These old gloves

These Old Gloves

Sometimes, something won’t let you let it go. These old gloves are more repair than original, but they still perform well at their job, and in their long service, have earned my loyalty.

Eight years ago, realizing that the myriad gloves that I had tried up until that point had all left me cold and wet, I decided to invest some money in keeping my hands warm. The Hestra gloves were expensive, but you could tell that the real leather and waterproofed stitching meant quality. The fleece inners were warm, and, unless snow got in the top, they stayed dry all day.

For several years I was exuberant about my new warm hands and the gloves that had got me there. But gloves wear out. When I snowboard, I like to lazily drag my left hand through the snow as I carve down the mountain. Rocky traverses require gloves to grasp sharp stones. Eventually abrasion takes a toll. The left glove started to leak.

At this point, having had a solid few seasons with the admittedly expensive gloves, I decided to simply buy a new pair - I judged that they had earned their cost, and was happy to pay for a replacement. In the shop the leather seemed a little flimsy, somehow softer, but they were the same gloves, surely they would perform. They did not. Somehow in the intervening period, the MBA's had got to Hestra and started their soul sucking. The leather was cheaper and weaker. In the first day on the mountain, the new gloves began to leak. Thinking I had simply picked a bad pair, I had the shop replace them, but as the replacements failed on the second day, I realized that the new gloves were not the same as my old ones. I got my money back.

Then began a period of exploration, where I spent years, researching gloves, ordering them, trying them and finding them wanting. I thought I had found my white whale with a burly pair of Black Diamonds with thick leather, but on their first outing a hole in the seam opened.

And while I was returning these, I returned to my old faithful pair. I dripped hot P-Tex into the holes, wrapped them in silver tape. Eventually the repairs held, and the gloves stayed dry.

And after a while, I stopped looking for new ones, the old ones looked ghetto, their fraying tape and beat up leather showing their vintage, but they still worked better than anything new.

Years passed, before I realised that the inner fleece had compacted over time, and my hands were starting to get cold. I bought new gloves for paragliding and separate cheap ones for alpine rock. The old faithful gloves were now only for snowboarding.

As the gloves have aged, so have my knees, and the rest of me. I rarely seek out the aggressive steep and technical terrain that were my bread and butter back then. Mellow riding in the side country and social skiing dominate the remaining days of my snowboarding. And for this, the old faithful gloves are perfect, not needing to stay completely waterproof, as they are likely going to fill with snow and sweat anyway, simply keeping my hands warm enough as they drag lazily through the snow.

My other sports have cannibalised the income that was formerly devoted to the snowboard. As a result, a lot of the gear has begun to show it’s vintage, survival bias shown with growths of duct tape and ripstop patches. My ‘new’ helmet is 5 years old. My jacket has lasted over a decade, and has faded comfortably. In some ways, the gloves are part of a coordinated aesthetic, a beat up past-its-prime snowboarder cosseted in silver tape and worn down goretex.

I’m getting old, and so are my gloves.