Black Diamond Women’s Spark Mitt
Reviewer Hand Size:
- Circumference around knuckles: 7.75”
- Wrist crease to middle finger: 7.25”
- Fixed lining with 100% waterproof BDry insert
- Full goat leather construction
- Fixed brushed tricot lining with individual fingers
- Neoprene cuff with hook-and-loop closure
Test Locations: Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and Eldora, CO
Days Tested: 10
For the 2015/2016 season, Black Diamond is introducing a women’s version of the Spark Mitt. With a leather exterior, it looks sleek and is sufficiently waterproof and warm.
Fit / Sizing
Black Diamond’s gloves come in standard sizes (Small, Medium, etc.). While this doesn’t really matter if you can try the gloves on in the store, it can make buying them a bit more difficult online. To determine your size, Black Diamond recommends measuring the length from the base of your hand to the tip of your middle finger, as well as the girth of the widest part of your dominant hand. The larger of the two measurements should be used to determine the correct size.
My hand length measures 7.25”, which falls between a Small and Medium, while my hand’s girth measures 7.75”, falling between a Medium and Large. Although I possibly could have fit into a Large, I am used to wearing compact mittens that allow for greater dexterity and movement, which I didn’t want to compromise by sizing up. So I went with a Medium.
At first glance, the Spark Mitt looked extremely small. In fact, I questioned whether I would be able to slip my hand through the neoprene cuff and into the mitten. Even though I was able to get my hand in the mitten, the fit is very snug. Initially, it was difficult to get my hand through the cuff, especially without opening the velcro strap. After a few days, the cuff’s material stretched a little bit, which made it easier to put the mittens on, though it is still tight around the palm and fingers. I came to really like the tight cuff, since it kept out snow and cold air and made it easy to cinch my jacket’s cuff tightly over the Spark Mitt.
As I expected, sizing down allowed for greater dexterity. I was easily able to grab hard-to-reach zippers on my jacket and make most clothing adjustments without taking off my mittens.
The Spark Mitt has an inner lining dividing each finger, which greatly improved the mitten’s dexterity.
Black Diamond added an additional, diagonal strip of leather on the palm to match the natural curve of the hand, which allowed for a comfortable and tight fit around the grip of my pole while skiing. Though the Spark Mitt is snug, I never felt that it was restricting. The mitten’s leather is forgiving and stretches a little to fit better over time.
Black Diamond rates the Spark Mitt to perform best between 10-30ºF, or -12 to -1ºC. This season, I wore the Spark Mitt in this temperature range, as well as on some colder and warmer days, too.
Determining a temperature range for a mitten or a glove can be difficult because it depends on the mitten’s fit and on the individual. While a smaller glove provides increased dexterity, a larger glove can be warmer. So, I ended up compromising some warmth for dexterity. In Colorado, this wasn’t a big issue; however, for colder areas (like my home state of Vermont) I would have preferred a larger mitten. When the mitten is snug, there is a larger area where the hand is in direct contact with the inside of the mitten where the cold air seeps through.
I also have relatively poor circulation, so my hands and toes often get cold when temperatures start to drop. At temperatures of 20ºF and above, I had no problems with keeping my hands warm in the Spark Mitt. Around 10 to 15ºF and below, I often struggled to keep the tips of my fingers warm.
I had a particularly difficult time keeping my thumbs warm on a 10ºF powder day; on several runs I had to stop mid-run and warm up my hands before re-gripping my pole. If your hands tend to get cold easily, it is possible that sizing up would provide more space around the thumb to increase the mitten’s warmth. As I said, though, you would sacrifice some dexterity.
I wore the Spark Mitt on a handful of powder days and found that the mitten stayed pretty dry. The exterior leather became a bit damp and slightly sticky to the touch when the snow was heavier and wetter, however the moisture never soaked through the leather. I haven’t treated the leather yet, so it’s definitely possible that it could be even more water resistant. I would definitely recommend doing so, both to increase the mitten’s water resistance and longevity.
The Spark Mitt’s goat leather exterior is deceivingly durable for its supple feel. The palm of a mitten or glove usually wears out first, since it is often in direct contact with the rubber on a pole grip, a ski or snowboard’s edges, or the metal bar of a ski lift. The extra strip of leather on the palm, reinforced by a double stitch, helps improve the durability of this vulnerable area.
The leather at the tips of the fingers has stretched out a little bit and there are some stains, (definitely expected with any white outerwear), but overall, the mitten has held up really well throughout the season.
The Black Diamond Spark Mitt is a compact and well-designed mitten. For its dexterity and overall sleek design, it is surprisingly warm, although it is definitely not a mitten for really cold weather. For most days on the mountain, the Spark Mitt is an excellent choice.