The REI Co-op Guide Insulated delivered some good and some not-so-good. The soft-shell construction makes these gloves pre-broken in so the incredible dexterity is there from the beginning. They are super comfortable to wear, and they became our favorites for morning drives through our wintery mountain towns. Double-stitched reinforced leather palms and thumbs add to the durability, but it is doubtful that they would hold up to multiple seasons, or maybe even just one. The wristguards will likely lose elasticity over time, too. The Guide gloves are a good pricepoint option for moderately cold days. When tested in windy conditions at around 28 degrees Fahrenheit, these gloves did fine. Once in the lower teens and single digits (F), though, you might prefer more leather and insulation on your hands. Despite their looks and specs, these are not burly, beat-'em-up leather winter workhorses.
REI Co-op Guide Insulated Review
Cons: No wrist leash, soft-shell construction can wear out quickly, overall durability
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
Compare to Similar Products
REI Co-op Guide Insulated
|Price||$49.95 at REI||$199.00 at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$424.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$169.95 at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$189.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
|Pros||Very dexterous, breathable, great fit, fair price||Versatility, durable palm, lightweight and packable, dexterous, ergonomic shape, freedom of movement||Great fit and dexterity, weather resistant, electrical heat works, great glove even when turned off||Super warm, extremely tough, great weather resistance, removable liners help them dry quicker, our go-to expedition glove||Dexterous for its warmth, inside feels soft and cozy, durable, above average weather resistance|
|Cons||No wrist leash, soft-shell construction can wear out quickly, overall durability||Long gauntlet tricky to get under jacket, gauntlet can slowly open, expensive||Doesn't get as warm as other heated gloves, expensive||Not very dexterous, take time to break in, if in between sizes you should consider sizing up||Expensive, leather needs to be retreated slightly more than other models|
|Bottom Line||A mostly leather glove that can handle basic, springtime backcountry tours.||Top-tier performance, coupled with exceptional versatility across a wide range of conditions. Best in Class.||Well-built ski gloves that perform even when the heat is turned off.||If rugged capabilities and warmth top your list of importance, think about investing in the Guide.||Expensive but durable, this leather all-arounder is cozy and provides sound weather resistance.|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Guide Insulated||Arc'teryx Fission SV||Hestra Power Heater Glove||Black Diamond Guide||Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex|
|Water Resistance (25%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Guide...||Arc'teryx Fission SV||Hestra Power...||Black Diamond Guide||Hestra Army...|
|Double or Single Glove||Single||Single||Single||Double||Single|
|Gaunlet or Cuff?||Cuff||Gauntlet||Hybrid||Gauntlet||Gauntlet|
|Palm Material||Leather||Leather||Goat leather||Goat leather||Army Leather (goat leather)|
|Waterproof Material||None||Gore-Tex||CZone||Gore-Tex insert||HESTRA Triton three-layer polyamide fabric, leather|
|Insulation Type||Polyester fibers||133g Primaloft Gold Eco and 200g Primaloft Silver Eco||Fiberfill polyester||170g PrimaLoft Gold and 100g boiled wool fleece lining||Fiberfill polyester|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Guide gloves are adequate for moderate-temperature backcountry and resort skiing and riding, performing best when cold hands were not a threat, but gloves were required. Don't expect them to last forever.
The Guide provides warmth for temps around 20-25F, but when temps dropped to the teens and below, they were not nearly as warm as some other gloves we tested. While skiing, the soft-shell construction on the back of the glove held up decent to the wind when it was exposed, but it's better to tuck that part mostly under a ski jacket sleeve. Riding the lift is where the cold was felt most in the fingers, and we often found ourselves hiding the entire glove in our sleeve to avoid the wind when sitting idle.
Moisture was not an issue inside the Guide gloves while skiing unless the breathable soft-shell material on the back of the hands was exposed to snow. This construction was a significant weak point for these gloves and the coldest area of the hands while tested in snow.
The ice bath submersion test was also a setback for the Guide but was not surprising given the lower price and simplicity of the construction. The synthetic upper proved to be the weakest point for moisture. Over a few months, though, these gloves began to wet out more and more readily.
Dexterity is where the Guide gloves picked up the slack left in other categories. The soft-shell construction allows for prime mobility while the sleek stitch pattern stays out of the way for the most important tasks. These gloves arrived pretty soft and didn't really need a break-in time, unlike many burlier leather gloves we have tested. The Guide excelled in many dexterity tests, including knot tying, buckling boots, zipper adjustments, and compatibility with ski pole straps. More technical tasks like managing ropes would be easy with the Guide, but the durability holds them back from being a versatile go-to glove.
There are several strikes against the Guide for durability. The soft-shell design shows red flags against a long-lasting product. The leather reinforced palms and thumbs will help, and the stitching in the fingers seems top-notch, the extra-soft leather in the fingers showed wear after a month and a half of use (though this softness does add to dexterity). One tester wore holes through the inner lining fingertips in the first few days of use. These are single-season gloves, at best.
The simplicity of the Guide gloves may be what makes them most appealing. They fit extremely well and do not have the need for a wrist cinch due to the rib-knit, under-the-sleeve cuff design. They are easy to slide on and off and a breeze to use with a jacket on. The hang loop adds convenience for drying or attaching to a harness. This glove design (part work glove, part ski glove) typically lacks features, so we weren't surprised in any way here.
The cost-to-performance ratio for the Guide gloves is surprisingly high. They are not the warmest, toughest, nor most versatile glove on the market, but that is reflected in the appropriate pricing.
The REI Co-op Guide Insulated is not an all-encompassing solution, but it's appropriately priced for what it is. If you run warm in the hands, these gloves are an ok choice, especially if you have a backup pair or liners with you. They are also useful for backcountry skiing in warmer weather when dexterity and weight are more important than warmth and water resistance.
— Travis Poulin