20+ years Gear Review – Military Surplus Wool Liner Gloves

When I lived in Boulder, CO, I occasionally shopped at Neptune Mountaineering when Gary Neptune ran the show. At the time, and possibly now, it was one of a handful of stores in the country, if not North America,  that could claim to be one of the premier backcountry skiing and climbing stores.

Gary stocked the high-end equipment and more obscure favorites such as thicker Evazote pads, wool Nordic sweaters, an extensive collection of Backcountry Nordic gear, and the humble but practical D3A wool liner gloves long favored by the military—items not as available or at all, in the current iteration of this store.

I picked up a pair of gloves there one winter over twenty years ago and found them superior to any liner I had used until then. And I have yet to change my thoughts on using those liners.

The gloves make it to any season or outdoor activity  category

Inexpensive. Durable. Warm.   And at about 1.5 oz per pair (size five), they are light, too. 

As for sizing, from what I can tell, the rough measurement and sizing in men’s sizes are 2=XS, 3=S, 4=M, 5=L, 6=XL.

I found this image long ago with Google Image Search.

When hiking or backpacking, I wear them by themselves on cool mornings.

On rainy and cold days, they are wonderful under shell mitts.

And during winter? 

Coupled with shell mitts, a pair has taken me to sub-zero temps on ski tours (while moving). Or I wear them with inner mittens and a shell, or my Dachstein mitts, for even more warmth.

It’s a versatile piece of clothing, for sure.

It is one of those small items I tend to forget about, but I can’t picture my outdoor activities without them.

At $7-8 a pair in bulk or $10 a pair when bought individually, they are a bargain compared to ones three times or more as expensive. I keep a pair in my day pack, my backpack, stashed in my camping gear, and even wear around town. I tend to stretch them out before they wear out. 

Over the years, Joan has also found them to be critical items in all four seasons and uses them similarly. She uses them in oversized kitchen chore gloves for an effective and inexpensive system for cold and wet conditions.

Joan in the Georgia mountains. She used these gloves long before we met.

As she has Reynauds, these light, warm, and practical gloves are crucial to keeping warm on the many outdoor activities we do together and separately. 

Overall Summary

It is an indispensable item in my outdoor clothing kit for all four seasons. And for Joan as well. 

These gloves are tied with the safety glasses as budget outdoor items we use more than anything else. Or any items for that matter.

Found at your local surplus store (or on eBay)  in various sizes (I have tended to wear a Men’s large to extra-large in a glove and take a size five in the liners) and multiple colors: Gray, blue, black, brown, and the ever classic OD Green!

In the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado.

Originally published in Nov 2012. Updated Dec 2023 to reflect Joan’s use.

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4 years ago

I tried to Google Image find but not the IT wonk you are. What do the numbers on the gloves mean? Paleeze dont answer 3,4,5,6. … he he

Colorado Jones
Colorado Jones
7 months ago

I bought a pair of these from the local Army Navy Surplus store before heading off to college 35 years ago. They’ve been in and out of storage over the years (not needed when teaching in the tropics) but I’d estimate they have at least twenty years of use on them. As they’re starting to get a few holes, it’s probably time to replace them. I’ll likely be dead or, at least, not hiking anymore by the time the second pair wears out. Definitely one of my best outdoor gear purchases ever.