Came up with a new glove this year, for canyoneering.
First of all, why wear gloves for canyoneering? The obvious choice would be for rappels – but this is a disputable point. One SHOULD NOT need gloves for rappelling… but more on that later. The main reason to use gloves canyoneering is for movement through the canyon. Rock is rough, skin is dainty – well, at least mine is. I find when wearing gloves, I can canyoneer day after day even in tough canyons without messing up my hands. They also make my downclimbing much better, because they are sticky and protective. I can slam around a bit more with good gloves on than with just skin.
For rappelling, I LIKE wearing gloves, but consider them a bad habit. If you are “using a lot of glove” while rappelling, you are doing it wrong. Your friction should be set up for good control of the rope without gloves. I add gloves because I already have them on, and it gives me a “backup”, because I screw up my friction setting from time to time, and using up glove is often the best choice at these times.
We have been using the Atlas Therma Fit gloves and they have worked well. The lighter gloves with the blue palms I do not like at all – the blue stuff is too sticky – impossible to let the rope slide through, and the blue comes off too easy. The grey palms of the Therma Fit seemed like a good balance between stickiness and not, and perform OK on rope. Let me be clear, as a pure “rappelling glove” these ‘dipped’ type gloves are not the best. For pure rapping, some kinda leather glove is probably better. But leather gloves do not work canyoneering – going in and out of water destroys them quickly, and they are relatively expensive.
I chose the Atlas Therma Fit because I found the supplier easy to work with, the minimums reasonable and the price moderate – and because they work fairly well. But my supplier broke up with Atlas, and had their own copy built which was… well, not so good. I went looking for a new glove at the OR Show and came across the Towa PowerGrab Thermo glove, and have been enjoying its benefits. After six months on them, I think of the PowerGrab to the Therma Fit like Gorilla Tape vs. Duck Tape: The PowerGrab glove is what the Therma Fit aspired to be. The knit is somewhat thicker and heavier, but seems to last twice as long. The palm dip is better – a tad stickier in downclimbing; considerably more durable in rappelling. The way it wears is better – it seems to gradually wear away rather than get a hole and then fall apart. Even worn to the bright yellow knit, the glove is still quite useful, certainly more rappel-worthy than the Therma Fit was with the plastic worn off (which was ZERO).
Downsides – I’m not that hot on the color – my feet are already bumblebees! The sizing is a little different, and I am now tight in a medium rather than loose in a Large. Which means I have a bit of a struggle getting them off at times. Being heavier, they are somewhat warmer which is good most of the time, but bad during these amazingly hot summer months.
My cost is about the same, so I’m keeping my retail the same (well, I moved it up to $7.00 from $6.99). Not like I sell enough gloves to pay my malt beverage tab… Strategically, the PowerGrab gloves are not widely available, so make a worthy addition to my store.
Tom is the progenitor of Tom's Utah Canyoneering Guide, Utah's premier canyoneering information resource, and Imlay Canyon Gear, America's #1 maker of canyoneering-specific gear. If he's not canyoneering, he's probably snuggled up with a good book.
Posted on Jul 29th, 2014