The snow (and the temperature) were falling fast. I was in a dark forest at dusk, dressed for a blizzard I knew was coming but shivering nonetheless. A gust rocked the dead trees overhead.
I wasn’t worried about my hands — power was flowing from a battery on my wrist to heating elements in the Outdoor Research Lucent Gloves, available at the push of a button. In a minute my fingers were warm.
It was my sixth full day testing the $350 gloves. Not cheap, I know. But the Lucent Gloves, one of three electric ALTIheat models from OR this year, do indeed work.
In temps down to about 5 degrees Fahrenheit, I have been happy with the performance. Turn the heat off (like I did on days when it was above 25 degrees) and they are still a solid handwear pick, including a waterproof GORE–TEX membrane, insulation, leather palms, and a good fit on the hand. Here’s a breakdown.
Price: This is the elephant in the room with this model. At $350, this glove is a serious investment and one that few people will make lightly.
To justify the purchase, the gloves must be looked at as a long-term investment. And OR does in fact guarantee them “forever“. This is a big deal because if you can rest assured that you will be using them in 5 years or more, the cost doesn’t look quite as daunting.
And when it means that you’ll have warm fingers for 5 or more years of outdoors adventure, well, suddenly $350 seems downright reasonable, at least if you suffer from cold fingers.
Heating Performance: The Lucent Glove heats well. The pair I tested kept me warm down to around zero degrees. Outdoor Research built the gloves with plenty of insulation, so they are warm even when turned off.
Pressing the on button once, the gloves turn on to a powerful high setting that warms the whole hand in just a minute or so. It can’t maintain this level of heating for long — about 2 hours from my tests — but I found no reason to leave them on high for more than a couple minutes at a time.
After the initial blast of warmth, I switched them to low or medium heat for a while if I was sitting still and my body felt cold. But more often than not, especially when moving, the gloves were powered off during my testing and functioned as good insulated gloves should.
Dexterity: One thing I did not love about the gloves was a lack of dexterity, something true of most any very warm winter glove. Tasks like digging stuff from pockets, opening pocketknives and zipping packs shut are tough with the somewhat bulky gloves, so they end up coming off quite a bit.
Re-warming: Fortunately, if they are off for a long time and get cold (which happened to me a couple times) the heating elements serve the great purpose of rapidly warming, or even thawing, the gloves.
Battery Life: My tested battery life was about the same as claimed by OR — 2.5 hours on high, 5 hours on medium and 8 hours on low. I do wish the batteries charged a little faster. They take several hours to charge completely, so I’ve resorted to leaving them on the charger overnight.
Durability: While I’ve only used them for about six full days so far (three days of elk hunting and three days of skiing), the Lucents seem durable. They are built of tough goat leather palms, GORE–TEX inserts, and a sturdy Nylon shell.
Time will tell how the battery life washes out, but with extra batteries available for $20, I don’t find it a major concern.
Worth The Money? Who should buy these gloves? Really, they’re for those who get cold hands easily. You know who you are. People with poor circulation or Raynaud’s syndrome, or who just spend a lot of time outdoors in frigid cold conditions, should benefit from the heating function.
My test of these gloves was pretty intense with heavy snowfall, lots of moisture in the air, very cold temps and, at times, lots of exertion. They performed well and kept me warm and comfortable.
If you get cold hands regularly and can squeeze these into your budget, they are worth slipping on. Your fingers will thank you.