Long-term usability review: Black Diamond Arc Gloves

Overview

Most of the time I don’t mind cold all that much. Dressing for cold weather is easy. It’s the combination of cold and wet weather that’s the true killjoy. On one of my camping trips I realized that keeping my hands dry should be a priority. Up until that point I was using Black Diamond gloves that were nothing more than fleece liners. Perfect for cold and dry weather. But with rain and wet snow? Not so much. Therefore, I decided to go search for a pair of (nearly) non-insulated waterproof gloves. I ended up buying a pair of Black Diamond Arc Gloves and so far, they have not disappointed. Designed for tour skiing and mountain biking in wet weather, they’re not really built for some of the stuff I put them through. Nevertheless, they hold up pretty well.

Construction

The stitching is very solid throughout. After a year of use, none of the sewing has come loose, save for a very small loose thread on one of the embroidered BD logos on the cuffs. More importantly, the waterproof membrane is still in good shape, even after mainly using them on the bike, which means a lot of pressure on the inside of the hand. Even though these gloves are made from a large number of different materials, none of the constituent parts show any signs of wear. Overall, this is a very solidly built glove.

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Features

The most important feature these gloves have is the grip-enhancing coating on the palm of the hand. This coating is both a blessing and a curse. It means that it’s very easy to hold onto slippery and wet surfaces, such as bars, sticks, handgrips and tools. On the other hand, it also means that it can be kind of a bitch to get into trouser or jacket pockets because they catch onto the material and don’t slide very well.

A small portion of the glove is made from goatskin leather. Extremely supple but strong material, which serves mostly as reinforcement on exposed and tricky areas, such as the knuckles and index fingers. An interesting touch is the small piece of goatskin leather sewn in on the cuffs. This enables the user to pull on this piece of strong material, making the glove last longer.

As may be expected from this type of glove, the cuff is adjustable through Velcro tabs, creating a windproof seal with other layers of clothing. Another simple but necessary feature is the small karabiner and ring on the cuffs. At least when you lose them, you’ll lose them both…

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Fit

As far as gloves go, they have a rather small fit. I chose an L, as I want to be able to use a liner in cold conditions – they are not that warm on their own. My hands are not exceptionally large, so I’d advise to go one size bigger than your usual size, especially if you want to use them in the colder months of the year. Try them on before buying, if possible.

Details

Most details have already been discussed, but there’s one thing I would like to mention which might be a deal breaker to some: when wearing the glove they might feel snug on your fingers, but you are likely to have about half a centimeter of ‘excess glove’ on some or all of your fingers. This is due to the waterproof membrane hanging loose inside the glove. This is especially annoying while performing tasks that require a large amount of tactile feedback and fine motor skills: opening locks, picking the right item on a key ring, or prying your phone or GPS from a pocket. It’s less of an issue while performing other tasks: shifting gear or breaking on a bike or opening zippers on an outdoor jacket. Even switching the fire selector or changing a magazine with an AR-15 is no problem. I can even manipulate the buttons on my Garmin GPSmap62 while wearing them, but fine motor tasks are where good glove liners come in handy.

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Usage

Truth be told, I use these gloves mainly on rainy and cold commutes. I spend about 30 to 40 minutes per day riding my ATB to and from work and they serve me extremely well on some of those infamously rainy Dutch days. That’s not to say I haven’t used them in other environments: I have taken them to a number of airsoft events. Especially during the winter months they have come in extremely handy on those, as some last for 48 hours and cold and wet hands are true morale killers. I have also taken them to outdoor trips in Sweden and Ireland. To be honest, with the benefit of hindsight I would have taken other thinner and more tactile gloves on those trips, especially to Ireland. Rain was less of an issue than expected and prying a GPS or phone from your pocket with these big boys on can be kind of a bitch. Then again, the weather could have been extremely unforgiving. In Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England the saying goes ‘if it’s not raining, it’s going to…’

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Pros

Good price to quality ratio

Reinforcement on exposed and less durable areas

Grip coating on palm of hand

Wind- and waterproof

Not too warm

Lightweight

Quick-drying

Cons

Lack of tactility

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Overall

If you’re looking for a pair of hardwearing, waterproof gloves usable for most tasks (at a reasonable price point) then I cannot recommend them enough. They have served me well for over a year and I don’t expect them to let me down any time soon. The only truly annoying thing about them is the excess room, causing fine motor skill tasks to be nigh impossible. But then again, I’ve never owned a non-liner glove that was able to accommodate such activities…

 Further reading

http://blackdiamondequipment.com/en/climbing-gloves/arc-glove-BD801670_cfg.html#start=1

 

 

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