As a photographer living in Iceland, I get confronted with harsh and cold weather conditions extremely often. Over the years I found that investing in great and durable outdoor gear is an absolute necessity if you’re serious about any kind of nature photography. The one thing I’ve regularly struggled with is finding the right gloves. While it’s easy to find warm gloves, it’s difficult to find warm gloves that don’t compromise the usability of my camera gear. This becomes especially challenging in extremely cold conditions. Recently I came across The Heat Company, which specialises in photography gloves. Intrigued by their design, I decided to try them out on my recent winter photography workshops in Greenland and Iceland, which I hosted together with Andy Mumford. Because we encounter temperatures well below zero during these workshops, I decided to test a combination of The Heat Company’s Durable Liner Pro with their Shell Full Leather mittens.
Can these gloves and mittens be a great addition to your photography or outdoor gear? Let’s find out!
Full disclosure: The Heat Company provided me with these gloves to review. However, this is not a sponsored review. I am not being paid to write this review nor did anyone at The Heat Company get any input or preview beforehand. All opinions are my own.
What Are Photography Gloves & Why Do You Need Them?
First things first: what exactly are photography gloves and why would you pick them over regular gloves? Photography gloves are specifically designed to not only keep your hands nice & toasty at all times but also to give you full tactility so you can operate your camera gear. The idea is that you can still easily operate your camera gear without removing the gloves. As you can imagine, it can be a bad idea to remove your gloves at, for example, -30 degrees Celsius to use the touchscreen on your camera, adjust a metal knob on your tripod or even to change a lens.
I’ve used different types of photography gloves before, none of which satisfied my needs fully. In most cases, the gloves have removable tips on your thumbs and index fingers. This solution gives you some tactility while keeping your hands warm. However, I’ve found that these types of gloves have a few flaws that make them impractical. The foldable fingertips often get in the way when you are, for example, swapping out lenses, or even holding the camera grip with a bigger lens attached. In some cases I also found that the opening you stick your fingers through is just too tight, which makes them uncomfortable to use. This is especially true when combining them with liner gloves, which is an absolute necessity in extreme cold. Additionally, leather gloves become stiffer when temperatures drop far below zero. This makes it even more challenging to stick your fingers through the already quite small holes. Finally, my biggest gripe with them is that your fingers still tend to get cold because these foldable fingertips don’t insulate enough when closed.
So how do the Durable Liner Pro gloves and Shell Full Leather mittens from The Heat Company improve upon these shortcomings?
What I Like
My first impressions of the liners and mittens, and especially after two weeks of intense daily use, were really good. Both the liner and mittens are made of high quality materials. The liners are even some of the most durable I’ve used (and I have used a lot!). The palms of the liners and outside of the mittens are made of leather. The zippers on the mittens are as waterproof as they get and insulate really well. Overall I think these are some of the best quality gloves I have used so far.
As mentioned, I tested both the liners and mittens for two weeks straight in sub zero temperatures on both the recent Iceland and Greenland photo workshops. Especially the photo workshop in Greenland was a perfect test case as I encountered temperatures as low as -23 degrees Celsius. In such temperatures, it’s extra challenging to stay warm when taking landscape and drone photographs because you tend to stand still the majority of the time outside.
The liners and mittens kept my hands comfortably warm in pretty much all circumstances. When I didn’t move for longer periods of time and during more extreme cold, I really discovered the genius behind The Heat Company’s gloves & mittens. Both the liners and gloves have a dedicated pocket in which you can store a disposable hand warmer, which last you about 12 hours. The hand warmers are sufficiently warm and the pockets to hold them are strategically placed. On the liners, the pocket is located on the top of your hand, while the mittens have a pocket right on top of your fingertips. After the effect of the handwarmers has worn off, you can simply put them in the trash as they are made of natural ingredients and fully biodegradable. On one occasion, I finished 3 Mavic 3 Classic drone batteries in a row wearing only the liners with a handwarmer inside in temperatures of -19 to -22 degrees Celsius. While I did have cold hands after such a long time (+-1,5 hours of flying) of being exposed with only the liners, I would have never lasted this long with my previous gloves. Sticking my hands back into the mittens allowed me to warm them up to a comfortably warm level in just a matter of minutes thanks to the great insulation and the hand warmers.
If you don’t plan on using the extra hand warmers, no need to worry. The liners and mittens also keep your hands comfortably warm without using them. I only really used them in the more extreme cases when temperatures dropped far below zero or when there was a strong, icy wind to get extra comfort. It’s this kind of flexibility that allows you to use the same pair of gloves or mittens in various different conditions.
This brings me to another positive aspect: the ease of use and, more precisely, the ease by which you can keep using your camera gear. The mittens conveniently zip open in the palms, after which you can fold open the top of the mitten. This allows you to use all of your fingers, which are still kept warm inside the liners. After the top of the mitten is open, it attaches with a strong magnet to the back which keeps it out of the way. The thumb of the mitten also opens up and attaches similarly with a magnet. This means you get complete use of your hand, without having to take your mittens off. This is extremely useful and by far the easiest way to keep full tactility when you’re shooting in cold weather.
Finally, another important aspect is how easily you can use touchscreens. Both my EOS R6’s, my phone and the remote controller for my drone all require me to retain good touch capabilities. While it certainly isn’t as perfect as using your bare fingertips, the liners have large and decent touch surfaces on the thumbs, index and middle fingers. Aside from the occasional quirk, I never had any issues using any of the touchscreens.
What I Don’t Like
While my overall view is very positive, there are a few things I feel could be improved.
At one point, during a sunrise shoot, I tried to use the zoom ring on my Canon 100-500mm RF while wearing the mittens as I wanted to warm up my hands a bit while still shooting. Unfortunately, the leather exterior of the mittens was not grippy enough for me to actually turn the zoom ring unless I used both of my hands. In most cases, you would only use the mittens to stay warm and open them up to use your equipment. However, it could be an improvement to have a silicone grip on the palms of the mittens.
A second issue I have encountered is that it can be challenging to use smaller, or more precise, equipment when wearing both the liners and mittens. The mittens, even though your hands are fully functional, are thick – especially around the thumb. I have found that when using my drone remote controller, it was challenging on the odd occasion to operate the joysticks with my thumbs. This was especially true in situations where I needed to be very precise. It is of course possible to take off the mittens and use only the liners when using the remote, which is exactly what I ended up doing.
All in all, I found these to be minor inconveniences but I still felt it was important to point them out.
Update 04/04/2023: I have been in touch with The Heat Company about these inconveniences. I am happy to say that their R&D department will be looking into whether or not it is possible to add more grip to the mittens. They also suggested me to try the fabric Shell mittens, which might be more flexible and less in the way when flying a drone, for example. I applaud companies who take criticism to heart to improve their products. I will update this review after I have tried out the fabric Shell mittens.
Let’s get straight to the point: I believe this is the best combination of liners and gloves/mittens I have ever used as a photographer. They are a great improvement over my previous setup. They don’t just do what a great winter glove should do, keep your hands warm and comfortable in even more extreme conditions, but they also don’t get in the way of my photography or cause me discomfort. I can still use my camera gear, phone, drone, … without almost any compromises. If you’re a photographer looking for a set of gloves and/or mittens that keeps you warm, look no further!
For those of you who are considering to purchase a set of gloves from The Heat Company, you can get 10% off with discount code .
- High quality materials
- Keep your hands nice and toasty
- Fits disposable hand warmers for when it gets really cold
- Easy to operate your photography gear
- The mittens could be more grippy
- Sometimes challenging to use smaller or more precise equipment
Buy The Heat Company Durable Liner Pro: https://geni.us/jvn-durablelinerpro
Buy The Heat Company Shell Full Leather: https://geni.us/jvn-shellfullleather
Buy The Heat Company Handwarmers: https://geni.us/jvn-handwarmers
Buy The Heat Company Footwarmers: https://geni.us/jvn-footwarmers
Disclaimer: when you make a purchase using the link in this article, Jeroen may earn a small commission.
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