Heat 3 Smart Gloves — Photography GlovesJanuary 30, 2016
I’ve been wanting to get a pair of proper winter gloves for when I’m out shooting, but I haven’t been able to find anything that really seemed to work.
By random chance I found an article about the the Heat 3 Smart Gloves (from now on I’ll just call them H3), which are made by an Austrian company called The Heat Company. It’s the first time that I’ve heard about this company, not saying that I’m somebody who knows all the brands, so they might be super famous.
But apparently they are supplying both the Austrian ski team and the Austrian and the German special forces with winter gloves. The H3 were specifically developed for warmth and dexterity, something which traditionally don’t go together.
So my first step was to find as many reviews as possible online, and I tend to favor blogs over professional reviews, just because the layman’s opinions are usually a lot more honest.
I was unable to find a single negative review, which was a bit surprising, seeing as there should always be at least on negative review, that’s just the way it is, but I was unable to find one.
The price of the H3 is a bit over $150 dollars or 139€, which is a lot of money for a pair of gloves, but the more I read about them, the more I wanted to try them. I couldn’t find a single store in Finland which sold them, and I was only able to find a single seller in Sweden, but they’re an online only story, so it didn’t really matter.
So in the heat of the moment, I decided that I’ll just roll the dice, either the gloves are freakishly good, but not enough people have tried them, so the brand is still quite unknown, or then it’s a scam, and I’ll lose the money, either way, I wanted the gloves.
It took roughly a week for the gloves to find their way up form Austria to Helsinki. I had initially given my home address, but because UPS apparently don’t know about the concept of telephones, I had to change the address to the office, and that resulted in an extra day of waiting.
When I finally received the box, I just teared it open. The box itself is a generic brown cardboard box with the Heat Company logo on all sides.
Inside of the box were the gloves, wrapped in plastic, the receipt, and what surprised me, a bunch of heater packs, not only for the gloves, but also a neck warmer among other things. I hadn’t expected to get anything else beside the gloves, but my respect towards the Heat Company grew tremendously just for this small act of kindness, and at the same time, it works as free advertisement, since I get a sample of their other products.
So back to the gloves. What made me interested in them in the first place? Well, dexterity aside for the moment, it’s generally known that mittens are a lot more effective at keeping heat than finger gloves, this is, what I can only assume, because of the air in-between the fingers heating up and acting as a insulator, and there’s a lot less outer surface on the glow for the heat to bleed off.
I’ve owned a lot of mitten/finger gloves, similar to this design, where you can fold up the mitten part. Usually the finger glove part is cut off, exposing the naked fingers to the elements. The design works really quite well, at least for temperatures down to around -5 celsius, lower than that it can get a bit uncomfortable, but it will work. I’ve gone through a large number of these types of gloves, they usually don’t hold up through a single season, the flap is the first thing to break, or fall apart, the stitching is often the main culprit.
What I’ve used when it’s gotten colder is simple mittens, with finger gloves as liners. This approach is really good, and if you add a couple of chemical heaters in to the gloves, you’ll be able to keep your hands warm effectively down to -30 celsius. Obviously when you expose the hand with only the liners, it’ll get cold quite fast, but the mittens themselves will be warm once you’re done with whatever you were doing.
The tactic of using two gloves, the mittens and liners, is super effective in keeping warmth and having dexterity. Though it does come with its own share of problems. You need to keep track of two pair of gloves. And when you’re doing something outside, and you remove the mitten, you don’t want it to fall to the ground, nor do you want the heaters to fall out, so you need to place the mittens in your pockets, which takes a lot of time, all whilst your hands are getting colder.
The H3 gloves have detachable wrist links which are connected to the glove, so if you take them off, they’ll just hang off of your wrist (similar to the types of gloves children use).
I’ve used the H3 gloves in temperatures ranging from 0°C to -20°C, and they’ve held up great, though in any temperature above -10°C they are simply too warm. I haven’t been able to use them in any conditions lower than -23°C, I’d venture to say they’d be quite comfortable all the way down to -30°C before you need chemical heaters (depending of course on other factors, e.g. how warmly dressed you are on the rest of your body, how much you move etc. the more idle you are, the easier you’ll get cold).
At -10°C I constantly had to open up the zippers and open up the flap in order to not over-heat my hands. So if you need gloves for cold environments, these fit the bill perfectly.
The gloves come with PrimaLoft insulated gauntlets which are fairly large, the cuffs themselves have two elastic bands used for tightening, one at the beginning of the cuff, and one down were your wrists are.
The gauntlets are great as long as you put on the gloves before you put on your jacket, you need to get the gauntlets completely inside of the jacket’s sleeves. If you try to put on the gloves after the jacket, you’ll end up with a non-sealed seam, which means cold air comes in direct contact with your skin.
This gets a bit problematic when you’re outside and you need to take off your gloves, seeing as you’ll need to remove the jacket if you want to put on the gloves again. I’ve been unable to tuck the cuff inside the sleeve after the fact, and they aren’t large enough to fit the end of the sleeve inside them, this obviously depends on what jacket you wear, in my case I’ve only used them with a The North Face McMurdo parka.
Another nuance is the thumb flap, it’s a bit hard to fold it properly, and the inner liner seems to always want to get folded with the flap, so it takes a lot of time adjusting the thumb correctly, and it’s even worse when you want to flip back the fold, I’ve yet found a system were I don’t end up having to poke in the liner back in place after I’ve folded the flap back in place. The flap gets anchored with velcro (both in the open and closed position) and the outside velcro gets caught with basically everything, I think they should’ve tried a magnetic approach just as they’ve done with the main flap instead of messing around with this solution.
The final thing that I don’t really like is the fact that inner lining is non-detachable, which means you can’t wash the liner separately from the rest of the glove. I’ve yet needed to wash the gloves, but I’m guessing that they’ll need, at some point, a good washing. Seeing as these aren’t exactly cheap gloves, it would be a shame if they’d only hold up for one season.
The gloves works exceedingly well with cameras, or as well as any thin gloves could work with a camera, that is. I’ve used the gloves with both my Canon EOS M, which is largely operated with a touch screen, and my trusty old Canon EOS 5D. I haven’t had any problems at all with using any of the functions on the cameras.
The only thing I can think of is the lack of grip on the inner liners, a small improvement would be if they, the Heat Company, would dip the fingertips in some kind of rubber for improved grip. The palm of the glove is made with goat leather, and it’s really soft and has a lot of traction, so when ever I’ve needed extra grip, for example removing/replacing a lens, I’ve closed up the flap so the leather touches the lens when I twist it out from the mount, it’s not a perfect solution, but it works.