Hestra Vertical Freeride gloves: warmth, style
December 18, 2009
Weather reports indicated the temperature hovered around zero, but it was obvious those readings were not taken on Snowmass’ Big Burn.
The sun was merely a bystander one recent weekday morning, as wind gusts in excess of 25 mph made trees and brave skiers alike shudder. I tapped my nose often to make sure it had not fallen into the deep powder in the Powerline glades.
It was the kind of day when four shirts and three pairs of long underwear feel like nothing more than a tank top and shorts. The kind of day when food lines are longer than lift lines and runs are as vacant as beaches in winter. The kind of day when relentless cold attacks my digits like a hundred bee stings.
It hardly seemed like the ideal day to test out a new pair of gloves. Then again, I figured the Swedes know a thing or two about cold.
Hestra’s Vertical Cut Freeride gloves substantiated my inkling.
Martin Magnusson set out to create sturdy handwear for lumberjacks when he founded the company. More than seven decades later, Hestra is now earning fans among the skiing and snowboarding masses.
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Count me among that group. These gloves, crafted from supple leather, are well made and stylish – bearing a striking resemblance to their ski racing brethren in both form and function.
I’ve been wearing Kevlar under-gloves and a pair of leather mittens for four ski seasons. While the combination has performed admirably, it is cumbersome and complicates routine tasks from adjusting a boot buckle to pulling a zipper. It is a bit like trying to take notes while wearing oven mitts.
I had no such problems with the Vertical Cut Freeride gloves. They fit extremely snugly, yet allow a full range of movement. I found it easy to adjust my jacket hood, firmly grip my poles – even change a song on my iPod. There is even Kevlar-stitched stretch Cordura across the back and padded knuckles, features that suit me given my propensity for drilling tree branches in tight glades.
While the short length easily fits under a jacket, I was worried it would sacrifice warmth. The neoprene cuff and Velcro closure plus soft Thermolite insulation eased those concerns.
The only gripes? Some people have complained about the color-treated leather bleeding onto light-colored clothing, there is no nose wipe (am I the only one who resembles a faucet on bitter days?) and the steep price tag ($120 to $150 online). But when it comes to comfort, it is foolish to compromise.
Try these gloves, and bring on the cold..