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Touch-screens, dexterity and moisture management lead design charge in latest gloves

The days of consumers pulling off gloves with their teeth to operate a touch-screen phone or MP3 player are nearly over. SNEWS looks at the latest glove products and trends from Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.

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Throughout the month of February, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 19-22. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

The days of consumers pulling off gloves with their teeth to operate a touch-screen phone or MP3 player are nearly over. Three cheers for keeping digits cozy.

Enhanced touch-screen technology is just one of many trends heading up the 2013 handwear category. Also keeping gloves a hands-down front-runner in accessory sales — with mitts rising 10 percent in units sold and gloves up 12 percent last season, according to SnowSports Industry America — are new technologies melding fabrics and a bigger emphasis on fit and moisture management.

“Undercuff construction and touch-screen compatibility is a major trend we’re seeing this year,” said Outdoor Research Handwear Product Manager Meghan Martens, whose company has grown its handwear line 35 percent this year with 23 new styles. That includes eight in the touch-screen compatible category that debut Outdoor Research’s TouchTec leather. Highlighting its other offerings is the Luminary (MSRP $99), made from Gore-Tex Windstopper and a removable fleece liner meant to dry out quickly.

Also touting the touch-screen trend is Helly Hansen, which unveils the Enigma (MSRP $155), its first-ever smartphone-applicable ski glove with 100-gram PrimaLoft insulation, leather palms and protective gaiter.

For Manzella it’s all about mobile device compatibility, too, as it introduces its new TouchTip product family, including its Power Stretch (MSRP $30), which comes with a Polartec Power Stretch shell with a silicon grip; Tahoe (MSRP $20), made from stretch micro-fleece with a reinforced synthetic suede palm; and Sprint (MSRP $22), for runners utilizing touch screen training devices, among others.

Other brands upping their glove SKUs include Kombi, debuting more than 70 new styles for 2012/13, all of which target specific product segments. Headlining the collection is the Outlier line, available in five styles including the gauntlet-style Prime (MSRP $105) with a nylon and goatskin leather shell, Gore-Tex and Primaloft insulation.

Black Diamond has hopped on the handpiece bandwagon with 28 new offerings in six series (Ice, Ultralight, Ascent, Pro, Freeride and Liner), including the Punisher Pro in its Ice Series, Pilot and Torque in its Ultralight Series and the packable, lightweight Super Light Mitt in its Ascent series. Spearheading its Pro series is waterproof/breathable Rambla and Super Rambla.

Banking on warmth and toughness is Flylow, whose new Mitten (MSRP $40) is hand-baked three times with a double coat of SnoSeal for dryness and comes with minimal stitching for enhanced pole grip and HeatRac insulation.

Companies are continuing to rely on design feedback from athletes, getting input straight from the treeline trenches. Celebrating its 75th anniversary, Hestra unveils the Seth Morrison 3-Finger Pro, a water and windproof offering made from durable leathers and Thermolite insulation. It also debuts Ergo Grip, a patented pre-curve finger construction to improve fit and dexterity, and a new partnership with Swisswool for merino wool insulation.

Another company relying on materials and field notes is Pow Gloves, which enters the show with its new Sniper GTX Trigger (MSRP $75), employing a Gore-Tex waterproof liner, lower-profile, under-the-cuff design and vent-on-the-fly backhand. It redesigned its Assault GTX (MSRP $110) with feedback from teamriders like Matt Cummins, with water-repellent leather, Gore-Tex, Sherpa fleece and 4-ounce Primaloft insulation.

Highlighting the trend of combining synthetic and natural materials, Dakine showcases the new Ranger (MSRP $110), a gauntlet-style glove with water-repellant drum-dyed leather, a Gore-Tex waterproof and breathable insert, 280 grams of Primaloft insulation, and a removable 360-gram wool/500-gram pile quick-drying liner.

Dynafit’s New Radical glove (MSRP $64) is, a minimalist offering for the handwarming world, with a claimed 100 percent wind stopper, tech-touch finger tips, and articulated positioning for touring or racing.

New technologies come to the forefront with 180s new QuantumHeat gloves, highlighted by the Contender (MSRP $75). The technology promises to generate heat during activity, increasing skin temperature up to 3 percent, and claims to absorb 100 percent of moisture off the skin every 2 seconds. It comes with a new QuantumTouch touch-screen-friendly leather palm and waterproof pocket on the back.

“People want quick access to touch-screen devices without sacrificing comfort,” said Director of Design George Campbell. “They want to stay connected on the go.”

–Eugene Buchanan