Why you should always carry multiple pairs of gloves
Layering is key. From head to toe and all the way to the fingertips. Jeff Kepler, Weston team photographer extraordinaire, knows a thing or two about keeping the hands warm throughout the day to be ready to snap that perfect shot. In this blog, Jeff breaks down the 3 glove system.
Dialing what gear to bring while splitboarding is challenging at first. It is not as easy as grabbing your normal resort gear and enjoying the hill all day. Unlike the resort, there is nowhere to warm up or dry out once you have embarked on your adventure. Since each splitboarding mission is self supported, it is important to bring the correct gear to stay comfortable and safe during each outing. Gloves are one of the most important pieces of gear and it is important to bring multiple pairs of gloves for many reasons.
The 3 glove system
The first pair of gloves needs to be a lightweight glove that will be used primarily for skinning. This glove should be a fleece or windstopper glove that is breathable to allow perspiration to escape while exerting oneself during the ascent. Some people’s fingers become colder easier, so heavier materials may be required depending on one’s cold tolerance. Overall, this is the glove worn the majority of the skin depending on the time of year.
The next pair of gloves needs to be a midweight glove that has some insulation to keep hands warm. I use these gloves if my hands become cold on the ascent and sometimes during snack and water breaks. When bootpacking up couloirs, midweight gloves are ideal because my hands tend to cool down compared to when I am skinning. Most people also use their midweight gloves during the descent. All in all, the midweight glove is essential and many people use this glove more than any other.
Heavyweight gloves or mittens are the third type of gloves that I bring into the backcountry. These gloves have ample insulation and are waterproof, since they are usually used during emergencies. Mittens are great for this purpose because the fingers are close together and can warm up easier. Many people never pull these gloves out of their pack because they are too warm, but they are essential if hands become extremely cold or a night out in the backcountry is required. In conclusion, a warm emergency glove needs to be packed every day into the backcountry.
modifications to the system
Even though three specific gloves will work on one backcountry outing, the same three gloves may not suffice on a different outing. If the weather is going to be warmer or colder, it is important to adjust your glove system accordingly. A midweight glove on a spring day may serve as a lightweight glove on a midwinter day. Additionally, some splitboard trips involve thousands of feet of elevation change, and temperatures may vary drastically from the trailhead to the summit. Unfortunately, developing the appropriate glove system requires experimentation and differs from one individual to the next.
It is also important to consider planned exertion level when packing multiple gloves. Some trips will be with slower partners, so hands will likely not become as warm during the skin. Other trips may be with faster partners and require thousands of feet of elevation change, so a thin glove may be needed for much of the ascent. Alternatively, during photography trips warmer gloves are needed because the photographer will be staying still while setting up and waiting for the shot. These factors listed above will change the lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight glove required for each mission.
(Featured Photo:) Jeff Kepler gracefully poised to capture the shot. Photo: Carly Finke.
other important tips
- Remove your thin gloves while skinning if you start to sweat. Remember that sweat wets out gloves and they will feel colder later.
- Change to a heavier glove if your hands start to get cold. It is difficult to warm hands up when they get cold, and you want to do whatever you can to prevent frostbite.
- Use a stuff sack to organize your gloves. I put my extra gloves, socks, and a beanie in a stuff sack, so I can easily locate my gloves in my pack.
Overall, I like to use the three glove system throughout the season to keep my hands warm and dry. I do modify exactly which gloves I bring based on the temperatures and the time of year. Using this three glove system works great for me and has helped me to avoid frostbite throughout my years on a splitboard. Depending on how warm your hands stay, you may need to modify this system. Just remember it is easier to keep hands warm than to try and warm them up after they are cold.