REI Co-op Guide Insulated Review
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REI Co-op Guide Insulated
$49.95 at REI
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$45.00 at Amazon
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|$49.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Very dexterous, breathable, great fit, fair price||Warm enough, weatherproof, reasonable price||Warm, great features, comfortable, inexpensive||Tough, windproof, durable||Tough, waterproof, warm, dexterous for a mitt|
|Cons||No wrist leash, soft-shell construction can wear out quickly, overall durability||Poor dexterity, slightly tight fit around the knuckles||Not dexterous, bulky and cumbersome||Bulky stitching, not very warm, not waterproof||Sweats 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 missions||A warm and fully featured ski glove for a great price||A quality mitten that is super warm, comfortable, and relatively inexpensive||Trendy 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 utility||A 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|
|Water Resistance (25%)|
|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|
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 of the 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.
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.
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