Arc’teryx Alpha SL Glove Review
Price: $90 CAD
Pros: The Alpha SL is incredibly comfortable, extremely durable, and surprisingly warm
Cons: Cost, some fingers are too long (see below), no insulation on palm
- N72s 3L GORE WINDSTOPPER
- Leather Palm
- 300 g/m² polyester fleece
More than a slightly warmer, and more expensive golf glove
Fit and Dexterity
The first thing you’ll notice when you try these gloves on is that they are super tight and honestly a struggle to squeeze on. They may seem small at first, but they will stretch out a bit and I highly recommend sticking with the Arc’teryx sizing chart and not sizing up. After about 2 minutes of tugging and wiggling, you hardly even notice that you’re wearing gloves. The leather palm is very comfortable and soft, with no insulation making the Alpha SL an incredibly sensitive glove. Doing up shoe laces, clipping carabiners, and tying knots in 3mm and 7mm cord was a breeze.
My only issue with the fit is that the wrist cuff is insanely tight, and maybe it’s just my large wrists but layers will never fit under the glove for me. In the photo on the Arc’teryx site, they show the gloves over top of what appears to be a mid layer, while I struggle to slide a fleece baselayer underneath. (Photo below)
Alpha SL being shown over an insulation layer. simply not possible in my practice.
More time will be spent with layers over top of the gloves, which isn’t bad but expect to get snow and water down your sleeves occasionally.
Warmth and Breathability
If you’re looking to buy this glove, you already know that there is limited warmth. I was pleasantly surprised by how warm this glove actually was, considering the size and lack of insulation. I wore these gloves out ice and mixed climbing on a -14 degree Celsius day and my fingers were only cold when I stopped moving or climbing. With 300g/m^2 fleece on the back of the hand, and Gore Windstopper, these gloves actually do a decent job of keeping the heat in. My palms actually got colder faster than my fingers, which is something I have yet to experience. With only leather between your hand and what you are grabbing, any metal you touch sends icy chills straight through to your hand.
Another surprising aspect of the Alpha SL Gloves is how durable they are. So far I have put at least 10 days of ice and 5 days of rock into these gloves, with a few longer alpine routes. This doesn’t sound like much, but climbing sharp and jagged limestone on Mother’s Day Buttress, or torquing ice tools all day really puts a strain on gloves. I have yet to see any signs of wear in the seams or palms and while the leather is slightly worn, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. I fully expect these gloves to last all winter and through summer until next year, but I will update this as I go.
At $90 CAD, these really aren’t too expensive by Arc’teryx standards. Considering that a pair of OR Project gloves will run you $165, or a pair of OR Albi II’s will cost $100, the Alpha SL’s aren’t a bad deal.
The Arc’teryx Alpha SL Gloves are an amazing glove for lead climbing on alpine routes, mixed cragging, or any ice route. They are extremely durable, yet very sensitive thanks to the tight fit and lack of insulation which makes them very dexterous. This of course comes with the downside that anything you grab will freeze your hand (ice tools, carabiners, etc.), but the Gore Windstopper and 300g/m fleece on the back of the hand do an excellent job at trapping heat in. This is the best fitting and most comfortable glove I have used so far, and even if my hands don’t stay as warm it’s worth it. I can always throw on a pair of mitts at belay.