Outdoor Research Endeavor Shells

Growing up in Ontario I was lucky enough to have parents that encouraged me to enjoy the winter outside. If was going to be cold for a third of the year I might as well look forward to it right? I learned how to skate, and learned how to ski in grade school. When I got to high school, I’d like to think that I was a fairly accomplished skier for my age. Unfortunately there weren’t many people that I hung out with that were interested in skiing so I picked up snowboarding at the same time as I was taking a 14 week first aid course to join the Canadian Ski Patrol System.

The one thing that never lasted very long in terms of gear was always gloves. It only took about one winter season for a pair of gloves to go from soft and warm to, disgusting stink machines. It didn’t matter how many times I washed them, they just never got clean. I’ve tried mitts, gloves and even those three fingered gloves. I tried lots of brand names but always found myself spending over a hundred dollars after every season on a new pair of gloves or mitts.

By now, I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m a pretty big fan of the PCU layering system. The ability to change according to the weather, was a huge game changer for me. That got me thinking one day I was at Mountain Equipment Co-op. Why can’t I layer up with my hands?

I spotted a pair of Outdoor Research Endeavor Goretex shells for about $70 and decided to give them a try. I liked the idea of being able to use whatever I wanted as an insulating layer. In fact, I had a few pairs of cheap polar fleece gloves that I would swap out if one got wet. One of the biggest problems I had when going for extended ski and snowboarding trips was juggling gloves. After spending a day in the mountains (obviously not in Ontario) the gloves I had would be fairly wet and would be disgusting the next day. The ability to take out the insulation allows the goretex shell to be dried out in a matter of minutes rather than hours. If you really wanted to, you could turn them inside out and just towel them dry. Good luck doing that with gloves or mitts that have the insulation integrated into the shell.

I rode my bike to work every day with the gloves from fall to spring through rain and snow. Not only did they keep my hands dry, but the shells did a fantastic job of keeping the wind off my fingers. When the snowboarding season started up, I stuck with my cheap insulating fleece layer and found that I could go to temperatures down to -15°C before I needed a third layer like the Outdoor Research PL Base Gloves. With those three layers, I was able to deal with anything winter threw at me.

One of my biggest tests for the shells happened when I took them winter camping up on Manitoulin Island. We were filtering water from the lake, and the idea of putting my hand into the water in December didn’t sit too well with me so I wore my shells. I’m happy to report that they didn’t let a single drop of water in!

I’ll admit that I was pretty hard on the shells, but that’s only because they were so reliable I found myself wanting to use them whenever the weather called for them. I even used them for my weekly GORUCK WODs, which meant the shells have endured hundreds if not thousands of pushups on concrete, as well as bear crawls, crab walks, and log carries. It took over 400 days of punishment for the gloves to start showing wear on the inside. I noticed that the seam tape was cracking, which meant they weren’t as waterproof as they were before. I went on a long shot and took them back to MEC. I didn’t have my receipt, but they looked up the purchase on my account, and credited me the full amount for the shells. I was shocked! I quickly proceeded up the stairs, picked up the exact same shells, and walked out without paying a cent.

Well over a year after I started this experiment, I think I can honestly say that this is the best set up I’ve ever used for my hands. I’m sure there are lots of other companies that have Goretex shells, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know! I have since moved from cheap polar fleece gloves to some better wool gloves, and they obviously perform with even better results. They lasted about as long as all of my other gloves, but the ability to dry them out quickly, and the ability to swap out insulation makes this system a clear winner for me. With Outdoor Research’s lifetime warranty and MEC’s amazing return policy though, did I just find the secret for gloves for life? I suppose time will tell.


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