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Black Diamond Mercury Mitt Review
Cons: Poor dexterity, liner packs out a little quicker than other options
Bottom line: This contender offers the highest level of warmth, yet still allows you to reasonably perform basic tasks required of resort skiing.
Insulation Type: 340 g Primaloft Gold and high-loft fleece
Palm Material: Goatskin Leather
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Mercury Mitt is our Editors' Choice for mittens because of its bomber, feature-rich design. It's also the warmest glove or mitten in our review. The Mercury is fairly water resistant, more so than most other mitts and is burly. Its primary downfall is in the dexterity score, which is not totally unexpected for a glove with this much insulation. We found we could perform basic tasks, like buckling ski boots and zipping jackets just fine, but we struggled when our tasks became more complex. The Mercury Mitt remains our Editors' Choice for the coldest and slowest of resort chair rides and frigid ice climbing belays or for folks who are easily chilled.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Mercury Mitt uses 340 grams of PrimaLoft Gold insulation, plus a warm-to-the-touch, high-loft fleece. The result was the warmest overall glove or mitten in our review, just barely edging out the Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitts, and Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex in our side-by-side testing. We have used these mittens down to -10F, and while we wouldn't want to use them in much colder temperatures, they worked as well as you could hope in those conditions. The Mercurys don't have Denali-worthy warmth, but they aren't far from it, and are warm enough for the slowest and coldest of East Coast or Mid-West chairlift rides or snowmobiling.
As you might guess with all that insulation, the Mercury Mitt doesn't have the best dexterity and was overall one of the poorer performing products we tested in dexterity. They do feature an optional trigger finger sleeve in their liner to increase dexterity. The sleeve helped our "feel" and made these mitts feel marginally less clumsy; however, in our testing, this sleeve only slightly improved dexterity at fine motor skills tasks. The reason it's "optional" is because you don't actually have to use it. Due to Black Diamond's design, the other side of the index slot has enough space for all four of your fingers so you can keep them next to each other for improved warmth.
In our side-by-side testing, we could perform basic tasks like buckling ski boots and zipping jackets with big zipper pulls. For more complex tasks, these mitts were challenged. Scoring a 5 out of 10, we didn't think the Mercury's dexterity was as quality as the Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger Mitt, the Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitt, or The North Face Montana - the other mitts in our review.
The Mercury Mitt performed well in this metric, scoring an 8 out of 10, though it did not offer amazing performance in wet conditions. The shell itself is pretty water resistant even in wet snow storms; the exception is the leather palm, which doesn't feature a waterproof membrane backing (similar to the Hestra Army Leather Mitts). The leather on the palm is mostly water resistant at first; however, after a half season of use on wet storm days, the leather absorbed more water than we liked and we would need to re-treat it. This pitfall is elevated some by a unique feature: the inner removable liner on the Mercury actually sports a waterproof fabric outer shell. This helped keep our hands drier and kept us from feeling as cold from the potentially wet leather palms.
After our tests, we found we liked wearing the Mercury on more occasions than the Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitts, as they offered higher performance. Neither the Hestra's shell nor their leather palms were as water resistant, and they would wet out more quickly and with seemingly less use. For most resort-bound skiers and snowboarders who are going to use these mittens in colder conditions, water resistance issues are less important because the Mercury deals with drier, colder snow fantastically. We think the Mercury is a decent, but not perfect, option for closer to freezing Pacific Northwest conditions, as long as users are willing to treat the Mercury's leather palm a few times every season, because despite the BDry fabric on the liner, once the palm gets pretty wet, the mitten felt a little colder. For intermountain skiers who ski in cold snow all the time, these mitts will crush.
All aspects of the Mercury Mitt's outer shell are bomber, featuring a durable and high-quality yet supple goatskin leather palm that is sewn with burly Kevlar stitching. The liner is average in toughness as far as its liner's tear resistance goes, but we did find that the PrimaLoft packed out a little quicker than some of the other models we tested. We also noticed a slight decline in warmth after a season and a half of medium to heavy use.
The Mercury Mitt has an above average amount of extra features which make this mitten easy to use. It features an easy to remove and quick drying liner that uses a ring of Velcro around the wrist of the liner to lock it into place. There is also a small loop on the top of the mitt to facilitate hanging the mitten open side down to help speed up drying; it will also keep snow out if you clip it to your harness for ice climbing or mountaineering. This pair of ski gloves features a wrist webbing cinch strap and a gauntlet cinch strap to help keep the snow out and the heat in. This was the only pair of ski gloves in our fleet that scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in this metric. Other high scoring contenders are the Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride and the Black Diamond Guide.
One of the most unique features of the Mercury is its optional index finger slot in the inner liner of the mitt, using this slot does slightly increase "feel" and dexterity but we like that you can also keep all 4 of your finger together to maximize warmth. Like many other mitts we tested, the Mercury features a softer fabric on the back of the thumb to make cleaning goggles and wiping noses more effective.
This award winner excels in cold weather resort riding. It's perfect for users who get cold hands easily or as a belay glove while ice climbing or ski touring. It's an okay option for wet conditions, but you need to treat the leather palm from time to time to help keep it fully water resistant.
Value and the Bottom Line
At $110, the Black Diamond Mercury Mitt is a much better deal than either of Hestra's offerings, which both run around $135; the Mercury is also warmer and more water resistant. We do think the fleece liner on the Hestra takes longer to pack out and is therefore probably more durable. We found both Hestra Models to be a little more dexterous, but if you're after the warmest mitten with which you can still reasonably perform the basic tasks required of lift area skiing and snowboarding, then we think the Mercury's are it.
— Ian Nicholson
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