When you live in gloves, for both work and play, virtually seven days a week all winter long, you learn what you like and more importantly what works. Last winter I had the chance to use, abuse, and review the LEKI Elements Krypton S Gloves. They were used ski patrolling at Purgatory Mountain Resort, ski guiding on Red Mountain Pass and in Alaska, and leading Level 1 and Level 2 AIARE avalanche courses also on Red Mountain Pass.
- 70+ days skiing
- 60 days in a continental snow pack, primarily on Red Mountain Pass, CO
- 10 days on Thompson Pass, Valdez, AK
- 9,318 – 14,150 ft
- Mix of ski patrolling, ski guiding, instructing AIARE avalanche courses, recreational skiing
The Elements Krypton S is a great all around workhorse ski glove. Typically when I’m working (patrolling/ guiding/ instructing avalanche courses) I always have at least two if not three pairs of gloves with me. These were my mid-heavy weight glove that were always with me.
eleMents | Freeski
|Main Material||Softshell 87
|Palm Material||Premium Goatskin
|Length/Size||7.0 – 11.0|
There are really only a few reasons to like (or dislike) any glove:
1) General construction: These are a seam heavy glove. IE lots of stitching. While seams can be weak points they were not in these gloves. The stitching allowed for an articulated curve manufactured into the glove. This manufactured curve gives the glove and incredibly comfortable fit right out of the package. Many less expensive leather gloves feel very stiff and tight until significantly broken in. The Elements felt comfortable and broken in immediately. IE there was no “wear in” period. This made them warm immediately. The same less expensive gloves that require a break in period, are often cold for the first significant period due to being very tight until broken in.
2)Warmth: If you are a skier or rider that runs cold, this could be a great glove for you. I tend to run hot. That meant these were my go gloves for days when; the mercury dipped below 20F / -6 C, I was expecting a lot of standing around such as when instructing avalanche courses or digging snow pits, I was hauling a ski patrol toboggan which have metal handles and can get very cold. I actually did not get quit as much use out of these gloves as I originally expected due to how warm they were. They are not a Denali guide glove, but for lower 48 skiing, especially at Colorado’s high elevation, they are plenty warm. Some of this warmth likely comes from the backside padding (pictured below)
The backside of the Elements’ fingers and back of the palm are padded. I am not sure the original reasoning of the padding. Regardless, this extra padding did add wartime to the glove. Additionally, I use the back of gloved hand when working in snow pits to help clean up the observation wall and test wall of the pit. This allows a better visual of the different layers in the snow. If I can better see the layers in the snow, I can better understand what is going on with their bonding characteristics. This padding added one more insulating layer between my digits and the snow.
In addition to the back of the fingers and palm being padded, the back of the thumb is soft as well. This provides a great snot rag (yup booger covered thumbs) when out and about. Anybody that has worn gloves even a little in the cold knows that a soft back to the thumb is essential and leads to a less runny nose.
I am normally not a big fan of cuffs or Velcro synch straps on my ski gloves. This is due to me taking them on and off repeatedly. The cuff on the Elements was not overbearing or a pain to deal with. This helped with quick transitions on the when getting ready to ski down. If a glove is a pain to put on I am less likely to want to switch from my skinning glove to my skiing glove.
For somebody that takes off and puts on gloves repeatedly, the glove lining must be stitched to the shell of the glove. Anybody that has ever had glove lining turn inside-out knows exactly what I am talking about. The lining of the Elements is stitched securely to the shell of the glove. This means when I would pull my hand out, the lining of the glove would come with it. Rather the lining of the glove would stay securely inside. This makes it easier to pull my hand out as well as put it back in the glove.
Ok….the down side. It seems as though there are two general limits of gloves these days. Some that do ok with moist hands and some that do not. The lining of the Elements is unfortunately the later of the two options. If your hand is dry it will slide into the glove with ease and comfort. However, if your hand is at all moist from the snow (as if you were just doing your hardness tests in a snow pit or taking somebody’s pulse lying in the snow on the ski hill) the lining material would tend to get stuck and “grab” at my hand, making it kind of tricky to get the glove on. Additionally, this would lead to bunching of the lining material. “Keep your hands dry” you say. “Don’t stick them in the snow without gloves on” you add. Well, when working as a ski guide, ski patroller, and avalanche course instructor the gloves are off and on over and over.
Worth mentioning is the Trigger S system that LEKI uses in many of their gloves and poles. The Trigger S in the Elements Krypton gloves works seamlessly with my LEKI Blue Bird Carbon S Poles ( see attached review). However, as I state in the pole review, I am not one that typically likes to attach myself to my poles regardless of the release mechanism. This is because when skiing in the backcountry, being attached to poles can act like an anchor in the even of an avalanche. That being said, there are times when being connected to the poles may be conducive. IE skiing a steep couloir (such as the Turkey Chute or Elevator shaft – see the new Off Piste Ski Atlas Silverton edition for more details on both of those) where falling and tumbling down the couloir is actually the greater concern, not an avalanche. That might be a good time to be connect to my poles so I can’t drop them.
Other the minor lining issue, these are great all around solid ski gloves for a continental snow climate. And for most folks that put their gloves on and leave them on for the duration of the day, this is likely not going to be an issue.
Full disclosure, I am a LEKI athlete and did not pay for these gloves. That being said, I would gladly pay the Elements Krypton S gloves as an addition to my guiding and patrolling kits.