Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Gloves provide great warmth and excellent dexterity, which can be a difficult combination to achieve in an insulated winter glove. While mitts and mitten shells are a winter hiking essential, they don’t provide enough dexterity to hold an ice ax, melt snow, or check a GPS. My preference is to wear gloves when dexterity is required and to layer a mitten shell over them for moisture or wind protection. These down gloves are particularly good for those times when it’s really cold, but you still need a lot of dexterity and can’t wear a mitten shell.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 4.3 oz/pair
- Insulation: 650 fill power RDS-certified goose down
- Shell: 20d polyester ripstop
- Grip: 70% polyester, 30% polyurethane
- Lining: 100% polyester tricot lining
- Touchscreen compatible: Thumb and forefinger
The down insulation on these gloves is on top and back of the hand and fingers and the front of the wrist, but not on the palm or between the fingers where it might get wet. The grip is covered with a waterproof polyurethane coating, backed by an interior polyester tricot liner. The grip remains surprisingly warm, even when you’re holding a cold metal tool like an ice ax, even though it’s not insulated with down.
The wrist is covered with down on both sides which you want because there’s a lot of blood flowing near the surface of your skin at this point of your arm. There’s about an inch of polyester ribbing that extends below the wrist for comfort and to prevent drafts from reaching your wrist. Keeping the wrist warm is important to keep your hand warm, which is why fleece hoodies come with thumbholes and good hardshell jackets have velcro wrist wraps.
The grip of the Transcendent Gloves is stiff when the gloves are new, but they loosen up quickly with use. The grip is malleable enough that you can wrap your hand completely around a (walking) ice ax head to keep it in the ready position. It requires a surprising amount of dexterity to wrap your fingers around an ice ax head properly and is a good proxy for most of the cold weather hiking tasks that require hand dexterity. This is my standard test for insulated glove dexterity and insulation since ice axes are made from metal and radiate cold.
The OR Transcendent Down Gloves run about a half size to a full size small, so I’d recommend getting a size larger than you normally would when purchasing them. OR also makes a Transcendent Down Mitt which is designed similarly, but doesn’t have the dexterity offered by the gloves.
Outdoor Research makes the best gloves and gaiters for winter hiking, backpacking, and winter sports and they last a long time if you take decent care of them. I have pairs of OR gloves that are over 10 years old and they’re still going strong. If you’re a serious winter hiker, it is important to have lots of gloves that you can mix, match, and layer for different situations. That’s why I can recommend these Outdoor Research Transcendent Gloves. While they’re high dexterity gloves that you can use by themselves, they layer quite well when combined with a shell mitt for added water and wind resistance. That’s a big deal for me because I can carry fewer gloves and get the same benefit as if I were to carry more.
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