At first glimpse, the Sigma AR has everything you want. This glove was designed for downhill skiing in just about any conditions. It is insulated with 200g of Primaloft, a synthetic insulator known to conserve your heat, even when it is moist or wet, unlike down. It is a big plus for a sport like downhill skiing where there is intense physical activity followed by doing nothing as we go back up the chair lift. Arc’teryx also placed Polartec® arctic wool Mid Loft on the inside skin to maximise the insulation capacity. On top of this, the glove is Waterproof/Breathable thanks to a GORE-TEX® XCR® layer. It seems very durable with its ultra flexible Lezanova Leather coating on the inside of the fingers. The Sigma AR also covers the wrists very well and is easily adjustable with the cord that can be tightened with only one hand. The Element look, that is so often coveted by skiers (don’t be ashamed), is sober, and proven in the purest of Arc’teryx traditions. All in all, they passed with flying colors on paper, so I decided to test it!
Since ski season has not started yet and it is not hot enough to test them outside, I created a series of challenges in order to verify the characteristics of the glove under extreme conditions.
If you invest in a good glove, you want to make sure it lasts quite a few years. The durability of the leather in the inside of the hands becomes very important when you are constantly handling sticks. The first impression the AR Sigma gives, is one of sturdiness since they are strategically reinforced between the index and the thumb, but only time will tell if they can withstand continued abuse. I therefore attempted to accelerate time by wearing them out prematurely with large grained sand paper. In my opinion, the leather from your gloves should be a little more resistant than your own skin. I therefore sanded my hand...a little, without, I can assure you, experiencing any kind of twisted pleasure. Let’s just say that as a result I have a little fewer calluses.
I then sanded the inside of my left hand glove quite vigorously for 5 minutes. As you can see on the photo below, they resisted quite well. There were some mini scratches but nothing more.
I then tested the waterproof and insulation capacities of the glove by submerging them in a mixture of water, ice, and salt; I recreated Montreal slush. I left my hands (inside the glove) in the slush for 25 minutes without moving (the proof is underneath); when I took them out they were quite cold, yet completely dry. They warmed up very fast as soon as I moved my fingers and I have to say that the leather kept its flexibility even after drying.
I find that a sure way to test a gloves quality is by seeing how much dexterity they allow us. With a low quality glove, the fact is that the insulating material seems to move at your finger tips removing a lot of dexterity. May it be to search for something in your coat pocket while on the chair lift, or to adjust your boots at the top of the mountain, it’s important to be able to count on the flexibility of our fingers, even when they are warm. Just to see, I had fun, with my bottle of slush, trying to recuperate a Toney at the bottom of the jar with my glove on; I also tried to tie a knot. Result: The Sigma AR literally becomes a second skin.
I would recommend the Sigma AR gloves to any skier who needs a Waterproof/Breathable, warm, resistant, I can perform heart surgery with this on, glove. Of course these could also be used for winter hiking, but I generally prefer to wear Mitts in that situation. I would therefore prefer the Sigma AR Mitt model, that has the same characteristics but double the insulation (400g) of Primaloft alone. The only weakness, therefore that I have found for the Sigma AR gloves is that they may not be warm enough for a leisurely activity like hiking. We’ll verify this after winter!
Final Score: 8.6/10
Maxime has been head of marketing at Altitude-sports.com for the past 3 years. When he's not at the office, he likes downhill skying with buddies, hockey on Sundays with the boys or outside during wintertime, hiking and long weekend walks in Montreal. He's never been a top-level athlete but no is he out of breath when he gets to his third-floor appartment.