If you’re looking for a glove that combines style and function, one that looks cool but while it keeps you warm, meet the Swix Avant-Garde. Though Swix Sport may not be the best-known name in the industry, this Norwegian company clearly knows their trade (with headquarters in Norway and Boston they must have some expertise with cold weather), and combines truly excellent engineering with a panoply of high-quality materials to produce a leading product.
Superior Build Quality
For their first line of defense, the Avant Gardes offer a tough outer shell that combines 80% Ripstop Softshell nylon and 20% weatherproofed smooth grain leather for an exterior that’s 100% awesome. “Softshell,” a term for a category of fabrics, connotes material that’s been specially woven for comfort, flexibility, and waterproofing, so you gain protection without having to sacrifice dexterity. And, while nylon may make many think of inexpensive (and sometimes dated) clothing, the fabric proves that it’s worth more than its weight in gold in all kinds of outdoor protective gear from camping tents to clothing.For its ample—but not overly bulky—insulation, the Avant Gardes are protected by Swix’s proprietary “SWIX IV ZONE I.T. insulation system,” which is famous for its ability to not only trap escaping heat, but redirect it toward the hands. While it’s not clear how this scientific marvel works, users have reported bringing these as high as the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro with only minimal discomfort. In other words, nothing that couldn’t be remedied by slipping in a commonly-available chemical hand warmer underneath each glove. Considering that many skiers have to do that on mountains much smaller and less frigid than the infamous “KJ,” that should really tell you something about how tough this gear is.Personally I’m often skeptical when companies boast of unique proprietary technologies without ever attempting to explain to customers what they’re really offering, but in this case the consensus among users is fairly enormous.
Finally, they boast an inner membrane of GORE-TEX, the gold-standard of weatherproof fabrics. Famous for its ability to trap water out, while allowing water vapor to escape (a vital means of preventing hands from getting clammy on the slopes), this wonder material is used in many top-of-the-line products across industries. If you want truly excellent protection from the elements, it’s hard to go wrong with GORE-TEX. Frankly the inner membrane is likely more waterproof than the outer shell (tough though it may be), so while your hands are likely to stay dry either way, it’s worth noting that the insulation may at times be vulnerable to water getting through that nylon layer.
Swag on the Slopes
Construction as solid as what you’ll find here would be enough to recommend them all on its own—after all, their purpose is to keep your hands warm and dry, and odds are good that this product will do exactly that.However, no truly thorough review could ignore a very obvious elephant in the room: these aren’t just good gloves, they’re very cool looking. Now that may not be your first priority, but if you want to bring serious flavor to the mountain, these are a great place to start.And in addition to looking good, they offer great features like a removable elastic strap for keeping them where you need them, a vent/hand warmer pocket with heavy-duty YKK zipper, tough nylon wrist strap for locking out snow, and a mini-gauntlet style microfiber cuff for comfort and protection.
For a great match of functionality and almost futuristically cool aesthetics, the Swix Avant Gardes truly live up to their name—they’re way ahead of the curve.