Author: Matthew Kronsberg
If you’ve ever had blue fingertips freeze the fun out of a skiing or snowmobiling trip—or even just a dog walk in Central Park—these Capstone Heated gloves from Outdoor Research are a $500 $375 (on sale now!) solution. The company, founded in 1981 by physicist-turned-adventurer Ron Gregg, has become a favorite of ice climbers, backcountry skiers, and the U.S. Special Ops, thanks to its products’ legendary reliability.
Photo: Outdoor Research
These gloves, though, are a step above the brand’s typical gear. Black-on-black, and with a flared gauntlet that lends them a Darth Vader-like silhouette, they come with a square rubberized button near the cuff that glows red when you press it, signaling that the battery powered heating elements embedded inside the gloves are working. Press it a second time and the button will turn yellow, lowering the heat from high to medium; press it again, to attain low heat, and it will glow green.
You should be able to get eight hours of warmth on the lowest setting and five hours on medium. If you are heli-skiing in the Rockies or snowmobiling in Alaska, and you want to keep the temperatures as high as possible, the battery charge lasts about two and a half hours. But even without the heat on, the GoreTex lining and PrimaLoft insulation—a synthetic microfiber thermal material developed for the Army—will keep your hands warm, and more important, dry. “If it’s not breathable, it just turns into a sweatbox,” said Meghan Martens, Outdoor Research’s senior product manager for gear and accessories.
Photo: Outdoor Research
Even though the gloves have an electrical component, they are waterproof. It’s the result of a two-and-a-half-year development process that included extensive testing on Mount Rainier in Washington, as well as lab time with a forensic engineer, said Martens. “Being in the Northwest, we assumed that these gloves would get wet. We wanted to make sure they could withstand wetness and extreme cold and still continue to operate.”
A fully loaded glove weighs in at just over 12 ounces, with nearly half coming from a pair of removable, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that zip into pouches above and below the wrists, or about the sample where you would check your watch. If you find this an uncomfortable amount of weight, you can run each glove on one battery, which reduces the heating times, though not the temperatures.
Because those temperature demands are highly subjective, I tried them out for about an hour’s hike up Mount Washington in New Hampshire. In sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds, they easily kept my hands warm on medium heat. Even better, when I set the gloves to their highest setting the heat was still gentle, diffuse, and enveloping. The company’s research focused on directing the heat toward your arteries.
If the prospect of spending $375-500 to heat up your cold hands gives you cold feet, consider this: Even with the electrical component, the gloves come with a lifetime warranty.