Our Top Pick for Backcountry Skiing, the Arete by Outdoor Research boasts a versatile double-construction with a fantastic water resistant shell combined with a super breathable construct. It's a great option for the hot skins uphill and mild days at the resort. Make sure to leave it at home or add hand warmers when the temperatures dip down just below freezing.
The Outdoor Research Arete features a double glove construct that is more versatile than single glove constructs.
Warmth & Breathability
Warmth is not the Arete's strong suit and we would not recommend taking these babies out on cold days. But, if you choose to, make sure to add a warmer liner or additional hand warmers. So why isn't this glove as warm as others?
First, the removable liner is incredibly thin. It is made from lightweight polypro material, so it performs well in temperatures only above 20F. In temperatures that creep below 20F, it will not insulate enough unless you use hand warmers as a secondary option. Even then, the gloves won't be warm for long. That said, this liner wicks quite well. Second, the outer is incredibly breathable (and water resistant). If you plan on hiking in the backcountry, this is a great option.
Nordic skiing just outside of Quebec City in -20F (w/ windchill). Here we test the Outdoor Research Arete.
As a result, this is one of the coldest gloves tested. If you want to make it warmer, you can always buy a thicker liner and size up with the glove to accommodate extra bulk. Otherwise, leave this glove only for mild days at the ski resort, or for hiking in the backcountry.
Even though this glove isn't warm, it sure is breathable. Here we see a group of testers breaking trail after a new snow fall in the Colorado mountains. Britt (in the center) wears just the liners in preparation for a sweaty uphill endeavor.
This glove uses a nylon outer shell with a GORE-TEX insert. As a result, it is not as waterproof as a full GORE-TEX glove. During our field tests on both wet and dry days, this glove held up to the elements and stayed dry. During our dunk tests, we were surprised to see that it absorbed very little water, providing evidence that it is very water-resistant.
Though not designed to be waterproof, note that the liner material can act like a sponge if you either sweat too much or find yourself using your liner while having contact with the snow. One tester used the liner exclusively while ski-touring, and she cleaned snow from her skins and removed her tail-clips in the liners. After only a few changeovers, the liners became too wet to keep her warm any longer. If you're hiking in the backcountry, make sure to hike with just the gloves, and put the liners in your pockets to avoid saturation. Or, choose to use this glove on warm days or in dry climates.
The nylon outer in addition to the Gore-Tex insert not only provides great breathability, but also fantastic water-resistance. Don't be afraid to wear this glove in wet and dry weather.
If you need a glove that will allow you to pick-up, put-down, zip-up, or clip-on, the Arete is the glove for you. Scoring the highest points for dexterity, know that you will be able to perform a plethora of tasks like clipping your boots and fishing out your lift ticket.
The thinner construction allows you to grip ice tools and do almost anything with these gloves on.
The removable inner liner is what provides the glove with amazing dexterity and versatility. If it gets too hot, simply slip the liner out and use the shell on its own. Or, just use the liner if the shell is too hot. The beauty of the liner is the silicone gripping material on both the palm and fingertips. This allows you to easily use hands and fingers without needing to take the liners off. While out ski touring, testers were able to easily transition between the shell and then the liner to get the best use and comfort out of the glove.
The liners have nice friction points that allow you use them independently of the shell.
When combining the liner and shell together, the Arete still proves to be one of the most dexterous gloves we tested. The one issue with the removable liner and shell combo is that it sometimes took extra effort to slide the liner back into the shell of the glove. Sometimes it would bunch up and cause frustration that testers did not experience with higher-end products.
The Arete has a removable liner, making it more versatile, quicker to dry, and ultimately more dexterous. Backcountry skiers tend to gravitate toward double-layer gloves for these reasons.
Outdoor Research designers did not skimp on the extra features for the Arete Glove. It includes an incredibly soft nose wipe, big loops at the cuff to help pull the glove on, and an amazing removable liner that can be worn on its own.
The soft nose and goggle wipe is a nice addition offered in only a few of the gloves tested in this review.
Not only that but if you tend to lose your gloves on the chairlift, it has a removable leash. It also features a carabiner loop, providing an attachment point to your harness. Oh - and if it's really cold outside, slide a pair of hand warmers into the pocket on the liner for additional warmth. All in all, we loved the features of this glove! We just wished it had touchscreen compatibility.
The carabiner loop provides a point for attachment to a harness if you plan on ski mountaineering or ice climbing!
Durability & Construction
Despite the poor score in this category, this glove is backed by a lifetime warranty.
Outfitted with a nylon palm (instead of a leather), this glove is not as durable as other gloves in this review. It showed quite a bit of wear and tear after several days of intensive use. In addition, the liners seemed to pack out and wear in the fingers. This made us question the durability of this glove, raising concerns of its ability to last through a full season of intense use.
While other contenders feature a bomber leather palm, the Outdoor Research Arete has a nylon exterior that is not as resistant to abrasion. That said, it didn't earn top marks in this category.
The Arete glove is great for any lady who craves a versatile, lightweight glove that breathes for a decent price. The extended gauntlet is perfect for big powder days, while the removable lightweight liner is ideal for more aerobic endeavors like backcountry skiing. Due to the lack of warmth, we wouldn't recommend this glove for any type of cold or wet climates. We think it is better suited to drier climates with moderate temps. Backcountry skiing is a much better application than sitting on a chairlift at the resort.
This is a great all-around glove that can take you from the Nordic track to the tops of the mountains.
At a price of $98 (and as a past winner of our Best Buy Award), we believe the price of the glove reflects its value.
One of the authors on the summit of Mt. Baker while testing the Outdoor Research Arete and its liner.
The Outdoor Research Arete wins our Top Pick for Backcountry Adventures due to its fantastic breathability and versatile double-glove construction. Take it with you on all your backcountry adventures — just avoid wearing it on the really cold days when temperatures drop below freezing.