Hands-on Gear Review

Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride Review

Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride
Editors' Choice Award
Price:  $180 List | $53.98 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Extremely dexterous, warm, excellent feel, durability, neoprene cuffs, weather resistance
Cons:  Exterior leather needs to be re-treated more frequently than other models
Bottom line:  This durable glove offers above average warmth and the best overall dexterity, scoring high across the board.
Editors' Rating:   
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Waterproof Material:  Leather
Insulation Type:  Thermolite
Palm Material:  Impregnated Army Leather-goat leather (black and grey models), Other colors feature aniline cowhide
Manufacturer:   Hestra

Our Verdict

The Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride gloves are the new OutdoorGearLab's Editors' Choice winner. They offer top-notch performance characteristics, including a soft and comfortable feel, along with fantastic dexterity. They also offer incredible warmth. While they weren't the warmest model we tested, they were warm enough for most conditions, and our testers were focused on their unparalleled level of dexterity. Our testing team abused these gloves and were impressed with how well they held up, showing little wear. While this contender came out toward the top in terms of weather resistance, our expert testers found that they had to treat the leather more frequently than other models to ensure their performance, though never more than 1-2 times per year (when used in a wet climate).



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ian Nicholson

Last Updated:
Saturday
April 1, 2017

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Performance Comparison


The Vertical Cut Freeride is a fantastic all-around ski glove that offers some of the best overall feel and dexterity of any model we tested. It uses a much softer than normal (AKA doesn't need a long break-in time) goat leather  with a stretchy Cordura fabric over the knuckles (which helped to improve freedom-of-movement and dexterity). For technical descents that required rope work or easy climbs  or just ripping groomers  this was our favorite all-around model.
The Vertical Cut Freeride is a fantastic all-around ski glove that offers some of the best overall feel and dexterity of any model we tested. It uses a much softer than normal (AKA doesn't need a long break-in time) goat leather, with a stretchy Cordura fabric over the knuckles (which helped to improve freedom-of-movement and dexterity). For technical descents that required rope work or easy climbs, or just ripping groomers, this was our favorite all-around model.

Warmth


All of our testers commented on how comfortable the bemberg polyester lining felt against our skin. In fact  it felt like the fabric noticeably warmed our hands quickly. In addition to the polyester lining  this glove also uses a significant amount of Thermolite insulation  giving it above-average scores for warmth (among models we tested).
All of our testers commented on how comfortable the bemberg polyester lining felt against our skin. In fact, it felt like the fabric noticeably warmed our hands quickly. In addition to the polyester lining, this glove also uses a significant amount of Thermolite insulation, giving it above-average scores for warmth (among models we tested).

The Vertical Cut Freeride features the softest interior liner (bemberg/polyester) of any glove we tested. Every reviewer fell in love with the soft brushed lining, which instantly made our hands feel toastier. This contender uses a layer of Thermolite insulation, coupled with the polyester liner, for additional warmth. We found this insulation was durable and kept most of our testers' hands warm when worn in temperatures ranging from 5-10F. When temperatures dipped lower, a number of our testers' hands started to get cold.


The Freeride is not quite as warm as the Black Diamond Guide. Consider how much warmth you'll need for your adventures and go from there.

Our entire review team was extremely impressed by how durable this glove is. We used it over 50 days and it's still going strong and  easily holding up better than nearly all of the competition with arguably more use in higher abrasion activities.
Our entire review team was extremely impressed by how durable this glove is. We used it over 50 days and it's still going strong and, easily holding up better than nearly all of the competition with arguably more use in higher abrasion activities.

Dexterity


The exterior of the Freeride is built with soft goat leather (for the black and gray colors) and aniline cowhide leather for the other colors. We didn't notice much in the way of a performance difference between the two after testing both versions. This model was far more supple and required less of a break in time than any other model in our fleet. The soft leather features a stretchy Cordura on the back of the palm; this works to minimize the resistance on your fingers and includes an ergonomic design, which allows this contender to be one of the top scorers for dexterity. When used during our adventures, we found that this glove allowed us exceptional freedom of movement and the dexterity to do anything we set our minds to.


All of our testers agreed that over time, this model softened even further and became even more nimble and comfortable. While most cowhide leather gloves are stiff and require a longer break in time, this wasn't the case for the Freeride.

The dexterity of the Freeride is among the very best in the review and we found it to be significantly better than several other models we tested. Furthermore  all of our review team loved how soft the leather on this glove was  as it did not require 3-6 days of use to soften up like most other models in our review.
The dexterity of the Freeride is among the very best in the review and we found it to be significantly better than several other models we tested. Furthermore, all of our review team loved how soft the leather on this glove was, as it did not require 3-6 days of use to soften up like most other models in our review.

The dexterity of this glove is easily among the very best in the review, and this model takes home a perfect 10 out of 10. During our side-by-side fine motor skill tests and in real world use in the field, this competitor offered significantly better performance, outperforming most of the options in our fleet. The only other model that offered the same dexterity was the similarly designed Hestra Fall Line, which we found not as warm.

We thought the Freeride was an incredibly water resistant glove and used it during dozens of moist  near-freezing storms in the Pacific Northwest. However  our testing did determine that this contender should be retreated slightly more regularly than other leather models. This was hardly a big deal  as even with heavy use we felt like 1-2 times per year was enough.
We thought the Freeride was an incredibly water resistant glove and used it during dozens of moist, near-freezing storms in the Pacific Northwest. However, our testing did determine that this contender should be retreated slightly more regularly than other leather models. This was hardly a big deal, as even with heavy use we felt like 1-2 times per year was enough.

Water Resistance


The Vertical Cut Freeride came out on top for offering exceptional water resistance capabilities. However, we did find that this pair of ski gloves required 1-2 treatments each year; this involved us using a leather conditioner on the outer leather, which helped to maintain high levels of weather resistance. If treated regularly, these gloves will provide top-notch performance and will protect your hands in storms that are close to freezing.


How often these gloves will need to be treated depends on how often you use the gloves. We used them 50+ times this year in a wet and stormy Pacific Northwest climate and found ourselves lathering them up 1-2 times during the season. If you like this glove but want something that requires less maintenance, get the Black Diamond Legend.

The Freeride held its own for storm worthiness with very water resistant leather. The Freeride's tight fitting cuff design  that along with the Hestra Fall Line (which featured the same design)  did the best job of keeping snow out.
The Freeride held its own for storm worthiness with very water resistant leather. The Freeride's tight fitting cuff design, that along with the Hestra Fall Line (which featured the same design), did the best job of keeping snow out.

Durability


The Vertical Cut Freeride is easily one of the burliest gloves in our review. Crafted from sturdy cowhide leather, they feature an extra reinforcement layer of goat leather on the thumb and palm. This combination makes the Freeride one of the toughest pair of gloves out there. After extensive real-world testing handling ropes and skiing 100+ days, our expert testers put this award winner through the wringer and found that it was still going strong, taking home a perfect 10 out of 10.


While the outer material of the Black Diamond Guide offered a similar amount of durability, our testing determined that the insulation found in the Freeride had a longer lifespan. Trailing closely behind, the Black Diamond Legend offered optimal durability but were just not as tough as the Freeride.

One of our favorite features of this glove is the low-profile neoprene cuff. This feature not only felt great and did a fantastic job of keeping snow from getting inside the glove  but also was easy to pull a jacket over and helped with dexterity by keeping the glove in place.
One of our favorite features of this glove is the low-profile neoprene cuff. This feature not only felt great and did a fantastic job of keeping snow from getting inside the glove, but also was easy to pull a jacket over and helped with dexterity by keeping the glove in place.

Features


The Vertical Cut Freeride offers a comfortable and snug feeling thanks to its Neoprene cuff (with Velcro closure). This design allows the glove to lock your fingers into place, providing an excellent fit. The cuff also makes it incredibly difficult for snow to creep inside your glove, which in the long run, means your hands will stay warmer.


The EVA foam on the back of the palm and finger provide decent finger protection and add a marginal amount of warmth.

The Vertical Cut Freeride doesn't have tons of extra features when compared with other models. However  it remained an extremely functional design that had most of the "extras"  like a metal clasp to attach both gloves to each other  and padded knuckles for hand protection.
The Vertical Cut Freeride doesn't have tons of extra features when compared with other models. However, it remained an extremely functional design that had most of the "extras", like a metal clasp to attach both gloves to each other, and padded knuckles for hand protection.

Best Applications


The Vertical Cut Freeride gloves are a great option for all skiers and riders. Not only are they warm, but they are mega comfortable and extremely dexterous. While they are highly water resistant, the leather does require more maintenance (though not an extreme amount) than other models that we tested. If you ski or ride in wet climates, like the Pacific Northwest, these gloves are an exceptional choice. Tester Ian Nicholson (with the 3100-foot base of Alpental being his home mountain) chose these as his favorite pair of gloves out of the fleet. That said, they are not the best option for freezing storms.

We found these gloves to be an excellent option for nearly all skiers and riders regardless of climate. Not only are they warm  but they are mega comfortable and extremely dexterous. While they are more water resistant than many models  they do require treatment 1-2 times per year. For people who frequent wet climates and are less willing to deal with retreating them a couple times a year  there could be better options like the Black Diamond Legend or Arc'teryx Lithic Glove.
We found these gloves to be an excellent option for nearly all skiers and riders regardless of climate. Not only are they warm, but they are mega comfortable and extremely dexterous. While they are more water resistant than many models, they do require treatment 1-2 times per year. For people who frequent wet climates and are less willing to deal with retreating them a couple times a year, there could be better options like the Black Diamond Legend or Arc'teryx Lithic Glove.

Value


At $180, the Vertical Cut is certainly on the expensive end of the spectrum. While it is spendier than other contenders in our review, it is a top tier glove that offers a unique and solid design - which allowed us to justify the cost. While it isn't the warmest glove in our review, it provides solid warmth and is highly dexterous, offering up a higher level of dexterity and a nicer feel than the Black Diamond Guide ($170) and the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex ($175).

The external seams featured on this glove were extremely durable and helped add to the top-notch dexterity and feel of this glove. This  coupled with its toughness  cozy feel  and warmth  made this our favorite overall model for skiing and snowboarding.
The external seams featured on this glove were extremely durable and helped add to the top-notch dexterity and feel of this glove. This, coupled with its toughness, cozy feel, and warmth, made this our favorite overall model for skiing and snowboarding.

Bottom Line


The Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride is our Editors' Choice winner. It offers incredible durability, warmth, and what is likely the best overall dexterity in our review. Its excellent ergonomics and cozy feel set this pair of ski gloves apart from the other competitors; they quickly warmed our hands and were easy to pull over soaking wet hands. The entire review team also appreciated that there was minimal, if any, break in time, allowing this soft and supple glove to quickly become one of our favorites. While we do love models like the Black Diamond Guide, we found that the stiffness in the Guide is present for the first several full days of use, which is simply not the case for the Freeride. We are happy to present this Editors' Choice award winner; should you have the $180 to fork over for this pair of ski gloves, we'd assume that you'd be happier than a pig in mud puddle.

Ian Nicholson

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Most recent review: April 1, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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