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Ice climbing is cold! Your hands need excellent protection that will give you warmth as well as enhance your climbing technique.
To find the best gloves for ice climbing, you must consider a variety of features and climate factors.
So, where should you start?
You can begin by learning about your glove options and researching the climbs you plan to take.
How to keep your hands warm and safe when ice climbing
Well, what exactly do you need to protect your hands and fingers during a long, rigorous day on the ice?
In addition to protection from the ice itself, you also need an immovable, impenetrable grip on your ice climbing gear. The last thing you want is to drive a screw through your hand!
You never know what will happen on the ice. You could be having a blast on the side of the ice one minute; the next, you’re dodging blocks of falling ice from above.
In order to preserve your blood circulation, you need warm protection. However, you need more than just well-insulated material.
What makes great ice climbing gloves?
There are a few key features you will want to look for when finding the right gloves to use with ice climbing.
Insulation keeps your hands warm, but too much can be a problem.
Before you purchase a new pair of gloves, know the weather and conditions that you expect to experience while climbing.
The more insulation woven inside your gloves, the warmer your hands will be.
It can be beneficial to opt for a pair of gloves with light lining.
While this may seem counterintuitive, you can wear your base pair of gloves when your hands are warm and add an extra layer of insulation when the weather cools down.
If you are going for maximum warmth, purchase a pair of gloves with at least 100g of insulation.
If your hands are naturally cold, try gloves that have closer to 200g of insulation.
Insulation is your primary barrier against the cold temperatures.
The best insulation will also remain in place. If you insulation bunches up around your fingertips, this will be uncomfortable. It can also cause you to lose circulation in extreme circumstances.
Choose gloves that have a good level of insulation that is preferable sewn into place.
Unfortunately, there is a dark side to insulation. The thicker (and warmer) the insulation, the bulkier the gloves. Bulkiness compromises your dexterity.
While warmth is important, you also need to be able to grip the ice, as well as your tools.
You must find a good balance between insulation and dexterity.
Think about the difficulty of your climb. The more technical ice you intend to ascend, the more dexterity you will need.
However, if you plan to take on novice routes, you can probably get away with thicker, more insulated gloves.
If you plan on tying knots, practice before you take your new gloves to the ice. Make sure that you can move your hands well enough to accomplish the required tasks.
If you find that the gloves are too bulky, try a thinner, less insulted set.
Other factors play into dexterity, too. Choose your material wisely. You also need material that is malleable enough to give you a high level of dexterity.
Therefore, look for warm material that will allow your hands and fingers to move. The best way to evaluate dexterity is to try the gloves on and take them for a test run.
Fit might be the most important factor to consider when choosing new ice climbing gloves!
Gloves that are too small could potentially cause loss of circulation.
However gloves that are too loose will hinder your grip. This will feel similar to loose insulation.
Select gloves that fit snugly but not too tight. If you purchase loose gloves, plan to wear a liner underneath so that they will fit tightly enough to remain securely on your hands.
You can get away with pants that are slightly too loose or a hat that should really be a little tighter, but do not attempt to wear gloves of an ill-fitting size.
Waterproofing is a double edged sword. Waterproof material keeps water out, but it also trap sweat against your skin.
This can be very dangerous. To prevent this from happening, wear breathable fabric, and do not let your hands overheat.
If you plan to go ice climbing, the chance that you will escape with dry hands is next to none.
You can either choose to embrace this fact, or spend your time trying to fight the inevitable.
For the most part, your natural body heat will keep your extremities warm enough to combat the chill from the water.
The danger comes when you start to cool down, but, at this point, you should be well on your way to warming up inside.
What to do about this?
Waterproof material can be helpful to initially block water, but you do not want to wear gloves that will not allow your hands to breathe.
The optimal choice seems to be somewhere in the middle: water resistant gloves.
Water resistant gloves will minimize the moisture that reaches your hands from the outside while allowing the moisture created by your exercise can escape.
The last thing you want in the middle of a tough climb is to rip your gloves, exposing your delicate skin underneath.
This can be painful and dangerous.
Look for reinforced palms and stretchy, strong material that is noted for its tear resistance.
Abrasion resistance should not be under-rated; if ice can cut through your gloves, you are in for a tough trip.
Leather and synthetic nylon are usually good choices.
Double stitching, leather, and reinforced seams are good signs of abrasion resistance.
Do you want extra grip on the palms? Added padding on the top of your hand?
Would you really like to have textured fingertips? How do you feel about pre-curved fingers?
Many gloves come with added features that can help you out on your climbs.
Try different features and see which ones are most important to you.
There are many different types of special closures, attachments, and additions that you may want to use on your ice climbs.
Best gloves for ice climbing
There are a number of gloves that can work well with ice climbing. The following options may prove a good place for you to begin your search.
Always consult an industry professional before using any new product or equipment.
Black Diamond Punisher Cold Weather Gloves
Black Diamond Punisher Cold Weather Gloves are made of the highest quality fabric.
Composed of nylon, spandex, goat skin, and polyester, they have been thoughtfully crafted to keep your hands warm during your most difficult climbs.
They are built for the most adventurous souls who need warm, flexible protection.
With fixed lining and a completely waterproof insert, your hands will stay dry throughout all of your climbing jaunts.
The abrasion resistant skin with a woven nylon shell gives you a 4-way stretch that will allow you total movement and control.
And, you will have a tight, waterproof seal with the velcro closure.
The fixed fleece lining will protect your hands from the cold while remaining in place. Don’t worry about fabric bunching up at your fingertips! That will not happen with these gloves.
They’re comfortable enough to climb WI5 and also warm enough so that your hands will not get overheated while belaying. You will even be able to tie tight knots in subzero temperatures!
The Black Diamond Punishers are a good fit for climbers who are looking for protection for the long haul.
They will take care of your hands throughout the most intense conditions as well as during your hardest climbs.
With an articulated fit, these gloves will conform to your hands’ natural curvature, adding comfort and stability.
View at Amazon to learn more about how these gloves might work for you when ice climbing.
- 100% dry waterproof insert with seam taping
- Woven, abrasion resistant nylon shell
- Fixed fleece lining
- Comfortable and warm
- Great dexterity with EVA padding
- Goat leather palm
- Curved fit made for holding ice tools
- 4 way stretch
- Extra knuckle padding
- Capped fingers
- Strong velcro closure
RAB Blizzard Glove – Men’s
The RAB Blizzard Glove is also ready to help you tackle the ice!
Designed for the iciest temperatures, they provide your hands with an incredible level of warmth and waterproofing.
However, unlike competitors, you can get both insulation AND grip. Whether you are in the midst of rain, snow or ice, you must keep your hands warm, and these gloves have you covered!
Using strong nylon outer shell lined with a Porelle Dry waterproof insert, these gloves will keep your hands warm and dry. The Nylon shell is rip resistant; it will stand up to even the most jagged shards of ice.
The fingers are pre-curved which will give you a more ergonomic, comfortable grip.
Such a precise fit will feel very natural!
And, as temperatures decrease, you can easily add a liner underneath for added protection.
The leather palm grip will give you a good grip on the ice as well as your tools.
With the glove’s tight drawstring cuff closure, you can adjust the seal as needed to keep your hands at the correct temperature. You can close the cuff while you belay, and tighten it while you heat up on the climb.
In combination with the wrist strap, the closure will allow you to keep the heat close to your hand while blocking ice and snow.
You can also add a liner with this pair of gloves.
With excellent grip, comfort, and warmth, this may be an excellent choice for your climbing trips.
View at Amazon for more information on how this product may work for your ice climbing needs.
- Warm Pyrotec insulation
- Nylon outer shell
- Porelle Dry waterproof insert
- Precurved with a natural fit
- Drawcord closure and wrist strap to give you a watertight seal
- Able to be paired with a liner
- Leather palm for a great grip
Outdoor Research Super Vert Gloves
The Outdoor Research Super Vert Gloves are another excellent option for your ice climbing needs.
They are even machine washable! Having gloves that are easy to clean after a long day climbing is a real treat.
They are water and wind resistant and strong enough to take the brunt of the cold winter weather.
And, they are lightweight! Comfortable and lightly insulated, these gloves will protect your hands, and you grip will not be hindered on the ice.
These gloves will give you the freedom to enjoy the peacefulness of the ice while remaining safe and warm.
In addition, the new nylon soft stretch shell will weather the cold and give you a top-notch grip.
Combined with the newly textured fingertips, you will be able to grab onto the ice better than ever before!
The goat leather palm is the icing on the cake that will complete your glove and maximize your comfort.
With such a natural feel, these gloves could be a great asset to your ice climbing tool box.
View at Amazon to learn more about how these gloves may work for you when ice climbing.
- Machine washable
- Water and wind resistant
- Lightweight yet warmly insulated
- Reinforced leather palm, textured fingertips, and a soft nylon stretch shell
- Comfortable design for an enhanced fit
- Excellent grip and dexterity
Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com