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Winter Gloves and Mitts

As soon as the weather gets chilly, winter lovers who want to keep their fingers warm start thinking about getting ready for colder weather. Should they choose gloves or mittens? Here are some points that will help you decide.

BUYING

If your daily activities do not require a minimum of dexterity or a need to hold items such as ski poles, axes for ice climbing, etc., mittens are a better choice. Given the same materials, mittens are warmer because fingers are in contact with each other and the palm. It is also easy to insert reusable or disposable hand warmers, such as HotShots into mittens.

As a general rule, parents tend to favour mittens for their kids because their small hands do not retain as much warmth. If you wish, under gloves can be inserted in mittens to keep hands warmer and avoid frostbite.

Since technology is constantly improving, there is now a multitude of gloves and mittens on the market which are much warmer than they used to be. Even if the quality varies tremendously from one style and brand to the next, one fact remains: well-made gloves and mittens must be have waterproofing properties to prevent the fabric from getting soaked when in contact with snow while providing good breathability to keep the lining relatively dry and prevent cooling inside.

The breathability of the shell or the exterior membrane is especially important for aerobic sports (cross-country skiing, snowshoe racing, etc.). The lining should have good insulation and preferably have anti-bacterial and anti-mould properties to prevent odours.

Keep in mind that the thickness of the lining is not always linked to its insulating power. Even if the lining is thin, it can often be highly effective. To make up for the lack of thermal insulation properties of some gloves, new styles have been developed. They include a type of removable outer shell that covers fingers and that can be stored in a small pocket located on the back of the glove.

If your chosen sport or activity involves high speed (downhill skiing) or gripping (poles for cross-country skiing), your best choices are gloves or mittens that have a strong exterior membrane or shell with good anti-abrasive properties.

Manufacturers commonly add an extremely durable patch of fabric like goat's leather or Pittards leather to reinforce sensitive areas, such as the palm and the inside of the thumb.. Silicone thread or other synthetic materials with adhesive properties are also sometimes used to enhance friction on glove fingers.

In the case of more extreme sports, such as ice climbing, the enthusiast must wear gloves that are highly stretchable to ensure ease of movement, 100% waterproof to prevent soaking when in contact with ice, strong (some models are reinforced with Kevlar) and padded to offer additional protection.

In any case, gloves and mittens must be adjustable with Velcro or some other type of wrist straps to prevent snow from getting into coat sleeves while helping to keep hands warm.

Lately, more and more styles of heated gloves can be found on store shelves. Once extremely expensive (around $400), they are now more affordable, although still pricy. These gloves are generally efficient and work with an internal rechargeable battery that contains electric elements providing heat for several hours. This is very practical for people suffering from circulatory problems or for those who always have cold hands.

Finally, the latest technology: gloves and under gloves woven with a special fabric sensitive to touch screens in order to facilitate the use of smart phones and tablets which are increasingly popular among outdoor enthusiasts.

USE

Some outdoor enthusiasts prefer mittens and gloves with a removable lining as they are easier to clean and allow them to choose the type and thickness of under gloves that can be inserted for different weather conditions and outdoor temperatures.

During extremely cold weather, it is strongly recommended to wear merino wool gloves which are very thin and warm or synthetic gloves with high insulation power. By keeping them in a coat pocket, they are easily accessible when needed and ready to provide extra insulation against the cold.

Keeping gloves or mittens warm during winter camping is easy. They can simply be placed in a sleeping bag at night and by morning, they are just the right temperature and comfortable when slipped on.


MAINTENANCE

Whether they are leather or synthetic, it is best way to allow gloves or mittens to air dry close to a heat source, such as a heater or a wood stove. Make sure to keep them a safe distance away and do not put them directly on the heat source.

Lastly, whenever possible and when recommended by the manufacturer, put your gloves and mittens in the dryer on "perma-press" or "medium" cycle.