Gear Review: Rab Alliance Gloves

Rab Alliance Gloves
Rab Alliance Gloves

Winter Gloves
Rab Alliance Gloves
$165, 8 oz. (medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL

In winter activities like backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and snow or ice climbing, you’re out for many hours and can face a huge range of temperatures and weather conditions—and often have your hands right in the snow. To me, gloves that fend off all precipitation and wind—and are super warm when my fingers turn white but versatile enough for moderate cold—are worth every penny. Several days of backcountry and resort skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains convinced me that the Rab Alliance are some of the best gloves I’ve ever used.

The reason is a two-piece system that combines an inner glove containing 60 grams of synthetic PrimaLoft insulation with a shell glove that has a waterproof-breathable eVent membrane. I get cold fingers very easily, but that never happened while wearing this full system in temps down to the high teens F, even on one day of powder skiing in 20°F temps with a 20 mph wind; in fact, the full system was too warm in temps in the mid-20s F, so I’d wear just the inner or outer glove, or a liner (like the Outdoor Research PL 150) with the outer glove. I’m confident that I could wear these gloves in temps in the single digits F. (Backpacker colleagues reported having warm fingers in temps down to 4°F.)

Rab Alliance inner gloves
Rab Alliance inner gloves

The eVent membrane kept my hands dry whether I was skiing up or down in falling snow, or digging pits and sticking my hands into the snowpack to assess avalanche hazard. The Alliance also nails details like the tough, leather palms; soft rayon lining inside the outer gloves; a one-hand gauntlet cinch; a carabiner loop on the back of the middle finger; and reflective lettering. One caveat: Don’t sweat heavily inside the liners, because the fabric tends to cling to wet skin, causing the glove lining in the fingers to flip inside out and making it difficult to get your hands back inside again (until they’ve dried).

See also my reviews of other warm gloves and mittens for winter, the Outdoor Research Luminary Gloves, the Black Diamond Soloist Glove, and the expedition-quality Outdoor Research Mt. Baker Modular Mitts, and the lighter Outdoor Research Lodestar Gloves and Ibex Point 62 Gloves.

See also my 12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter.



NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza


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2 thoughts on “Gear Review: Rab Alliance Gloves”

  1. You know, I always puzzle over why people insist on buying gloves when they want warmth. When my fingers get cold, they end up scrunching up out of the finger parts of gloves to curl up in the warmth of my palm. So, I began experimenting with mittens. With mittens my fingers are free to move independently inside the mitten (adding to circulation) and their combined warmth seems to contribute to overall warmth inside the mitten.On cold days, I wear thin glove liners inside the mittens. (splurging with the new iPhone friendly type)

    I’ve never seen a person with warm gloves, be able to effectively manipulate the fingers of the gloves, When something like a zipper, button, goggle, camera, or phone problem presents itself, gloved hands get nakedly exposed to the elements. So why bother with the fingers in those gloves?

    Mittens rock. 😉

    • Hi Linda, yes, mittens are generally warmer than gloves, if you’re comparing mittens and gloves of similar weight. But there are gloves, like these Alliance gloves, that are warm in temps well below freezing and allow you enough dexterity for zippers, goggles, and some other tasks. Many people prefer gloves for dexterity. Thanks for writing and reading.