I not only have rheumatoid arthritis but also suffer from Raynaud’s, which is a blood vessel disorder that limits blood circulation to the extremities. It means I have a really tough time keeping my hands and feet warm and I’ve spent years suffering from freezing, painful hands on outdoor adventures. Winter activities like snowboarding, cross country skiing, and even scooter commuting are especially tough.
I’ve gone through more hand warmers than I can count and I carry a pair of OR’s Transcendent Mitts everywhere, which are basically puffy mittens for your hands. They do a great job of keeping my hands warm, but they’re mittens, and they’re puffy, so I obviously sacrifice dexterity. I really love them though, especially the puffy!
I had been eyeing ORs StormTracker heated gloves for a while but I’m pretty budget-minded and $265 for gloves is a big investment! I lucked into a seasonal discount and in December 2017 finally snagged a pair. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more excited to try a new piece of gear and after a full year of use, these gloves are still going strong!
I’ve put them to the test hiking, bicycling, scooter commuting in the cold rain, snowboarding at Mount Baker, and splitboard touring in single-digit temps. So are OR’s StormTracker heated gloves worth it? Here’s my quick take, then read on for more details about my recommendation.
The quick review.
Are OR’s StormTrackers worth the $265 price tag? Honestly, it depends on your expectations.
If you have the budget or can nab them on sale, participate in any cold weather sports requiring dexterity with gloved hands, and struggle to keep your hands warm, absolutely!
The caveats? Don’t expect the gloves to be heating pad hot, they really aren’t, and understand their biggest limitation is simply battery life. On high they won’t last you a full day or close to it and without batteries, they’re just marginally warm gloves.
On high you’re getting a max of 2-2.5 hours. Toggling between medium and low helps extend the life to 6-8 hours, but strongly consider a 2nd battery pack or backup pair of warm gloves for longer or colder outings.
Even with those caveats, if I had it to do over I’d buy them again. They’ve held up well after a full year of use despite being completely saturated with water more times than I can count and still staying warm. Gone are the days when my winter scooter commutes result in the screaming barfies. I can’t imagine scootering in the cold without them and they’ve served me well snowboarding and skiing, especially when on the lift and during backcountry transitions.
Read on for more details!
The StormTracker gloves are made of 94% nylon, 6% elastane face fabric with 100% polyester backer and water-resistant goat leather palms. Their shell is breathable, windproof Gore Windstopper and they feature an elasticized wrist, extra-long zippered cuffs, and large cuff loops making them easy to layer over jackets and clothing.
TPU injection molding on the back of the hands adds a bit of protection and durability and the inside of the gloves are lined with a moisture-wicking polyester tricot, making them super soft. The gloves use PrimaLoft® 60 g/m2 at the back of the hand and PrimaLoft® Grip 60 g/m2 m at the palm. With batteries, the large size weighs in at just over 10 ounces.
The gloves also come with a convenient storage bag.
Fit and comfort.
OR gets an A++ from me for the StormTracker’s lightweight, slim, and dextrous design!
I have small hands and struggle to find gloves that aren’t monstrous and bulky. Being able to use my gloved hands to actually do the outdoor activity I’m participating in is a great thing! Most of the time I have to take my gloves off to do anything useful, so when I ordered the StormTrackers in an XS size and they fit like a dream, I was pretty excited!
I can easily ride my scooter, switch over my snowboard bindings, open zippers on my jacket or backpack, and grab things out of my pockets without taking off the gloves. I’ve had no trouble with seams or chaffing and they’re sized perfectly with just enough room to slide them over a thin glove liner. The fit is soft and flexible, allowing you to easily grip and use your fingers, especially important for outdoor activities!
ALTIHeat™ battery-powered heat technology.
The gloves’ heat is generated from OR’s ALTIHeat™ Battery-Powered Heat Technology that claims to deliver 60% more heat than any other heated glove on the market. Heating elements are woven into the inner fabric of the glove and extend through the fingers and the back of the hand.
A large push-button power switch with indicator lighting on the gauntlet is easy to use and provides three levels of heat: low (green), medium (orange), and high (red). Simply push and hold the button for 3 seconds to power the gloves to high, then quickly push again to cycle to medium, low, or back to high. Holding again for 3 seconds will power the gloves off. You can expect approximately 8 hours of heat on low, 5 hours on medium, and 2.5 hours on high.
With a solid year of use I’ve found those run times to be mostly true!
The heating system is powered by thin, rechargeable lithium ion batteries that slide into a zippered pouch at the wrist. Their design is flexible so they’ll conform to your wrist and you won’t even notice they’re there. It takes approximately 6-7 hours to fully charge the batteries, so you’ll want to charge them overnight before adventures.
So are they hot or what?
That’s the million dollar question right!? Well, there’s good news and bad news. Even on high, OR’s StormTracker gloves aren’t the scorching heating pad hot I was hoping for, but they do generate a nice uniform warmth. If you think these gloves will feel like a paraffin wax manicure, well…not quite. Your hands won’t feel hot but the gloves will keep them from being cold. Read a little more for how they performed for me during various activities.
My first test for the StormTrackers was a rainy hike in 50-degree weather. I popped them on when we took a lunch break and my hands got cold. I kept them on when we started hiking again and a mere half mile later my hands were sweating. I was all “I’ve got to turn these gloves down, wow!” My cold, ungloved friends, meanwhile, gave me a bit of a sneer.
Ever seen Dumb and Dumber? There’s a scene where Harry and Lloyd are in the Rockies, freezing from the cold, and Harry says to Lloyd “I can’t feel my hands anymore… they’re numb.” Then Lloyd says “Here, maybe you should wear these extra gloves… my hands are getting kinda sweaty.” Yep, it was sort of like that.
I took the StormTrackers to Mount Baker for a few days of inbound snowboarding in heavy, wet snow conditions. With warmer temps in the low 30s I was able to use them mostly on low/medium all day, occasionally turning them up to high on the lift when it was colder. The batteries lasted for 4 hours of snowboarding with plenty of juice left, which was far longer than my legs lasted!
On a colder day at with temps in the teens, I used the gloves almost exclusively on high, turning them down occasionally during runs. I unfortunately ran out of battery roughly 2.5-3 hours later on the chairlift and wondered why I hadn’t bought a second battery pack! With no heat and the gloves fully saturated, my hands got cold quickly, so I switched to my backup mittens. Up to that point though, they did a fantastic job keeping me warm and they had no trouble with the wet conditions.
The only limitation of the gloves is simply battery life. I would strongly recommend either buying a second set of batteries for longer or colder outings or bringing backup gloves or mittens just in case.
Last week I spent 3 days splitboard touring at Snoqualmie Pass in single-digit temps, one day with winds gusting to 30mph and again, the gloves were fantastic at keeping my hands a comfortable temperature. While skinning up, I turned them completely off or down to low as my hands warmed, then used them on high while transitioning my gear, doing my runs, or taking breaks. All 3 days the batteries lasted a full 3-4 hours with zero issues.
My only mistake one day was letting my hands get much too cold in the parking lot while prepping gear. Even while skinning uphill with the gloves on high, it took 15-20 minutes before my fingertips could feel the heat and finally warm up. Just know that if you do send your hands into the brink of frozenness, the gloves take a little time to bring them back, so it’s better to try to maintain a nice comfortable temperature.
Note: there’s a good chance the gloves can interfere with avalanche beacons, so if you’re in an active search, turn off the gloves. If you’re buried with them, they may or may not be close enough to your beacon to cause interference. Just be advised.
Scooter commuting and bicycling.
I scooter commute year-round through Seattle’s rainy winter and even with good gloves suffer from freezing hands when the temps dip into the 40s and below. It’s tough to find a warm glove for riding that isn’t so bulky as to make riding dangerous. I admit that my scooter commutes are what pushed me to buy the StormTrackers even more than my other outdoor activities.
The gloves slim fit makes them a dream to use while riding. On really cold days even at 40+ mph with the gloves on high, my hands never feel hot, but they simply aren’t cold and that makes a huge difference! I even rode to work one day with one glove powered on and the other off and I couldn’t believe the difference! It took me all of about 30 seconds to be convinced.
I even took these gloves with me on an early season bicycle ride to both Glacier National Park and Mount Rainier. The descent from Logan Pass at Glacier was pretty darn cold and I was certainly glad to have some heat. What a difference they made and they’re still slim enough to easily use your bike shifters and brakes.
The StormTrackers have served me very well and if you do any kind of cold weather activities and struggle with cold hands, they’re absolutely worth the splurge. Their slim fit makes them especially great for motorcycling, scootering, or bicycling. Get backup batteries for longer outings and with longer charging times, be sure to plug them in the night before.
Not ready to splurge? Try OR’s Transcendent Mitts! They’re my backup mitten and I love them. Not as dextrous obviously as the StormTrackers, but they’ll keep your hands toasty warm!
If you want a warmer option, OR does make other heated gloves that are warmer, but also bulkier. On a budget? The price tag might be a bit steep. Look for a sale, or keep using other methods like hand warmers and mittens. The only downside to mittens is obviously the lack of dexterity.
Outdoor Research infinite guarantee.
If you’re still waffling, know that OR provides an infinite guarantee and stands by their products. I’ve always experienced impeccable customer service from them, so if you have worries about quality or longevity, I would feel very confident about OR’s support.
Want to buy them?
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Disclaimer: I believe in doing good in the world and purchase my gear from companies who feel the same. I’m not paid to support any of the companies or products I review. Unless prominently disclosed at the top of all of my reviews, this gear was purchased, tested, scuffed up, and loved by me!