The Hestra Fält Guide Gloves come from an established glove making company based in Sweden. The only products they make are gloves, and so as you might expect they have a rather large array of products to choose from. A significant portion are orientated towards the skiing markets, everything from downhill racing to cross-country, but they also make models aimed at the Mountaineering and Outdoor sectors. Of these last two, the Fält Guide Glove falls under the Outdoor heading and, perhaps because of its association with Lars Fält, is billed as its top model. As usual, we’ll start with what Hestra have to say about their product:
This model is named after one of Sweden’s leading survival experts, Lars Fält, who was also involved in the development of the glove. A durable glove made entirely of leather with removable wool terry cloth/wool pile liner. Can also be combined with other liners. With the right care, it can remain a favorite for many years. OUTER MATERIAL: Impregnated cowhide and impregnated Army Leather goatskin on the palm. LINING: Removable liner with wool terrycloth on the palm and wool pile on the top of the hand. FEATURES: Eyelet with carabiner. External seams. Securing point for handcuffs.
The glove are comprised of an outer and inner section which I’ll address separately below.
The inner gloves are made of wool pile and a wool terry-knit. The upper part is comprised of wool pile whilst the terry-knit makes up the bottom section (including the underside of the fingers). As with all pile fabrics (I find) it has compressed from its original thickness in the time I have been wearing them, but nonetheless still remains a good three to four times thicker than its terry-knit underside. I guess the reason for this separation of materials is to improve the dexterity of the glove whilst retaining as much warmth as possible.
The seams of the inner glove are on the outside which makes it comfortable to wear – indeed from the inside you can hardly feel they’re there. The cuff extends three inches below your wrist and has a small cloth loop for hanging them to dry and two small velcro patches (front and back) for attaching it the outer glove. The cuffs are not elasticated but the nature of the material and terry-knit means there is some stretch in the lower section . I’ll discuss the fit in more detail later.
The outer is an all leather affair making use of Hestra’s ‘Arm Leather’ for the palms (white/black areas) and cowhide everywhere else (yellow/brown areas). Hestra describes each of these types of leather as follows:
Army Leather is Hestra’s most durable leather. It is a specially treated goatskin that works great for gloves made for rough conditions. The leather has good impregnation and structural properties that provides effective protection against moisture.
I would agree with the gist of what is being said here – essentially its tough (and thicker) and water resistant. Hestra also provides a little pouch of leather cream to reproof the leather and help retain its water repellency which is a nice touch. Its really only enough for one application, but bigger tubs can be bought from them also. This leather is found all over the underside of the gloves with a strip across the knuckles with the logo debossed. On my gloves, being white, it shows dirt very well. Other models including the black version probably less so, but you might then have more of a staining issue to contend with.
Cowhide is a durable leather with good impregnation properties. Hestra uses this for many of the ski gloves. Preferably, the cowhide shall come from Scandinavia, where the climate provides the best leather.
Again, I agree with what’s said – this leather is thinner and so much more supple. Its only found on the upper side of the glove and I find it to be quite breathable. When exercising hard I have often found damp patches appearing on the surface (which I assume to be moisture escaping, so good) although this is dyed and have found that some of the coloration has rubbed onto the inner glove. I also find these areas show water stains much much more than the white areas, as you might expect.
I have yet to have any problems with the durability of this material. Whilst at first they might feel quite stiff, as with all leather it quickly becomes very supple. Personally I have only really used these for leisure activities (skiing, biking, walking etc.) preferring cheaper gloves to work in, but so far there are no signs of material failure.
Personally I’m quite pedantic about the fit of gloves, but I find these fit quite well. The site provides a fitting guide to help you determine the correct size, which I found to work well. Obviously all hands are different, and a perfect fit is highly unlikely, but for me the palm width was good although the finger length slightly too long. These gloves are not pre-curved (like some of their models) but they quickly become flexible. The inner-outer nature makes them intrinsically less dextrous than a single layer glove, but in my opinion the warmth-to-dextrousness ratio is high. The fact that they have all seams on the outside does detract from some finer movement and I wouldn’t say that it’s possible to retrieve a tissue or handkerchief from an average pocket for example.
The gloves have a few other features. Notibly they have a small plastic triangle which, I assume, is for attaching hand-cuffs (they don’t come with any). Although it does also have the eyelet on the outside, this loop on the inside (attached to the inside of the outer glove) allows the loop and cord of the hand-cuff to remain under your layers, rather than having the snake it’s way in from the outside to attach to your wrist.
Is also worth noting that the quality of the stitching appears excellent.
Finally, I find the gauntlet of these gloves to be a little cumbersome. I find the size to be too small and awkward when wearing over multiple layers of cuffs, but somehow too big when wearing them with a loose un-adjusted jacket cuffs. It’s a personal thing really I guess…
One disappointing detail, is that the name label (helpfully sewn onto the inside of the outer glove) has, in mine at least, be sewn such that it overlaps one of the squares of velcro (not the one seen above). To get the two bits of velcro to stick (the bit from the inner glove onto the outer glove) you have to bend the label back so that is sticks up out of the cuff. Not big detail, but something I would expect Hestra to have spotted and fixed in this quality of product.
The quality of these gloves is defiantly high, but the price tag similarly so. The price is not unreasonable, but be sure your buying them for the right purpose – in my opinion these gloves are too good to be worn as work gloves, and they will never be as warm as mitts. So far they have lasted me well, I expect them to last me many more years. They are very comfortable to wear and certainly my glove of choice when skiing. Will other gloves do the same job – yes, probably. Will other gloves be as warm and comfortable – yes, probably. Will other gloves last as long – perhaps not.
Would I buy this again: Yes (probably)
(This review is based on gloves bought in mid-2010. If you get the chance, always view products first hand, as some features may have been updated or modified.)
Hestra gloves are fairly widely available in both the UK and mainland Europe. Their website (link) has an extensive list of suppliers in Europe and the USA, though people in other parts of the world will probably struggle to find anything local.