Field Test To ‘Forensic Lab’… Inside Look At Outdoor Research Heated Gloves

Filed under: Outerwear  Technology  Winter 

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No fuss, no waiting, just press a button and you get warm hands — that’s the premise behind a new line of heated gloves by Outdoor Research we tested last month. In this post sponsored by OR we dive in deeper to look at what makes the company’s ALTIHeat line tick.

Testing on Mount Rainier

Intensive R&D — A diverse test group including a forensic electrical engineer and veteran guides on Mount Rainier spent many months on the research and development of the $350 Lucent glove and mitt models, as well as the lighter and more breathable $235 Stormtracker gloves. “We wanted to make sure our heated glove would be the best on the market,” said Meghan Martens, a product manager at Outdoor Research.

Mountain Guides — With its headquarters just an hour from Mount Rainier, OR leaned on a team of veteran climbing guides to put the ALTIHeat line through real-world tests. From slogging in blizzards to expert-level ice climbing, the gloves and mitts saw more than six months of field action as prototypes were developed into final marketable goods.

Forensic Testing — Seattle-based forensic electrical engineer Paul Moore is often hired to investigate house fires and what causes them. For its glove project OR brought Moore into the early development stages as an outside source to analyze the gloves objectively and put them through his forensic wringer. He soaked, froze and cut them up to test and retest the inner workings of the heat sources in the handwear that would be next to human skin.

Even Heating — Each finger gets attention with the ALTIHeat platform, including a wrapping of 24 inches of super-thin heated fiber in the thumb alone. OR cites “twice as much heated surface area” as any electric glove on the market. The heating elements also extend over the back of the hand.

“One thing I noticed about the new Outdoor Research gloves is that the heating elements inside the hand part of the glove are integrated into their own fabric, almost a fabric of heating elements,” Moore said. “The new Outdoor Research heating element configuration is far more durable and should hold up better than the other designs.”

Paul Moore in the lab

Stronger Battery Packs — The ALTIHeat handwear is “61 percent more powerful than the competition,” OR cites. This is based on company tests of competitors’ batteries. For the ALTIHeat line each glove or mitt gets a power output of 5.5 watts per hand.

Battery pack under inspection

Works With The Heat Off — When turned off, the gloves work like any other high-end alpine handwear. With Gore-Tex membranes, insulation, leather palms, and a design that gives good dexterity, many people will not need to turn on the heat every time they wear these gloves. The electronics do add weight but the battery and heating elements are not in the way during normal use.

Guaranteed Forever — Finally, the Outdoor Research ALTIHeat gloves all carry the company’s “Infinite Guarantee.” This is a pretty big deal, especially when the gloves have a hefty price to start with. The company stands behind the gloves and will replace them at any time due to a manufacturing defect. ALTIHeat wearers are assured warm fingers for many years.

—See our “First Look” test of the ALTIHeat Lucent Heated Gloves.

By
Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.
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