be checking to see how well these gloves function on the trail and around camp, how much dexterity they afford. I'll also want to find out how warm they keep my hands and how well they resist water. Additionally I'll be focused on how well the glove material holds up to use in the field, particularly how they perform with trekking poles and the extent I can use them while scrambling on rocky terrain.

This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.

Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test these gloves.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I used the StormTracker gloves in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State during Field Testing. The gloves were used during two overnight trips in conjunction with glacier climbs. I also used the gloves on two overnight trips and two day hikes to alpine lakes in the Cascades.

On the glacier climbs, I camped at around 5,500 ft (1650 m). The temperatures and weather conditions were such that I did not need to wear the gloves on the approach day. However I definitely needed the gloves for my "alpine start" the next morning. For each of these climbs I arose around 4 am to clear and calm conditions and temperatures around 30 F (-1 C). On the climb to the top of Mt Baker, 10,781 ft (3,286 m), temperatures remained cool throughout most of the day and I wore the gloves for the entire ascent and while on the summit. While on the summit it was sunny and winds were around 15 mph (24 km/h). The winds stayed steady and temperatures remained cool for first few hours of the descent, after which the sun warmed things up to over 50 F (10 C) and the winds became light. It was at this point that I took the gloves off. On the other climb, to Eldorado Peak, 8,868 ft (2,703 m), I wore the gloves for nearly the entire ascent. When temperatures warmed up to near 50 F (10 C) upon nearing the summit I took the gloves off and stowed them in my pack for the rest of the day.

On my other two overnight trips, I camped at 4,000 to 5,000 ft (1,200 to 1,500 m). The night time temperatures would drop down to around 40 F (4 C) and would remain so through the early morning hours. I had light winds, clear to partly cloudy skies and no rain on these trips. So with these moderate conditions I wore the gloves for a few hours in the evening and again in the morning.

For my day hikes, one was in rainy conditions and temperatures ranged from 40 to 50 F (4 to 10 C) and elevation topped out at around 5,000 ft (1,500 m). I wore the gloves for about 3 hours that day. The other hike started out under partly cloudy skies but as I gained elevation and ascended to 6,500 ft (2,000 m) I ended up in mostly rainy conditions with a little snow mixed in and temperatures around freezing. I wore the gloves for about 2 hours, until I descended out of the rain and to warmer temperatures.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Wearing StormTracker atop Mt Baker
Wearing StormTrackers atop Mt Baker - 10,781 ft (3,286 m)

I was very pleased with the performance of these gloves. The liner in these gloves provides extra warmth relative to unlined soft shell gloves that I have used. On chilly early morning starts on my glacier climbs, when temperatures were around freezing, these gloves kept my hands comfortably warm. When temperatures reached 50 F (10 C) my hands would become a too warm in the gloves and so this was the point at which I would take the gloves off. On my overnight trips, when temperatures dropped below 40 F (4 C) in the evening I would don the gloves and they kept my hands comfortable around camp. I would then wear the gloves for a few hours in the morning. The weight of the gloves was just right to keep my hands warm as soon as I left the comfort of my sleeping bag and exited the tent.

In addition to the extra warmth provided by the liner, it also provided a soft comfortable feel. It was nice not having a scratchy seam rubbing against my fingers, as would happen in unlined gloves.

Even with the liner and the bit of extra bulk associated with it, the trim cut and fit of the gloves gave me very good dexterity. In getting ready for my climbs, I was able to tie knots, rig and adjust my climbing harness, and clip carabiners all while wearing these gloves. With the gloves on, the leather palm helped provide for a secure grip when carrying my ice axe or when using trekking poles. While wearing the gloves I was able to set up my canister stove and light it. I found when it was cold out such as first thing in the morning, I was not able to open up a Zip-Loc bag when it came time to prepare meals. I was able to turn on my digital camera and take pictures while wearing the StormTracker gloves. But I found that I could not operate the smaller buttons for the camera's special settings, for which I had to take off a glove.

Taking Pictures
Taking Pictures


The gloves would shed light rain to an extent. However, being a soft shell glove it does have some limitations in this regard. While out in rainy weather, within 1/2 hour I found the gloves would become wet and soak through in the area where I was gripping my trekking poles. Then in about an hour the entire gloves and my hands were completely wet. However, even though the gloves were completely soaked through, my hands stayed warm at temperatures of 45 F (7 C).

When my hands were dry the gloves were very easy to put on and take off. Because the material is a bit stretchy, I could even keep the zipper on the back of the glove closed and still slide the gloves off and on. When my hands were wet or even very damp I found it was a bit difficult to put on the gloves, even with the zipper fully open. This was due to my fingers sticking and jamming on the liner fabric. After some wiggling of my fingers and working the glove from the outside I was able to fully seat my fingers, though.

In terms of wear, these gloves have held up very well. The leather palms show only very minor scratches and the soft shell material still looks new.

FIELD REPORT SUMMARY - Nov. 17, 2008

I used the StormTrackers as my all-around soft shell gloves during testing and they performed very well. I really liked the gloves' liner. It provides extra warmth and makes for a soft comfortable feel. The gloves were great to have when temperatures dropped below 50 F (10 C) and would keep my hands warm to around freezing. I did not encounter temperatures colder than that during this phase of testing. But I am sure to be out in colder weather during the Long-Term Testing period. The gloves also provided some protection from rain and would keep my hands warm when the gloves did become wet. The gloves provided good grip and dexterity when carrying an ice axe, when using trekking poles and when performing basic camp tasks.

Pros: warmth, comfortable liner material, good grip and dexterity

Cons: difficult to put on with wet hands, will become soaked if out long enough in the rain

My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test the StormTracker gloves. Check back for the Long-Term Test Report in about 2 months.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During this phase of testing I wore the OR StormTracker gloves on 2 overnight trips and 3 day hikes. All these trips were in the central Cascade Mountains.

The first overnight started at 2,200 ft (670 m), camped at 5,000 ft (1,500 m) and the next day scrambled up a peak with a high point of 6,600 ft (2,000 m). Temperatures ranged from a high of 50 F (10 C) to a low of around 30 F (-1 C). It was overcast and windy the first day. The second day was perfectly calm and sunny.

The second overnight, I started around 1,500 ft (450 m) and camped at 4,000 ft (1,200 m). Then the next day I hiked up to a high point of 6,400 ft (1,950 m). It was a mixed bag of broken clouds, mist, drizzle and rain for both days on this trip. The first day's temperatures ranged from 45 to 30 F (7 to -1 C). The next day temperatures remained right around 30 F (-1 C).

One of the day hikes I started out at 1,800 ft (550 m) and had an elevation gain of 3,900 ft (1,200 m). Temperatures were around 50 F (10 C) at the start under partly sunny skies. At the high point it had begun to cloud up and temperatures were around 40 F (7 C). There was just a slight breeze all day. I started out on bare trail and hiked up into several feet (about a meter) of snow and although I had snowshoes with me, didn't yet need them as the snow was well packed down from other hikers who had been up the day before.

Right before Christmas I went out on a day trip. I was able to hike the packed snow in boots for the first 1/2 hour, then the snow became deep and soft enough to warrant snowshoes. That day it was clear and calm at the start with temperatures around 10 F (-12 C) at an elevation of around 1,500 ft (450 m). As I gained an elevation of around 4,500 ft (1,400 m) temperatures had dropped to 5 F (-15 C). It later became windy on the way down and temperatures stayed steady at 5 F (-15 C).

Out in deep snow
Out in deep snow


My last day trip was at a time of high avalanche hazard in the Cascades. So on that day I did a loop trail which started out at around 500 ft (150 m) and had an elevation gain of just less than 1,000 ft (300 m). Temperatures were around 35 to 40 F (2 to 4 C). It was a cloudy day with rain off and on such that the trail became a wet slushy mess. But better that than to risk avalanche hazard terrain at higher elevations.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have continued to be very pleased with the StormTracker gloves. When temperatures drop below 50 F (10 C) these are great gloves to have along. They keep my hands warm and still breathe such that I am comfortable when working hard on difficult terrain. I can count on these gloves to keep my hands warm in temperatures down to the freezing level and below. I was even surprised that on my snowshoe outing when temperatures dipped down to 5 F (-15 C) my hands continued to stay comfortable in the StormTracker gloves. To clarify, on this day I was going up some steep terrain in deep snow and my hands stayed comfortable as long as I was moving, especially when it was my turn to break trail.

In steep terrain @ 5 F (-15 C)
In steep terrain @ 5 F (-15 C)



In addition to protection from the elements, these gloves have proven to be very durable. The outer shell material shows virtually no wear and the leather palms have only minor scratches.

LONG TERM SUMMARY - January 20, 2009

Overall I have been quite impressed with the Outdoor Research StormTracker gloves. The gloves fit me well and the material always felt comfortable against my skin. I was comfortable in cool temperatures and even down to 5 F (-15 C). The gloves do provide some protection from rain but they will begin to soak through the soft shell material after being exposed to rain for hour.

Up in the Cascades
Up in the Cascades


At the end of my Long Term Report, my pros and cons remain:

Pros: warmth, comfortable liner material, good grip and dexterity

Cons: difficult to put on with wet hands, will become soaked if out long enough in the rain


CONTINUED USE

I will continue to bring these gloves on practically every trip I take. These are a great glove to take on day hikes and snow shoe trips, on summer overnights when temperatures drop at high elevations, and on glacier climbs when a comfortable glove with good grip and dexterity is a must.

This concludes my Long Term Report on the Outdoor Research StormTracker gloves.
Thanks to BackpackGearTest.com and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test these gloves.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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