Something that was nearly ubiquitous on the early gear lists of our staff was the Outdoor Research Rain Mitt (a few were aficianados of the Lobster Claw style). These little beauties weighed 1.1 oz per pair, covered just the hands, and secured with an elastic cuff – a little short for mountaineering and full time wet walking, and a bugger to put on, but suitable for supplemental handwear in the shoulder seasons.
In 2004, of course, something predictable happened. OR discontinued them.
Their replacement was abysmal: the Rain Claw Mitts. These babies gained weight with tougher fabric, a gripper palm, and one handed closure: exactly the kind of crap we wanted stripped when we screamed for the original rain mitts a decade ago. The Rain Claw Mitts were a full 300% heavier than the original Rain Mitts.
Not so surprisingly, the supply of Rain Mitts and Lobster Claw Mitts dwindled rapidly off the likes of eBay and STP, and it was a banner day for an ultralight hiker to find a set in a closeout bin of a specialty retailer who hadn’t a clue about the fact that they were worth ten times the marked price.
Of course, these models didn’t even last a full season, and they’ve now vaporized from OR’s web site, sort of (Google still has them indexed). Which means there is a chance they could reappear, or vanish from the market entirely, due to the simple reason that they were pretty unremarkable products that failed to capture anybody’s attention in a way that the one ounce mitts did.
Death of an entire category in six months. Unbelievable. Worse, more fringe ultralighters identified OR with the rain mitt as their finest product. Now what’s left for us? Stuff sacks?
Do-it-yourselfers rejoice. You can finally make a very useful product for which nothing on the commercial market is available.
(At least until Spring 2006…3-layer eVENT, seam-taped, 1.0 oz per pair, full gauntlet with drawcord.)