Hands-on Gear Review

Outdoor Research Illuminator Sensor Review

A high performing all-arounder that also happens to be our favorite model to feature touchscreen capability.
By: Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 15, 2018
Price:  $89 List  |  $87.15 at Amazon
Pros:  More durable than expected, very comfortable, stretchy exterior fabric makes for excellent freedom of movement, surprisingly weather resistant
Cons:  Not easy to get under our jacket cuff, wonder about long-term weather resistance of the stretchy external fabric
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
88
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 16
  • Dexterity - 25% 9
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Water resistance - 25% 9
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Features - 10% 9
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  • 3
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Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Illuminator Sensor gloves are a slightly warmer than average, under-the-cuff style glove, featuring a very functional touchscreen enabled thumb and index finger. Fortunately, this feature is only the tip of the iceberg as far as the preference characteristics. All of our testers loved this feature and found it was extremely functional, keeping our hands warm and dry, but offering enough dexterity to minimize the times when we are forced to take it off. The Illuminator Sensor was one incredibly water resistant in both real-world testing and our two-minute bucket of water side-by-side comparisons. It is also one of the most dexterous models out there; its only drawback being that it isn't an incredibly toasty option, though it will perform exceptionally for users in 10F or higher.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Outdoor Research Illuminator Sensor is one of our favorite models for moderate temperatures, particularly while skiing at the resort and in the backcountry. Its stretchy exterior, cozy interior fabric, and pleasantly articulated grip meant they needed no break-in time, offered excellent freedom of movement for our hands, and provided above average dexterity. These attributes helped add to the overall versatility, and it also proved capable for mountaineering and colder snowshoeing excursions, in addition to an all-around ski and snowboard glove.

Performance Comparison


The Illuminator is our OutdoorGearLab Top Pick because it's an extremely solid all-around performer. It was our review team's favorite model to feature touchscreen sensitive fingers. Even screen-sensitive fingers aside  this model provides top-tier dexterity  water resistance  and durability.
The Illuminator is our OutdoorGearLab Top Pick because it's an extremely solid all-around performer. It was our review team's favorite model to feature touchscreen sensitive fingers. Even screen-sensitive fingers aside, this model provides top-tier dexterity, water resistance, and durability.

Warmth


The Illuminator Sensor is slightly above-average for warmth among under-the-cuff style models.


Outdoor Research uses PrimaLoft Silver Insulation 133g on their palm and 200g on back of the hand. We found the Sensor was similar in warmth to the Outdoor Research Revolution and the Black Diamond Legend, and warmer than the Outdoor Research Riot. Overall, our testing team found they were warm enough in temperatures down to around 10-15F, but our hands started to get cold if it got much colder while out skiing or snowboarding for the day.

The Illuminator Sensor is a rad all-around ski glove from the resort to the backcountry while giving up little in the way of dexterity or warmth for an under-the-cuff style glove. The only thing its not good for is super cold conditions (less than 10F) in which case we'd go with something a little warmer. Ryan O'Connell skiing down to Malekwa lake  Snoqualmie Pass  WA.
The Illuminator Sensor is a rad all-around ski glove from the resort to the backcountry while giving up little in the way of dexterity or warmth for an under-the-cuff style glove. The only thing its not good for is super cold conditions (less than 10F) in which case we'd go with something a little warmer. Ryan O'Connell skiing down to Malekwa lake, Snoqualmie Pass, WA.

Dexterity


The Illuminator Sensor is one of the more dexterous gloves in our review, scoring a near perfect 9 out of 10.


We were able to effectively perform all of our direct comparison tasks while wearing them, including picking up a pencil and writing our name. These gloves feature an extremely articulated pre-curved box construction and outseam stitching construction on three of the fingers. Outseam construction simply means the stitches are on the outside of the glove rather than on the inside, which is typically more traditional. Having the stitching on the outside allows for superior feel and dexterity. Overall, the Illuminator Sensor offers some of the best dexterity in our review and is not far from the most dexterous models, like the Hestra Fall Line.

The Illuminator proved to provide their user with some of the best dexterity of any ski glove in our review. There were almost no tasks that you could expect to accomplish with a ski glove on that this model couldn't complete. Here the Illuminator Sensor enters in a radio frequency with little problem.
The Illuminator proved to provide their user with some of the best dexterity of any ski glove in our review. There were almost no tasks that you could expect to accomplish with a ski glove on that this model couldn't complete. Here the Illuminator Sensor enters in a radio frequency with little problem.

Weather Resistance


Featuring OR's proprietary Ventia waterproof and breathable insert and an extremely water-resistant stretchy exterior fabric, the Illuminator Sensor scored above average when compared to other models in our review.


It earned a 9 out of 10 for weather resistance and was one of the most water resistant models to feature a proprietary insert, compared to a more name brand one (like Gore-Tex).

Despite not featuring a "name-brand" waterproof-breathable insert  instead using OR's proprietary Ventia  this model has shown itself to easily be among the most weather resistant and stormworthy models in our review. Besides the well-performing insert  its exterior DWR shed water extremely well.
Despite not featuring a "name-brand" waterproof-breathable insert, instead using OR's proprietary Ventia, this model has shown itself to easily be among the most weather resistant and stormworthy models in our review. Besides the well-performing insert, its exterior DWR shed water extremely well.

This model performed exceptionally in both real-world testing and our two-minute bucket of water test, outperforming nearly all of the other gloves in our review. It wasn't as weather-resistant as the Arc'teryx Fission or the Black Diamond Legend but it was half the price and wasn't far behind. We'd say that this model is one of the better overall models for use in wet conditions and indeed the best model in its price range.

We were skeptical about the Illuminator  but after extensive use  our review team has been impressed by the durability. The Illuminator features a reinforced palm that proved more long-lasting than several more expensive models. The stretchy exterior fabric of this model  which our review team was the most skeptical about  has proven to be quite cut and tear resistant thus far  and also held its water resistance as well.
We were skeptical about the Illuminator, but after extensive use, our review team has been impressed by the durability. The Illuminator features a reinforced palm that proved more long-lasting than several more expensive models. The stretchy exterior fabric of this model, which our review team was the most skeptical about, has proven to be quite cut and tear resistant thus far, and also held its water resistance as well.

Durability


Despite some initial skepticism, our review team has been impressed by the durability of this model.


The Illuminator Sensor's palm is reinforced with tough goat leather, which has even held up better than several other more expensive models that featured similar palm designs and materials. The exterior fabric of the Sensor features stretchy 90% nylon and 10% spandex stretch twill laminated shell, which was something our review team thought was a potential weak spot. After a significant amount of use, we found it was as durable as other nylon-shelled models and not far from other all-leather models, like the Hestra Fall Line or the Black Diamond Legend.

All of our testers loved the oversized grab loops that helped facilitate pulling the glove on  a feature we liked even more if it was particularly cold out or our hands were wet.
All of our testers loved the oversized grab loops that helped facilitate pulling the glove on, a feature we liked even more if it was particularly cold out or our hands were wet.

Features


The Sensor part of the Illuminator Sensor is its touchscreen sensitivity thumb and index fingertips.


The sensitive fingertips are one of the most attractive features and rightly so, particularly when you take into account this gloves solid all-around performance and respectable price. Its touchscreen sensitive index finger and thumb work extremely well and are far better than a cold or wet bare hand. We even found this features worked better if our screen had gotten damp. We think this model, along with the rest of Outdoor Research's line of touchscreen sensitivity Sensor gloves, feature the best touchscreen models.

The touchscreen capable "sensor" index finger and thumb are one of the most appealing features of this glove  and rightly so. This model worked even better than our hands if they were wet or cold. Here tester Ian Nicholson uses the Illuminator in -12F conditions to check the avalanche forecast with no problems in Banff  AB.
The touchscreen capable "sensor" index finger and thumb are one of the most appealing features of this glove, and rightly so. This model worked even better than our hands if they were wet or cold. Here tester Ian Nicholson uses the Illuminator in -12F conditions to check the avalanche forecast with no problems in Banff, AB.

Besides the touch screen sensitive feature, the Illuminator Sensor has several other features that make it easier to use. One of our favorites is its large grab loops (one on each glove) that makes it easier to pull it on. We found this design was especially nice if our hands or our gloves had gotten wet. The Illuminator Sensor also comes with removable wrist-leashes. While most of our review team found this feature pretty "dorky" at first, once we got out in the field, we all noted how much we liked these low profile lanyards.

A small feature our team really liked is the small loop featured on the end of each gloves middle finger. These make it easier to dry out after a day's use.
A small feature our team really liked is the small loop featured on the end of each gloves middle finger. These make it easier to dry out after a day's use.

Lastly, our review team loved the little loop on the outside of the index finger, which made hanging them up (with the wrist side down) to dry much easier whether winter camping or home at the end of a long day.

Dallas Glass seals himself in while descending the Slot Couloir on Mt. Snoqualmie in a pair of Illuminator Sensors.
Dallas Glass seals himself in while descending the Slot Couloir on Mt. Snoqualmie in a pair of Illuminator Sensors.

Best Applications


The Illuminator Sensor is an excellent all-around ski glove that is equally at home in the resort or the backcountry and can even pull some double duty for occasional mountaineering, snow-shoeing, or most other snowy actives. It can do this because despite being fairly warm, its stretchy fabric and above average dexterity allow its user to move fairly freely, offering solid all-around performance at a variety of activities that involve playing out in the snow.

One of the more versatile models in the review  this is a great all-around ski and snowboard glove for milder temperatures. We have also taken them backcountry skiing  ice climbing  snowshoeing  Nordic skiing  and mountaineering.
One of the more versatile models in the review, this is a great all-around ski and snowboard glove for milder temperatures. We have also taken them backcountry skiing, ice climbing, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, and mountaineering.

Value


While this model doesn't feature a name-brand waterproof breathable fabric, they thoroughly impressed. Not only that, but they cost $89. They are the best glove you can buy for the price. Not one other contender in our review had as good of a combination of dexterity, warmth, weather-resistance, durability, touchscreen sensitive fingers, or offered as much comfort - for the price. We opted to give this glove a Top Pick award over a Best Buy Award because we feel it is not only a good value but one of the better all-around overall gloves. To put it simply, this is one incredible value.

The Illuminator is one of the best ski and snowboard gloves you can buy for more moderate temperatures. The fact that it's a reasonable price and sports a touchscreen compatible index finger and thumb only sweeten the deal.
The Illuminator is one of the best ski and snowboard gloves you can buy for more moderate temperatures. The fact that it's a reasonable price and sports a touchscreen compatible index finger and thumb only sweeten the deal.

Conclusion


The Outdoor Research Illuminator Sensor functions the best when worn in moderately cold temps (around 10F, but typically not any colder) for resort area ski and snowboarding. They excel in stormy or wet conditions and feature a touchscreen-enabled index finger and thumb. For many buyers, this could be the biggest selling point, though our testers also noted and appreciated this glove's dexterity, warmth, and durability. Not to mention the exceptional price tag.

Ian Nicholson

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Most recent review: March 15, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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5 star: 100%  (1)
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