The Black Diamond Soloist Finger Glove is a well-made, intelligently designed lobster-claw style glove-mitt for cold-weather mountain climbers – and other winter peak players. It offers big warmth, combined with far more dexterity than you will find in most mountaineering mittens.
- Warm and waterproof
- Removable liner adds versatility for use in a wider range of conditions
- Split finger design offers superior dexterity to a mitt
- Tough and hardwearing construction
- Useful nose/goggle wipe on thumb
- Relatively bulky
In extreme cold, most climbers and mountaineers prefer mitts to gloves, since they offer superior warmth. The problem is that with mitts on, it is difficult to do even simple tasks.
Black Diamond’s solution to this problem is their Soloist Finger glove, a split ‘lobster claw’ design that aims to combine the warmth of a mitt with the dexterity of a glove. Designed for alpine climbing, they employ a Pertex shell with a waterproof insert utilising the brand’s own BD.dry waterproof-breathable membrane, and a removable, PrimaLoft-insulated liner.
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With this system, the waterproof shell can be used alone on warmer days, while the liner can be added for freezing conditions (and removed for faster drying if it gets wet).
• RRP: $100 (US)/ £89 (UK)
• Unisex: Yes
• Sizes: XS–XL
• Materials: Shell: Pertex Shield with four-way stretch; palm: 100% goat leather; membrane: BD.Dry; lining: 340g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation and high-loft fleece liner
• Weight (per glove): 261g /9.2oz
• Colours: Black
In the field
In a nutshell: the solution works really well, and these gloves proved their worth during a winter season in the Cairngorms. They’re very warm, which makes them well suited to full-on Scottish winter conditions, and we reckon they’d also be ideal if you’re a hillwalker who suffers with Raynaud’s Syndrome or circulation problems.
For a heavyweight insulated glove, they also provide decent dexterity. You’re not going to be tying complex knots with them on, but it is possible to grasp the head of an ice axe or even belay a climbing partner. Their only real drawback is that inevitably they are a little bulky. If you generally wear gloves rather than mitts, in all likelihood they will take a little getting used to. On the other hand, if you have always worn mitts, you’ll immediately find these so much less cumbersome and awkward.
As with most Black Diamond kit we’ve used, these gloves feel very well made and employ quality materials, from the hard-wearing Pertex shell fabric to the supple goat leather palm. They do use the brand’s own BD.dry tech rather than a proprietary membrane like Gore-Tex, but so far, we haven’t discerned a difference in waterproof performance.
They have nice long cuffs and a secure wrist closure, though no secondary snow lock – and somewhat surprisingly, no lanyard either, which means you have to be a little careful not to lose one when taking them off, especially in windy and exposed locations. But as a go-to glove for technical winter mountain use, we’re total converts. To quote Friends, you might even say we’ve found our lobster.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.
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