Black Diamond Enforcer Glove Review
Reviewed by Jon Griffith
Gloves- a nightmare. Expensive, fast wearing and never as warm and as dexterous as you want them to be. Your hands and fingers are, at the end of the day, your bodies’ ultimate tool for the job. They mould themselves round anything from tiny crimpers to modern mixed ice tools and everything between. Unimpeded they do the job very well, but whack on some insulation and your dexterity flies out the window. Similarly, frozen fingers are also totally useless. So ideally you want a pair of gloves that will keep your hands very toasty but still give you the dexterity of a concert pianist.
The advancement in glove technology and design over the last 10 years has been phenomenal. We now have a glove for every conceivable type of climbing, which is great if you have the cash and can be bothered to carry up 5 pairs of gloves for a big route; but not so great for the majority of us. I’m constantly on the look out for an all-round alpine climbing glove- possibly the biggest challenge there is in glove design as it means that every design concept is pushed to its boundaries. It has to keep my hands toasty at -20; be fully waterproof but also allow my hands to breathe easily when roping up big snowfields; and it has to be dexterous enough to place the smallest gear with ease. Put on most gloves that are designed to around those temperatures and you feel like you should be in a boxing ring rather than gripped on some ice.
BD brought out the Prodigy a couple of years ago which I reviewed and in a nutshell thought they were great. Last year they brought out the Enforcer glove which promised a lot and looked like a bigger brother of the Prodigy. After a whole year’s use from them on all types of mixed and skiing terrain I can honestly say that these make the Prodigy look like some failing product from 5 years ago- they really are that good.
On Le Cigar, WI5, Chatelard. ©Will Sim
BD have this to say about the Enforcer
The ultimate in impact and “wet” ice protection, the Enforcer is designed to take on the nastiest of conditions. The d30® padding hardens upon impact yet remains supple and flexible during use. Wetness is shut down with a 100% waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex® with XCR® Product Technology insert, and abrasion-resistant schoeller fabric provides a stellar grip. Insulated with PrimaLoft® and fleece, the Enforcer will keep your digits warm in temps that dip well south of freezing. Comes with removable liner
So what does that all relate to in the real world? What it means is that they designed an awesome alpine climbing glove. The d30 is nothing new but it still works a dream. If you’ve ever bashed your knuckles against rock or ice when using your tools you’ll understand how valuable some knuckle protection is. However the d30 isn’t just limited to the knuckles but pretty much all your top hand area. It is placed on in strips meaning that it doesn’t impede your dexterity either. The build quality of the exterior is phenomenal and the fact that I am still using mine now is testimony to that fact. In winter gloves only last me a few months at best but its only in the last month or so that I have started to feel that its time they got replaced. The waterproofness of the glove also lasted a surprisingly long time which is really key to keeping your hands warm. Even though the insulation is PrimaLoft which insulates even when wet, damp hands means that you will inevitably get the hot aches faster and on long belays gloves can easily freeze up meaning you end up with a rigid claw rather than a dexterous hand to climb with. It was only towards the end of the winter season that I noticed it was starting to absorb water (but if you count the amount of days on the hills from a season in the alps its quite a few). I don’t suffer from excessively sweaty hands but for me these gloves were fine for breathability.
Dexterity was great, but I have to admit that there were times when I had to take the glove off to place particularly fiddly pro. But until they come up with a new radical form of insulation this is going to be the norm for the moment.
Approaching the crux of Star Academixte
Other features of the glove are a gauntlet (essential in my eyes) and a small loop on the middle finger meaning you can hang them on your harness at belays without them filling up with snow. The removable inner is ideal too as you can dry both parts out much quicker that way be it at home or in your sleeping bag that night. The one bad thing I have to say about this glove is the inner. New for the Enforcer there is, what feels like, a velvety inner liner. Whilst this feels very nice at first once it gets damp it is a complete nightmare to take your hands in and out again as it ‘sticks’ to your skin. It gets better over time but it meant I couldn’t take the glove on and off easily which can be a right pain when you are fiddling around with pro or need to get the fingers out for 30 seconds on some rock.
The Enforcer RRPs at £120 which puts it up there in the top-end glove sector. Is it worth it? Undoubtedly, but make sure it’s the right glove for you. The Enforcer is sold as an ice climbing glove but for me this would be too much for ice cragging. I would much rather have something a little lighter and therefore more dexterous. For Alpine winter though it’s perfect and recommend it highly for that.
A word of warning on gloves. Make sure they are a good fit for your hand- all gloves manufacturers tend to have a slightly different cut and BD suit my hands really well, for some of you this wont be the case and its worth making sure before you purchase. If you have space left over between the tips of your fingers and the end of the glove it will impair your dexterity enormously. For example Marmot tend to cater to people with rather longer fingers meaning that I cant wear any of their gloves, I think BD cater to people with slightly stubbier ones