The Beyond Guide Gloves Are the Warmest I’ve Ever Worn
Others can’t compete with the latest synthetic insulation and rugged construction
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Most gloves are insulated with lofted synthetic materials. Versus down or wool, synthetics are less prone to soaking up water and provide more warmth with less thickness. Both merits are important, since your hands are going to be exposed to wet stuff more often and persistently than any other body part other than your feet, and because every every additional iota of puff around your fingers works to reduce your sense of touch.
In short, every glove represents a compromise. You can make them out of waterproof membranes and completely prevent moisture from invading, but the fragile nature of stretched out Teflon means they wouldn’t be a solution for rough work. That’s why so many ski gloves fall apart after just one season. And, sure, you can pile so much insulation into gloves that you’ll never feel the cold, but doing so will make them impossible to wear. That’s why your hands are always cold.
The material used for the shell and the warmth-to-thickness ratio of the insulation are the primary determining factors in a pair of gloves’ ability to keep your hands warm.
For its Guide Gloves shell, gear company Beyond employs a thick, supple cow belly leather for most of the construction, and conductive goat leather for the tips of the thumbs and index fingers, so you can work the capacitive touchscreens on smartphones. The back of the thumb is also covered in suede, so you can wipe snot off your face.
The embossed honeybee on the back of each hand is a reminder to apply a proprietary beeswax blend when you first get the gloves and regularly throughout their lives. Leather on its own isn’t waterproof. But, because it’s porous, you can fill those pores up with oil or wax to prevent water from entering. Non-toxic beeswax remains in those pores a little more durably than most other substances, and cultivating bees is a boon for the environment. The mix also contains eucalyptus oil and lavender, which work to keep the leather soft. Just be warned: your entire house will smell like a bath bomb when you open the can.
Inside the leather is 51 grams of Primaloft Gold Insulation with Cross Core. The weight of an insulation is a measure of density, and represents the weight of a square meter of the insulation. Fifty-one grams is a little over half the density of the insulation typically used to construct an ultralight synthetic jacket (which should give you an idea of how thick these gloves are). But this particular insulation has an additional trick up its sleeve, because its fibers are woven from a blend of materials containing Aerogel, the lightest, most insulative material known to mankind. That enables those fibers to trap air internally, making it warmer than similar materials, and they continue to provide a significant amount of insulation even when compressed. This is the same stuff Sitka, a technologically innovative hunting brand, uses in its new Aerolite range of apparel and sleeping bags. The gloves then retain that insulation using wool liners. The Guides are the only gloves yet available with Primaloft Gold Insulation with Cross Core.
I’ve been wearing the Guide Gloves daily for two full winters now, for activities as mundane as walking the dogs, and in more challenging roles like snowmobiling and skiing. The coldest conditions they’ve seen have reached nearly negative 40, and they’ve kept my hands entirely warm throughout—without the aid of any sort of liner glove. I still try plenty of other brands and types of glove, in pursuit of ever elusive perfection and certain sport-specific features like flip-off fingers, but no other glove has ever been this warm.
Also notable is how well the Guide Gloves have held up to all that use. Now entering their third winter, they show no sign of wear: all the seams are intact, the neoprene cuffs aren’t pilling, and there’s not even a scuff on the leather.
They’re not perfect of course. The insulation may be thinner than anything this warm has any right to be, but they’re still heavily insulated gloves. You’re not going to be able to manipulate a trigger or shutter while wearing them, and despite their touchscreen compatibility, your odds of typing out a text are precisely zero. They’re also a simple general purpose glove that lacks speciality features, like a long gauntlet cuff or wrist leashes. Skiers, hunters, photographers, and climbers may require something designed specially for those activities.
But, if you’re just someone who wants warmer hands, then the Guide Gloves will almost certainly give them to you.
I remembered to write this article because I pulled the gloves and their bee balm out of the closet before heading up to the cabin for Christmas. It’ll be 18 degrees below zero when we arrive, but I’ll be able to unload the truck, and walk the dogs, without frozen fingers. But first, I’m going to apply another layer of that balm.