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REI Co-op Guide Insulated Review

A more dexterous but less durable deviation from hardware store leather gloves, this model is an OK choice for resort, side-country and short backcountry missions
rei co-op guide insulated ski gloves review
Credit: REI Co-op
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Price:  $50 List
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Travis Poulin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 1, 2022
45
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#19 of 21
  • Warmth - 25% 1.0
  • Dexterity - 25% 10.0
  • Water Resistance - 25% 4.0
  • Durability - 15% 2.0
  • Features - 10% 4.0

Our Verdict

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. The Guide gloves are a good price point 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.
REASONS TO BUY
Very dexterous
Breathable
Great fit
Fair price
REASONS TO AVOID
No wrist leash
Soft-shell construction can wear out quickly
Overall durability
Editor's note: We updated this review on December 1, 2022, with additional comparisons to inform your purchase decision.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $50 List
$49.95 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
45
69
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45
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Star Rating
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Pros Very dexterous, breathable, great fit, fair priceWarm enough, weatherproof, reasonable priceWarm, great features, comfortable, inexpensiveTough, windproof, durableTough, waterproof, warm, dexterous for a mitt
Cons No wrist leash, soft-shell construction can wear out quickly, overall durabilityPoor dexterity, slightly tight fit around the knucklesNot dexterous, bulky and cumbersomeBulky stitching, not very warm, not waterproofSweats out easily, must apply Sno-Seal often to avoid soaking up water
Bottom Line A more dexterous but less durable deviation from hardware store leather gloves, this model is an OK choice for resort, side-country and short backcountry missionsA warm and fully featured ski glove for a great priceA quality mitten that is super warm, comfortable, and relatively inexpensiveTrendy and stylish, but lacking in key aspects of versatility for skiing, these gloves are solid winter work gloves, so don't hesitate if you're looking for that utilityA tough, trendy, and affordable choice for resort or backcountry skiing
Rating Categories REI Co-op Guide Ins... Gordini GTX Storm T... The North Face Mont... Flylow Ridge Glove FlyLow Oven Mitt
Warmth (25%)
1
7.0
8.0
2.0
5.0
Dexterity (25%)
10.0
4.0
2.0
7.0
3.0
Water Resistance (25%)
4.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
4.0
Durability (15%)
2.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Features (10%)
4.0
9.0
8.0
3.0
3.0
Specs REI Co-op Guide Ins... Gordini GTX Storm T... The North Face Mont... Flylow Ridge Glove FlyLow Oven Mitt
Double or Single Glove Single Single Single Single Single
Gaunlet or Cuff? Cuff Gauntlet Gauntlet Cuff Cuff
Palm Material Leather Polyurethane Synthetic leather Cowhide leather Pigskin leather
Waterproof Material None Gore-Tex DryVent SnoSeal beeswax SnoSeal beeswax
Insulation Type Polyester fibers Megaloft Back of hand: 250g Heatseeker Eco
Palm: 160g Heatseeker Eco
Spaceloft Micropuff Spaceloft Micropuff
Nose Wipe? Yes Yes Yes No No

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.

Performance Comparison


rei co-op guide insulated ski gloves review - on a backcountry ski tour high in the selkirk mountains of british...
On a backcountry ski tour high in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia in the REI Guide Insulated.
Credit: jeff putnam

Warmth


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.

Water Resistance


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.

rei co-op guide insulated ski gloves review - our submersion test. the soft-shell back of the hand takes on water...
Our submersion test. The soft-shell back of the hand takes on water readily when submerged. These gloves aren't our first choice on days with wet (rain or heavy snow) precipitation.
Credit: Rachel Croft

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


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.

rei co-op guide insulated ski gloves review - our testers were able to perform a wide range of tasks in these...
Our testers were able to perform a wide range of tasks in these gloves. Their dexterity adds to their usefulness while backcountry skiing. They're also lightweight and don't take up that much pack space.
Credit: Rachel Croft

Durability


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 of the fingertips in the first few days of use. These are single-season gloves, at best.

rei co-op guide insulated ski gloves review - you can see the wear on the fingers in the areas of frequent...
You can see the wear on the fingers in the areas of frequent contact. This became obvious within the first few months of the ski season -- not a great signal to their longevity.
Credit: Rachel Croft

Features


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.

rei co-op guide insulated ski gloves review - simple. these gloves don't offer many features for resort riding...
Simple. These gloves don't offer many features for resort riding. You can clip them together, and you can hang them from a carabiner.
Credit: Travis Poulin

Should You Buy the REI Guide Insulated?


The cost-to-performance ratio for the Guide gloves is decent. They are not the warmest, toughest, or most versatile gloves on the market, but that is reflected in the pricing.

What Other Ski Gloves Should You Consider?


Despite their low price, there are much better values on the market. For just a little more money, you could buy the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II, which outperforms the Guide Insulated in nearly every metric. If you are looking for a high-performance glove, the Rab Khroma Freeride performs almost as well as the best gloves on the market and costs a bit less. If budget isn't a concern, we feel the Arc'teryx Fission SV is the best glove money can buy.

rei co-op guide insulated ski gloves review - touring on rabbit ears pass in the appropriate rei guide gloves.
Touring on Rabbit Ears Pass in the appropriate REI Guide gloves.
Credit: Rachel Croft

Travis Poulin
 
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