Outdoor Research Highcamp Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
A bargain can be hard to come by in the glove industry. Too often are the cheaper gloves on the market of low build quality or generally not warm and waterproof. It is also very rare to see any pricepoint gloves have all the necessary features to excel on the chairlift as well as the skin track. The Highcamp is an exception.
The OR Highcamp receives high marks in warmth due to its heavily insulated outer glove paired with an extended length liner which swallowed up all of the testers' wrists. The outer glove itself is where most of the insulation lies, and kept testers warm in single digits temperatures while skiing in New Hampshire. The cuff design is not as large and enveloping as the other offerings in this review, so it did lose some points due to this issue.
Overall the glove proved to be plenty warm for backcountry skiing, our testers skinned up 4000ft of vertical in the liner and threw on the outer portion for the descent. We recommend a second set of liners if you routinely have sweaty hands.
Dexterity is not a huge asset to the Outdoor Research Highcamp Gloves and it received a middle of the road score here. This is due to the lower cost construction methods of the palm. Instead of creating multiple layers to shape the palm to the user's hand, the glove uses a rather thin leather palm that is one piece. Surprisingly, this did not restrict movement to a degree which severely hindered the glove, and allowed us to do basic tasks such as buckling and unbuckling a ski boot, removing and donning goggles, as well as grabbing and extending our season passes for the lift attendant to scan — all normal duties of a resort skiing day.
In the backcountry, the outer was easy enough to take off exposing the extremely tight-fitting and dexterous liner glove, which was able to do the most dexterous of tasks with ease. The included wrist leashes add security when removing the outer gloves.
Having a heavily insulated outer glove and a thin liner as an inner glove, the Highcamp has the advantage of being able to separate the inner to dry. This is important and increases the gloves' overall weather resistance, especially in multi-day ski scenarios. What turned out to be a negative of this glove was the thickness of the insulation in the outer. When the glove soaked up water after extended use in rainy conditions, it was quite hard to dry out.
The initial weather resistance of this glove is decent. It does not need leather treatment to restore the waterproofness of the palm. As the testing went on, the DWR on the back of the glove finally gave out and the softshell type of outer did a decent job of repelling frozen precipitation while skiing.
Durability on these gloves was also a middle of the road score. Gloves in this price range lack significant reinforcements and thick leather palms like some of the other more expensive gloves in our test. So with that said, this glove will not last as long as its more expensive counterparts.
Within gloves of the same price range, the Highcamp does a great job of being durable for multiple seasons of use. The biggest failure we saw was the thumb splitting from the palm of the glove over long-term use. This is most likely due to a tight-fitting palm and a high wear area at the seam because of this. When a glove doesn't have multiple panels to make up the palm, certain sacrifices need to be made and the thumb range of motion decreases due to this. Again, all Outdoor Research gloves have an amazing warranty and this should be factored into any buying decision.
At this price point, it is rare to find a fully insulated outer glove come WITH an excellent fitting thin liner as well. This is a huge feature and should not be overlooked if you intend to do any backcountry skiing. The rest of the glove has decent features including a nice wrist closure to snug the glove onto your hand tightly. The biggest drawback to this glove is the poorly executed gauntlet which remains just a touch too small to fit over most ski jackets and will not even come close to a heavily insulated puffy jackets sleeve.
The appearance of finger-mounted loops to aid in storing the glove in a vertically oriented position allowed you to stow the outers of the glove on your harness while you make the long skin in for the approach of a climb. This style of mounting prevents snow from entering the cuff, a problem often realized by clipping the gloves by their gauntlets to your harness.
This glove didn't take our Best Buy Award, but for skiers who both hit the resorts and the backcountry, this might be your personal top budget option. You get a heavily insulated glove and a great fitting liner backed with a lifetime warranty.
The Outdoor Research Highcamp is one of the best values of any of the gloves we tested because it is so versatile with its dual layers, making it essentially a 3-in-1 pair. It is not perfect in every category and suffers from some minor setbacks due to cheaper materials being used in the construction of the glove. But this thing is less than 100 bucks! A great value ski glove that will surely be an upgrade from the average department store special.
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