If you are short on time, you can stop reading with the knowledge these Outdoor Research Alti Gloves are the best cold weather gloves I've ever worn, and they have earned a permanent place in my cold weather pack.
This review covers the span of a little over 30 days, and while that may not be enough to long term test some equipment, in this case, the time spent up on Mt Rainier says it does. Outdoor Research lists these gloves as being warm, tough, and durable. The design of these gloves is for technical climbing in severe cold. Of course the definition of severe cold varies widely, which is why it was given a temperature rating of -20 degrees. However, in the minds of most people, all that matter is that the gloves work.
The OR Alti Gloves are a two part system comprised of an outer shell along with an inner liner. The outer shell has a waterproof Goretex liner which I tested first in the outdoors. I was happy to see that a full day of wearing the Alti Gloves outdoors in heavy wet snow kept my hands both warm, and dry. The next part of testing was to wear the shell and put my hand under the kitchen faucet under a full blast stream of water. I held the shell in a manner where the water was hitting the glove seams. Five minutes of this and I was both bored and dry. The next step was to take and submerge my hands in a sink filled with cold water. Ten minutes of this left me even more bored, but still dry. The follow up portion of this was to leave the glove in the sink for a total of 30 minutes, this time I left it in place and checked on it in ten minutes increments. The shell was still perfectly dry inside, though the temperature of the water was apparent in the glove, but it was dry. I consider this test to be extreme to the point of being absurd, but it shows nicely that when Outdoor Research states the Alti Glove shells are waterproof as opposed to being water resistant, they aren't kidding. After the kitchen testing, the gloves took another 5 trips up the mountain.
The OR Alti Gloves are stitched together with a curvature meaning they immediately feel more natural when you place them on your hands. Speaking of placing them on your hands, the size tested is XL. While it is possible a size Large would fit, I found that when my hands were wet, I was still able to slide them into the liners and shell as opposed to other gloves which fit me tighter and become problematic when hands get wet and the gloves are coming on and off when in wet snow. Each shell is insulated with 100 grams of PrimaLoft® ONE insulation lending itself to warmth by itself as well as with its liner companion. One of the features PrimaLoft® ONE is best known for is its ability to stay warm even when wet. Its characteristics also include being a ultra-fine microfiber insulation which is listed as soft, warm, and lightweight.
The OR Alti Glove shells have two adjustment tabs to tighten down both around your wrist, and at the base of the flared gauntlet. The wrist adjustments are large, and easy to work even with numb fingers or gloved hands. The gauntlet portion of the shell extends almost 5 inches giving good protection between the jacket and your hands. At no time did snow ever work its way into the gloves, not even when I was buried in snow and digging myself out. The adjustment piece pull tab which tightens around your forearm is not as easy to adjust, but I found it was easy to adjust them once and leave them in place. You might want to adjust them before you head out, just to set it and forget it.
Click the below picture to jump to the rest of the review and the manufacturers specs.
The OR Alti Glove liner is more than just a run of the mill thin glove thrown into a larger glove. The nylon outer skin of the liner slides easily into the shell, and Velcro is positioned to lock it in place. In addition to Velcro, the finger tips are textured with something OR calls "ToughTek™ LT tabs". The texture in the finger tips prevents the liner from shifting around when you are grasping things or working in your gloves, especially nice when you are using your fingers often. Warmth is enhanced by a second layer of PrimaLoft® One insulation, this time measured at 170 grams. The liner also has an adjustment on the gauntlet for times when you decide to use it as a primary glove when the full warmth of the Alti Glove combination isn't needed.
Below are the product specs from the manufacturer. I noticed the product looks to have been upgraded with a pocket in the liner for a hand warmer. The idea is sound, but I can't comment on its placement as this was not something found on the model I tested. I've got no problem tossing a handwarmer in between a liner and shell, or even inside the liner if needed, but the glove was warm enough that my handwarmers stayed secured in my pack.
Overall, I am highly impressed with the Outdoor Research Alti Glove. I've got poor circulation in my hands, and have been frostbitten in the past. The idea of spending $149 on a pair of gloves might seem excessive to some people, but for those of us who are aware of what its like to know cold on a deep and personal level, the price tag to stay out of pain is more than worth it.