Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Seirus Softshell Lite Gloves

For the most part, I would describe myself as a poor excuse for a four-season backpacker. The reason I will win no awards for my year-round backpacking activities is because I rarely backpack in the heat of the summer where there is only an abundance of bugs and hotness and not water. I also rarely backpack in winter, although not for lack of interest, as I have not yet quite developed the skills that I feel comfortable with for multi-day trips in sub-freezing temperatures. Something as simple as learning how to avoid freezing water bottles, how to control sweat, layering, etc. are not only topics of practicality, but in the case of extreme cold, I may very well be testing the limits of my safety. So on that front, I'll keep trying and learning.

With that said, I've found a pair of lightweight gloves work very well for me for the seasons I backpack. I have two pairs of gloves that can be pretty much used interchangeably as far as I'm concerned. The first is a pair of SmartWool liners (, $18, 45 grams) and the second is a pair of New Zealand PossumDown liners (, $15.30, 46 grams). Both are a no frills and very lightweight option. They aren't meant for much more than simple warmth in conditions where I won't be getting them wet. By the way, add the Mountain Laurel Designs eVENT Rain Mitt(, $45, 35 grams) and you'll have a downright solid system in a wide range of conditions.

For winter conditions when I need something a little more substantial, I've been experimenting with the Seirus Softshell Lite (, $45, 83g). They are made from Polartec Power Shield which block 98% of wind, which is my biggest gripe with the SmartWool and PossumDown gloves identified above. The Seirus is lined with polyester fleece and is made of 49% polyester, 35% nylon, and 16% spandex which essentially means they are stretchy, comfortable, and highly water and wind resistant. I also like the fact that it has a piece of fabric on the palm which helps with grip and long-term durability.
A couple of thoughts on the information herein. First, note that the Seirus gloves are nearly twice as heavy as the other two I mentioned. They are a far warmer and more durable glove however, and they are still very lightweight. They also do far better with water. Second, of all the gloves I mentioned, really the SmartWool glove is the only one that I'd feel comfortable with handling items off a fire. Synthetics melt - something I can say from experience when I badly burned my finger several years ago while picking up a cup from over a fire which quickly melted my glove causing one of the few times in my life where I needed to give myself backcountry first aid.

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