Solano Heated Glove Updates
New for the Solano this year are some measures to increase warmth in the form of a revamped heating system and some extra insulation. The rechargable heating system now covers the inside of the wrist, which is helpful since our wrists contain arteries that help regulate temperature control for our hands and bodies. Warm wrists = warm hands, at least in theory! There is also an extra 30G of PrimaLoft Gold insulation on the back of the hand (200G up from the previous Solano's 170G), and the palm now features 100G of PrimaLoft Gold insulation in place of the previous fleece lining. Compare the two gloves below; the latest Solano is pictured first, followed up by the model we tested.
We're linking to the updated model, as it's more readily available. However, since we've yet to head out in the cold with this glove, we can't report on the effectiveness of these updates. The review to follow is only our account of the former version.
Hands-On Review of the Solano Heated
Black Diamond makes a variety of excellent climbing gear on the market. Their entry into the heated glove market is also high quality, and the craftsmanship is here in the Solano. Top-notch materials comprise a refined heated glove with a very awkward wrist gauntlet. While it lacks to be warm when the batteries die, it is a thin and nimble glove that will keep you warm on sub-zero days with fresh batteries.
When you consider any of the high-end heated gloves on the market under the Warmth rating metric, they earn a perfect ten when fully charged. This is considering only when the glove is used as designed, with plenty of battery life and the user switching to each heated mode as they wish. But what happens when the battery dies? This was a big factor in our testing here at OutdoorGearLab. What happens if you forgot to charge the batteries or you unexpectedly run out of juice while out in the sidecountry? To us, these details matter, and we did our best to describe the warmth when factoring in less than ideal situations.
The Black Diamond Solano is not an especially warm glove in its off format. It does not benefit from the fact that they place a heating element (or exchanger) on the back of your hand, and once this gets cold, it is tough to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the glove unless you fire up the heating element. We found that the Capstone Heated Glove fared better with its batteries dead and did not suffer from this problem. Both gloves were excellent when their batteries were charged and were easily the warmest in the test group in this state of charge.
Fair warning if you plan to take these gloves into the backcountry. Due to their weight, we doubt many folks will attempt this, besides heli-skiers.
In our testing, the leather on this glove did not need an initial treatment like the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex or the Black Diamond Legend. Out of the box, the leather easily shed any water that it came in contact with, and the glove did not allow any water to penetrate to the wearer's hand while submerged in the bucket test.
Just like the Capstone, we put the electronics through hell and back to see if they would function. After soaking and then freezing the glove, we were able to turn on the heating element and thaw and warm out hands while inside the glove. Both of the electronics in these gloves are excellent, and the designers of them should pat themselves on the back for making them so weather resistant. To put this in perspective, soak your phone for 10 minutes, freeze it overnight, then turn it on. If it works, it's just like the Solano and the Capstone. Disclaimer: Please don't actually try this, we aren't responsible for any phone damage!
When comparing the two heated gloves in the review, the Solano edges out the Capstone in dexterity. It is just a much better fitting and a thinner leather glove, and what it loses in warmth with the battery off it gains in dexterity. This can be a huge advantage between the two especially considering there isn't much insulation needed if the battery is charged and you keep another set in your pack. Testers were easily able to do normal ski tasks like clip a lift ticket or button a jacket, and the apres beverages never made our hands chilly even though it was turning to slush right before our eyes.
The quite dexterous Solano palm.
Another strong rating for the Solano, the leather is what you would find on any high-end glove. With the addition of leather reinforcements throughout, the glove will last for many years to come. We find this especially important with "investment" gloves like these. When you spend $350 or $500 (like the Capstone) on a heated glove, you expect to give the pair to your grandkids. It is safe to say that this glove is constructed with bomber materials and is reinforced with even more material in high wear areas. It even has a nice amount of padding on the back of the palm to deflect trees and the occasional Jerry. We can't say how long the electrical heating mechanism will last, though.
While the Solano does have the magnificent feature of heat, it has some significant shortcoming in the design of its features. To start with the good, it has an excellent nose wipe on each thumb and has a delightfully padded back of the hand. It does lack a wrist leash and finger loops for storing on a harness, but we can see it was not designed for backcountry travel.
The Solano's wrist gauntlet is quite small and caused every tester's coat to bunch up. It was almost impossible to get on with a watch.
The BIGGEST problem we had with this glove was the cuff. Both heated gloves locate their large battery packs under the wrist of the glove. This is fine, except when your gauntlet style opening is so tight it becomes and under the cuff style. With the extra width of the battery pack, the cuff of this glove bunched up on nearly every jacket we used and was a pain to the testers who wore watches. A compounding problem is when the glove is worn in the under the cuff style, the button is now hidden beneath your jacket! We believe due to this huge oversight in the design; the Solano drops significantly in the Features metric.
With the Solano's small gauntlet underneath the coat, the on/off button is hard to get to.
The Solano is best suited to use at the resort, solely due to weight and the fact that they are not very warm without battery power. At the resort when the temperatures are freezing, you can rely on a very dexterous and heated glove, which is a true luxury.
The Black Diamond Solano would be a good deal if the cuff was designed better. If you can ignore this fact, it's a great way to get into the heated glove game.
Extremely warm and dexterous are terms that do not go together when it comes to keeping your hands warm. The true advantage of these gloves is when they have plenty of battery, and you can take advantage of a much tighter fitting glove at colder temperatures, that would otherwise prohibit the use of such similarly insulated unheated gloves. With one major flaw being the cuff design, they do not receive our heated glove Top Pick Award.