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).
Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride ReviewPrice: $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.
Insulation Type: Thermolite
Palm Material: Impregnated Army Leather-goat leather (black and grey models), Other colors feature aniline cowhide
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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Most recent review: April 1, 2017
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