The Outdoor Research Highcamp 3-Finger Gloves have saved my ski season last year: they’re warm, flexible, durable, and easy to wear. More importantly, if you ski with kids or like to take photos and video with your smartphone, the three-finger Highcamp design — which is sometimes called a “glomitt” or “split finger” design — is for you.
First, mittens are generally warmer than gloves but mittens lack dexterity. The partial mitten design of the Outdoor Research Highcamp 3-Finger Gloves gives you index finger dexterity with the warmth of mittens.
Second, the price is right. Sure, you could invest in a pair of Hestra Fall Line gloves for quite a bit more, but that still may not be the right choice if you end up repeatedly taking your gloves off and on — which is where, for me, the Highcamp 3-Finger Gloves really start to shine.
Outdoor Research Highcamp 3-Finger Gloves Review
The OR Highcamp 3-Finger Gloves feature two layers of insulation: The first is the 3-finger mitten layer, which is lightly insulated. It’s waterproof and breathable. The second layer is a touch-screen compatible liner glove. The inner glove has a couple strips of Velcro-like fasteners that hold the inner glove inside the mitten. This lets you take your bare hand out of the entire glove system at once, leaving the inner glove inside the shell. Alternately, if you don’t bother to fasten the inner gloves inside the shell, you can take the mitten shell off but keep your hand covered by the liner glove.
This works great for skiing and outdoor winder sports because you can have near-instant dexterity while also keeping your hand relatively warm. Case in point? You can pull out your smartphone on the chair lift so you can snap a photo or text an update on your location and plans.
So how well does the touch-screen compatible inner glove work? Pretty well. I wish the construction of the index finger had smaller seams, but I could still dial phone numbers and carefully tap out short text messages. Still, I found that I liked using dictation better than trying to tap out a long text message while wearing the gloves.
Of course, the dexterity of the glove also lets you do things like eat a sandwich or adjust the goggles on a little girl without pulling her hair in the process.
Mittens vs Gloves: Are You Ready?
As for me, I just wasn’t ready to give up the dexterity of gloves for the warmth of mittens — but I found the Highcamp 3-Finger Gloves to be an excellent compromise. Your index finger gives you most of the core dexterity you need for zipping up jackets, holding ski poles, or tightening boots.
Sizing seems about right — maybe slightly larger than your average insulated glove to account for the shell and liner system.
The overall system offers great wrist coverage and easy tightening and loosening. The shell is pre-curved, so it wears naturally on your hands. The palms are a supple leather, which is both a pro and a con: The leather isn’t thick, which means you retain good feeling and dexterity when gripping things . . . but it’s also not as durable as a typical high-end leather glove that costs twice as much. For me, the overall warmth and flexibility of design far outweighs this con. If I do end up puncturing or tearing the leather palm — I have not punctured it after a few ski outings — I’ll just slap a coat of GearAid AquaSeal over it and keep going.
In case you like the overall design but want to stick with a traditional mitten or a traditional glove design, Outdoor Research offers those options in the Highcamp line, too — see links below.
All-in-all, the Outdoor Research Highcamp 3-Finger Gloves are a great compromise glove — you get close to the warmth of mittens with the near-dexterity of a glove. Plus, you get a versatile shell system. If you suffer from cold hands or need to take your hands in and out of gloves while playing in the cold, the Outdoor Research Highcamp 3-Finger Gloves are an excellent, cost-effective choice. I’m a big fan. Highly recommended.