Are you tired of replacing your ski gloves every year? Do you long for something that is durable, comfortable and warm? If you haven’t heard of Hestra you may want to do some research… starting now!
Hestra has been around since the 1930’s crafting leather gloves that have helped people keep their digits on the top of Everest. If you have ever been heli or cat skiing, chances are your guide was rocking a pair of Hestra gloves. They make everything from downhill race gloves to bike gloves. They are experts in hands and it shows in the craftsmanship in every pair of glove they make. Hestra operates on the mantra of the right tool for the job and each glove is crafted without compromise for their intended activity.
These gloves are a work of art. Each leather piece is expertly crafted to fit the contours of your hand. They are simple but effective, not flashy or outwardly fashionable. Plain and simple they are made to work, through the worst abuse, ski edges, rocks, or what ever else you can throw at them. Labeled as Army Leather, the soft but durable goat hide was initially designed for the rigours of military use where performance can mean life or death.
Durable but at the same time delicate. The gloves reward those who take the care to maintain them as per the directions of Hestra themselves. With care, these glove will last your well over three seasons of heavy use. In my experience, 100 to 120 days of skiing will be just the amount of time for a new pair. For most people, this is 4 or 5 seasons of skiing. They won’t last a lifetime, but you can be certain you won’t have to buy three or four pairs of regular winter gloves in that same amount of time.
My first pair of the Hestra Heli Ski gloves found one wear on the tip of one finger after four seasons of use. Even then, all seams were on lockdown (as pictured below), and you can expect, won’t ever be the reason you have to replace them.
First time feel
When you initially put the glove on, it feels stiff but curves to your hand. As you continue to work them in, they get soft and supple, so much that you can do most tasks with your gloves on. This is aided by the liberal use of the leather balm which is provided in a small packet with a glove purchase, although I would recommend buying the large container for regular use.
The refined touches include a glove leash and carabiner hang tags. Combo that with an elasticized cuff that extends well up the arm to keep snow out and hands super warm even on the coldest days. The cuff is wide enough to easily slip over tapered and non-tapered jacket sleeves, which was easily cinched afterward.
On the hill
Though they aren’t waterproof (there are waterproof models with a goretex insert) water very rarely seeps through when diligent in conditioning them during the season. The upside is that your hands don’t get the clammy feel characteristic of gloves with waterproof liner inserts. An added bonus is that the velcro in-liners can be substituted at your liking, from ultra warm insulated liners to merino to fleece, adapting the gloves to your given situation or expedition. The liners do wear and after a few seasons, and you may want to replace them to restore the warmth they provided when new.
I found the dexterity to be slightly better than previously worn thick winter gloves. But it was really the softness, flexibility, and added freedrom of mobility that felt much different than other gloves. Ski boot adjustments, backpack zippers, and everything short of tying my shoes can be done wearing these gloves. In temperatures dipping as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius, I pleasantly surprised at how warm my hands kept.
Perfect for the ski resort and big powder days in the backcountry. On the coast, these gloves can be too warm for the up-track exercise, so a secondary pair of climbing gloves is recommended to prevent your gloves from becoming saturated and then subsequently frozen when you stop for lunch. As they age, they are more susceptible to water saturation, so if it is raining they may not be the best choice. But for 90% of the days you actually want to ski they won’t let you down.
The saddest day comes when you have to retire the old pair into the work bin, because it feels like an old pair of jeans that is fitted just for you. Each piece of leather formed perfectly to your hand just like it should be! Ultimately, the gloves are pricey, but when put into perspective, cheaper than the three pairs of gloves you’d otherwise buy in the same amount of time. Purchasing new liners can add a few more seasons of life to the gloves, without biting the bullet to buy a whole new pair. These gloves will last for many seasons, and even when they are worn through, well.. there’s always duct tape for us guys.
If you are struggling with glove fit, durability and warmth, a Hestra glove may be for you!
Hestra Heli Ski Gloves
MSRP: $150 – $175