Outdoor Research Splitter Gloves
- Synthetic Suede with PU overlays at knuckles
- Hook/Loop wrist closure
- Available in XS, S/M, L/XL
Manufacturer claimed weight: 32g (L)
Size Tested: S/M
Test Locations: Indian Creek & Castle Valley, UT; Lovers Leap & High Sierra, CA
Days Tested: 20
Crack climbing is tough on your hands. Repeated jamming frequently causes an eruption of gobies, large open abrasions on the backs of your hands, fingers, forearms, elbows, knees, and sometimes even your back.
To combat this, most people use cotton athletic tape to cover their skin and provide an additional layer of protection. But this typically means using multiple rolls of tape, spending time taping up, and being left with an icky black residue on your hands at the end of the day.
In the past several years, a few companies have started to make pre-made tape gloves with a sticky rubber back and velcro closure. Outdoor Research is the latest company to enter the crack gloves world, and probably the most recognizable brand involved so far, so I was interested to see what they brought to the table.
Note: A Little Controversy
Like many new ideas, crack gloves have been slow to catch on. Common excuses include: “They look dorky,” “They’re not durable,” “They cost too much,” and “They’re cheating.”
I have heard and understand all the objections to crack gloves. I also appreciate that many people have very strong feelings about the legitimacy of using crack gloves, just like kneepads, and other climbing accoutrements. Fair enough. However, rather than rehash once again these old objections, this review assumes that you’re willing to be open minded, at least, about crack gloves.
Ok, back to the OR Splitter.
The Outdoor Research Splitter gloves follow many of the same principles as previously produced crack gloves, but with some nice refinements. The foundation of the glove is a thin synthetic suede sheet with finger and thumb holes, and a micro-velcro closure tab at the wrist. The suede on the gloves has a tiny bit of stretch to it, which makes putting the gloves on and off a breeze, and makes them extremely comfortable to wear.
A thin sheet of rubber is glued onto the back of the hand and around the wrist, providing both padding and additional grip. Unlike many other crack gloves, the Splitter gloves are very thin, almost flimsy feeling, and have a very low profile which fits close to your hand—a critical benefit, especially when jamming thin hand cracks.
The OR Splitter gloves come in three sizes: XS, S/M, and L/XL. I generally wear a size Small in OR gloves, and a size Medium in Black Diamond.
The S/M fits me very well, and thanks to the adjustability of the velcro closure and the small amount of stretch in the suede, I feel that, given the three size options, these gloves will easily accommodate any hand size.
(For what it’s worth, my hand jam size is a #2 BD Camalot. If your hands are #1 Camalot sized, I’d probably go with the XS, and if they are #3 Camalot sized, the L/XL will probably be best.)
For a long time I counted myself among those climbers who looked down on crack gloves. My prejudice against them came from using several pairs intermittently, all of which fit sloppily, were too thick, and fell apart quickly.
Tape simply seemed better. And climbers can fully customize their tape gloves. Add a few more layers to make your hands a bit thicker, or do just a single wrap for a very thin layer. The possibilities for tape gloves are endless.
But tape has its downsides: You need to keep buying it. Taping up at the beginning of the day takes time. It’s impractical to remove your tape gloves between climbs. And at the end of the day, the tape leaves a dirty mess of black funk on your hands, wrists, and fingers.
A well-designed pair of crack gloves solves all those issues.
NEXT: Performance, Value, Durability, Etc.