From December Days and slow chair-lifts rides in New England to the Summits of some of the highest and coldest mountains in the world the Black Diamond Guide Glove is our Top Pick for Arctic Temperatures. You can still buy mittens that are warmer, but if you want the dexterity of a glove that will help protect you from potentially sub-zero temperatures, the BD Guide is tough to beat. While some mittens are warmer, many aren't; the Guide Glove just plain packs in a lot of insulation. As a result, it is a pretty darn stiff glove and needs a little bit longer than most to break in its insulation and burly exterior leather.
The Black Diamond Guide Glove is our Top Pick for skiing and snowboarding in colder climates. This is the straight-up warmest glove we tested and is even warmer than several mittens. It is worth noting that this glove is STIFF when you first buy it, it certainly does soften up but it takes a little bit of time.
This contender is the warmest model in our review. Tester Ian Nicholson used them to summit both Denali and Aconcagua in -42F and -25F temperatures, respectively. The liner is the warmest of any model we tested and uses a combination of Primaloft One insulation on the outer portion of its liner and boiled wool on the inside. The wool on the back of your hand is super nice on cold days and feels warm and fuzzy all day. The wool provides noticeable wicking, making your hands feel warmer, and to a limited extent, provides some temperature regulation.
The palm side of the liner sports 100 grams of fleece, which also wicks moisture and dries more quickly than wool, eliminating clammy hands. Though super efficient at insulating, all this bulk means they are a little less dexterous. The Guide was the warmest glove in our review, though not much warmer than the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex. It was a step-up in warmth but not way warmer than our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice, the Arc'teryx Fission.
The Guide Glove is the perfect cold weather ski glove or high altitude mountaineering glove. Tester Ian Nicholson has summitted both Denali and Aconcagua in this Glove in temps as cold as -40F (with hand-warmers). Photo: Ian Nicholson and Zach Keskinen both wearing BD Guide Gloves on the Summit of Denali and for both of them there is no other glove they'd rather take for similar conditions.
We gave our OutdoorGearLab Top Pick for Colder Climates award to the Guide. It was by far the warmest contender in our review and one of the warmest gloves currently available, but that warmth comes at a price. Because there is so much insulation in this glove, that insulation equals bulk, reducing dexterity. In some ways, you could almost compare this model to a mitten, because it is so warm, but lacks dexterity. It is even warmer than some basic mittens but is most often still more dexterous. It uses a very stiff leather that is super beefy and incredibly durable, but that stiffness reduces "feel" and dexterity.
The newest version features a stretchier exterior with less overall leather; while this does allow the leather to break in, they are still mega stiff at first. However, while they do soften up quite a bit once you get four or five days of use in them, they are still a little stiffer than average. Once you have used them ten days or more, you're golden. During our side-by-side comparisons for dexterity, the Guide scored below average, earning a slightly above average 6 out of 10. We could accomplish simple tasks, like buckling boots and unlocking car doors, but started to suffer during our more complex tests, like tying shoes and taking a photo with a traditional point-and-shoot camera. We thought they were less dexterous than the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex and way behind the Arc'teryx Fission, though they were warmer than all of these contenders.
Because the Guide Glove is so burly and warm it isn't the most dexterous glove, however once broken in over a few weeks of use it allows the wearer a respectable amount of dexterity. Once broken in not only can we fairly easily zip jackets but we can also handle carabiners and tie knots in a ope as seen here on Denali's Upper West Buttress.
The Guide features a goatskin leather palm, with that same leather on the inside of the fingers and parts of the back of the hand. They also have a small piece of EVA foam padding in the middle of the back of the hand. A stretchy woven nylon shell covers the remainder of the glove with a Gore-Tex insert inside. The construction allows them to be tough enough to last for even the harshest user; overall, we found this glove to offer some of the best durability out of gloves in our fleet. We used this model well over 70 days, and it's still holding up well; however, it certainly isn't as warm as it once was, as the insulation has slowly packed out.
It's likely that using any of the gloves in this review over 60 days would lead to them packing out and losing a significant amount of insulation and warmth. Regardless, the Guide is one of the toughest contestants in our review. The only other options that might be close in toughness are the Black Diamond Legend or the Hestra Leather Fall Line.
Black Diamond uses a Gore-Tex insert, a highly water-resistant leather, and a beefy nylon shell for waterproofing. While several models did well in both our real-world tests and our side-by-side comparisons using a bucket of water, we found that it was one of the more water resistant designs we tested, earning a 9 out of 10. It compares to the other top scores in the review, like the Black Diamond Legend.
We did find it was slightly more waterproof than the similarly warm, Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex. Overall, the Guide is significantly warmer and more water resistant than the double layer (and much cheaper) Dakine Titan, Burton Gore-Tex, and Columbia Tumalo.
The Guide has a well designed removable liner that is secured with Velcro straps that never came out when we didn't want it to. The straps cinch nicely with one gloved hand but are harder to loosen. The nose wipe on the thumb is comfortable and effective. Other than that, it is a relatively simple but user-friendly product.
Many (but not all) people size up from there normal BD glove size when they buy these gloves. This is mainly due to all of the warmth and insulation; as a result, these gloves feel like they run just a little on the smaller side. Climbers who might be going to higher altitudes and would want to add a thin polypro or wool liner underneath should strongly consider going up one size. Despite most people sizing up, the Guide, like other Black Diamond gloves, run slightly on the wider side compared with others tested.
This solid and super warm glove is a killer option for resort bound New England and Upper Mountain West skiers and snowboarders. It's also a great choice for folks who get cold easily and don't want the cumbersome feel of mittens. Besides colder weather resort riding, it excels at high altitude mountaineering and is a top choice for arctic temperatures.
The Black Diamond Guide also works great as an ice climbing belay option. This is one of the more expensive models in our review but is pretty close in price to its two closest competitors, the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex (both $175). It's warmer than our Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Fission. While this glove is expensive, it's an exceptional option if you're going on a super cold adventure.