Gear trends: Gloves for 2014/15

Getting a grip on warmth: Glove makers add both hotter and cooler options for 2014/15.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2014 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 21 – 25. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Glove and mitten sales have taken a beating these two previous warm winters, but a welcomed, pre-holiday arctic blast might have retailers looking to restock a little more inventory for next year.

Manufacturers are turning the heat up on the latest cold-weather technical handwear, but also are focusing on lighter-weight options for active pursuits. Expect new gloves for 2014-15 to carry on the trends that took grip of the industry last year, like touchscreen compatibility — a must today, at least in the liner — and an attention to fit and form.

When it comes to keeping warm, few things matter as much as staying dry. The North Face is doubling up some of the best of natural and synthetic waterproofing solutions — Pittards leather and Gore-Tex — in the Vengeance (MSRP $220). The glove and mitt’s exterior leather protects and deflects moisture, yet is perforated to help eliminate clammy build-up inside the glove. Designers also came up with a pattern to reduce seams, which cuts down on taping and increases breathability.

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No matter what, some customers can’t get their hands warm with their own body heat, which continues to drive the quest for the optimal electric-heated glove that can last a full day on the slopes without bulky batteries.

Heated gloves enter yet another generation at Winter Market, as Columbia steps aside, discontinuing its Omni-Heat Electric line, and lets players like Seirus and Outdoor Research take a crack at it. Both brands debut heated gloves with a seemingly similar technology that spreads the heat across the entire hand throughout the material instead of just wires at the fingertips.

Outdoor Research calls it AltiHeat Technology, now in the Lucent Heated Glove, the Lucent Heated Mitt and the Stormtracker Heated Gloves (MSRPs $230/$235). “What’s great is, our heating unit is so flat and low bulk you can’t even feel it on the back of your hand,” said Megan Martens, handwear product manager for Outdoor Research. The company has tested its safety underwater, too, to make sure it’s Pacific Northwest-approved.

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Seirus brings its push-button HeatTouch Ignite glove and mitt (MSRP $379), with full-hand coverage plus touchscreen connectivity that includes the whole palm. Both brands boast smaller-than-the-past rechargeable lithium batteries that can last up to 8 hours on low, 5-6 hours on medium and 2-3 hours on high.

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At retail, “the main thing with gloves is warmth and keeping your hands dry, because most people that come in here are going to go up on the mountain and they don’t want gloves that are going to be sopping wet,” said Ally Valerio, customer service representative at Cottam’s Ski Shops in Taos, N.M. She lists Dakine and Burton as top sellers, and said consumers have been willing to pay up for the electric-heated gloves too.

But don’t turn the heat up too much, she cautions. “The only problem I could see with that,” she said of the new glove-heat technologies, “would be overheating your hands because if your hands get hot, they get clammy, and then they’re clumsy.”

To that end, retailers will see plenty of thinner, lighter, more breathable gloves on the show floor, marketed toward aerobic activity, yet still offering windproof and water-resistant protection against the winter elements.

Check out Manzella’s expanded All Elements collection for comprehensive options, from the All Elements 1.0 (MSRP $30), a form-fit silk-weight softshell to be worn as a glove or a liner, to the All Elements 5.0 (MSRP $75), a soft shell with a Gore-Tex waterproof breathable insert. Marmot turns to a less-obtrusive undercuff style of glove with highly breathable Polartec Alpha insulation for active users. They feature outfinished seams for greater dexterity. Salomon launches the Equipe Windstopper Glove (MRSP $80), a water-resistant glove that uses its Windstopper fleece lining and Thinsulate insulation to provide warmth and comfort for running in cold conditions. And Black Diamond debuts several light-weight, softshell style gloves made to be more versatile than fleece gloves and add water resistance.

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“Having some wind protection and water resistance in a liner-weight glove is a trend we are seeing,” said Doug Heinrich, vice president of equipment at Black Diamond.

--Elizabeth Miller

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