Outdoor Research has updated their Splitter rock climbing gloves for 2018. And while on the surface it may look like a purely cosmetic change, they’ve also tried to address some of the durability and fit concerns expressed by climbers. Now this review will focus solely on the new Splitter gloves. If you’re interested in how different climbing gloves options stack up to one another check out the Comparison Review of Crack Climbing Gloves we published a few years ago.
Changes from the 2016 Version:
- 6g Lighter (claimed)
- Glove fabric color change: black to grey
- Revised wrist strap velcro attachment
- Reshaped thumb loop
One of the concerns many climbers had with the original version of the Splitter gloves was durability. The finger and thumb loops can be delicate and it doesn’t take long to scuff the rubberized patches on the back of the hand. However, in my experience if the gloves are treated well it takes a very long time to wear out the finger and thumb loops. Of course a thumb loop failure did retire my first pair of Splitter gloves but they’d suffered through hundreds of pitches of climbing first. As for the grip patch durability, I found this to be more of a perception issue than a real issue. The scuffing didn’t change the grip and the lifespan of the patches exceeds that of other parts of the glove.
The area that I found wears the fastest on the Splitter gloves, new and old, is the Velcro wrist strap attachment point. Where the strap doubles back upon itself it stands out from the inside of the wrist and rubs on the rock. To protect this area I’ll often cover it with a small piece of tape. Now the new Splitter gloves have a slightly different velcro attachment which will improve durability but it’s still a weak point and will benefit from a little tape if you notice wear.
Fit & Feel:
The comfortable, low-profile fit of the Splitter gloves is what really sets them apart from the crowd. Especially for us guys. My hands are big enough already! So unless I’m climbing off-widths I want something low-profile that still allows me to get my mitts into a crack. The other great feature of the Splitter gloves is they allow the feel of the rock to come though. I find that when I can feel the rock I relax my hands more and don’t tend to over-jam.
OR’s Splitter gloves come in 3 sizes: XS, S/M, L/XL. I typically wear a L when it comes to gloves but will sometimes fit a M and never an XL. I found that the S/M Splitter gloves fit me the best. The L/XL were just a bit loose making them a bit baggy and harder to jam securely.
A must-have for people with larger hands or anyone climbing thin(ish) or variable width cracks. Places like Red Rocks, Yosemite, Squamish, Bugaboos, etc. They also work great for splitter Indian Creek type cracks in hand sizes but I prefer a thin wrap of tape for really tight hands or the Ocun gloves for big hands and off-widths.
Pros: comfortable, light, low-profile
Cons: no protection for the velcro
Overall: A fantastic low-profile crack glove that provides good protection while still allowing the feeling of the rock to come though. A must-have for climbing sharp granite or rough sandstone. The 2018 version has been finessed a bit but still feels the same as the original.
I purchased a pair of the OR Splitter gloves for testing but of course it doesn’t matter where the gear comes from we always provide unbiased reviews.