Gloves are one of the most difficult pieces of climbing kit to get right. I can live with slightly-too-big waistbands and tight hoods and sleeves that rise up a bit and small pockets and a myriad other design details, but an ill-fitting pair of gloves just doesn’t cut it. Over the years I’ve bought and sold probably well over sixty different pairs of gloves, and the current ‘gloves-box’ holds 24 pairs of well-fitting and well-performing pairs. But over the course of the past two years or so, I most often find myself reaching for gloves from just one brand: Camp.
Camp makes gloves? was my initial reaction when I learned about these at OR a few years ago. I’d always known the Italian brand as making lightweight ice axes and crampons, and more recently my favourite ice tools, the X-Dream. But gloves? Endlessly curious, I agreed to try a few — and I’m glad I did.
Fits like a glove is a bit of an oxymoron, as we all have different hand shapes and sizes. For my hands, the Camp gloves are a perfect fit: fingers of just the right length, the palm not too tight but not too loose, and the cuff seals nicely on my wrist. Additionally, I can size these gloves to their use: for more technical climbing I use an M/7 but for belays and colder climbing I went with an L/8. See the diagram below for my hand measurements, compare them to yours, but also remember that even a couple of millimetres makes a huge difference in fit and feel. (I typically wear a Medium, a friend whose fingers are just half a centimetre longer than mine wears XL.)
All the Camp gloves share some common features that I absolutely love to see in a climbing glove: finger hang loop for clipping them to a harness and keeping snow and dirt out; a low-profile elastic wrist leash that is just about the best thing ever when you want to quickly drop your gloves to fiddle with some gear bare-fingered; and a soft, cozy nose wipe on the thumb.
Camp G Comp Wind (link to Camp’s website)
The G Comp Wind (I have no idea who comes up with Camp’s glove names) is a thin, grippy, glove designed for skimo and ski-racing. It is also my favourite dry-tooling / mixed / warm-weather ice climbing glove out there. It is, simply put, phenomenal. Fit in a Medium/Size 7 is perfect for my hands with no extra fabric on the tips of my fingers or flapping around on my palm. The cuff is longer than most dry-tooling specific gloves out there, which is perfectly fine as it keeps my wrist a bit warmer in cooler temps.
As a skimo glove, it comes with a super-thin ‘wind-mitt’ that pulls out of a small pocket on top of the wrist: I simply cut this, and the pocket, off, as it is useless in a climbing glove, and only adds bulk. The palm is a synthetic leather that is very grippy on tools (especially when they are wrapped with a bike tube) and has proven exceptionally durable — I’ve even rappelled with these a few times and the palm shows almost no wear. The thumb and forefinger junction has an additional leather reinforcement, and after countless drytooling sessions both in the gym and at the crag there’s not a single stitch out of place. I’m seriously impressed.
There is no velcro strap or closure, but the cuff, and overall glove fit, is tight enough that once I actually manage to wedge my hand in there, this glove is not moving. The entire glove has a soft, brushed lining for comfort and sweat wicking, and the fabric blocks wind well enough that they could be used on the approach, though I prefer to save them for climbing.
Perhaps the only feature that I don’t really find useful on a ‘drytooling’ glove is the elastic retainer strap, though it’s also so inobstructive that I haven’t bothered cutting it off. I cannot say enough good things about the G Comp Wind: very highly recommended.
GeKo Light (link to Camp’s website)
The GeKo Light has to be the perfect mild-temp ice climbing glove: uninsulated, goatskin leather palm but with some padding on the back of the hand. It is incredibly dextrous, with superb feel on the tools, and enough warmth to keep my hands warm down to -10C or so. I chose these in a M/7 for a tighter fit and better feel, however that does compromise their warmth and I suspect had I gone with a L/8, I could use these down to -15C without any issues.
The leather has proven incredibly durable — even after rappelling or belaying — and they are only showing slight wear on the edges of the stitching. The velcro tab on the cuff closes tight, and the pull-tab hasn’t even squeaked despite the fact that I have to pull quite hard to get these onto my hand.
Though they are not waterproof, and a long pitch of wet ice will soak these through completely, these remain my favourite glove for leading ice. They feel just about as dextrous as the G Comp Wind but a whole lot warmer and with some knuckle protection thanks to the extra insulation. Another superb glove. The only downside I can think of is that I have only one pair.
Since I received mine, the GeKo Light has been replaced in the Camp lineup by the Geko Light Rain basically the same glove but with a light raincover in a hidden pocket. That means that Camp currently (August 2017) has these on sale right now for $50 USD — so stock up now: http://www.camp-usa.com/products/winter-gloves/geko-light/
GeKo Hot (link to Camp’s website)
The full-on insulated glove for climbing, the GeKo Hot is actually too warm for my hands for general use. Packed with Primaloft One insulation in the palm and back of hand, these are too warm for me for any activity warmer than -15C, even approaches (they work great for belaying!). Despite the extra insulation, these are still dextrous enough to fiddle with gear at belays and thin enough to comfortably wrap around ice tools.
Designed for colder weather, I chose these in a L/8 for a bit of extra room when my hands swell up at altitude or in cold temps: putting them on at home they’re a little loose through the fingers and palm, but that goes away in use. The cuff is a bit tight for me to wedge my hand through, and I am once again very impressed with how well stitched the pull-tab is on these as it hasn’t lost a single thread after countless on/off’s.
The goatskin leather palm has held up as well as that on the GeKo Light, though a few loose threads have shown up around the padding on the back of the fingers. Nothing else has come loose otherwise but I do have to admit that due to their warmth, I haven’t used them as much as the G Comp or GeKo Light.
Another superb glove from Camp, though a bit too warm for general use for me. Highly recommended, especially if you tend to run a bit cold.
G Hot Dry (link to Camp’s website)
The warmest glove in the lineup, the G Hot Dry is insulated with Primaloft Gold 100g/m and has a Dryzone waterproof/breathable membrane for a total weather barrier. Padding on the back of the fingers and knuckles provides extra protection, and Grip’R rubber patches on the tips of the fingers and across the palm provide extra grip and durability. There’s also a cowhide leather patch between the thumb and index finger for additional strength across this typically-weak area.
I’ve used these gloves down to -40C or so (plus however much windchill) and my hands have stayed warm, an impressive feat given the relatively thin fingers and how dextrous these gloves are. I really appreciate the wide-opening Neoprene cuff and large pull-tab that allow quick on/off, even with slightly damp hands.
Durability has proven mostly excellent, as the other Camp gloves. As one of my more commonly used belay gloves, I have managed to wear off the first layer of rubber off the Grip’R patches, both on my right-hand rappel palm and from the tips of the fingers. Whatever this Grip’R stuff is made from, and however it’s attached to the glove, it’s incredibly durable and grips well even in very cold weather. I’ve also worn through the edge of the leather-reinforcement on the right hand glove, though the fabric underneath has remained in excellent shape.
I am incredibly impressed with these gloves, and they are a superb belay glove thanks to the waterproof construction, wide-opening cuff and durable palm materials. Again, very highly recommended.
Despite their excellent fit, I was initially very skeptical of Camp’s gloves but after a lot of use, they’ve proven incredibly durable. I love how they perform, and that the fit is consistent across the entire line so I can tailor how each pair of gloves fits with my intended use. I especially love the G Comp Wind for drytooling and mixed climbing, and the Geko Light for all-around ice climbing. I consider the Geko Hot and G Hot Dry as more specialized cold-weather gloves so don’t use them as often, but I can’t imagine not having them — particularly the G Hot Dry — for belay duty and those -25C days when for some reason we still go ice climbing!
Camp will soon be introducing an ice-climbing specific glove (the GeKo Ice) and they’ve revamped their entire glove line with improved fabrics, and they even have a couple women’s specific pairs. I simply can’t say enough good things about these gloves: I absolutely love the pairs I have, and am going to switch to all-Camp gloves for this coming winter season.
P.S. If you’re interested in any of these gloves, please check them out on Camp’s website using the links in each subtitle above: I’m co-ordinating with Camp to try and track hits so it’s greatly appreciated, thanks!