A review of SealSkinz Ultra Grip Gloves. Good, well made gloves..but good for what purpose?
Hand wear is a funny thing. In many ways, dialing in an effective layering system for your hands is one of the most difficult aspects of time spent outside.
Gloves or mittens need to keep us warm , protect us from the elements and still somehow allow us to perform the myriad of tasks needed when on an outdoor excursion.
There is a compromise between keeping your hands warm but not so bulky as to prevent practical use.
Many experienced outdoors people use a modular system (liner, inner mitten, outer shell). But some people prefer a solitary “do it all” glove or mitten.
Mainly a glove that is warm, weather resistant and flexible enough to perform tasks such as using a camera, fishing another layer out of pack, and grabbing food or water.
Recently I was asked to review such a glove: SealSkinz Ultra Grip gloves.
SealSkinz is a company best known in the US for their socks. Recently, this British company bought back the rights from the company with that name in the US. The original SealSkinz company is now marketing their products throughout the United States.
The gloves are made of neoprene-like material on the outside and lined with merino wool. There is rubber material on the outside palm and fingers to ensure a good grip. The extra-large sized gloves fit my hand beautifully. Tight enough, not too loose and very flexible. The very vibrant yellow/green reminded me of work gloves more so than backcountry gear. The gloves are well constructed and made of, what seems to me, quality material.
In the field
I used these gloves ski touring in December and January. The temperatures during touring ranged from down to negative digits and up to a high of mid-twenties. I also used them for a some walks and hikes locally that were up to high 30s and low 40s.
What I found overall is that the “2” rating for the thermal scale the SealSkinz uses (found on the package) is, for better or worse, accurate. These gloves are for moderately cold temperatures. That is not normally a problem, and actually preferred, as I typically use a modular system.
However, the gloves really don’t work well in a modular system. When I used my camera, I had to take the SealSkinz off. My hands became too cold while using a camera without a liner. The SealSkinz are too thick to use as a liner glove when coupled with a shell mitten.
When I did use the SealSkinz gloves with an extremely thin liner, my hands still became cold. I found that the gloves are too tight to use with a liner; the blood flow became constricted to my fingers. As soon as I switched back to my favored wool liner glove/shell mitt combo, the hands warmed up again.
For moderate temperature conditions, the gloves worked well enough by themselves in terms of warmth.
As for the waterproofness, I only used them in winter conditions with the typical “fluffy” Colorado snow found at this time. Between the neoprene material and merino wool liner, the hands did stay dry.
As I was preparing to write this review, it occurred to me what these gloves are similar to in terms of their use: a soft shell.
A soft shell has its place. But I find the use is limited and best for day use activities and as an all purpose town jacket.
In the same way, these gloves work well in certain conditions. I can definitely see myself using these gloves for spring skiing, perhaps a shoulder season day hike in the foothills and alpine climbing on less technical climbs. These gloves will be good to keep in my car as “just in case” gear, too. Changing a flat in the cold weather will actually be a lot easier with these gloves due to the grip.
But, much like a soft shell jacket, it is a narrow range of conditions in which I see myself using these gloves.
For most of my backcountry activities, I can’t see myself packing these gloves. I try to have versatility in my gear system. The SealSkinz Ultra Grip gloves do not fit that objective.
The SealSkinz gloves are good . Just only good for a narrow range of uses in terms of backcountry use. At least for me.
Note these gloves were provided for my review by Momentum Media PR on behalf of SealSkinz.