The conundrum of ski gloves

October 26, 2014

ski glove confusion questions

There is a lot more to ski gloves than meets the eye, and I really had no idea of that until I started a ski glove company. This statement is not to say that I wasn't experienced or that I'd not spent most of my life wearing ski gloves, it is an admission that none of us know as much as we think we do. My resume is a childhood skiing almost every day, a ski racing career, college in a ski town, and 20+ years working a variety of jobs to maintain a constant ski bum lifestyle of skiing 100+ days a year.

Going through a year long research and development phase -more like adventure- taught me so much more about ski gloves than I ever knew.

The lessons I learned:

1) "Waterproof" does not exist in a ski glove. Water always finds a way in from the outside environment. The harder you try to stop it, the more it builds up from the inside -sweat-.

2) The sometime-warmest, most expensive insulation provides the worst grip and dexterity. It's lofty, that's what makes it warm. Loft, means air between fibers, which means the glove floats on your hand. It's sometimes-not-the-warmest because it's warmth is derived from its loft, so when it's compressed -like gripping anything- it loses its primary property that got you to spend so much money on it.

3) The most popular leather used in ski gloves is the one that wears out the fastest: goatskin. There are lots of rumors/innuendo/whispers in the ski apparel industry that cowhide is tough and not the best thing for ski gloves. That's because they don't want to take the time to tan it soft, and more to the point, it does not wear out as fast -less revenue from selling replacement gloves-.

4) Less lofty, dense insulation that packs down tight provides great warmth and much better dexterity.

5) The more you spend on ski gloves, the bigger fantasy World you concoct in your head about how great your ski gloves are. This is not a criticism. It's human nature. When you get something for free or you're doing product variable testing as a designer, the product works much different than if you just shelled out $175 at your local ski shop. You can't talk to people who dropped that coin on a Gore-Tex, PrimaLoft, Goatskin glove from a big name company. 

This is known as the power of RATIONALIZATION

6) You can read on and on at this website about my hate/love relationship with "waterproof breathable" membrane inserts, so I won't go off here as well, but, almost everyone thinks they're great (Until they test a glove on one hand with the insert and one on the other hand without the insert). Membrane inserts can be valuable in the right climactic situations, but those conditions are much less common. I read a comment on some online forum that said a glove is not waterproof unless it has a membrane insert. Hmm, what about the hole where your hand goes in? What about the trapped sweat moisture inside? Don't you know how membrane inserts actually work -the physics- ... they actually require internal water moisture to build up inside to open the breathing pores? 

I have to get off this topic. It's the one thing about ski glove design that the consumer is totally clueless about. It's almost all marketing mumbo-jumbo BS to get you to pay $100+ for something that cost the ski glove company $10 to produce in China.

7) Almost everyone swears by leather treatment waterproofers that harden their already hard tanned leather and make them even less breathable and dexterous.

8) There is a giant amount of insecurity among the most dedicated, every day skiers and riders about their gloves. They can't afford good gloves, so they defend with great passion their cheap Home Depot/Walmart quality gloves that have crappy grip, dexterity, warmth, and water-resistance. And frankly, this is what pisses me off the most, that the ski bum -my people- have been forced into trying to defend their pride because the ski apparel companies who should be making and pricing products for them DO NOT. So, it's back to defending crap as if it was cool. Free the Powder Gloves makes and prices our products for the people who use and need them the most -my people-.

9) The biggest lesson is that there is no product in skiing and riding that people are more price conscious about than ski gloves. It makes no sense, but that is the way it is. People will go every day with duct-taped cold, wet hands that can't grip anything, but ask them to ski on old cheap skis (which work exactly the same as their new expensive ones) ... no f***ing way!

I will rest now, but I will return to reminisce on my lessons of ski glove R & D... 






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