Gloves usually don’t last long for winter adventurers—the abuse of mountaineering, ice climbing, and backcountry skiing can shred them in less than a season. Plus, the ideal combo of warmth and dexterity makes a good pair hard to find in the first place. But the Black Diamond Guides have remained a trustworthy staple of my winter gear kit for seven seasons—an eternity in glove years.
If anything, they’ve only gotten better with age. The full goat leather palm (it extends around the thumb, too) has worn like a favorite sweater, making it more supple and my knot-tying easier. After years of grabbing ice screws and tools, ski edges, and rocky buttresses, both gloves are free of cracks, tears, loose threads, or any significant damage. The 170 grams of synthetic PrimaLoft Gold insulation in the removable liner hasn’t packed out yet, and I don’t think it ever will.
Even after all this time, the Guides remain my go-to for cold weather. The PrimaLoft and a quarter-inch-thick mat of boiled wool on the back have enabled these gloves to handle ice climbing in -20°F temps in the Adirondacks and winter ascents of Cascadian volcanoes. They were also my daily driver for a week of mountaineering in the Alaska Range, where the gauntlet locked out spindrift.
If only all my gear stood the test of time—and the elements—this well.