For my northern lights tour to the Lofoton back in February 2014, I looked for warm gloves that still give me the possibility to using my camera. Most winter gloves are surely warm enough, but using the knobs and wheels of a camera is quite impossible. On the homepage of the Austrian company The Heat Company, I found what I was looking for: Gloves where the fingers (and very important, also the thumb!) are left free, which allows you to use your camera without any limitations. To avoid cold fingertips while you are waiting for the bet, there is a mitten cap as well a separate cap for your thumb that can be closed. The company advertises that their products are not only used by photographers and hunters, but also by special forces. Since then, I used my HEAT 2 SOFTSHELL for every colder photography trip and my fingers stayed warm most of the time. But every now and then, in very cold and windy conditions, for example when we waited for hours at the Torres del Paine for the sunrise, hiding as good as possible from the Patagonian wind, my fingers got cold and I wished for some warmer gloves, or at least for the warmers that I had forgot at home…
Hence, I decided to buy some additional gloves for my recent seven-week trip to New Zealand. In the meantime, the Heat Company extended their product range and not only offers the warmer version of my model, the HEAT 3, but also a new layer system:
As first layer, I chose the new POLARTEC WIND PRO LINER, which is made of Polartec® Wind Pro® and is therefore wind and water repellent. As a plus, the tips of thumb, index and middle finger have a special fabric which allows to use touchscreens of your camera and smartphone. As second layer, I ordered both the Shell and the Shell Full Leather, but in the end, I went for the warmer and more robust SHELL FULL LEATHER, which is made of goatskin and has PRIMALOFT® Gold insulation. The mitten can be opened with a zipper and simply be folded away like the thumb cover, which allows a very decent handling of the camera. The fixation of the mitten with little magnets is a great improvement to the sharp-edged velcro used in my older Heat 2 Softshell. The Shell Full Leather Pro was no option for me, because a wanted to be able to get my thumbs free. Another nice thing is that both layer have little pocket where you can put a warmer (which are also offered by The Heat Company), which provides some extra warmth.
New Zealand’s weather may not be as extreme as in Patagonia, but it can change very fast. During our seven weeks in autumn, we had temperatures between 0°C and 25°C. During the colder days, the Polartec Wind Pro Liner was my everyday glove for any hiking and photography activity. It felt quite comfortable and was warm enough for these normal conditions and sometimes also too warm during exhausting ascends. And even more important: though the glove is entirely closed, I still had a very good feeling for the knobs and wheels of my camera. Also using the touchscreen of camera and smartphone worked quite well, which is a nice thing during waiting for the light or for using my GPS map on the phone during walking. The only things I couldn’t do with the gloves on was to use my screw-in polarizer and this little switch on my lenses for manual / auto focus. One little drawback is that the rubber coating already starts to peel off between thumb and index finger, but this is only a minor thing in my opinion.
Due to the mostly great weather we had in New Zealand, the Shell Full Leather was too warm for the normal activities. However, it proved to be perfect in the mountains after I arrived at the spot and waited for the light: For example, one morning I hiked to the Emerald Lakes on the Tongariro Crossing, which are located at 1,700 meters. I started at 0°C down in the valley and the temperature dropped noticeably during my ascend. It was steep enough to keep me warm, but when I arrived at my spot, there was no protection from the frosty wind and I was very happy that I brought my additional second layer gloves with me. My hands stayed warm the entire shooting and thanks to the openings for the fingers, I was still able to handle my camera as good as without the Shell Full Leather.
Altogether, I’m very satisfied with the new layer system, because it perfectly fits the needs of photographers: You can use the liner on your way to the location and when you arrived and it is getting colder, simply put the additional shell and you can concentrate on taking photos without cold fingers. I’m sure that this combo will be very helpful for my future tours in colder regions or seasons.
Here you can see a few examples of (still unedited) pictures that I made while wearing the gloves:
WERBUNG | Für den Erfahrungsbericht habe ich von The Heat Company einen Rabatt beim Kauf der Handschuhe erhalten.
ADVERTISEMENT | The Heat Company offered me a discount on the purchase of the gloves for writing this test report.
Dr. Gerhard Aust
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