Before meticulously packing all of my winter camping gear up for the adventure ahead, the first thing I do is look at the upcoming forecast. The temperature range directly influences what gets put in the backpack and what stays in the gear bins back at home. When it comes to picking out what will protect my hands from the elements, I use a pair of gloves that last me from late Autumn to late Spring. As with most gear, the more things it excels at, the higher chance that it is probably poor at something specific. As in this case… low temperatures.
Glove technology has come a long way including offering battery powered gloves that heat your hands in the worst temperatures however they come at a high price tag (and you still have to monitor the charge). I was looking for something a little more affordable, and I think I found the solution in the Outdoor Research Alti Mitts (available for Men and Women).
Created for Arctic expeditions, they might sound like overkill but I don’t think I could find a better fit for my cold tenting trips. Weighing only 364g/12.8oz (for a size large), these large puffy gloves envelop your hands keeping them warm in the coldest weather. What makes them a no-brainer to bring along with you on every trip is that they compress down to an easily stowable size.
The gauntlet type mitts (also available in glove style if you want a little more dexterity) are constructed with breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex. Everything from wet snow to blowing winds won’t phase these gloves leaving your hands oblivious as to how bad it is outside. I've used them at temperatures between -20° to -30° C and felt completely comfortable.
The Alti Mitts contain a lot of high quality workmanship such as kevlar stitching, leather palms, grips on the finger and thumb of the liners, a pocket to put a heat pack to help you get started on those frosty mornings, and an easy to use pull tab that tightens or loosens the glove’s seal around your arm. I really appreciate the cuff’s length and that they fit over larger, bulkier jackets with ease while still cinching tight to block out wind and snow.
When it comes time to air the gloves out, you can pull off the shell to reveal the soft removable liner (which is usable as mitts on their own) made from highloft Moonlite Pile fleece and PrimaLoft Gold Insulation. Together, the shell and liner are an incredible duo that keep your hands warm which is especially important once you set up camp and aren’t moving as much anymore. The gloves have loops that you can use to hook a carabiner though to either attach to your pack or to dry them out.
While they can be a little bulky and not adept for tasks involving fine finger work, I couldn’t imagine a cold winter trip without them! As someone who worries about cold hands, these gloves will leave your fingers so warm that you will probably have to remove the gloves time to time just to cool them down.
Sometimes you don’t know what cold snap is coming and having these tucked away in your pack can make the difference between frostbite or just another comfortable day in the backcountry. They come in black or bright red (which make them quite easy to find in the snow).
Definitely check out the Outdoor Research Alti Mitts (available for Men and Women) if you enjoy winter camping and stay connected with Outdoor Research by following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.