The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Marmot Alpinist Pro Gloves: Warm and Dexterous for the Big-Thumbed
Posted on: March 29, 2008
"Man, I wish my thumbs were bigger." Testing these gloves is, unquestionably, the only time in my life I have uttered that phrase. The Marmot Alpinist Pro glove has, far and away, the largest thumb of any glove I've ever worn. I don't know how to rectify this fact with the rest of my impressions of the glove, which were generally positive.
The positive. The glove was warm, even down to sub-zero temps. It allowed me a fairly high degree of dexterity for a glove of its thickness—to the point that I was able to manipulate carabiners, tie knots, build anchors and generally do everything I would normally strip to my liners to complete. The palms and fingers were a leather or faux-leather substance that maintained a solid—though not mind-blowing—grip, even in the face of powdery snow, the occasional ice-up and generalized wintery fun. They seemed to shed external moisture quite well—not waterproof, mind you, but certainly resistant. Finally, they seem quite durable. Over several months of constant use, I have not seen any noticeable wear and tear or damage. The normal thrashing that palms take from the ancient ice screws I use has not seemed to have any effect.
The gripes. The aforementioned thumb sizing was a constant irritation. Not only did it make my thumbs cold, it was the one part of the glove that prevented me from fully utilizing the otherwise dexterous cut of the gloves (I think we've all had the tip of the thumb catch in a 'biner gate). The insulation on the inside of the glove did not seem to be well attached, so on warmer days, when my hands would get a touch sweaty on the approach, removing the gloves—and putting them back on—became slightly more of a chore.
Overall, these are a solid, relatively dependable glove for the weekend or semi-frequent ice climber, assuming that they fit. If you have enormous thumbs, these might become an excellent all-around glove. While my impressions are generally positive, the few gripes I had would likely prevent me from taking them on any truly alpine excursion, as things that are moderately annoying climbing ice in Hyalite Canyon become deal-breakers climbing an alpine route of any seriousness—for that I'm going back to my old glove combo.
Pros: Warm; dexterous; durable.
Cons: Freakishly large thumbs; awkward inner liner.