Hands-on Gear Review

Arc'teryx Fission Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:  $179 List
Pros:  Extremely versatile, tough leather palm, lightweight and packable, extremely dexterous, excellent ergonomic shape, stretchy exterior fabric made for excellent freedom of movement
Cons:  Long gauntlet is hard (but possible) to pull jacket over on really stormy days; gauntlet slowly opens letting snow into the lower portion of the glove, expensive
Bottom line:  Easily the most versatile model for conditions, climates, and activities with pretty top-tier performance across the board helped make this glove our favorite overall model.
Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
Waterproof Material:  Gore-Tex
Palm Material:  Leather
Gaunlet or Cuff?:  Gauntlet
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Fission was not only our favorite model for downhill skiing and snowboarding, but it also proved to be the most versatile in our review. Its versatility was not just for a wide range of climates and conditions in which it worked well for but also for its use in various actives besides skiing due to its durability, dexterity, low weight, pack-ability, and freedom of movement. The Fission's stretchy external fabric and super ergonomic design meant it was also significantly less stiff feeling than other options that offered a similar level of warmth or weather resistance. Our testing team was a little skeptical of its stretchy external soft shell-looking fabric, but both in real-world use as well as in our side-by-side tests, it easily proved to be incredibly water resistant.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ian Nicholson

Last Updated:
Thursday
March 15, 2018

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The Arc'teryx Fission is the highest performing all-around glove in our review. Do note that you can buy other models that might be slightly better at one thing; for example, you can buy a pair that might be slightly warmer, more durable, or more dexterous but not by much and no model scores as highly across our comparison categories as the Fission. If we could have only one glove for skiing and snowboarding, we'd scoop up the Fission in a heartbeat. It struck the absolute best balance between warmth, weather resistance, durability, and dexterity, and was among the very best in each one of those categories.

Performance Comparison


The Fission is the highest performing all-around glove we tested. While you can buy individual gloves that may be marginally better at a specific thing  it's hard to beat this model's well-rounded applications.
The Fission is the highest performing all-around glove we tested. While you can buy individual gloves that may be marginally better at a specific thing, it's hard to beat this model's well-rounded applications.

Warmth


The Fission is warm, but not the absolute warmest.


The Fission is an okay option for Northeast or upper Midwest skiers and snowboards who are regularly faced with relatively cold weather. Overall, our review team found this model to be decent down to around 0-10F and could go a little bit below that but weren't as warm as a handful of other models. So while efficient in cold conditions, they are the best for folks who consistently find themselves faced with arctic temperatures.

The Fission was easily one of the highest performing gloves we have ever used. The Fission's several advantages include warmth  weather resistance  and packability.
The Fission was easily one of the highest performing gloves we have ever used. The Fission's several advantages include warmth, weather resistance, and packability.

In our testing, the Fission was not as warm as the Black Diamond Guide or the Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger Mitt. However, the Fission was toastier than many, including our high-scoring Outdoor Research Illuminator Sensor Glove and Black Diamond Legend. As far as breathability goes, the Fission's design and overall construction give it the title of being the most breathable glove in our review; as a result, they are also the quickest to dry.

The Fission is by far the most weather resistant glove we tested in both real-world uses and in our bucket-of-water tests. Photo: Jussi Tahtinen staying warm and dry on a powder day.
The Fission is by far the most weather resistant glove we tested in both real-world uses and in our bucket-of-water tests. Photo: Jussi Tahtinen staying warm and dry on a powder day.

Weather resistance


These gloves use a Gore-Tex ECR insert and an extremely water resistant, stretchy softshell exterior fabric to keep the user dry. After extensive testing, we found that even though this model's outer softshell material is, at least in theory, not completely waterproof, we were surprised to find how dry our hands stayed while using them over the course of two dozen stormy days in the field. We replicated the same results during our side-by-side in-home tests.


In fact, while testing these gloves on consecutive field days while it rained 1.00" and 2.25" (of water) respectfully, we rotated through several gloves at a rapid pace. During this process, the Fission kept our hands noticeably drier for more prolonged periods and dried the quickest of any of the models in our fleet. In our two-minute bucket-of-water tests, they kept our hands completely dry. What is also impressive is that the exterior, softshell material absorbed no water, which is an attribute that we found to be rare among other models we tested.

Both in our side-by-side bucket-of water tests and in real-world use the Fission proved capable in some seriously wet storms. In this photo  tester Ian Nicholson is teaching an avalanche course while 2.25" of rain fell in a 24 hr period. The Fission easily outlasted the competition.
Both in our side-by-side bucket-of water tests and in real-world use the Fission proved capable in some seriously wet storms. In this photo, tester Ian Nicholson is teaching an avalanche course while 2.25" of rain fell in a 24 hr period. The Fission easily outlasted the competition.

Dexterity


Despite being one of the warmer models we tested and feeling quite puffy, particularly compared to most models, the Fission proved to be one of the most dexterous contenders in our review.


All of our testers could easily feel this model's exceptionally ergonomically focused design. Several review team members also commented on the exceptional dexterity, ability to execute tasks that required fine motor skills, and lack of resistance from the fabric when compared to other models. This lack of resistance and freedom of movement is due to several designs and materials this glove is constructed with. Other notable concepts are the shape of the Fission's fingers and palm, the type and location of insulation used, and the stretchy external fabric. This stretchy outer material allows your hands freedom of movement; coupled with the low-bulk insulation, this is a thick glove that certainly doesn't feel thick. The Fission is also much less stiff feeling than any other model of similar warmth and has absolutely no break-in time.

The Fission was one of the most dexterous gloves in our review and by far the most dexterous that offered comparable warmth. It cruised all of our side-by-side testing and is nimble enough that it is one of the few models we would consider ice climbing with. As seen on Canadian Rockies Classic: The Professor Falls in -8F.
The Fission was one of the most dexterous gloves in our review and by far the most dexterous that offered comparable warmth. It cruised all of our side-by-side testing and is nimble enough that it is one of the few models we would consider ice climbing with. As seen on Canadian Rockies Classic: The Professor Falls in -8F.

The only models that were only marginally more dexterous were significantly less warm, and the models that were close in warmth were WAY less nimble. The Fission performed fantastically in both real-world use and our side-by-side dexterity tests and was one of the most dexterous models in our review, with the Hestra Leather Fall Line being one of the only models that scored better.

The Fission use a beefy yet subtle goat skin leather over the entire palm and inside of the fingers of this model to help longevity and increase grip.
The Fission use a beefy yet subtle goat skin leather over the entire palm and inside of the fingers of this model to help longevity and increase grip.

Durability


The Fission uses a leather palm, which like many models in our review, covers up the insides of all the fingers and palm.


For added longevity and tear resistance in a high wear area besides just covering the insides of the fingers, Arc'teryx opted to covers all sides of each digit down to the second joint. This model's leather palm has held up exceptionally well and has worn the best of any model in our fleet.

Arc'teryx decided to wrap the leather over the top and cover all sides of each finger down to its second digit. This design also improved the Fission's overall longevity and durability.
Arc'teryx decided to wrap the leather over the top and cover all sides of each finger down to its second digit. This design also improved the Fission's overall longevity and durability.

Even after extensive use including a fair amount of rope work, the Fission still going strong. The overall weather resistance of this entire glove is holding up exceptionally well; we have to say we didn't expect that of the softshell exterior. There are also fewer seams and potential weak points, which means fewer places fabrics can be pulled apart or snagged.

The Fission has a low profile but effective keeper leashes  which are easy to remove if not desired. While unappealing at first  many testers found ourselves loving the leashes; we were able to send texts or toggle to the next song barehanded without the risk of dropping our glove off the chairlift.
The Fission has a low profile but effective keeper leashes, which are easy to remove if not desired. While unappealing at first, many testers found ourselves loving the leashes; we were able to send texts or toggle to the next song barehanded without the risk of dropping our glove off the chairlift.

Features


The Fission has a loop on the outside of its index finger which can be used to hang the glove wrist-side-down to ensure it dries quickly.


Our entire review team liked this feature and found ourselves using it at home or on a multi-day ski mountaineering traverse. It is also nice if you are using the Fission as a belay glove on multi-pitch ice climbs as it has a place to clip it to your harness when not in use.

We like the small loop featured on the end of each ring/index finger that made it much easier to dry out after a days use or hang on our harness to use as a belay glove; a task totally appropriate for this model.
We like the small loop featured on the end of each ring/index finger that made it much easier to dry out after a days use or hang on our harness to use as a belay glove; a task totally appropriate for this model.

The Fission features simple, yet functional wrist leashes. Many testers preferred these over more elaborate and thicker, all elastic webbing style versions. This model features no wrist strap to help lock the glove in place. Instead, it has an internal elastic band to keep the glove in place and help with overall feel and dexterity.

Arc'teryx incorporated a gauntlet cinch that can be easily operated one handed to either tighten or loosen the opening.
Arc'teryx incorporated a gauntlet cinch that can be easily operated one handed to either tighten or loosen the opening.

This design performed well during testing and helped add to the Fission's low weight and packable aspects. While we are quite happy with this model's strapless wrist design for the reasons we just mentioned, we think a true strap might better lock the glove into place and help hold the heat in more efficiently.

The Fission is an extremely versatile glove. It is highly weather resistant and warm enough for most resort skiing or snowboarding; what sets it apart is how dexterous it is and how warm and compact it is for its warmth. Tester Ian Nicholson has climbed WI5 in these gloves and all of our review staff loved them for backcountry skiing where their packability and superb dexterity were an asset. They are also an incredible resort model.
The Fission is an extremely versatile glove. It is highly weather resistant and warm enough for most resort skiing or snowboarding; what sets it apart is how dexterous it is and how warm and compact it is for its warmth. Tester Ian Nicholson has climbed WI5 in these gloves and all of our review staff loved them for backcountry skiing where their packability and superb dexterity were an asset. They are also an incredible resort model.

Best Applications


The Fission's light weight and compact design make them one of the most versatile in our review. Besides being an excellent resort glove, they are equally at home with touring in the backcountry, as a belay glove while ice climbing, snowshoeing, or summertime mountaineering. Heck, we think most people will like this glove for any cold weather activity where something like a ski glove is being considered.

Value


Why might some people opt for a different model other than the Fission glove? At $180, the price may be a deciding factor, as they are one of the most expensive in our review. When compared to other costly options, they are in line with the Black Diamond Guide or Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex. Fortunately, we have included models that are a steal for around $70, as well as other highly performing contenders in the $100-120 price range. Do note that the Fission is set apart from others in our review because of its exceptional dexterity, weather resistance, freedom of movement, etc. that many will find is worth spending the extra money.

Conclusion


The Arc'teryx Fission is a pretty darn solid all-around option with few flaws. It scored at the top or near the top in every major way we could think of when comparing each contender. As the winner of our Editors' Choice award, they are the best in the review thanks to their sensational balance of warmth, breathability, and water resistance.

Ian Nicholson

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Most recent review: March 15, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
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