Lowe Alpine Raptor (2015)

Features

There is a little more warmth here than you get with some other similar gloves as the Lowe Alpine Raptor has Primaloft synthetic insulation. The palm is leather and there is a Triplepoint waterproof lining with stretch material on the back of the hand. There is a wrist leash that isn’t elasticated, and you get a cuff adjustment cord. The wrist itself is elasticated, with no additional adjustment. 4/5

Fit

This comes in unisex sizing of S-XL, and the L fitted me well. The thumb was a particularly good fit compared with others, being much closer than expected, while all the fingers were also a good fit. The cuff was a notch longer and wider than some, which allowed it to fit better over or under a jacket sleeve, while the cuff adjustment fine-tuned this fit. 5/5

Comfort

This glove feels great on the hand, although the closer fit does perhaps make it feel a

little more restrictive in terms of movement compared to some. But there is no bunching or snagging of material. I also like the insulation, which feels warmer than some lower-priced gloves, and it’s well-suited to typical winter hill days in the UK. 5/5

In use

The Lowe Alpine Raptor is great for holding ice axes and trekking poles, and it offers very good dexterity due to its closeness of fit. The wrist leash is well-designed too as it isn’t elasticated,

so gloves don’t catapult around but hang securely from your wrist when removed. The cuff adjustment is easy to use and overall the Raptor works well when hillwalking. 5/5

Value

This has more insulation than lower-priced gloves and better features than some pricier options, making it great value. 4/5

Verdict

The Lowe Alpine Raptor is superb for the price, with only small improvements available on some pricier options. 4.6/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine February 2015

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Montane Alpine Stretch (2015)

Features

For superior warmth, Primaloft Gold synthetic insulation is packed into the back of the hand and pile fleece is fitted to the palm. You get a long gauntlet design too for greater protection, the palm is leather and there is a nose wipe. And I really like the wrist leash along with the cuff adjustment drawcord and webbing buckle around the wrist. 5/5

Fit

The Montane Alpine Stretch is available in S-XL. I was sent the XL; its size appeared similar to that of an L in other models, and it fitted me well. Being able to cinch in the wrist and gauntlet cuff was a bonus that not all other gloves have but it was welcome. The lining didn’t snag or come loose in use either. 5/5

Comfort

This feels very comfortable on the hand, with no seams digging in or material snagging or bunching. The back of the hand and gauntlet feature Chameleon stretch fabric to ensure comfort and ease of movement, while a Freeflow waterproof lining keeps your hands dry and comfortable. 5/5

In use

The Montane Alpine Stretch feel great in use: it’s ideal for grabbing trekking poles and ice axes, and I was able to open buckles and zips wearing it too. There is slightly easier movement with it, as the leather isn’t too stiff, but it doesn’t feel quite as durable as those gloves with more leather that’s also thicker. All the cuff and wrist adjustment works well. 5/5

Value

Not the costliest and perhaps not the most durable, but a great price for a glove that should be ideal for most hillwalkers in the UK. 4/5 

Verdict

The Montane Alpine Stretch is hard to beat as an all-round general winter glove, but perhaps not the most durable option. It won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade. 4.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine February 2015

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The North Face Patrol Glove (2012)

The North Face Patrol Glove on first appearances looks like many other gloves in this test. But slip it on and it has a noticeably closer fit than the others, even though it is packed with Primaloft insulation and boasts a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. The closer fit helps with the dexterity, but as with most gloves that are well-insulated the fact is you will get better dexterity with thinner gloves. The elastication around the wrist was particularly good here, as it allowed the glove to be fitted easily but also gave a secure feel. The lining is well-fitted and does not snag or come out when you put the glove on or take it off with wet hands. The cuff is quite large but as there is good drawcord adjustment it can be worn inside or over a jacket sleeve, which makes this model suitable forwalking as well as climbing. Plenty of extras are provided too, so you get nose wipe, a wrist leash and a karabiner loop on the forefingers. If I was going to
buy just one glove this would be The North Face’s Patrol Glove, but lower-priced options do provide almost as good a performance if money is tight.

 

Outer HyVent; Gore-Tex waterproof lining; leather palm

Insulation Primaloft 

Men’s sizes XS-XL

Women’s sizes none

Removable liner no

Nose wipe yes

Wrist leash yes

Weight 246g (pair, men’s size L)

Website www.thenorthface.com/eu

 

Verdict

The North Face’s Patrol Glove is a great all-rounder that is ideal for a wide variety of hill and mountain walking and climbing if you can stretch to this price. It won the ‘Best in Test’ accolade.

 

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine February 2012

 


Black Diamond Contact Strap 2011

Now made from stainless steel, the Black Diamond Contact Strap is an outstanding crampon that is low-weight and has top-notch build quality. It also comes fitted with anti-balling plates and these are an elaborate design to improve their resistance to snow balling. You get 10 points, four rotated through 90 degrees to improve grip on slopes. Some 3D stamping adds strength too. Adjustment is easy and the crampons can be easily fitted to boots with the straps. The stainless steel is an excellent choice of material. It sheds snow well and certainly takes the knocks and seems to be very resilient. The Contact Strap is a very clean design that is easy to use and ideal for general winter walking. It offers a good level of stability so when paired with the right boots it will tackle steeper terrain. But stainless steel still has its critics and so far Black Diamond is the only mainstream manufacturer to use it. It is a bit ‘blingy’, but we think it performs well.

Classification C1
Materials stainless steel
Sizes one size fits 34-46
Weight 820g (pair, including anti-balling plates)
Made in USA
Stores in the UK 250

The Black Diamond Contact Strap is a quality lightweight walking crampon that will allow you to tackle the odd bit of steep stuff. It was adjudged the best walking crampon in our test.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2011


Grivel Air Tech New Matic 2011

The Grivel Air Tech New Matic is a well-thought-out and very capable crampon. The 12 point spike arrangement has a mix of long and short spikes with serrated back edges. This spike set-up is perfect for both snow and ice, but will also cope with prolonged movement over rock and mixed ground. There’s 3D relief stamping throughout for extra strength too. The crampons are supplied with Grivel’s nifty AntiBott anti-balling plates, these pop out the snow before it has a chance to ball up under you. These plates can also be replaced without the need for tools, which is useful. The binding system comprises of a heel clip and toe strap, which makes fitting extremely fast. A good set of instructions including diagrams ensures fitting is easy. For mountaineering, alpinism and winter climbing. But the Grivel Air Tech New Matic is definitely the crampon for those aspiring to the steeper stuff, so if you want a walking crampon then you would be better looking at some of the others.

Classification C2
Materials NiCroMo steel
Sizes one size to fit 36-47
Weight 940g (pair, including anti-balling plates)
Made in Italy
Stores in the UK 36

The Grivel Air Tech New Matic is a superb crampon for mountaineering, alpinism and climbing, and with relatively short spikes it is particularly suited to British winters’ thin snow and ice cover. It was adjudged the best mountaineering crampon in our test.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2011


Petzl Charlet Summit 2011

New last year, the Petzl Charlet Summit is rapidly becoming a classic. It builds on the tradition well-established with the Charlet Goulet ice axe so favoured by guides. The curve of the shaft, its weight balance and its full rubber grip make it a delight to swing, and the well-engineered pick and adze ensure all the energy you put in is used efficiently. A solid general mountaineering axe, it will appeal to those who like tackling steep stuff but also need a walking axe. But amazingly for such a good mountaineering axe, it is only rated as a ‘B’ (basic), which means it should not be used for axe belays.

Classification basic
Materials hot forged chromoly steel head and ultra-light aluminium shaft with textured rubber coating
Sizes 52, 59, 66cm
Weight 506g (size 59cm without leash)
Made in France
Stores in the UK 50

The Petzl Charlet Summit is a stunning axe to use and handle with perfect balance for both walking and climbing. It won ‘Best in Test’ for mountaineering ice axes.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2011


Black Diamond Raven Pro 2011

The Black Diamond Raven Pro is a stripped-down version of the Raven, BD’s basic mountaineering range of ice axes. It is a stunning tool. The Pro version comes with a sleek, gripless shaft and a trimmed-down pick and adze. The balance is very much that of a walking axe and all though it will happily chop steps and swing into névé (compacted snow) it is not as good as its heavier-headed brothers. The head is well-contoured for the hand and carries well when used for walking. You get a straight shaft and a gently curved head. The adze and pick are perfectly shaped and the attention to detail such as the bevelled pick and well-placed teeth are spot on. The only (minor) issue we have with this axe is the thin profile of the shaft. It does make plunging it into snow a tad easier but compromises the grip, particularly if you have big hands. The 424g weight is excellent.  But the Black Diamond Raven Pro is only rated in the basic (B) category, so it is not for use as a rope belay. Some axes have a pre-curved shaft for easier placement in snow slopes. You do not get a spike protector.

Classification basic
Materials 7075-T6 alloy shaft; cast stainless steel pick and spike
Sizes 55, 60, 65, 70, 75cm
Weight 424g (size 65cm)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 250

The Black Diamond Raven Pro is a beautifully made all-round basic axe that’s ideal for walkers who regularly head out into British hills in winter and also make the occasional Alpine foray. It won ‘Best in Test’ for walking axes.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2011


Grivel Air Tech New Matic 2009

The Grivel Air Tech New Matic is a well-thought-out and very capable crampon. The 12-point arrangement has a mix of long and short spikes with serrated back edges. This spike set-up is perfect for both snow and ice, but will also cope with prolonged movement over rock and mixed ground. There’s 3D relief stamping throughout for extra strength too. The crampons are supplied with nifty Grivel AntiBott anti-balling plates, which pop out the snow before it has a chance to ball up under you. These plates can also be replaced without the need for tools, which is useful for travellers through the mountains. The binding system comprises of a heel clip and toe strap, which makes fitting extremely fast. A good set of instructions with diagrams ensures fitting is easy. For winter mountaineering, Alpinism and winter climbing. But the Grivel Air Tech New Matic is definitely the crampon for those aspiring to the steeper stuff – for a walking crampon you would be better off with Grivel’s 10-point option, the New Classic.

Classification C2
Materials NiCroMo Steel
Sizes one size to fit 36-47
Weight 980g pair with anti-balling plates
Made in Italy
Stores in the UK no info provided
Stockist details tel. (0191) 296 0212, www.mountainboot.co.uk
Verdict
The Grivel Air Tech New Matic is a superb crampon for winter mountaineering, Alpinism and climbing.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2009

Black Diamond Raven Pro 2008

The Black Diamond Raven Pro is a stunning ice axe and has been a favourite with Trail. The pro version comes with a recessed rubber grip and a slide-adjusted leash. The balance is excellent, which makes chopping steps and front pointing a delight. The head is well-contoured for the hand and carries well when used for walking. You get a straight shaft and a gently curved head. The adze and pick are perfectly shaped, and the attention to detail such as the bevelled pick and well-placed teeth are bang on. The only issue we have with this axe (and it’s a minor one) is the thin profile of the shaft. It does make plunging it into snow a tad easier but compromises the grip, particularly if you have big hands. The 540g weight (with leash) is very good, and ideal for the typical mixed conditions of UK winters. But the Black Diamond Raven Pro is only rated as basic, so it is not for use as a rope belay. Some axes are lighter too and others have a precurved shaft for easier placement in snow slopes. You do not get a spike protector either.

Classification basic
Materials 7075-T6 alloy shaft; cast stainless steel pick and spike
Sizes 55, 60, 65, 70, 75cm
Weight 540g (size 60cm with leash)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 200
Stockist details tel. (01629) 580484, www.blackdiamondequipment.com
Verdict
The Black Diamond Raven Pro is a beautifully made all-round basic axe ideal for walkers who regularly head out into British hills in winter and make the occasional Alpine foray.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2009

DMM Cirque 2008

The DMM Cirque is a clean, thoughtfully put together general ice axe. The adze and pick are substantial, and will cope well with long sessions of front pointing, step chopping and daggering. The teeth layout is such that they will grip on ice and névé but will remove easily with good technique. Head grip clearance is very good and this axe carries well in the walking/braking position. The shaft is bent and has a decent diameter which makes swinging a delight. It is T (techincal) rated, which means it is strong enough for belaying. The sticky rubber hand grip is very useful but would benefit from being recessed. It comes with a heavy-duty slide-adjusted leash. But the DMM Cirque will not appeal to walkers looking for an ultra-light model.

Classification technical
Materials EN47 steel (head), 7075 aluminium
Sizes 50, 55, 60 and 65cm
Weight 640g (60cm with leash)
Made in Wales
Stores in the UK 250
Stockist details tel. (01286) 872222; www.dmmclimbing.com
Verdict
An outstanding mountaineering and walking axe that will help you balance, cut steps, front point, belay and, most importantly, brake with great confidence. Indeed, Trail rated is as ‘Best in Test’.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2009

Grivel G12 New Matic

This is a classic crampon for regular use in snow and ice, when you know you are going to be battling over the white stuff all day. You get 12 points with four points rotated through 90 degrees to prevent slippage on slopes. The points are along and sharp, making them ideal for deep snow and ice. There’s 3D relief stamping throughout for extra strength too. The crampons are supplied with Grivel’s AntiBott anti-balling plates, which kick out the snow before it has a chance to settle. These plates can also be replaced without the need for tools, which is useful for travellers through the mountains. The binding system comprises of a heel clip and toe strap, which makes fitting extremely fast. A good set of instructions with diagrams ensures fitting is easy. For regular winter walking in good snow these are ideal. But the price may put you off, and there are lighter crampons. For mixed terrain the Grivel AirTech would be a better choice as it has shorter points. The points are long and sharp so they are much more likely to catch on your gaiters and they are therefore less suitable for beginners. They’re a bit heavier than some other crampons.

Materials NiCroMo Steel
Classification C2
Sizes one size to fit 36-47
Weight 950g pair with anti-balling plates
Made in Italy
Stores in UK 120

Verdict Superb all-round crampons for mountaineering, alpinism, mixed climbing and general mountain walking.

 


Grivel Air Tech New Matic

Grivel is a well-proven manufacturer of crampons and you’ll find it hard to find a crampon better than this. The Air Tech New Matic boasts a number of refined details that add to the performance and make it a winner. Firstly it is made of steel, so it is built to last and take the knocks from a winter of use on mixed snow, ice and rock. You get 3D stamping to add extra strength. You get 12 points, and the layout is complex to provide a little more traction on slopes. You get anti-balling plates, and the design actively disperses snow thanks to its bubble design, plus you also get an accordion (a piece of rubber) along the linking bar to prevent snow build-up at the heel breast. Fitting is quick and easy as the crampons have an adjustable heel clip with straps linking to a front toe strap. Adjustment too is easy. I like how the anti-balling plates can be easily removed if required for replacement, while some rival crampons require a screwdriver for this task. Instructions are good. All those features for just 986g and £85 is an excellent package, that should suit the needs of most serious winter walkers and low-grade mountaineers who are wearing C2-compatible 4-season walking and mountaineering boots. But these are not the lightest crampons available. The spikes are perhaps a little shorter than on some other crampons, which means they are not so good for deep snow, but better for ice and also less likely to snag on gaiters or catch on rocks so easily, so your choice will depend on your destination. You don’t get a crampon bag, but then you don’t with most crampons. There are lower-priced models of course, but do they offer the features? Like all C2 crampons these can only be used on stiff 4-season B2 boots, so if you have a bendy 3-4 season B1 boot, you‘ll need to check out the C1 crampons.

 

Classification: C2
Materials: NiCrMo steel
Sizes: one size fits 35-46
Weight: 986g including anti-balling plates
Made in Italy
Stores in UK: England 66; Wales 12; Scotland 33; Ireland 2

Verdict: Buy it if you want an all-rounder C2 crampon for winter walking and mountaineering, as well as glacier travel in the UK or abroad where you are expecting a mix of snow, ice and rock under foot.


Marmot Crestline Mitt

Made an extremely waterproof and extremely breathable fabric, so you shouldn’t get as sweaty in these as lower-priced products and they should stay waterproof for longer in theory. The palm is leather like the Outdoor Designs’, but you also get a soft nose wipe on the thumb, which you don’t get on the Outdoor Designs. A profiled finger area and stretch fabric are used to good effect to give a reasonable fit for a mitt. Webbing buckle at the wrist and a drawcord at the cuff are provided as they are on the Outdoor Designs. What I really liked with these was they come with a fleece inner glove that has Primaloft insulation on the back of the hand, while the Outdoor Designs get a removable mitt. The glove allows greater dexterity when you need it, while the shell fits well enough to be used on its own (as does the Outdoor Designs). Finally there is a wrist security loop, so the mitt can hang from your wrist when you whip your hands out for a moment. But mitts without a removable liner tended to feel a little more dexterous, but as you have a liner glove dexterity is superb when you pull the shell off. Some might prefer an inner mitt rather than an inner glove as that would feel warmer and this is the major advantage of the Outdoor Designs mitt. Also, the price is £20 more than the Outdoor Designs, and many will appreciate the financial advantage as well as the extra warmth.

Verdict Buy it if you want a warm mitt with an excellent removable liner glove and features that make it ideal for a wide variety of conditions walkers find in the UK throughout the year.

Materials Driclime (shell); Primlaloft and fleece (inner glove)

Material waterproofness extremely waterproof

Material breathability extremely breathable

Weight 290g (size large)

Sizes XS-XL

Made in China

Stores England 2; Wales 1; Scotland 1; Ireland 0


Outdoor Designs Summit Mitt Pro

This mitt one its first award from Trail magazine back in November 2002, and for many walkers it's been their favourite mitt ever since. Firstly, it costs £20 some competitors and for your cash you are getting a good waterproof and breathable shell that benefits from a leather palm for extra durability. The fingers and thumb are well-shaped to provide a good fit. A webbing buckle at the wrist and a cuff drawcord control fit further, and prevent entry of water and snow, as they do on the Marmot. But what I really liked was the inner mitt that makes these very warm but also this mitt can be worn on its own. This combination means you can wear one or other or both to suit the conditions, making this perfect for a wide variety of winter weather.  But it is the details that set the top two mitts apart. You don’t get a nose wipe or a wrist security loop, (though an attachment point is provided), but at the price it's hard to beat.

Verdict Buy it if you want a superb mitt for winter walking with a removable mitt liner and don’t need nice features like security wrists loops and nose wipes.

Materials 3-layer Watergate Ceramic (shell); fleece (inner mitt)

Material waterproofness very waterproof

Material breathability very breathable

Weight 236g (size large)

Sizes S-XL

Made in China

Stores England 90; Wales 25;Scotland 25; Ireland 2


Lowe Alpine Hot Grip

This winter glove offers everything most hill-walkers will want if they prefer a built-in liner rather than a removable liner. The Hot Grip benefits from a very durable palm made from leather that looks ideal for withstanding the rigours of scrambling and roped climbing. The back of the hand and fingers is protected with cushioning to resist knocks when ice climbing. The fingers are designed with seamless tips to allow good dexterity, but you will still have to remove the gloves for operating the buttons of a GPS receiver for example as you have to with most winter gloves. The design has wrist elastication and a deep gauntlet with a drawcord adjuster. You also get a wrist leash, so you won’t lose your gloves if you have to take them off. There is a soft nose wipe for catching dewdrops too. The best feature of these gloves is probably the price as they are a bargain at just £40. If you prefer a built-in liner, then these are the perfect gloves for mountain action.  But some may prefer a removable liner for better temperature control and certainly in the mixed weather of recent winters I would say that a removable liner has great advantages. There are some gloves that offer a slightly closer fit, but they are not as warm due to less insulation. Some reflective piping would be a useful addition perhaps. But there is very little wrong here and so even with these drawbacks this is an excellent option.

 

Material: Hipora waterproof shell; leather palm; Loweloft synthetic lining
Sizes: S-XL
Made in China
Stores in UK: England 40; Wales 25; Scotland 20; Ireland 10

Verdict: Buy it if you want a good, all-round winter glove that’s suitable for most mountain situations and you prefer a built-in liner to a removable liner.