Ice Climbing sounds like an extremely cool sport, pun intended. But if you have taken up ice climbing recently, one of the most common things that you will hear about, is the fear of screaming barfies. To put it in simpler words, screaming barfies means the condition (extremely painful condition) where your hands start heating up and eventually thawing because of being out in the cold for too long.
I dont mean to scare you, but this is a very common condition occurring amongst ice climbers if theyre not careful. Well lucky for you, screaming barfies can be prevented and the solution is simple- ice gloves. The approach of finding the right ice climbing gloves should be like that of Prince Henry trying to find the owner of the glass slippers- they should fit.
In this article, we have compiled a list of the best ice climbing gloves that will save you from the agony that follows if your hands are exposed to ice for too long. But before that, here are some things that you need to look out for in a good pair of ice climbing gloves.
Black Diamond Solano Heated Gloves
This glove is considered to be one of the game changers in the gloves department. It has a heating system that is battery run. It is breaking the traditional ways in which gloves are made. Now the gloves that came with insulation are becoming an old story.
These gloves come with a switch that can switch on and off the heating as per your convenience. It is extremely easy to use and comes with a feature with which you can control the heat according to necessity.
Although one might think that such gloves might be bulky and reasonably so; Solano has managed to be sleek and also comes in waterproof encased battery holders.
- Black Diamond Solano has three settings of heat which makes it more comfortable for the climber.
- It has a coating of goat leather near fingers and palm.
- The glove has an insulation of 170g PrimaLoft which is one of the best out there.
- IT has complete waterproofing.
- The dexterity is amazing and we would rate it a solid 4/5.
- Solano is definitely on the higher end of the price spectrum.
Arc’teryx Alpha FL Glove
We wouldn’t be wrong in calling this glove the best glove in the market. And believe us, we are not saying this lightly. This glove has a slender fit with insulation running throughout.
It also has a pre-curved shape that will imitate your hand movements. Which means it is literally hand tailored for you.
Alpha FL is also made of leather, hard wearing of course on palms and fingers. There is also a waterproof Gore-tex layer to keep the insides dry. Another striking feature is that the glove reaches up to forearms, preventing water from dripping inside.
- The insulation on this glove is one of the best there is, keeping the hands warm and toasty.
- There is a gauntlet cuff that reaches the forearms, preventing water from dripping.
- The palm is made up of leather.
- The waterproofing guarantees no leaking of water inside the gloves.
- There is a hook and loop.
- It is one of the costlier gloves.
Black Diamond Punisher Gloves
The Black Diamond Punisher is one of the most liked gloves of mountaineers, skiers, and ice climbers. It is the perfect pick for anyone looking for affordable, functional and tough gloves. It provides comparatively more longevity than other gloves in the market.
There are only a few flaws that can be picked. One of which would be its 100g insulation, that sometimes can be insufficient for providing consistent warmth. Although the insulation is even spread across the glove and less insulation means more dexterity.
Not considering the moderate insulation, Diamond Punish is pretty amazing considering some of its features like stretching four ways, use of abrasion resistant fabrics and full waterproofing.
- Waterproofing is excellent.
- The dexterity is extremely high.
- The materials used for the making of this glove are tough and durable.
- The four way stretch on the glove makes it highly flexible.
- There is EVA padding near the knuckles.
The insulation is comparably weaker and not completely consistent throughout the gloves.
Outdoor Research Alibi II Gloves
Outdoor Research has manufactured this glove as an alpine mountaineering glove. And that title doesn’t come without any reasons. It also uses a 170g PrimaLoft insulation along with leather everywhere inside the glove. EVERYWHERE! It also uses a stretchy softshell Gore-tex body making it another part of your hand.
It has other striking features like gel padding, pre curved construction, nose wipe on the thumb, and a gauntlet that covers the forearm. Alibi gloves can serve its purpose well and how!
- The gloves have grippy palms.
- Fabric of Gore-tex is used for the making of the gloves.
- The palms are also made of goat leather.
- Insulation used if of 170g PrimaLoft.
- The breathability is very high.
- The durability of these gloves is not that high.
- The insulation throughout the gloves is non uniform.
Camp USA Geko Light Alpine Glove
This glove is designed for winters. It guarantees comfort and excellence in performance without compromising on anything. This glove ensures good performance, dry hands and comfort to make your ice climbing experience a smooth one. These gloves also have a new striking rain cover to keep your hands dry at all times. The PrimaLoft is placed on the body to give you a stronger grasp.
There is a microfiber that traps body heat in the form of collection of pockets of air through PrimaLoft insulation. This provides an excellent balance between warmth to dexterity ratio. It also makes the gloves waterproof because of the surface tension between the fibers. The fabric is soft and highly breathable.
Siliconized Nylon is used to make the raincover overmitt. This feature makes the gloves waterproof and windproof.
- The gloves are highly durable and tough.
- They are light in weight.
- The gloves are extremely comfortable.
- The protection is appropriate.
- The insulation does not reach till the fingers.
Arc’teryx Fission Sv Gloves
The Arc’teryx Fission SV is a glove that comes with a myriad of features and makes it at the top of the market. They are made out of softshell materials that are durable and makes the glove abrasion resistant. It is considered to be the best for an all rounding performance. The dexterity is also to the maximum because of the way they are constructed.
These gloves also have a gauntlet that reaches up to your sleeves in order to seize the snow or ice from seeping inside the gloves. There is also a Gore-tex insert that makes the gloves waterproof.
There are also two layers on the palm and fingers made of goat leather to ensure strong grip and higher durability.
- High durability and stronger grip.
- Good insulation that ensures warmth.
- Waterproof and breathable.
- The leather takes time to dry.
- The insulation is not uniform.
Important things to check for Finding the best ice climbing gloves
Insulation should be at the top of the priorities to look for in an ice glove as it acts as a buffer between the varying temperatures of our body and the freezing ice. If your body temperature is warmer, then insulation of 100g would be recommended. And if you have trouble keeping your hands warm, insulation of 200g would be suggested. Primaloft insulation of any variety is considered to be the best in the market.
But an important point to be noted is to maintain the balance between dexterity and insulation. Generally, more insulation means bulkier the glove. Which might make it difficult to perform activities like tying knots, nailing screws in the ice, belaying etc.
This phenomenon is often overlooked as ice is considered more of a dry concept. But once you’re out there climbing for hours, belaying, touching and tying wet ropes, the condition of your gloves will change your mind. It is likely that by the end of your climb, your hands will be drenched with ice water. It won’t prove to be a threat if you immediately change your gloves. But if you wait too long then your hand might become dangerously frigid.
Most ice climbing gloves are made thinking that the ice is going to be too cold or too dry. But these conditions are found in places like Canada, Alaska and of course the Arctic circle. So, if you live anywhere outside these places, then looking for a glove with good waterproofing fabrics would be smart.
Ice climbing is not an easy-going sport. It has extreme conditions and plus the hardware that is used for climbing can severely damage the gloves. You want the gloves to last more than just one or two seasons as good gloves don’t come at cheap prices.
So look out for a few features and design like double stitches, leather inserts, materials with higher denier etc.
Size and fit
In this age of online shopping, a lot of people prefer to buy their gear online. While the size might fit some, often finding the perfect fit for your hand can be tricky. Finding the correct size is important as you do not want floppy gloves giving you trouble when you’re climbing.
Several climbers like to buy their gloves a size larger as they like to put a liner in between. But that isn’t a great idea as it leaves some space in between, leaving floppy fingertips.
There is also the case of having gloves that are too tight. Tighter gloves will restrict your movements and will also cut off blood circulation, leaving your hand numb after a while. So we suggest that you decide whether you’ll be wearing a liner or not, try the gloves with the liner and make sure there are no unwanted spaces in between.
Now that you know, what to look for in a glove, here are some of the best gloves to make your ice climbing experience safer and better.
Ice climbers now don’t have to worry about frost bites as there are plenty of good options available in the market. We have selected the absolute best for you. Now go find a great pair of gloves and have a cool ice climbing experience without worrying about your hands getting cold.
If we had to pick a winner out of the above-mentioned gloves, it would be a challenge as all of them have some features that strike out from the rest. And they have very few cons. But if we had to choose, we would go with Arc’teryx Alpha FL Glove.
This glove fulfils the dreams of a lot of ice climbers and is what a lot of ice climbers were waiting for. The inadequacies that were present in the previous gloves are thrown away by these gloves. They are warm, have high dexterity, and have a great balance between insulation and dexterity. Their protection level and performance level can rarely be matched by other gloves. It is definitely pricey but will last you for a long time and is not just made for one or two seasons.