(Am working on a EU trip report, but needed to get this posted so here goes).
As you can imagine, we get many offers for WildSnow review gloves. Most don’t fit the bill. They’ve either got Velcro wrists that act like funnels and/or catch on every other chunk of opposite sex Velcro within three yards (and I don’t mean in a good way), ridiculously minimal insulation, or worst of the worst, waterproof membranes that don’t really work all that well. So when Mountain Hardware sent me their Medusa I was skeptical. But hey, it’s fun to do the WildSnow glove torture test, so ever onward.
The glove torture test is this: First, use for hours of snow shoveling and “work” such as loading/unloading snowmobile. If they pass that, get them out for at least ten days of backcountry skiing. Lastly, stick them under the faucet for a while and see how dry they stay.
The Mountain Hardware Medussa passed, and get an A+ because the latest nifty ever-so-cool “Outdry” waterproof/breathable (WB) technology works. Basically, this stuff is nothing different than a thick Gor-tex layer, only it is bonded to the outer glove layer. Thus, you don’t get liquid water trapped between the outer glove and the WB insert that most glove use. The problem with trapped water is that it gets pressurized when you work with saturated gloves, and thus gets forced through your WB insert. With the laminated layer, you get much less of this effect (though it’ll still happen a bit with any glove if you’re really working hard doing something like shoveling sopping wet snow).
The difference in how waterproof these gloves are is dramatic. After snow shoveling for an hour with the Medusa, I came inside and worked my fists under our kitchen faucet till my forearms felt like I was on some desert crack climb. I then turned the gloves inside out. Only moisture after all that was a bit of damp from work sweat. I’ve done this test with other gloves and found few (if any) that stay as dry.
And how does Outdry breath? Test for that was touring in single digit temps for two days. Pass.
Cons: The OEM liner glove seems a bit cold and has a lot of friction when removing and inserting in the shell. As far as we’re concerned, all such liner gloves might as well be wool blend, with a nice long wrist and outside sheen that’s just slippery enough but not too slick. A bit of gription material on the fingers and palms is nice as well, such as the sticky stuff Outdoor Research puts on some of their lightweight gloves. Speaking of which, I found myself using my OR lightweight gloves as a liner instead of the OEM insert. They just worked better. Another thing I didn’t like was the tight wrist elastic. A bit more relaxed fit in that area would be nice for sliding the gloves on and off in extreme conditions. I tried to cut the elastic, but it’s buried under seam taping and doing so would have ruined the gloves.
– Glove body Taslan abrasion resistant nylon
– Palm, goatskin leather that holds water treatment well (I tried Snowseal and Nikwax, both worked).
– Shell is lightly fleece lined so they work well on their own when you’re hands are warm.
– Outdry laminate yields excellent waterproofness and breathability.
WildSnow three thumbs up. Shop for ’em here.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.