Outdoor Research Alti Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Outdoor Research has been designing gloves for a long time. They supply the US military with gloves and have 100s of models to choose from. On the warmer end of the spectrum, and we mean really warm, lies their Alti lineup. They all consist of a Primaloft insulated inner with a Gore-Tex and Primaloft insulated outer in either a glove or a mitten format. These gloves and mittens are designed for pursuing the high peaks of the world and make an extremely warm combo. We are here to take a closer look at the glove version. To sum it up, when low temperatures and a variety of weather conditions are on the table, the Alti glove rises to the occasion providing one of the best inner and outer glove combos on the market, allowing you to wear either or both layers, depending on the circumstances.
The Alti glove crushes in our warmth metric thanks to the combination of the inner glove and the heavily insulated outer glove. When you use a thin next to skin liner with this glove combination, you have one of the warmest glove setups available today. Adding to the warmth of the glove is a large, extended gauntlet that allows you to seal in any warmth near the wrist, a major area of heat loss that directly impacts the warmth of your fingers.
Our testers have worn these gloves during a multi-day, sub-zero winter ski mountaineering trip and found that they never had cold hands while in the inner and outer combo.
This is the main weakness of the Alti gloves. The price you pay for being the warmth is a lack of dexterity. Couple that with a less than elegant construction of the palm pieces and stitching, and the glove feels restrictive at times. The gap between the thumb and the palm restricts some movement, and the more dexterous tasks require the glove to be removed and dangled from its wrist leash.
All this said, most tasks you find yourself doing during a normal ski day like buckling boots and manipulating zippers are doable with this glove on. Forget about tying a shoelace or opening a granola bar though. Also, if you only remove the insulated shell and keep the liners on, you'll be able to move and utilize your fingers to your heart's delight.
Another competition-leading performance area for the Alti. This is mainly because the Alti glove is a purely synthetic glove. No leather or any other natural materials are used in its construction. This means that the specific materials that construct the various parts of the glove, PrimaLoft insulation, AlpenGrip(r) palm material, and nylon back of the hand are all extremely water resistant inherently. The synthetic shell never needs waterproofing treatment, unlike leather-based gloves, which require such maintenance periodically. To add to the weather resistance, the gauntlet is large enough to swallow even the loftiest of down garments and provides an excellent seal from the elements.
Testers often found themselves reaching for just the shells of these gloves when snow caves needed to be dug or walls needed to be constructed to fortify camps. We quickly realized that this insulated Gore-Tex "shell" of a glove had a variety of use cases where it excelled versus other gloves, and weather resistance was a main factor in this. After moving slowly while dragging sleds on Denali, the tester would remove the insulation of the glove and dry it inside his jacket while constructing camp with the outer. Brilliant.
With the use of synthetic materials throughout, the Alti does not benefit from a hard-wearing reinforced leather palm, and it is slightly less durable because of this. The Alti glove gains added weather resistance due to the synthetic palm but loses long-term wear resistance by forgoing the use of leather construction. As the glove wears, the palm will thin and flake off in spots, but this is only after years of abuse.
The synthetic palm is extremely tough and tactile and has no problem holding onto ice tools or ski edges. We were impressed at how little wear they showed after a few full days working with snow tools in them. The best part about these gloves is their "infinite warranty" from OR, so if you do run into a problem with your gloves, you know Outdoor Research will make you happy. Kudos to them for one of the best warranties in the industry. All that said, the Alti gloves are durable on the whole.
The Alti glove has a variety of standard features that are well executed. The large gauntlet has a one-hand adjustable cinch and release, so you can easily take them on or off and fully seal up the forearm area. The fingers include a dongle to attach the outer glove to your harness. The cinch located on the top of the wrist had a double stitched pull tab to aid in the tightening around your hand. Another bonus not found on any other glove is the cinch on the INNER glove's wrist. This allows the inner glove to be a true second set of gloves, unlike other double gloves that feature a more fragile inner glove.
We found the removable inner liner to be executed best on the Alti in comparison to the competition. Breathable, windproof, cinch-able, these liners make ski touring even dreamier (if that's possible?). They can also be used as driving gloves on your way to your pre-dawn laps in the backcountry.
These are a good value for the warmth and capability they provide. In essence, this is two pairs of gloves. They come with an excellent warranty as well, so we believe this is a fair price.
If you find yourself planning different objectives to keep skiing interesting, the Alti gloves will certainly fit the bill. They are at home in the backcountry and one ski-mountaineering missions, and are a super warm glove to use during the coldest of resort days. The only thing that holds them back is mediocre dexterity.
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