Hands-on Gear Review

Outdoor Research Southback - Women's Review

Outdoor Research Soutback- Women's
Price:  $89 List | $46.60 at Amazon
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Pros:  Very warm, great price, sleek design, ample features, great durability
Cons:  Lacks breathability, no removable liner
Editors' Rating:   
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Waterproof Material:  100% Nylon outer, GORE-TEX Insert
Insulation Type:  EnduraLoft Insulation (100% polyester) [back of hand] 265 g/m3 [palm] 133 g/m3
Palm Material:  Goatskin Leather
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research

Our Verdict

For three months, we took 11 pairs of women's gloves and mitts into the field to test which worked best in a host of situations. This includes ice climbing in the San Juans, riding ski lifts from Washington State to Ontario, Canada, and even dog sledding in Leadville, CO. Through these experiences, the Outdoor Research Southback glove shined most on days when we were riding lifts at our local resorts. Thanks to its awesome warmth, comfortable fit, and useful features, it almost overthrew the Outdoor Research Arete - Women's for the Best Buy Award.

With its warm and cozy EnduraLoft liners and GORE-TEX inserts, this glove will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable no matter how many runs you take throughout the day. The Southback, Marmot Randonnee Glove - Women's, The North Face Montana Glove - Women's and the Swany X-Cell II Mitt - Women's, were the only four tested with the liner sewn into the shell. Of these single gloves, the Southback has the highest value, and a low price of just $85.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Ski Gloves and Mittens for Women

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Amber King

Last Updated:
Friday
February 6, 2015

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If you find yourself looking for a glove that works great for riding the chair lifts and skiing in-bounds, our runner up for the Best Buy Award - the Outdoor Research Southback glove, is an excellent choice. This model features single construction and earned middle-of-the-road scores in our warmth metric.

Performance Comparison



Susie was stoked to wear the Southbacks both skiing and snowshoeing. They proved to be warm  comfortable  and chaulked full of features.
Susie was stoked to wear the Southbacks both skiing and snowshoeing. They proved to be warm, comfortable, and chaulked full of features.

Warmth


With a thick fleece lining made by EnduraLoft and a mid-length gauntlet, the Southback will definitely keep you warm. It features 265 g/m3 of insulation on the back of the hand, and 133 g/m3 on the inside. This a perfect glove to complement a cold day where you need to shovel snow, head out snowmobiling, or head to the thin air of your favorite ski resort. Its warmth is comparable to that of the Marmot Randonnee Glove and the Black Diamond Mercury Glove - Women's. If you're looking for something even warmer, check out our Editors' Choice Award winner, the cozy Hestra Heli Mitt - Women's.

The Enduroloft in the Southback makes these gloves warm and cozy.
The Enduroloft in the Southback makes these gloves warm and cozy.

Some would say this glove may be too warm for any kind of aerobic backcountry sport. If you're into finding something that can regulate your warmth better, check out the more moisture wicking Outdoor Research Arete or the Top Pick for Wet Climates - the Arc'teryx Beta AR Glove - Women's.

Nordic skiing just outside of Quebec City in -20F (w/ windchill). Here we test the Outdoor Research Arete.
Nordic skiing just outside of Quebec City in -20F (w/ windchill). Here we test the Outdoor Research Arete.

Water Resistance


Outdoor Research's website states that one of the key features of this glove is that it is "waterproof." A more accurate term would be water resistant, as the glove did absorb moisture after a full day of ski touring. Even though the Southback does have a nylon exterior and a waterproof/breathable GORE-TEX material insert, it is not as bomb-proof as the Arc'teryx Beta AR. As a result, the buyer should be aware that this glove can absorb water quite easily compared to some of the other models we tested, especially if you are in a wet climate like the Pacific Northwest.

This glove is quite water resistant  but doesn't earn the badge of 'waterproof'. Expect it to perform in drier conditions  but if you live in a wet climate  they might be soggy by the end of the day. Good thing the liner wicks well and only the shell of the glove will get wet (due to the GORE-TEX insert).
This glove is quite water resistant, but doesn't earn the badge of 'waterproof'. Expect it to perform in drier conditions, but if you live in a wet climate, they might be soggy by the end of the day. Good thing the liner wicks well and only the shell of the glove will get wet (due to the GORE-TEX insert).

Dexterity


Designed with a leather palm, the Southback allows you to easily buckle your boots or zip off different jacket layers throughout the day. However, of the gloves we tested the Southback was at the bottom of the pack when evaluating for dexterity. The main reason behind this was that only a few of the fingers had reinforced leather on the fingertip, meaning some fingers do not get full purchase during complex tasks, such as pulling skins off of skis, or trying to turn a small key on a snowmobile. However, if you're just in the resort and need to attach a ticket or grab your polls, it will still do the trick.

Features


For a price of only $85, this glove comes with all of the bells and whistles that some of the more expensive gloves on the market include. This is why we almost gave it our Best Buy Award. It has a nice fleeced nose wipe (one of our favorite features) and an easy-to-use cinch system.

The nose wipe is a nice touch on those especially cold  nose runny days.
The nose wipe is a nice touch on those especially cold, nose runny days.

The glove also comes with a convenient pull loop located in the cuff, so you can easily pull one glove on or off while you have the other glove on.

Our favorite feature was these burly pull loops that REALLY increased the easy of getting gloves on once you have taken them off...love!
Our favorite feature was these burly pull loops that REALLY increased the easy of getting gloves on once you have taken them off...love!

Breathability


Unfortunately the Southback trades in breathability for warmth. The GORE-TEX liner did a fairly good job at regulating warmth, but when we decided to head uphill, it was common that our testers, after just 10 minutes, would take off their gloves completely and wish for just a liner. This is one of the few drawbacks. If you're looking for a more breathable glove, check out the Arc'teryx Beta AR, or the more affordable Outdoor Research Arete.

Durability


With a leather palm and thick nylon material on the outer glove, the Southback will definitely last you a few seasons. After over 90 hours of ski touring, snowmobiling, ice climbing, chair lift riding, and shoveling, there was barely a trace of wear on our test glove. The only issue we had was the interior fleece lining began to pack out after sweating profusely. If you find that you are using your gloves every single weekend, the warmth of the glove may begin to decrease after a full season of use.

The goatskin leather palms are far more durable than the OR Arete's sythetic leather. We thought they did a great job in the field  and didn't show any wear and tear after 2 months of testing.
The goatskin leather palms are far more durable than the OR Arete's sythetic leather. We thought they did a great job in the field, and didn't show any wear and tear after 2 months of testing.

Best Applications


Since the Outdoor Research Southback does not come with a removable liner, it is difficult to regulate the temperature of your hands during extensive activity. As a result, the best application for the Southback glove is for a day riding the lifts at your favorite ski hill when you want a warm and protective glove. You'll find other winter activities like building snow forts, skating, or just going for a walk in a snow-laden aspen forest are a perfect function for this glove.

Value


At a screaming deal of $85, the Outdoor Research Southback is a great glove for any day on the hill. It almost won our Best Buy award for its great price, fantastic features, and notable warmth. If you are looking for a glove that would work better ice-climbing, ski touring, or snowshoeing, we would encourage you to look toward the Best Buy Award winner, the Outdoor Research Arete, which is more breathable, more dexterous and has a removable liner. Plus it is only $89! The only downside is that it is not as durable or warm.

Conclusion


This is a warm glove that will keep your hands happy to 0F. It is a perfect match if you need to keep stay warm while on the ski lifts or while charging down double blacks at your favorite ski hill. With its sleek fit and design, you are not giving up fashion for function either!

The Southbacks are a great alternative to the OR Arete if you are looking for something specific to the resort  for a great price  and with more warmth and durability.
The Southbacks are a great alternative to the OR Arete if you are looking for something specific to the resort, for a great price, and with more warmth and durability.

Amber King

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Most recent review: February 6, 2015
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