Hard-won insights on gear and skills
In the West, where it's stupidly easy to get scorched, it's best to show less skin. These sun gloves help.
As a native Easterner (and, perhaps, as a naive twenty-something), it took me many years and many backpacking trips to fully appreciate the intensity of the sun in the West. Since I first moved to this part of the country fifteen years ago, there has been one definitive trend in my clothing systems: Show less skin.
Last summer, I took another step in this direction, by experimenting with the Glacier Glove Ascension Bay Sun Glove ($23, 1.2 oz) on a nine-day yo-yo of the Pfiffner Traverse, which is a 75-mile high route in Colorado's Front Range that hovers between 10,000- and 12,000 feet, often above treeline and/or atop the Continental Divide. In other words, it'd be easy to get scorched.
Why You Should Buy the Glacier Glove Ascension Bays
The Ascension Bay Sun Gloves work exactly as intended: they spare the tops of your hands and most of your fingers from hours of direct sunlight. But I found that they had other benefits, too. They also protected my hands from:
- Sharp rocks, when scrambling;
- Scratchy vegetation, while bushwhacking;
- Trekking pole grips, which normally cause blisters or crack-prone callouses; and,
- Breezy mornings and chilly temperatures.
Given these other perks, I think they'd be valuable for any trip with off-trail travel and maybe even for any backpacker who uses trekking poles. They did not trap heat and moisture as I had feared, so I think they'd still be practical in warmer and more humid climates.
My main suggestion for improvement is that the Ascension Bay Sun Gloves be permethrin-treated, for defense against mosquitoes and black flies. The bug season is relatively mild in Colorado's Front Range, so this was not an issue on the Pfiffner, but it would be on, say, the Kings Canyon High Basin Route in July. A DIY treatment like Premium Insect Repellent from Sawyer Products could be used, but it's less durable in the wash than a factory finish.
My other suggestion: heat-cut the polyester fingers to prevent fraying without adding a bulky hem line. (Sadly, I lost my gloves in Europe during UTMB, so I don't know for certain if the minor amount of fraying that I experienced would become a bigger issue with more use.)
I looked at several sun glove models before settling on the Ascension Bay, which most importantly had:
- Polyester/Lycra top, for next-to-skin comfort and high air permeability;
- Cut-off fingers, for dexterity;
- Synthetic leather palm, for durability.
The Ascension Bay Sun Gloves retail for $23, but I managed to find them on Amazon for just $13. Wahoo!
The circumference of my palm measured 8-1/4 inches, so I ordered size Large per Glacier Glove's sizing chart, which I've included below. They were loose-fitting but not sloppy, and I came to appreciate the extra air flow.