Expert Review: Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor Mittens
This review is my honest opinion of the mittens, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the mittens, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.
The Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor Mittens are the perfect choice for those looking for warm, waterproof, full gauntlet mitts.
About the mittens I own
- Model: 2021 Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor Mittens
- Size: XL
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 200lbs
- Experience: 14 years of skiing
- When I bought them: December 2021
- Days used: 25
- Weather conditions used in: Mid-winter cold days in Utah and Washington, as well as wet and warm spring days all over the Pacific Northwest
- Where I’ve used them: Crystal Mountain, Snoqualmie Pass, WA; Alta-Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude, UT
- Terrain: Mostly resort use with a few extra cold days in the backcountry thrown in
How they perform
What I was looking for
I needed a pair of mittens for days when standard gloves just couldn’t cut it. Especially for damp lift rides where fingers tend to feel the cold the most. Equally important was the need for ultimate waterproofing, so a GORE-TEX insert was at the top of my list.
Why I chose this gear
I decided to go with the Carbide Sensor mittens primarily because they are a full gauntlet, GORE-TEX glove, made with leather where durability counts. In my opinion, the leather is key to resort durability, as it protects them from ski edges when carrying one’s gear. Another major part of my decision was Outdoor Research’s excellent warranty: they stand behind their gear for the lifetime of the product. I really didn’t have many options I was eyeing, but a strong argument could be made for the Dakine Titan Leather mitts. I ended up going with the more readily available option.
What I love about them
- Fit and Comfort: Arguably the best part about these mittens is their luxurious fit. Plenty of room in the fingers with ample length to cover the wrist and cuff. They don’t have the dexterity that a standard glove has, but who needs that in a resort? Note, I rounded up on sizing as I’m on the cusp of L/XL and I prefer a little more finger length.
- Ease of movement: In terms of dexterity, these are mittens and I’m not sure I can expect much in this category. The palm is grippy enough to hang onto my poles without an issue, but I take them off for pretty much everything else. That said, they feel a bit less cumbersome than I would have expected, and they shine with their ease on and off. They slip right on and the stretchy wrist strap moves with me so I don’t have to constantly tighten them.
- Warmth: These gloves are pretty darn toasty for a mitten without a dedicated thermal liner. I’ve had no problem with them even when temps dropped into the single digits.
- Waterproofing: GORE-TEX is the king of waterproofing and it works great in these mittens. I’m happy to report that my fingers stay warm and dry even when it’s cold and damp.
- Breathability: In terms of waterproof breathability, the GORE-TEX liner is top-notch. That said, they are still waterproof, which means on warmer, sweaty days, I have some clammy hands. However, when it’s cold they hold up just fine in this department.
- Weight: The warmth-to-weight ratio of the Carbide Sensor mittens feels really solid. I’ve never once considered them too heavy (and I pack them on cold tours sometimes too), and they have never let me down when the temperature plummets.
- Conditions: As with most mittens, these are most at home on colder resort days. Although if one’s hands run cold regularly, these could be exactly the answer they’re looking for in an everyday mitt.
- Features: These mittens are full of great features: ~50% leather construction makes them super durable; stretchy leashes and adjustment straps make them easy to get on and off; full gauntlet and wrist drawstring provide great protection from the snow; and the backside of thumbs are suede, which works great to wipe my goggles when needed.
- Quality: As with most OR products, the build quality and materials feel top-notch.
- Durability: So far these are showing virtually no signs of wear apart from a few wrinkles in the leather.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Touchscreen compatibility: My only gripe–and I hesitate to call it that–is that these mittens are touchscreen compatible, yet I'm hard-pressed to use a touchscreen while wearing mittens. Of course, that’s not why I bought these, but if one’s interested in a touchscreen-compatible mitten to use their phone while on the slopes, I would recommend a touch-screen-compatible liner to wear under these.
Favorite moment with this gear
Almost every time I’ve worn these mittens, I’ve been shredding at the resort. So I’d say every single time I’ve worn these has been my favorite moment… Lame answer, but 100% true!
Value for the money vs. other options
I consider these mittens a winner when it comes to value. They hold their own when it comes to more expensive options like Hestra (perhaps not quite the same level of build quality, but the protection is similar). Sure, there are other great gloves that are similarly warm and waterproof, like the Dakine Titan GORE-TEX, but I’ve found some durability issues with the rubber grip palm option when carrying sharp-edged skis. And if one steps up to the leather option, they’re rivaling the price of the OR Carbide Mitts, which I feel are less cumbersome and have a few more features.
Overall the OR Carbide Sensor Mitts have exceeded my expectations. They’ve proven to be an affordable, warm, waterproof, and durable choice that I can recommend to anyone.