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Black Diamond Solano Heated Review

Black Diamond's offering in the heated glove market is a high quality leather glove with an on-demand three mode heating system.
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Price:  $400 List | $399.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Heated gloves!, 6 hrs on low, very well fitting on hand
Cons:  Wrist enclosure gets in the way of jacket, not as warm after batteries die, heavy, pricey
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Jeff Rogers and Travis Poulin  ⋅  Jan 17, 2020
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 18
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Dexterity - 25% 6
  • Water Resistance - 25% 9
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Features - 10% 5

Our Verdict

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 Black Diamond Solano Heated. Top-notch materials comprise a refined heated glove with a slightly awkward wrist gauntlet. It is a thin and nimble glove that will keep you warm on sub-zero days with fresh batteries but will not hold up to a well-constructed unheated glove when the batteries are dead. Due to weight and the fact that it is not very warm without battery power, the Solano is best suited for resort skiing. With that said, it is HEATED! Something that is rare to find in any glove that you can tie a knot with.


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Pros Heated gloves!, 6 hrs on low, very well fitting on handVersatility, durable palm, lightweight and packable, dexterous, ergonomic shape, freedom of movementSuper warm, extremely tough, great weather resistance, removable liners help them dry quicker, our go-to expedition gloveDexterous for its warmth, inside feels soft and cozy, durable, above average weather resistanceWell designed features, tough as nails, dexterous
Cons Wrist enclosure gets in the way of jacket, not as warm after batteries die, heavy, priceyLong gauntlet tricky to get under jacket, gauntlet can slowly open, expensiveNot very dexterous, take time to break in, if in between sizes you should consider sizing upExpensive, leather needs to be retreated slightly more than other modelsNot as warm as other high-end ski gloves, expensive
Bottom Line Black Diamond's offering in the heated glove market is a high quality leather glove with an on-demand three mode heating system.Easily the most versatile model for conditions, climates, and activities with top-tier performance across the board make this glove our favorite overall.For really cold activities, where giving up some dexterity for some serious warmth is a must, these gloves are hard to beat.A fantastic all-around winter glove; it's expensive but built to last, offering extra features to present a good overall value.This is an excellent day in day out resort glove for skiing in milder climates.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Solano Heated Arc'teryx Fission SV Black Diamond Guide Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex Marmot Ultimate
Warmth (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
5
Dexterity (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
7
Water Resistance (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Durability (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Features (10%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Specs Black Diamond... Arc'teryx Fission SV Black Diamond Guide Hestra Army... Marmot Ultimate
Double or Single Glove Single Single Double Single Single
Gaunlet or Cuff? Cuff Gauntlet Gauntlet Gauntlet Gauntlet
Palm Material Goat leather Leather Goat leather Army Leather (goat leather) Cow-hide leather
Waterproof Material Gore-Tex insert Gore-Tex Gore-Tex insert HESTRA Triton three-layer polyamide fabric, leather Gore-Tex insert
Insulation Type Back of hand: 170g PrimaLoft Gold; Palm: 100g fleece Primaloft Gold Insulation Eco and primaloft silver eco PrimaLoft Gold and boiled wool Soft Fiberfill PrimaLoft Gold
Nose Wipe? Yes Yes Yes No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Tested without the heating function on  these were very warm. These are a fine choice for cold-blooded resort sliders.
Tested without the heating function on, these were very warm. These are a fine choice for cold-blooded resort sliders.

Warmth


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.

Simplicity is best when wearing thick  insulated finger coverings. The single button for toggling through the heating modes is easy-peasy to use.
Simplicity is best when wearing thick, insulated finger coverings. The single button for toggling through the heating modes is easy-peasy to use.

The 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. With that said, the leather construction added more warmth with dead batteries than competitors that use a softshell construction.

Charing these gloves is simple -- just don't forget to do it!
Charing these gloves is simple -- just don't forget to do it!

Dexterity


For a bulky, heavy glove the Solano is quite dexterous. The fit is right on point and what it loses in warmth with the battery off it gains in dexterity. This can be a huge advantage 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 Solano was a good resort glove  but heavy and bulky in the backcountry.
The Solano was a good resort glove, but heavy and bulky in the backcountry.

Weather Resistance


In our testing, the leather on this glove did not need an initial treatment. 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.

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. 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, you could soak your phone for 10 minutes, freeze it overnight, then try to turn it on. If it works, it's just like the Solano. Disclaimer: Please don't actually try this, we aren't responsible for any phone damage!

Impenetrable to our submersion test  and toasty with the heat blasting inside.
Impenetrable to our submersion test, and toasty with the heat blasting inside.

Durability


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 years to come. We find this especially important with "investment" gloves like these. When you spend a small fortune 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.

The leather construction makes this glove more tough than competitors.
The leather construction makes this glove more tough than competitors.

It is tough to say how long the electrical system will hold up over many seasons, and we have to expect this to be the first point of failure. This is our estimate, but be prepared to buy replacement batteries for these gloves at least once or twice throughout the lifetime of the Solano.

Features


While the Solano does have the magnificent feature of heat, it has some significant shortcomings in the design of its features. To start with the good, it has an excellent nose wipe on each thumb and has a 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. If you tend to fumble around on the lift, we would suggest keeping these gloves on as it would be an expensive loss to drop one of these gloves.

The biggest problem we had with this glove was the cuff. Most 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. It is still possible to use the button in this situation but makes it significantly more difficult.

With the Solano's small gauntlet underneath the coat  the on/off button is hard to get to.
With the Solano's small gauntlet underneath the coat, the on/off button is hard to get to.

Value


For those that are crippled by cold hands at the resort, a high-priced glove is going to be well worth the investment. The Solano is not only heated but made to last-qualities that are not cheap. This glove is worth the high price if you want to continue skiing instead of sitting in the lodge warming your hands by the fire.

The wrong gloves for the job won't stop us from heading out in search of freshies. That said  heated gloves are not the way to go for most backcountry missions  in our opinion.
The wrong gloves for the job won't stop us from heading out in search of freshies. That said, heated gloves are not the way to go for most backcountry missions, in our opinion.

Conclusion


Extremely warm and dexterous are terms that do not go together when it comes to most gloves. The heating element allows the Solano to fit tightly like a less-warm, dexterous glove but without sacrificing warmth. The durable leather construction combined with ultimate warmth earned this high marks overall, with the only flaw being the cuff design (and the price tag!).


Jeff Rogers and Travis Poulin