The new Black Diamond Punisher Gloves, updated in 2015, are up for review today. They are gloves I bought to replace the aging Eastern Mountain Sports gloves I had, which were pushing on 8 years old. I wanted a beefier, warmer, and more durable set of gloves for all winter sport activities. Gloves like these are actually hard to come by these days, as most manufacturers (Black Diamond included) have several lines of gloves specific for skiing, ice climbing, general duty work, and insulation.
After testing out multiple gloves by Black Diamond, Arcteryx, and Outdoor Research in store, I decided on the Black Diamond Punishers for their happy mix of warmth, durability, protection, and most importantly, dexterity. Dexterity seems to be the major point of compromise when it comes to a good glove, and, not surprisingly, is the thing that every buyer wants but doesn’t want to trade up anything for.
Bad news. There’s always tradeoff. If you want dexterity, you’ll need to sacrifice warmth or durability. You can’t have surgeon-level dexterity and still expect your hands to be warm. That being said, the Black Diamond Punisher gloves offered the best compromise.
So far, I’ve put these gloves through their paces. From climbing the Franconia Ridge Trail in 20 degrees with 20 mph winds, to trekking all over Iceland in January, and general duty snowplowing gloves in a New Hampshire winter.
Materials & Construction
Durable. Beefy. Double stitched where they should be. Finger pull loops for quick off. Soft patch for wiping your nose. These gloves have all the go to features you want in a glove with a little more.
The all leather palms on these gloves are supple, yet durable. They require very little break in time and very little maintenance if any. I would suggest a quick dab of leather conditioner before storing them at the end of the winter as a precaution.
Because only the palms are leather and the back and majority of the glove is waterproof nylon, these do not have the stiffness and break-in period requisite of full leather gloves. Oh, and theres a subtle pretty snowflake pattern to show your softer side to the snow bunnies.
The backs of the gloves have a gracious amount of foam padding, perfect for ice climbing and winter outdoor work. I plan to use these as my pond hockey glove because of that extra bit of protection. I’ve found them super forgiving when snowplowing, as I’m worried about accidentally punching a handle or auger blade while cleaning it.
In The Field
Like I said before, I’ve put these gloves through a number of scenarios. First off, they are waterproof and windproof. While I haven’t tried a dunk test yet, I have had them get sufficiently wet in a winter rain/ice storm. No worries there.
As far as dexterity goes, I’m able to do a number of tasks that a full weight ski glove wouldn’t. The tactility lets me confidently grip an ice axe and feel like I’m actually in contact with something.
While hiking, I have enough control to unlash a mountaineer axe from my ice tool loops, put on a head lamp and use the push button, as well as deftly unzip a shell’s zipper. Beyond that, you’ll have to pull them off. This is not a big deal, as the more things I can do with my gloves on saves both time and that little bit of extra body heat.
When it comes to warmth, these gloves will get cold if stationary. While hiking, shoveling snow, or romping around at a decent clip, they are adequately warm. I don’t need liners. If I’m going to be standing around, like on a windswept ice plain watching the Northern Lights in Iceland, I’m glad I’m wearing glove liners. Even then, with my Outdoor Research Pl100 liners (the thinnest ones), my hands do get cold. They also get cold doing any activity involving little effort and holding an ice cold hunk of motorized metal (aka snowplowing). I bet if Black Diamond added some extra insulation in the palms, this would fix this problem. I fix it by switching over to some shoveling clean up work to get the blood moving again.
I really like the way the gauntlets cinch up in this glove. When putting them on, they are wide enough to grip my jacket cuff as I pull my hand in and into the fingers of the glove.
From there, its a quick pull of the plastic bungee to tighten them down, which they do comfortably.
Many gloves I’ve used in the past overlook the cinching end of the gauntlet, where, if theres not a sufficient amount of fabric between the inner drawstring and your arm, you can feel the string digging right into your skin. These gloves, however they were made, do not.
Releasing the draw string is just as easy. A pull on the rubberized flat fabric tab next to the pull loosens them quickly. No fumbling with a plastic spring toggle. And no metal spring to encase with ice and not work anymore.
All in all, for the price of a lift ticket and lunch, the Black Diamond Punishers are an excellent investment at $100. While I don’t ice climb (yet), my two buddies, who are hardcore ice climbers swear by them. They’ve gone with these gloves over Mountain Hardwears and Arcteryx gloves. And they’ve had the same pairs for over 4 years now. This was one of the reasons why I chose them, since I’ve seen first hand their performance over time and can confidently put my own trust into them.
Give ’em try.
Learn more about the Black Diamond Punisher gloves at the Black Diamond site here.
Purchase them before winter ends at Amazon here.