“My fingers are soooo cold!” I hear this often from photographers even though they have gloves. Seriously, folks with tens of thousands of dollars in camera gear invest in the worst gloves. I want to change that with my suggestions for this winter’s season best. This is my annual Glove Review to help you find the gloves right for you. Many years ago my friends started to talk about their gloves in levels, a system I have come to embrace with the higher the number, the colder the ambient air conditions. Here’s my glove recommendations for 2021, Levels 1 – 4. (I have an entire 90min class on being prepared for winter photography over at KelbyOne for much more in-depth discussion).
The gloves and mittens you see here, I take them ALL with me whenever I think it’s going to be cold. And when I go out shooting, I have them ALL with me to keep my hands warm according to temperatures. When the wind comes up, you put on Level 1, when there are wind and cold, Level 2 and when it’s really, really cold, Level 3 and since I’m the only crazy one who owns the mittens (besides my wife Sharon), I have a Level 4 (see below). And there are times when I will wear a Level 1 under my Level 4 so I guess we could call that a Level 5. Now if you only brought a Level 1 and I’m wearing a Level 5, who do you think is going to have cold fingers? Bottom line is pretty darn simple, you think you’re going to need gloves, have Level 1 through Level 3 with you IN THE FIELD so you can enjoy the great shooting at hand. Here are my recommendations for Level 1 through 3 gloves for this year.
When our sons got into xcross skiing I found the Swix XC gloves and fell in love. When I went looking to replace my gloves this year, I turned to XC gloves again finding smartphone touch now common. These are what I got for myself. Gloves A (Level 1) are the all-important windstoppers Manzella Silkweight Wind Ultra Touchtip Gloves. Gloves B (Level 2) are what I wear most often, the Swix Star XC 2.0 Gloves. This first pair ( A ) is when it’s just starting to get cold. This next pair Swix Star XC 2.0 Gloves ( B ) is what I wear probably the most of all of these. The Swix Star XC 2.0 Gloves (same glove as I recommended in years past) simply rock with lots of warmth and flexibility. They have a special material on the top to cut the wind. These are the gloves I always have in my jacket and take care of my hands the majority of my shooting. When going to extremes like when the air temp hovers around zero of lower, I turn to ice climber gloves or Level 3. These seem to change every other day and this season is no different. The pair I got this year is (Gloves C ) the DAKINE Titan Insulated Gloves. They do look bulky but I found them to work really well. They keep the digits warm, permit basic operation and ability to push some buttons. You can push all the buttons on the camera body. You can even run a video camera with them. All these gloves come from my favorite store, REI.
Note: At the time this post was written, all gloves were available at REI. As of today, A & C are out of stock. Click on the “Similar” button to see replacements.
My favorite though are ones my family gave me years ago for ultimate in cold weather protection. These gloves mittens I love to shoot with! Actually, they are custom made trapper mittens that are strictly for cold weather use.
How cold? Well, at 12degrees my hands were almost uncomfortably warm, not perspiring but almost too much warmth. Working in places like Yellowstone or the Arctic in the winter, these mittens are so perfect. Yeah, I can squeeze off the shutter, no, can’t work any other feature on the body. No, can’t buy these at REI. They are a two-layer mitten, a heavy wool removable liner, and outer Beaver fur. I just can’t wait to get out in the cold and put them to use! Thanks, family!
The key here is, no one glove does it all. I hope this helps you keep shooting in the worst weather which often yields, the best photography!