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Arcteryx Alpha SV glove

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

The Bird's new top of the line glove, Alpha SV, created quite a buzz late last season with a few calling it a breakthrough in design, the best glove ever made, etc.   I am sure that a large part of the buzz was their jaw-dropping retail price of $275 eek.gif.   So, I decided to take a look and ordered a pair early from backcountry.com (their return policy serving as an insurance).  As of now the glove is sold out in most sizes, so either they had a very small production run, or a lot of people are curious.   


Design- this is a typical gauntlet glove with pretty good coverage.  The palm and some of the backside are leather-covered.  The two main innovation here is that Arcteryx laminated the GoreTex membrane fabric directly to the leather and also found a clever way to make the fingers with welded seams.  So the outer glove sort of looks like a bloated rubber glove, but with leather and GoreTex instead of rubber.  The glove has a removable liner that is not held in place by anything, looks like Arcteryx relies on just fit to hold it in. it works with a dry glove, less so with a damp glove.


Design issues that  I like:   The liner is fleece at the palm and fingers and some kind of laminated nylon in the cuff area, so if you get some snow in that area you can get it out without having it stuck there and making a wet mess.  Every glove liner should be made like that.  


Design issues that I don't like:  The glove wrist is synched by a fussy two pulls cord, and the wrist is tightened by an elastic strap that is held by a flimsy plastic buckle that comes undone as soon as you touch anything with it.  A velcro would have been a lot more secure.   To my astonishment, the glove didn't come with any sort of leash or keeper.  There are large carabiner loops, but it would be nice to have an included leash in a $275 glove.         


Fit and finish- Quality is typical Arcteryx, which means that they are flawless.  This is a very attractive product.  Still, the leather on the palm looks pretty thin, and there are no critical area reinforcements.  Arcteryx gear has always been more durable than it looked for me, but that would be an are of concern.  I already talked about the buckle.  I have relatively average size fingers but the glove fingers fit a bit short, so if you have long fingers, don't bother with it. 


In use:  The main selling point of the Alpha SV is the increased dexterity given by the laminate construction of the outer glove.  In practice, once you put the liner in, any increased dexterity is gone, it feels just like any other high-end gauntlet liner gloves.  The glove was light and trim, but it didn't feel appreciably better than my Hestra Heli, and my well-worn leather Hestra RSL Comps felt much more dexterous.  I have not had a chance to test it in adverse conditions, but I would say that they should breath just like any GoreTex glove, maybe a little bit better, but not by much.   


Conclusion:  Simply put, there is no way in hell that this glove is worth $275.  The "out-of-this-world dexterity" claim didn't bear out, the durability is questionable, and the fit would be a problem for some people.  $275 price for this glove is truly insane. I failed to see this glove providing even 25% better performance than Hestra Heli that costs almost three times as less. If you have short fingers (and big wallet), they may be an option for you, otherwise, look elsewhere.  The Alpha SVs are going back for a refund. 


Last word:  True to the Bird's reputation the manufacturing innovations are real and neat, so watch out for the further editions; once Arcteryx irons out the kinks and drops the prices, they may become a viable alternative to Hestras.    Sorry, Arcteryx, but so far you have missed badly on that one.  


P.S.  My family own quite a few of Arcteryx pieces (probably enough to keep their factory humming for a while), so I am generally a big fan of the brand.  

Edited by alexzn - 12/14/10 at 8:35am
post #2 of 9

Gloves, like every other article of clothing, have built in tradeoffs that really cannot really be avoided. But what is unique about gloves is that hand sizes and shapes vary so much that getting good dexterity is often very difficult not because of the construction of the glove, but because it simply does not fit all the fingers well. If Arc'teryx had a made to measure glove - that would be worth $275.

post #3 of 9

This is why the forum needs a flag feature. Does this d^ck think he is going to drum up business by spamming threads?


(this was directed at a now deleted post shilling for some lame website)

Edited by aschick - 12/20/10 at 8:28pm
post #4 of 9

OP's been around a while, just like you, and if you read the post, it's fairly balanced. Not spam. Just maybe more ink about a glove than most of us would spill...wink.gif

post #5 of 9

$275 for a pair of gloves eek.gif


post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

OP's been around a while, just like you, and if you read the post, it's fairly balanced. Not spam. Just maybe more ink about a glove than most of us would spill...wink.gif

Oops, this is what the quote feature is needed for. my comments were aimed at a spammer plugging his own website - but now that his post was deleted it looks like I was nagging the OP eek.gif - far from it. I appreciate long winded gear reviews.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by beyond View Post
Just maybe more ink about a glove than most of us would spill...wink.gif

True.  However, the glove does feature a significant innovation component, and my prediction is that next year we will se something like that from other manufacturers.  Basically, all current GoreTex gloves have a membrane insert, which means that your glove will automatically have three layers of fabric even before insulation and a liner.  So if you want to have a removable liner, you are looking at a minimum of 4 layers.  That s why it is so hard to fine a GoreTex glove with a removable liner.  Arcteryx found out a way to make a glove shell out of a three-layer GoreTex material with laminated leather on it, so now you have one layer of fabric instead of three.  I don't pretend that I know all the market, but so far only Hestra Heli has a similar type of a single layer shell; however, the Heli is  strange beast- it is pretty much a hybrid of a waterproof fabric shell and a your hardware store leather glove (i.s the palm is just leather, no membrane or coating).  it is brilliant, but you need to treat it, and a few days ago, my Heli soaked through in 2 hours and 4 hours of rain/snow exposure.  This is not bad and I carried a spare pair, but the Arcteryx would have lasted all day.  


post #8 of 9


This is not bad and I carried a spare pair, but the Arcteryx would have lasted all day.  


So would Playtex wink.gif.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

So, how do you eat crow on your review online?  For now I have put a few miles on the Alpha (ended up not sending them back after all:-).  Well, It has really grown on me, it is now my wet weather glove and kind of a "travel" glove (the one I am comfortable taking on a trip knowing that it will cover all conditions). If god forbid I could own only one pair of gloves, that would be the one, although I ski most days in Hestra VC Freerides.  Why?  Its the only glove that is totally waterproof all day, you can take the liner out and it will be guaranteed dry the next morning, and it is light, warm and dexterous enough.  Durability proved to be top-notch and the glove breathes way better than anything else I have tried.  Big $$$ but worth if you want to have the ultimate. The engineering that went into that piece is pretty cool.  The Heli is still my favorite for the narrow trim fit, but the technology is not on a par with the DeadBird,  Heli cannot withstand a whole day of a wet California storm skiing, it gets soaked through the seams no matter how much waterproofing I pile on and from that point it is game over. AlphaSV stays bone dry all day.  If you manage to get snow in your glove, it melts and then evaporates through the GoreTex membrane, so after 30 minutes your hands are dry again.  This year, the glove added idiot leashes and an improved wrist strap.  The Outdry gloves by Mountain Hardwear are supposed to be close in performance, but it does not have a removable liner, so you better have an air drier to get it ready for the next morning.  

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