I grip the handles of my hiking poles and kick another foot placement in the snow before pausing to breathe again. The rain has stopped and my headlamp illuminates the glittery sheen on the slope ahead. I look down and smile, my sleep-deprived mind comparing the designs on the back of my Dakine Cross X gloves to the Transformers logo from my favorite childhood toys.
Itâ€™s Wednesday and my three teammates and I are now 65 hours into the Raid the North Extreme adventure race, a six-day competition that pits 30 teams from around the world against each other and the mountainous terrain of the British Columbia interior. So far we have biked, bushwhacked and run over five mountains. From here we have to circumnavigate another range, bike over the pass to a lake, paddle 20 miles and then bushwhack our way to the start of the famous Seven Summits mountain bike trail that will lead us to the finish line on Saturday. “I can’t believe I have three more days of this,” I think. “We’ll never finish this.”
In actual fact we did finish that race last July and throughout it all I wore my Dakine Cross X mountain bike gloves non-stop. They gripped my bike handlebars through some of the gnarliest, dead-fall-strewn singletrack in BC; they swatted aside slide alder and prickly Devilâ€™s Club; they helped me scale a 1,000-foot headwall at 3 a.m. in the rain; they paddled, pushed and pried; they held up my teammate when she almost collapsed from exhaustion; and they wiped away the sweat from our exertions and the blood from our mistakes.
The Cross X glove is so much more than just mountain bike attire. It was the first glove Dakine ever produced for the sport and, in my opinion, itâ€™s still the best. Itâ€™s a lower-profile glove than, say, the Defender, but it still offers lots of padding and protection. The palm is made of 3mm foam, enough to suck up the bumps but not too much that you lose subtle handling, and the back is constructed of 4-way stretch polyester and neoprene â€“ breathable but tough. In fact, it wasnâ€™t until the fifth day of that Raid the North race that I blew a hole in the middle finger of the right hand. (To put that into perspective, the glove was used for over 120 hours non-stop performing tasks it wasnâ€™t even designed for, like scaling alder-choked headwalls.)
The other thing I like about the Cross X is the Velcro clasp at the wrist. Some people prefer a tighter, elastic fit but Iâ€™d rather the option of opening the clasp to get some more air flow into the glove. Also the trigger fingers are laced with silicone, giving you extra purchase on those brake levers, and the glove has neoprene knuckle flex panels ensuring a comfortable fit, even when youâ€™re white-knuckling down some dodgy singletrack at night.
In short, this is the best all-around summer sport glove Iâ€™ve ever owned. It goes well-beyond the duties of mountain biking and, were I stupid enough to ever do something as crazy as the Raid the North Extreme again, Iâ€™d definitely bring a pair of Dakine Cross X gloves along for the ride.