Introduction

The Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Glove (2.5 oz / 71 g, $40) is the warmest glove I’ve found that I can use effectively with a smartphone. It’s now a core component of my cold-weather and winter backpacking gear list.

Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Gloves stock image
Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Gloves (photo: Outdoor Research).

The unique feature of the OR Flurry Sensor gloves is their warm fabric construction. The gloves are made with a two-layer fabric branded as Alpin-Wool Plus 2L. The outer layer is a woven blend of wool and nylon, which provides durability and weather-resistance due to the hydrophobicity of those fibers. The inner layer is a thin nylon fleece with a soft polyester inside surface, which provides next-to-skin comfort.

About This Review

In this review, I summarize the highlights of the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Glove, after using it for approximately 30 days over the 2020-2021 winter season in Northern Colorado and Southeast Wyoming.

Features & Specifications

  • Fabric: 43% wool, 38% polyester, 19% nylon fleece with 100% polyester backer (overall composition is 26% wool, 63% polyester, 11% nylon)
  • Other Features: pull-on cord loops, side-release buckle clips to keep the pair together in storage, anti-slip silicone palm print, tapered wrist gauntlet, touchscreen-compatible suede thumb and index fingertips
  • Weight: 2.5 oz (71 g) – size small (actual measured weight of my gloves)
  • MSRP: $40

Performance Analysis

Since this is a Limited Review, a detailed analysis of durability based on long-term use will not be presented. Otherwise, performance observations and issues are noted below.

Warmth

The Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Gloves are the warmest gloves I’ve ever worn that weigh less than 3 oz (85 g) in real-world conditions where you experience wind, rain, and snow. They don’t block high winds, but they are more wind-resistant than pile fleece. They don’t prevent the penetration of moisture but they are more precipitation-resistant than polyester fleece (because of the wool/nylon outer layer) and absorb less water than 100% wool (because of the blend of wool with nylon and polyester) for the weight. This all contributes to their warmth and should be considered as much as their pure insulation (e.g., “clo”) value.

On several occasions, I’ve worn them in cold (well below freezing) and snowy conditions to the point where an icy crust formed on the outside of the glove fabric – and my hands stayed warm. My only cold spots were my thumbs while using trekking poles. This area of weakness isn’t unique to these gloves.

Wind and Snow Resistance

I’ve worn the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Glove while trekking and performing camp chores in several winter storms. They are not an all-conditions glove. They lack a membrane or outer shell layer for blocking wind and precipitation.

However, their loft makes them comfortably warm for trekking down to temperatures near or below freezing with little wind, and for performing camp chores at colder temperatures.

For temperatures below freezing with moderate wind, I prefer a shelled mitten for warmth, especially when carrying trekking poles, which makes hands colder (poorer circulation resulting from gripping the pole).

In heavy wet snow or cold rain falling at temperatures near freezing, the Flurry Sensor Gloves will wet out. However, for drier snow falling at colder temperatures, I found them to be unexpectedly resistant to moisture reaching the skin of my hands. The more I use these gloves in the winter, the less anxiety I have about them getting wet in snowy, cold conditions.

The Flurry Sensor Gloves are warmer than the gloves I am replacing them with – the Outdoor Research Vigor Sensor Gloves. The Vigor lacks a water-resistant outer layer, and their hydrophilic polyester construction absorbs precipitation that results in cold hands.

hiker in a bivy sack operating a stove
Operating my stove while in my bivy sack, wearing the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Glove during a winter storm.

Water Absorption & Dry Time

Keeping your hands dry in cold, wet conditions is a big deal.

The amount of water a fabric absorbs depends on several factors, including fiber material, yarn construction, fabric knit or weave structure, and thickness. The dry time of fabric also depends on several factors, including environmental conditions (temperature, wind, humidity, solar heating), the amount of body heat being generated (if the garment is worn), and of course, the amount of water absorbed into the garment.

This latter factor – the amount of water absorbed into the garment – is generally the dominant factor controlling the dry time of a garment, which is often limited by the physics of heat transfer driving the evaporation of water from a garment (which is related to heat loss from your hands over the course of several hours). So when a garment manufacturer claims that their garments dry fast – be wary. They may not understand these concepts, or they may be trying to tell you that they just absorb less water.

And we all know, generally, that lighter garments absorb less water than heavier garments!

Fiber structure and hydrophobicity play a role in dry time as well, but under most conditions, it’s relatively minor. Because wool fibers are porous and can absorb water into the fiber, they release water more slowly than either nylon or polyester. However, polyester is more hydrophilic relative to nylon or wool, and polyester fabrics are capable of absorbing enormous quantities of water.

I compared the water absorption of the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Glove with two other models of lightweight gloves in my stash:

The following table compares their fiber composition:

 NylonPolyesterWoolSpandexOther
OR Flurry11%63%26%-synthetic suede fingertips on thumb and index finger (80% polyester, 20% polyurethane)
Columbia Fast Trek-100%--synthetic suide palm patch, composition unknown
OR Vigor-93%-7%synthetic suede fingertips on thumb and index finger (76% polyester, 17% nylon, 7% spandex)

Water absorption capacity was measured by soaking the gloves in water, wringing them out as much as possible, and measuring their wet weight. The following table compares water absorption capacity for the three gloves:

 Dry WeightWet WeightWater Weight% of Dry Wt as Water
OR Flurry1.2 oz (34 g)2.8 oz (79 g)1.6 oz (45 g)133%
Columbia Fleece0.9 oz (26 g)2.5 oz (71 g)1.6 oz (45 g)178%
OR Vigor1.3 oz (37 g)3.1 oz (88 g)1.8 oz (51 g)138%

To test the drying rate, I soaked the gloves in room-temperature water, wrung out as much water as possible, laid them on a flat table indoors, and monitored the weight over time. The following chart compares their drying rate:

chart showing the drying rate of three different gloves
Drying rate of gloves compared, after initially saturating them and wringing them out as much as possible.

In addition, the gloves were weighed after 24 hours. Here’s the remaining water weight for each glove:

  • Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Glove: 0.1 oz (3 g)
  • Columbia Fast Trek Fleece Glove: 0.0 oz (0 g) – i.e., completely dry
  • Outdoor Research Vigor Sensor Glove: 0.3 oz (9 g)

The graph above, along with other data I’ve collected through the years, confirms some important information:

  1. The rate of dry time of waterlogged fabrics in the same environment doesn’t really vary much with respect to fiber type, fabric structure (knit/weave type), or thickness. It’s relatively constant. If you dry a garment when you lay it on a rock in the sun, hang it from a tree, put it in a mesh storage pocket in your tent, wear it while hiking, or tuck it inside your base layer next to your belly while you sleep, the drying rate (the rate at which water leaves the garment) won’t change much from garment to garment (even though the method of drying may affect the drying rate).
  2. Because of this (#1 above), it’s really important to be able to wring as much moisture out of your garment as possible if it does get wet.

Dexterity

There’s a notable difference between typical cold-weather glove liners like the OR Vigor and the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Glove in terms of loft and bulk. The latter is more like a double-faced pile fleece glove, but with better dexterity.

I was easily able to perform the following tasks while wearing the Flurry Sensor Gloves:

Smartphone Use

Typing text with my thumbs on a smartphone while using the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Gloves requires that autocorrect be shifted into overdrive! However, it wasn’t a terrible experience. The suede sensor tips on the thumbs and index fingers allow for precise tapping that far exceeded my expectations for a glove this thick.

Thumb-and-finger gestures were a piece of cake. Swiping and pinching gestures were reliably precise, and I was able to use all features of my smartphone GPS app (Gaia) with no issues.

Durability

Wool gloves (especially those made with merino wool) are generally not as durable as nylon fleece. However, the nylon-wool fiber blend of the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Gloves is plenty durable enough for routine use as a trekking and camping glove. I certainly don’t use them to gather firewood, scramble up a talus slope, or pull a Spectra cord bear bag line – I wouldn’t do these things with any glove knit with soft fibers.

Without having more than 40 days of experience with these gloves, I’m hesitant to comment on their long-term durability. I’m expecting at some point, the knit will begin to unravel or the fingertips will develop holes. This is how the rest of my soft-fiber gloves fail (especially those made with polyester fabrics). However, there doesn’t seem to be any unusual wear so far, and I’ve worn out other soft-fiber gloves in far less time.

What Makes the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Gloves Unique?

Traditional polyester fleece gloves like the Columbia Fast Trek Gloves are generally poorly wind- and water-resistant, and lack durability and dexterity.

So-called high-performance wind-resistant polyester fleece gloves like the Outdoor Research Vigor offer better wind-resistance and dexterity but still absorb enormous amounts of water.

The Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Glove solves many of these issues:

  • Nylon-wool blend used in the face fabric is durable, water-resistant, and provides good loft for warmth.
  • A sophisticated pattern allows for a close fit without being restrictive, which improves dexterity, smartphone use, and overall comfort.

Compared To…

The following table compares the performance characteristics of the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor to two other glove models that I have used extensively for several years:

 FlurryFast TrekVigorEdge
Weight1.2 oz (34 g)0.9 oz (26 g)1.3 oz (37 g)Fast Trek
Dry Timevery goodexcellentpoorFast Trek
Precipitation ResistanceexcellentpoorpoorFlurry
Wind Resistanceexcellentpoorvery goodFlurry
Dexterityvery goodpoorexcellentVigor
Warmth When Dryexcellentvery goodgoodFlurry
Warmth When Wetvery goodgoodpoorFlurry
Durabilityvery goodgoodgoodFlurry
MSRP$40$15$40Fast Trek

Comparison Notes:

  • The Vigor’s hydrophilic fibers hold on to water for a long time.
  • Polyester fibers of the Fast Trek and Vigor readily absorb rain and snow.
  • The Fast Trek’s soft fleece weave is very porous.
  • The Fast Trek is a cheap and simple glove without an ergonomic fit.
  • The Flurry is the highest loft glove.
  • The Flurry has the dryest feel next to the skin when wet.
  • Polyester gloves wear out more quickly than nylon and nylon-wool blends.

Handwear System Integration

Used on its own, the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Glove is light enough for summer backpacking.

In wet environments, for fringe-season use, or multi-day winter trips when I absolutely need to keep them as dry as possible in winter storms, I’ll pair it with a lightweight shell mitt like the REI Minimalist GTX Mitten Shells.

And for the deep cold of winter, adding a plush hand parka over the Flurry Sensor Gloves would provide insurance in the coldest temperatures – at least while in camp. For cold-temperature trekking, I prefer the additional insurance of an insulated vapor barrier mitten – worn over very thin merino wool liners.

Strengths and Limitations

Strengths

  • High warmth-(loft)-to-weight ratio
  • Durable outer face fabric (wool-nylon blend)
  • Hydrophobic outer face fabric is weather-resistant
  • Good dexterity for smartphone use and other fine motor tasks

Limitations

  • Slightly heavier and much more expensive than cheap polyester fleece gloves

Review Rating: Highly Recommended

backpacking light highly recommended logo

Based on my experience with the Outdoor Research Flurry Sensor Glove, it will now replace my Outdoor Research Vigor Sensor Gloves in all seasons. The latter design (wind-resistant 400-weight polyester fleece) has been my go-to type of glove for a long time. However, its fingertips wear out quickly, it offers nearly zero resistance to rain and snow because of its hydrophilicity, and it lacks the warmth (loft) needed for wintry temperatures.

I’m most impressed by the Flurry Sensor’s fit and dexterity, use with a smartphone, weather resistance, and warmth. This makes it my primary glove for all four seasons, and it’s earned a well-deserved spot on my winter gear list.

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