One of the toughest pairs of gloves we’ve tested, this is an outstanding technical mountain glove, being warm, waterproof and hardwearing. Despite its burly build, it offers reasonable dexterity too.
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Mountain Equipment Couloir Glove: first impressions
The Mountain Equipment Couloir Glove seems to have been designed to tackle a specific problem during winter adventures.
When you’re choosing a glove for tough, cold conditions, it’s tempting to go for the burliest and warmest options you can find. The problem is that such gloves tend to feel unwieldy and cumbersome. In turn, that inevitably means that whenever you need to do anything fiddly, you’ll take them off, which sort of negates the point of wearing such big, warm gloves in the first place.
That’s where Mountain Equipment Couloir Gloves come in. They’re warm enough and tough enough for hard skiing or mountaineering, but not ridiculously big or bulky either. You get a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex insert with a lining made of two different fleece materials – lofty pile across the back of the hand as well as in the fingers and thumbs, and a microfleece lining across the palm. This is a clever approach that ensures excellent comfort and tactility, while also boosting warmth and wicking performance, and is one of the reasons the Couloir features in our best hiking gloves buying guide.
The shell is made of tough nylon, with hard-wearing goatskin leather overlays in the palm, thumbs, knuckles and all the fingers. The result is an extremely protective and durable glove, with secure grip whether you’re holding a ski pole, trekking pole, ice axe or a mountaineering rope. Rollover fingertips further enhance overall durability and tactility. There’s also an extended cuff with a drawcord closure, wrist loops and leashes, and a suede nose wipe on the back of the thumb. This is a glove that really does tick all the boxes for technical winter use.
• RRP: $130 (US) / £100 (UK)
• Sizes available: XS / S / M / L / XL / XXL
• Gender specificity: Unisex
• Colors: Black
• Weight: 224g / 7.9oz
• Materials: Polyamide shell with Gore-Tex waterproof insert, goat leather palm and reinforcement, polyester pile and microfleece lining
• Compatibility: With its Gore-Tex liner and tough shell, the Couloir is a robust and reliable winter glove that is ideally suited to a range of demanding winter mountain pursuits, from winter hiking and scrambling to skiing
Mountain Equipment Couloir Glove: on the trail
Mountain Equipment Couloir Gloves look and feel exceptionally tough, and so it proved when we put them through their paces. If you’ll forgive the pun, they – quite literally – handled anything and everything we threw at them over the course of a month’s worth of testing in the hills and mountains of North Wales.
We attributed this to the extensive use of hard-wearing goatskin reinforcements. Of course, many premium mountain gloves use goatskin, but it’s unusual to see paneling quite as extensive as that found on the Couloir: not just the palm, but also the entire thumb area, most of the fingers and even the knuckles all utilize this rugged leather.
The Gore-Tex liner and fleece inner also ensured they stayed warm and waterproof too. They do not have any additional insulation, so are not quite as cozy as some winter gloves, but this reduces weight and bulk, making them far more wearable. If you needed additional warmth for full-on winter conditions, they could easily be combined with a ‘thinny’ liner glove underneath.
They are fitted with a handy loop on the index finger to make them easy to pull off or clip to a carabiner during more technical mountain use. In addition, there are wrist loops to ensure they’re just as easy to pull on again, as well as a wrist leash to keep them securely attached. Just as well, since at this price, you’d feel pretty sick if you lost one.
Still, we think they’re worth the investment, being a rugged and reliable option that ought to deliver years of good service. A word on the fit – it’s a unisex design, offered in sizes ranging from XS-XXL (a wider range than most unisex gloves). But we would recommend checking the size charts carefully, and if you hover between sizes, consider sizing up, as we found them ever-so-slightly on the small side, particularly if you intend to wear them with ‘thinny’ merino or synthetic liner gloves.
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.