Review: FS Cold Climate GlovesSenior Contributor Piotr shares his thoughts on some cold climate gear from FirstSpear , plus a bonus review of their Tactical Hand Warmer.
I’ve always considered gloves to be an essential piece of kit. Work gloves, shooting gloves, mountain gloves, winter gloves… yeah, I’m a gloves junkie. So when I got my hands on (or shall I say inside?) the First Spear Cold Climate Gloves (CCG) two months ago I knew I’d found a hidden gem.
Still I decided to use them for at least couple of weeks in different scenarios before giving my final recommendation. So without further ado… let’s check them out!
The CCGs are a multi-layer, insulated soft-shell construction with water-resistant proprietary (undefined) membrane lining in them. They run true to size and an adjustable elastic wrist strap keeps them in place. Overall the fit is quite snug and provides very good dexterity.
The gloves are insulated with PrimaLoft Gold which, combined with the water resistant lining, provides long-lasting warmth and comfort. They stayed dry inside no matter what I was using them for – skiing, mountaineering, camp work, and more, usually in really cold & snowy conditions. And last but not least – the Cold Climate Gloves really breath well… very, very well.
Scenario #1 – Skiing
I used them quite extensively as alpine skiing gloves and loved some of the extra features they offered. First of all the gloves are really durable, especially the inside of a palm, protected with a patch of a chequered material called ‘pittards keratan’ – whatever it is, it really works darn well.
After almost two weeks on ski I didn’t notice a single cut from the sharp ski’s edges, and I was handling skis (mine and my kids’) at the end of each day. Touch screen index finger – awesome, answering calls or taking snapshot during a skiing day made easy! These days it’s a must for me.
But the coolest feature is super soft suede piece on back of the thumb – quick goggles cleaning and defrosting quest is finally solved.
Scenario #2 – Alpine mountaineering
Very good dexterity, breathability and protection from elements – that’s what defines really good mountain gloves. I used mine on winter trails in High Tatra mountings. Thermally they’re just fine down to -12°C (at least), which was the coldest day of my trip.
I used them on ice and rocks – so far no rips, no tears, still good and in one piece. The gloves provide very positive grip, even on the shafts of ice mountaineering tools like an ice-axe or hiking poles. Dexterity was good enough to put and fix crampons on and off with these gloves on, which was a big plus in my book.
Scenario #3 – General outdoor & Snowshoeing
After my alpine mountain adventures I took my gloves for another full week to Beskid Niski – low altitude mountains South of Poland, which is an awesome hiking and snow-shoeing place. It’s more like hills than mountains actually, not very steep but hikes are long and physically demanding, especially in frosty weather conditions.
I’ve been both hiking with micro-spikes and snow shoeing there, usually in down to about -10°C. So breathability was key for me and the Cold Climate Gloves proved to be a really good choice again – they just breath amazingly well.
As a side note – it’s not my first First Spear product and I really like how First Spear value breathability as the most important feature for the active outdoorsmen. In my opinion breathability combined with water resistance is far more important than total waterproofness. It’s breathability and sweat-wicking that is crucial to keep thermal comfort and to stay dry during high output mountaineering activities.
Scenario #4 – Utility & tools use
Yeah, this is a very important one for me. I know there are specialised winter bushcraft gloves, but I don’t like packing 3 pairs of gloves on every hike! Thin liners and these thicker CCGs should be enough – I always go as light as possible.
First Spear doesn’t disappoint in this regard either – the inside palm patch is grippy and soft enough to use a big axe, small hatchet, or a mid-size field knife.
Here’s me whittling with 5-inch Hossom Hunter, no problem at all. Again, these are not dedicated bushcraft gloves but on a day hike they can be easily used as outdoor work gloves.
Tactical Hand-Warmer (TFW)!
But that’s not all… for the first time I had also a chance to try the FS Tactical Hand-Warmer this winter. Made of durable Cordura fabric, fleece-lined, with storage pocket and neck-strap – it’s a no-compromise product.
And by the way, you can attach it directly to your chest rig too. Why? It was originally designed for military personnel operating in cold climate (imagine a sentry in Afghanistan, in the middle of a severe mountain winter). This kind of warmer keeps hands in combat/shooting gloves warm & ready and you can free your hands in split second and grab your gun. Way quicker than to free your fingers from heavy mittens.
And in my case it was just an AWESOME tool for night winter photography! Imagine waiting for good exposure, which takes a minute or so… and doing that 20-30 times in a row if needed. At night, when -20°C frost bites your body and you have to stand still and keep clicking on the camera to find perfect shooting parameters.
In these conditions a good hand-warmer keeps your fingers not just working but… alive. It has now become my essential winter photography tool. Love it! And it looks cool as well. The problem is… I need a second one for my wife now, lol!
All in all that was my first ever experience with First Spear gloves and I must say these became my favorite winter gloves instantly. Top-tier quality and full functionality. And the tactical hand-warmer? Yeah, this is brilliant! If you’re an outdoor photographer just buy it and I’m sure you’ll thank me next winter.