We continue with our Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trends wraps so we can bring you the most comprehensive take on trends, directions, colors, styles and innovations in stories that will run until we pass out -- or you get bored. No, each report does not name every company with new product and we apologize in advance if a company feels its product was not mentioned when it should have been. So if you're not mentioned, our brains were either too fogged out from the smog to think straight or we didn't think your product stood out sufficiently -- you pick one. With that in mind, here's our take on noteworthy trends and new products for gloves:
Last year we reported that welded seams would be the next evolution in glove design. (See the "A Helping Hand" article in the Gear Trends Winter 2006 issue, starting on page 60.) We also noted that we wouldn't see an avalanche of new welded gloves immediately because the process is difficult and expensive for glove makers. True to our prediction, at this year's Winter Market, companies did reveal a few welded gloves, but there definitely wasn't an avalanche of stuff -- more like a light dusting.
Mountain Hardwear introduced the waterproof Lightspeed Glove and Mitt (MSRP $125-$135) with all welded and taped seams. A key aspect of the Lightspeed is the "Z" weld, which is a type of waterproof welded seam that is supposed to be stronger than typical welds, and it can stretch with the garment. We expect to see welding make its way into more gloves in the future -- in fact, we expect to see a whole bunch of new activity with Hardwear's glove line because the company has just hired its first "accessories product manager."
Black Diamond's new welded glove is the Sensei (MSRP $119). The dexterous glove has four-way stretch, plus it's insulated with Primaloft and has a nice palm with Pittard's leather.
Unless you were blinded by the Salt Lake smog, you no doubt witnessed that wool is everywhere this year, and glove companies aren't sheepish about using it either. (Sheepish -- get it? OK, we'll stop now.) But, seriously, wool is being used as a lining for gloves, such as Black Diamond's new Mad Max (MSRP $169), which is billed as a frontcountry glove for freeriders.
Outdoor Research put wool in the lining of its Extravert gloves, which have a soft shell fabric and are intended for cold, dry conditions.
Manzella is moving into more specialty stores, and if you want to see the type of product it wants to place there, check out the new SX2 glove and SX3 mitt (both MSRP $125) with W.L. Gore XCR. These are Manzella's highest priced gloves, and they not only have a waterproof, breathable membrane, but each also has a removable liner, Primaloft insulation, Pittard's leather on the palm and an odor-resistant liner.
In another trend, Manzella has also picked up some business from snowboarders, but this didn't happen the way you'd think. It seems that boarders really dig the new Tactical Snow gloves made for SWAT teams. Apparently, pipe riders appreciate the knuckle padding and the all-black, commando look. The Manzella folks tell us that they're putting the gloves in ski and board shops, but to help the product retain its street cred they aren't changing the color, the packaging or anything.
Often, our favorite ideas are the simple ideas. Take the cuff on Kombi's new UN Graffiti glove (MSRP $40), for example. The company has been taking a hard look at how its gloves interact with wrists and the cuffs of garments, and it designed the Graffiti with a simple stretch gusset so the glove will fit comfortably over larger watches and wrist-top computers.
Speaking of electronics, Kombi's Irip glove (MSRP $150) has an integrated wireless iPod remote control. A toggle on the outside of the glove allows you to scroll through the menu of an iPod and adjust the volume.
180s showed us its new Tec Touch glove (MSRP $40), which has silicon gel pads on the finger and thumb areas so you can work an iPod, mobile phone or Blackberry. Another impressive glove is the waterproof Meta (MSRP $50) made for alpine and cross-country skiing, or just wearing around town. Silicon gel pads on the palm give it great grip, and it has a clear pocket for a season pass, plus a goggle wipe. Plus, you can remove the gauntlet, so it'll fit in with your après-ski wardrobe.
Another interesting design concept comes from Vo Gloves. Primarily designed for snowboarding and skiing, its Czip gloves have a zipper on the area covering the back of the hand, so you can free your fingers when you need more dexterity without completely removing the glove. The brand, based in Salt Lake City, has about a dozen styles including a fleece glove (MSRP $40) and several waterproof models that range in retail price from $60 to $180.
A couple of manufacturers have introduced gloves using W.L. Gore's new 2-in-1 construction, which allows the wearer to choose between two chambers inside a glove. One chamber on the top inner portion has extra insulation for warmth, while the other chamber, on the inside bottom, has less insulation for greater dexterity. An example is Marmot's Twofer glove (MSRP $100), which features a DriClime wicking liner and Primaloft One insulation. While the concept seems solid, manufacturers told us that reaction has been mixed, so we'll have to wait to see if it will catch on.