High Performance Sticky Technical Perfection!
A couple months ago I mentioned I would be reviewing these after I reviewed Kincos gloves as an affordable alternative to high end climbing gloves. While Kincos are great for general mountaineering and back-country skiing sometimes the cost of fancy specified gloves are worth it. The Outdoor Research Alibi II Gloves are a perfect case in point.
My go to glove for leading harder ice climbs the last few years has been the Black Diamond Torque Gloves. While I have never formally reviewed the Torque’s, they are still a well loved model in my current selection of ice climbing gloves. At $20 more than the BD Torques I was interested in seeing how these might out perform the Torques. They win out over the Torques in three important ways;
1) Warmth. While still an un-insulated “thin” glove with excellent dexterity the Alibi II is a bit warmer than the BD Torques. I still opt to wear my EMS Glove Liners with either glove, as this dirt cheap glove liner adds a bit of warmth and comfort to either of these gloves and makes them both feel a bit more comfortable against skin, especially when using the Alibi’s as the inside of the Alibi can get a bit clammy during a day of climbing.
2) Grippy-ness. The Alibi II uses quite a bit of “Pittards® Oiltac Leather Palm for Enhanced Grip and Optimum Control in Wet or Dry Conditions”. This material is simply the stickiest material I have ever found in a climbing glove. It almost feels un-natural how “tacky” this proprietary leather is. My climbing partner today showed disbelief that this leather was not actually a synthetic rubber compound. You really need to feel it in hand to realize the reality of how sticky the material is.
3) Durability. This same unique leather boasts a lot of durability over the non-slip synthetic materials used in similar gloves. After trashing multiple pairs of BD Torques while rappelling & belaying over the years I think I’ve found a thin pair of technical gloves that I do not always have to swap out with my more durable Kincos for every single rappel. To be honest a couple full rappels on the BD Torques could show visual signs of wear in the palm. Today a hasty full length rappel from a Cathedral Ledge ice climb showed no noticeable wear on the palm. While I can burn through a pair of BD Torques in a full season from what I have seen so far I may be able to get 2-3 full seasons out of the Alibi II’s.
Two other small convenience features add value to these ultra-light technical gloves. First, the “carabiner loops” on the middle finger that let you clip them quickly to a Petzl Cari-tool or carabiner while you fiddle with something requiring glove liner, or bare hand, dexterity. Second the re-enforced pull loops at the cuff that help you pull the snug fitting glove in place. No need to bite the cuff while trying to slip these on!
In summary, these should be on your radar if you are leading Grade 3+ and above ice. Having excellent dexterity while placing & clipping ice screws is a huge boon when leading. I’ll still fall back on my insulated BD Ice Gloves for leading in really cold conditions, but for the fast majority of ice climbing days you’ll find me happily swinging away in my new Outdoor Research Alibi II Gloves which you can purchase here.
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Disclaimer: I purchased these gloves with my own money. This post contains affiliate links that help support this site.