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Black Diamond Guide Review

For really cold activities, where giving up some dexterity for some serious warmth is a must, these gloves are hard to beat.
Black Diamond Guide
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $170 List | $149.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Super warm, extremely tough, great weather resistance, removable liners help them dry quicker, our go-to expedition glove
Cons:  Not very dexterous, take time to break in, if in between sizes you should consider sizing up
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Ian Nicholson and Jeff Rogers  ⋅  Dec 12, 2018
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84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 18
  • Warmth - 25% 9
  • Dexterity - 25% 6
  • Water Resistance - 25% 9
  • Durability - 15% 10
  • Features - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Guide is our OutdoorGearLab Top Pick for Cold Weather Skiing and Snowboarding, and it is seriously warm. It is one of the warmest models we tested, making it an excellent option for arctic lift rides, folks whose hands get cold easily, and high altitude mountaineering. Tester Ian Nicholson wore this product all the way to the summit of Denali on a day with a daytime high of -38F and summitted during -42F (with a pair of hand-warmers) and has climbed Denali 7 times overall in them. This glove features a removable liner, making drying them a breeze. They have a stretchy shell that is reinforced with goat leather (obviously not stretchy in places where it is reinforced) and a Gore-Tex insert for weather protection. These gloves are super tough and easily one of the most durable in our review. However, all of the leather, insulation and relatively strong shell fabric means they aren't as dexterous as most of the other products we tested. They're also one of the stiffer models we reviewed especially off the shelf, almost to the point of making us shy away. But after four or five days of use, like a good baseball glove, they broke in nicely.

The Guide was in close contention for Editors' Choice Award. In the end, we deemed the Arc'teryx Fission the best glove overall in our tests for being more useful in more applications. It's not quite as warm but allows you to perform more dexterous tasks without removing your gloves, which, in a sense, is more warmth.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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 cold temps. 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.

Performance Comparison


Our testers loved the Black Diamond Guide glove as a super protective and warm glove on colder days. Here Tester Joshua Webb uses the Guide glove on a more mild day to test versatility.
Our testers loved the Black Diamond Guide glove as a super protective and warm glove on colder days. Here Tester Joshua Webb uses the Guide glove on a more mild day to test versatility.

Warmth


This contender is among the warmest model in our review. The heated glove options, like the Outdoor Research Capstone and Black Diamond Solano, run hotter when powered, but are not even close to being as warm when the batteries run out. Tester Ian Nicholson used the Guide gloves 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. This is our top pick for people with Raynaud's syndrome who prefer gloves over mittens.


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 less dexterous. The Guide is one of the warmest gloves in our review, though not much warmer than the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex. It was a step-up in warmth from our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice, the Arc'teryx Fission, which is still warm enough in all but the extreme cold.

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.
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.

Dexterity


The Guide is 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 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. 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 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 rope as seen here on Denali's Upper West Buttress.
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 rope as seen here on Denali's Upper West Buttress.

Water Resistance


Black Diamond uses a Gore-Tex insert, a highly water-resistant leather, and a robust 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. It compares to the other top scores in the review.


Durability


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 all the Hestra models and the Marmot Ultimate.

Features


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.

If you look at the back of the Guide glove  you can see numerous reinforcements and padding. The same goes for the palm. This adds durability and protection but does decrease dexterity.
If you look at the back of the Guide glove, you can see numerous reinforcements and padding. The same goes for the palm. This adds durability and protection but does decrease dexterity.

Best Applications


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.

Value


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 and 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.

Conclusion


Heading out for an epic in arctic conditions? The Black Diamond Guide has long been a favorite among mountaineers and guides battling cold conditions, and we understand why. It's a dependable glove that will last a lot of adventures, keeping fingers warm and dry on some of the world's more demanding peaks. They're probably overkill for most resort skiers in maritime climates of the US.


Ian Nicholson and Jeff Rogers