FlyLow Gear Tough Guy ReviewPrice: $35 List | $19.22 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Super durable, fairly warm, look cool
Cons: Not very waterproof, leather needs to be retreated frequently
Insulation Type: 60g Heat Rac polyester
Palm Material: Cowhide leather
You might think to yourself that the FlyLow Gear Tough Guy looks more like a gardening or classic work glove more than your typical ski or snowboarding design. The truth is, the Tough Guy is just an improvement on an old design that help make it the ultimate budget ski option. In the past, ski patrollers and Mountain Guides have used Kinco Insulated leather gloves, because they are super cheap, running $15-20 bucks and with enough waterproofing treatment could work respectably well. So FlyLow basically took this idea one step farther, taking that insulated gardening glove, covering it in water-resistant coating, and baking it three times. This process is claimed by FlyLow to be done by "Big Al". They improved the fit of both the hand and the fingers dramatically over the classic Kinco's design. FlyLow also used a Polyester insulated material instead of the cotton found in many other work gloves to make it warmer while wet and it also won't break down as fast as the Kincos.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The FlyLow Gear Tough Guy was surprisingly dexterous especially considering its amazing price of $32. It isn't as warm as several others we tested mainly because there just isn't as much insulation, but this lack of material gives it a surprisingly good feel and dexterity. It excelled at simple tasks like buckling boots and zipping jackets, but it could also take photos with a traditional point-and-shoot camera, unlock a car door, tie knots in a climbing rope, write with a pen on a piece of paper and even tie a pair of shoes. We thought it was about as dexterous as our OutdoorGearLab Top Pick, the Outdoor Research Magnate, and the Black Diamond Rebel. It wasn't quite as dexterous as our OutdoorgearLab Editors' Choice the Hestra Seth Morrison Pro Model or our Top pick the Arc'teryx Lithic Glove, or the Rab Guide Gloves, but it isn't far off, and it is only one tenth the price. Compared with the other more price pointed gloves it performed better in our dexterity tests than either the DaKine Scout or the Columbia Air Chamber, but wasn't as warm or as waterproof.
The Tough Guy is the only model in our review that isn't technically "waterproof". I mean, you can straight up blow air through the back of it. It is water resistant enough that in colder snow or cold and dry conditions it can work respectably well. When comparing the water resistance of the leather of the Tough Guy, even when it's fresh off its triple-bake of Snoseal from "Big Al", it scored just below average in water resistance. The leather on it does need to be treated frequently to increase waterproofness. The Polyester back of the hand section is not waterproof and we wouldn't recommend taking these bad boys anywhere near wet snow or rain. That said, on a trip to Utah's Wasatch, it performed better than expected on snowy days with blower Utah powder. The Poly backing does allow for a fair amount of breathability making it a good option for cold weather skiing. If you like the Tough Guy but don't like the Poly backing and want an all leather version, for only $10 more you can get the FlyLow Ridge Gloves ($40) which appear to be more water resistant.
Warmth and Breathability
The FlyLow Tough Guy was the least warm option in our review and for most folks, below around 20F, these guys start to feel cold. After wearing them the whole day and sweating in them, the Tough Guy more than most others we tested started to get stiff and cold. The next closest contender was the Rab Guide, but at a $115 it is significantly more expensive. The Tough Guy does offer decent breathability, making them an awesome option for cooler-weather skiing or all day backcountry ski and snowboard touring.
Like its name might indicate, the FlyLow Gear Tough Guy is a super durable product made with pigskin leather. We think it is a fair amount more durable than both the similarly priced DaKine Scout and the Columbia Air Chamber which both cost around $50. The seams on the Tough Guy aren't as tight or as tough as some of the more expensive models we tested, but it wasn't far behind. The polyester lining packs out some after extended use but not as much as some of the other options in its price range. Overall we thought the Tough Guy was comparable in toughness to both the Outdoor Research Southback and likely more durable than our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy, the Outdoor Research Centurion but again, it's just over half the cost.
Features and Ease of Use
There aren't a whole lot of features going on with the $32 FlyLow Tough Guy. You could argue that the polyester backing on the backside of it is a feature and that it adds breathability. The polyester cuff does a okay job of keeping dry snow out of the inside, but once it became wet from sweat or precipitation then snow would sometimes stick to it.
Value and The Bottom Line
At $32 it's by far the cheapest in our review. If you live in wetter climates like the Pacific Northwest it requires some maintenance, and your hands might get a little damp riding chairs on big storm days. In drier climates or on sunny days it does surprisingly well as long as it's not too cold. We thought it was also a great ski touring glove and even used it a few days this summer in general mountaineering applications. The Tough Guy is a great option for folks who are looking for a good work glove to work in the cold, but don't want to spend a bunch of money on something that they are going to ruin.
— Ian Nicholson
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