I am not in the habit of using my phone to text or check email when enjoying the outdoors, but as my iPhone makes a more convenient camera in many situations, it's nice to be able to snap some quick photos without having to remove your gloves. OnTip created a glove technology that enables you to use your touchscreen devices without freezing your hands in the process.
Started by a duo with over 60 years of glove design and manufacturing experience, OnTip was born out of the desire to answer texts in the dead cold of Wisconsin winters. The company sent me a pair of the SoftShell Gloves to test out ice climbing and for general outdoor sports use this winter.
OnTip is a technology that enables touchscreen use combined with warmth and dryness features necessary for great cold-weather gloves. OnTip gloves are equipped with touch sensitive tips on the thumb and index finger and also feature a swipe pad on the thumb. The small raised tips use a superconductive fabric to that mimics the effects of your skin on the touchscreen. The tip size is calibrated for easy smartphone use, though I wouldn't want to type out a long email wearing these.
OnTip has designed their own collection of gloves around this technology for use in all kinds of sport and in all kinds of weather. Other outdoor brands, such as Helly Hansen, have also picked up the technology for their own glove designs.
I used the Softshell Gloves on approaches in addition to climbing in them all day with pretty good success. As the gloves are wind resistant and insulated with a fleece liner, they kept my hands warm enough during the day and were dexterous enough for easy tool handling or for fiddly tasks such as putting on crampons. The silicone printed palms give you a good grip on your tools, rope, hiking or ski poles.
I can imagine that after much belaying and rappelling, the palms would quickly wear out on the SoftShell Gloves. The one day we spent mostly hiking through deep snow, the gloves did wet out, leaving me with pretty darn cold hands. If you are going to be doing heavy snow activities, such as skiing and snowboarding, where you don't need ample dexterity, I would recommend the waterproof WinterSport Gloves instead.
The OnTip gloves retail for $19.50-$89.50 and are available from the company website.