Gear Review: Nana Elsie’s Hand-knitted Liner Gloves

Nana Elsies glovesDuring the process of purchasing clothing and equipment for our South American adventure, the time came to replace my haggard collection of liner gloves. I positively loathed the idea of parting with hard currency for these, given the fact that every product on the market is complete garbage.

I’ve tried them all, including but not limited to Black Diamond, RAB, Outdoor Research, Komperdell and the homebrand REI model. I’ve even tried some Kathmandu offerings which were so offensively useless that they should come with an instant refund and a written apology. None have lasted longer than a single expedition and most are virtually impossible to repair once damaged.

Hearing my lament, Nana Elsie didn’t sit on her hands. Instead, she grabbed her knitting needles and crafted some of the finest liner gloves this planet has ever seen. They have honourably withstood the obligatory abuse which all my gear must endure, and what follows is a review of their admirable qualities.

Comfort and Fit
These gloves fit better than any I have ever worn, mostly because they were built to the exact dimensions of my hand. Nana Elsie sent me three prototypes before dialling in the production model, the end result being nothing less than a bespoke piece of woollen wonderment. No more floppy cuffs and weird finger lengths – these things fit, ahem, like a glove.

Durability
The main problem I have with garden variety liner gloves is durability. As stated above, most of them won’t even outlast a lunar cycle. Not so with Nana Elsie’s Hand-knitted Liner Gloves – I received five pairs in my original shipment, but I’m yet to burn through a single glove! This is despite some genuinely hard yakka undertaken over two alpine seasons in Peru, Bolivia and Patagonia.

As an unexpected bonus, it should be remembered that wool is a superb flame retardant. I had cause to discover this fact when a damaged fuel bottle caused a dangerous flare-up at Alpamayo basecamp in the Cordillera Blanca. In the ensuing kerfuffle, my hands remained unscathed thanks to Nana Elsie’s gloves and the magical properties of wool.

Rocking out in a pair of Nana Elsie’s gloves on the summit of Urus Este (5420m), Peru.

Warmth
For temperatures down around 0c, I felt quite comfortable in Nana Elsie’s gloves. However, given the large weave of the woollen fibres, wind can present a problem. In cold and gusty conditions, pairing with a more robust wind-resistant layer is advisable, keeping in mind that the additional bulk of knitted garments may require larger sizing in subsequent layers.

As with any liner glove, the idea is not to do any “work” which may cause the glove to become wet – building wind walls, digging snow pits, falling over etc. Again, pairing with a more robust water-proof layer is advisable for these purposes. I found that Nana Elsie’s gloves took a little longer to dry than the average liner, but the difference was not problematic.

Weight
Nana Elsie’s Hand-knitted Liner Gloves are certainly a bit heavier and bulkier than your standard liner glove. But they also come with the advantage of not being shit, so it’s a fair trade.

Style
If you’re going for that uber-sleek, après-cable car, back-in-chamonix-by-suppertime look, knitted gloves might not suit your wardrobe. On the other hand, if you’re looking for some post-war vibes and genuine old school street cred, these are an absolute winner. For that extra touch of dirtbag chic, consider a fingerless model.

Price
Nana Elsie gave me these gloves as a gift. In comparison, Black Diamond lightweight liners retail at $19.95 USD a throw. If my figures are correct, that’s a saving of $19.95 USD a pair.

Summary
Just as we discovered during that brief and weird fling with polypropylene baselayers, the latest is not always the greatest. Wool is the king of fabrics, so ask your own nana for a pair of hand-knitted liner gloves today!

After a stellar knitting career spanning some 87 years, Nana Elsie has finally hung up her needles owing to macular degeneration. We thank her for all her generous gifts of warm woolen creations over the years!

Ryan Siacci, Esq.
May 2019

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