A good pair of lightweight gloves is an absolute essential in the backcountry. I discovered this reality first hand on a backcountry snowshoeing trip in the High Sierra this spring. I had a pair of mountaineering expedition-weight gloves but no lightweight gloves. The mountaineering gloves were very warm but whenever I had to take them off to complete smaller tasks e.g. retrieve items from my pack, tighten snow-shoe straps, take photos, pitch a tent, etc… my hands froze in the sub zero temps. It was then that I realized how important a good pair of lightweight gloves could be. Even when it is not below zero lightweight gloves are still a great item to have. Over the last two months I have worn my Outdoor Research Versaliner Gloves through all kinds of conditions and I must say that I am very happy with them.

Glove Warmth

It is brutally cold and I am covered in rime ice. There are icicles forming on the brim of my hood. I have never experienced these types of conditions before and I love it. The wind-chill at over 9,000 feet is staggering and I am maintaining a breakneck pace trying to keep myself warm. I stop to slip on my Outdoor Research Versaliner Gloves. I unzip the handy pouch on the back of the gloves and pull the 2.5 layer 40D Pertex® Shield DS stretch ripstop fabric shell out, effectively turning my 100 weight radiant fleece gloves into a wind resistant all-weather glove. The wind that was numbing my fingers is now effectively blocked by the liner and my hands began to warm up quickly inside the soft fleece.

Another nice component worth mentioning is the large keeper loop on the inside of the glove against the wrist. It allows one to quickly and easily secure their gloves (an absolute necessity during windy adventures or when perched on the side of precipice).

Waterproof and Breathable

I have used the gloves on numerous forays into the wild yonder and they have become a surprising new best friend. At first I thought the gloves would be too lightweight for winter weather but with the onslaught of an early winter here in California, I was pleasantly surprised to find that these gloves are very warm. On one particular hike in the Front Range (think low elevation and wet) I went for a short hike in a fairly heavy rainstorm. After subjecting them to about an hour of heavy rain, I fully submerged the gloves in a rain runoff-filled brook. The gloves were still keeping my hands warm and dry. If you do happen to get these gloves wet, the radiant fleece will still keep your hands warm due to fleece’s natural hydrophobic tendencies.

Glove Grip

It is a bluebird day, the sun has not yet crested the horizon but the mountains are beginning to glow and warm up. I hardly notice. I am traversing a frozen snow-covered side slope with a one hundred plus foot cliff looming twenty feet below me. If I slip I would have almost no time to arrest my fall. My grip tightens around my ice axe and I push those thoughts from my mind and focus on the task at hand. As I plunge my ice axe into the snow and kick deep steps for my partners to follow, I am impressed by the grip the Versaliner gloves afford me. I removed the liner exposing the silicone grip on the palm and fingertips of the glove and they stick to my ice axe like fly paper.

As an added perk, I noticed that I could operate my iPhone while wearing the gloves. Oftentimes I would have to swipe numerous times before I could unlock my iPhone but to be fair the gloves are not advertised as having this feature. However, these would be the perfect gloves if they had OR’s Touch Tech technology which allows one to operate touch screen devices.

Photo Courtesy of Outdoor Research

Pros of Versaliner Gloves

  • Sticky grip
  • Surprisingly warm for their weight
  • Waterproof & Breathable
  • Sewn in keeper loop on the wrists

Drawbacks of Versaliner Gloves

  • Difficult to operate a touch screen device while wearing the gloves
  • Only comes in one color

 Final Thoughts

Overall, these are a great pair of gloves and will always have a spot in the top pocket of my pack on any adventure. They are light, hardly take up any room in your pack, and offer surprising warmth. It is also important to mention Outdoor Research’s “Infinite Guarantee” that promises that their product will last forever and if it does not they will exchange it. Now how can you beat that?

©Chad Lauterbach

Leave a Reply