Arc'teryx Sabre Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
We are impressed by the overall performance of this glove, which comes close to the best options on the market while excelling in dexterity. The simplicity and high performance of this glove lead us to recommend it for primarily backcountry use.
The Arc'teryx Sabre uses plenty of Primaloft synthetic insulation to provide enough warmth for all but the coldest days on the ski hill. We used this glove on the slopes in brutally cold Jackson Hole, where it kept our fingers warm once the temperatures rose above zero Fahrenheit. On the coldest days or during windy winter storms, users might want more insulation. The glove features a furry palm and fingers, which adds a cozy feel, and the insulation design creates a tight fit around the wrist to seal heat into the hand chamber. Insulation through the wrist means the lower forearm is also kept warm when the velcro wrist closure is sealed tight. For a relatively lightweight item, this glove is surprisingly warm.
In the backcountry, these gloves are perfect. They are warm enough for most days and yet aren't so warm that they can't be worn on the skin track. Only the most aerobic users will wish they had a lighter glove during uphill travel. On windy ridgelines, or while booting uphill through deep powder, they keep hands plenty warm.
One of the major benefits of the Arc'teryx Sabre is its dexterity. No other glove provides as much warmth with as much articulation. When gloves add insulation, waterproof membranes, or thick leather, they improve their warmth, water resistance, and durability performance, but all while sacrificing dexterity. These gloves strike the perfect balance between added material and finger mobility, meaning that these gloves will keep your hands reasonably warm and dry while still allowing you to perform fine motor tasks like buckling boots or manipulating zippers.
The Sabre's high performance in this category adds even more utility in the backcountry, where users have to perform a wide variety of tasks without removing their gloves, and need a product that will keep them warm and dry while being easily manipulated. For backcountry skiers and riders, this is the dexterous yet warm glove you've been waiting for.
The Sabre is a generally water-resistant glove, thanks to Arc'teryx's notably impervious leather and a Gore-tex membrane insert. The back of the fingers and back of the palm are made with a water-resistant softshell fabric that easily repels water and snow. Our testers reported dry hands every time they wore these gloves, even on wet powder days. In our sink test, we held our gloved hands under the faucet for 5 minutes, and our hands remained dry.
One notable omission here is the lack of a major wrist gauntlet. The cuff is shorter than other top-of-the-line glove options, and instead of a drawstring closure, Arc'teryx uses a simple velcro closure. This means that the glove is best worn under the jacket cuff, and it won't provide much additional weather resistance than the jacket you pair it with. For users in wet winter climates, or where rain is regularly encountered, a glove with a full wrist gauntlet will provide more protection. But for users in cold, dry climates who like to wear their gloves under their jacket cuffs, these provide enough water resistance.
Arc'teryx is known for the durability of their products. Our testers have reviewed dozens of their offerings over the years, and these gloves are in line with our expectations. Specifically, these gloves have tightly sewn seams that don't show any space when pulled apart. Stitching failure is one of the prevalent ski glove issues we see, and these gloves won't face that problem any time soon. The glove's leather is also somehow more resistant to wear than other leathers. Our lead tester is an avalanche forecaster and mountain guide, and uses these gloves daily while shoveling out snow pits, using ropes, and of course, skiing. He hasn't seen any wear and tear on the leather palm after weeks of use. We are confident in our assessment that these gloves have excellent durability.
One weak point that could be an issue is the use of velcro for the wrist gauntlet closure. Velcro uses tiny hooks on one side and tiny loops of fabric on the other. When pressed together, the hundreds of hooks each grab one loop, and when pulled apart, the hooks rip out the loops, breaking them in the process. There are enough loops for thousands of uses, but eventually, the velcro will lose its fastening power as the velcro loops get used up. This is most often a problem in wrist closures, both on gloves and jackets, because we take our gloves on and off so many times each day. After a couple of seasons of heavy use, this may become a problem. Usually, manufacturers will replace the velcro at little to no cost, but it's worth mentioning.
The Arc'teryx Sabre AR glove is light on features. We have come to love our chemical handwarmer pockets, nose wipes, and removable liners, and this glove has none of them. The gauntlet is short and can only be worn one way: under the cuff. Experienced users will not be daunted by the features set on this glove, but beginners who have a hard time regulating their hand warmth and fastening their jacket cuffs may wish these gloves had more useful features.
Still, these gloves have everything you need, including a lightweight plastic clip to keep the pair together, low-profile and removable shock cord wrist straps, and small loops on the back of the ring fingers for hanging the gloves to dry with the opening facing down. And while we don't measure the weight of gloves in our reviews, these gloves are strikingly lightweight, especially compared to the behemoth weight of the heated gloves on the market these days. While some features may be missing, these gloves get the job done and are plenty easy to use for experienced skiers and riders.
These gloves are expensive. Still, this glove's overall high performance in nearly every metric, combined with the fine tailoring and long lifespan that we have come to expect from Arc'teryx, makes this glove worth the price for discerning users. Beginners or occasional skiers won't be able to justify spending this much on a pair of ski gloves. But for ski town locals, expert skiers, and backcountry skiers who need a glove that can perform day-in and day-out without question, these gloves are worth the price.
The Sabre is a relatively warm, water-resistant, and durable glove that provides excellent dexterity but doesn't include many of the helpful features we've come to expect in a ski glove. And for the price, it may not seem like you get that much. However, for discerning users like hardcore inbounds riders and backcountry skiers who like a perfectly tailored fit and need the utmost dexterity, this glove is a great choice.
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