Tech Tips: Cold Hands Pt. 1

Tech Tips: Cold Hands Pt. 1
December 2, 2019 Orvel Miskiw

Do you get cold hands in the winter mornings? — either hiking in to a climb, or skiing, or do I dare to suggest…snow shoeing? Well I do — and I expect that’s true for many, if not most people. This doesn’t happen in only very cold weather either, but even sometimes at -5C or even warmer, and must be simply a result of a-climatization, viz. ‘still not accustomed to the winter weather’ (for the day). It’s likely aggravated by your vehicle driver having the heater maxxed out on the drive to the trailhead, so it would be better to keep the cab JUST comfortable for the drive.

However, once you’re outside and preparing to move, either hiking toward a climb or starting a ski-in or tour, and you recall miserable previous mornings of stinging fingers, inability to concentrate on what you’re doing, or certainly … not enjoying ANYthing except as a pretense, then this is the time to pull out a pair of simple insulated MITTS, and wear them for the first hour or more, while you adapt to the winter air,  your circulation gets going, and nerve-endings adjust to the cold.

Although mitts seem to have become increasingly unfashionable through the years, especially in ice climbing and ski acrobatics (where more emphasis has lately been put on spectator appeal than practicality), they still fundamentally have it all over gloves for warmth, just because they keep your fingers together and minimize the relative external cooling area of your hands.

I find my fingers are by far my primary problem area for discomfort and preventing enjoyment of outdoors winter activities, so I always take mitts along — presumably for ’emergency’ use, viz., really rough conditions ‘later in the day!’ — but find I often wear gloves all day because I acclimatized ‘after a while’, BUT regret not wearing the mitts in the morning when my hands felt very nasty for an hour or two — I’m still working on that!

My recommendation is for everyone to keep a pair of mitts ‘handy’ — viz. very convenient to get at — for all winter activities — even a small, simple and inexpensive pair without cuffs or gauntlets, AND best put them on from the start, or otherwise at any first hint of cold hands; they may not LOOK that cool, but don’t worry — most people won’t notice, and those who do, will wish they had them too, and more to the point, mitts keep your hands warm and let you enjoy your outing.

                                                          Morning Mitts

See my picture above for an idea of the kinds of mitts I’m suggesting: these are fairly thin and weigh only a couple of ounces, maybe 50gm each, but are wind-stop, water repellent, insulated or have insulating liners, preferably synthetic insulation like Thinsulate for light weight and ‘moisture indifference,’ and are loose-fitting for easy putting on and off. Any removable liners should also be mitts: although glove-liners- for-mitts is a cute idea that some people use as a sort of compromise, they also compromise the ‘warmth’ of the mitts without giving any benefit other than possibly better dexterity if the gloved hands are withdrawn from the mitt covers for handling equipment, eg., a camera. Keep your fingers together and they’ll be warmer.  Later in the day you may be able to switch to gloves if you like, and still do OK.



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