Have you ever done photography in extreme cold? If you have, you know that the struggle is real in the winter. The dilemma is if you take your gloves off, you can use your camera properly but your fingers feel like they're about to fall off but if you keep them on, you struggle handling your gear and your hands still get cold. Something has to change and this is when investing in gloves that excel in the winter is worth the money.
If you're going to be in any cold weather, the first piece of gear you need to nail down are the gloves. From experience, we know that you shouldn't mess around. The is a detailed The Heat Company gloves review of the Durable Liner Pro and Shell Full Leather that we've extensively tested in the winter. Find out whether these are worth buying or not.
Travel photography reads
- Best winter photography locations in the Magdalen Islands
- Hiking Inca Trail in photos
- Best locations for photography in Prague
- Itinerary for Zion National Park and Horseshoe Bend
- What to pack for New Zealand including camera gear
The gear I shoot with
- Check out our recommended gear which contains all of our favourite equipment we use whether its travel gear, clothing, or camera gear.
Here's what we're covering:
- Best Winter Photography Gloves In The Market
- What makes winter photography so hard
- What's considered to be extreme cold?
- Why you haven't found the right gloves yet
- Introducing The Heat Company Brand
- How Do The Heat Company Gloves Work?
- Types of Gloves and Combos Available By The Heat Company
- Heat Layer System Review
- Field Test in the Magdalen Islands
- Field Test Snowboarding
- What Could Be Improved
- Maintaining the Gloves
- Tips for purchasing from The Heat Company
- Overall Verdict of The Heat Company
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Winter Photography Gloves In The Market
The range of photographer or videographer's needs can change whether you're using your smartphone or you shoot with a DSLR or large video rig, but one thing is a constant in the winter, a good pair of gloves will make or break your experience.
As a content creator that sits in the middle but needing to be a jack of all trades, I currently shoot with the Olympus (now OM System) OM-1, previous OM-D EM-1 Mark 3, along with the latest iPhone, and DJI Mavic 3 drone. That's a lot of different devices that all require my hands to be quite active in using touch screens, handling the gear, taking things in and out of my travel backpack, and operating joysticks.
The demands of winter travel cannot be underestimated which is why, having a solid cold weather packing list is so critical to make sure you can perform at your best but even more than that, enjoy being outdoors in the cold.
So let's get into it. Before we get into The Heat Company gloves review, we should understand what makes winter such a different beast for photographers, and by the same token, videographers, and really all content creators.
What makes winter photography so hard
It sounds obvious when you think about it, but until you've had a bad experience in extreme cold, it's hard to articulate what exactly makes travel and photography in the winter so difficult.
I've made some mistakes over the years, so trust me, I know a thing or two.
- You need access to your hands – This sounds obvious but as much as you'd like to keep your hands in your pocket, the fact is that you need your hand and fingers for a lot of operations. When you add photography and videography to the mix, you need them even more.
- You'll be tempted to take your hands off – We use our hands a lot in our daily lives and when you're forced to wear gloves, that loss in dexterity and feeling is hard to get used to. There'll always be a strong urge to take the gloves off and that's usually the first rookie mistake.
- Hands get cold the fastest – Your hands and more specifically your fingers get cold faster than you think. With fingered gloves or no gloves at all, the cold has full contact all around and so any heat you have gets sucked away and the freezing process begins.
- Hard to use your hands when they're cold – Once the freezing begins, everything stiffens up, making it incredibly hard to direct your fingers to do anything precise. Next, your fingers will lock up, making it hard to bend them.
- It's hard to warm back up – When you're out in the field, once you've lost that heat and feeling in your fingers, it takes 3-5x longer to heat up.
- You'll reach your critical point very fast – The best laid plans often go awry in the winter. You'll want to stay out for a long time but the reality is that you'll want to duck back indoors or in the car.
- Touchscreens are a blessing and a curse – We certainly love our touchscreens but in the winter, you almost wish for the days where everything were tactile buttons. As much as touchscreen-friendly gloves are prevalent, they still aren't as good as your bare fingers.
- Small buttons suck too – You often don't think about how small thumb wheels, dials, switches, and levers are on your devices until you have to use them with a glove. That's when you realize some are impossible to use.
- Without the right gear, you will hate it – As much as you love photography (or videography), if you're not properly equipped, winter has a way of making you curse at the top of your lungs.
What's considered to be extreme cold?
Everyone has different tolerances when it comes to cold but it's that visceral feeling you get in the bones of your fingers where your body is telling you that frostbite isn't that far away.
To me, it's when it's dipping below -5°C (23°F) in the “feels like” category. As much as base temperature is a key parameter, howling cold wind will lower your temperature really quickly.
For most, I feel like -10°C (14°F) is when you're getting into that extreme cold territory and that's when you can't getaway with your casual winter gear. This is when that cold weather packing list really matters and that includes gloves.
Why you haven't found the right gloves yet
The common thread to everything that makes photography suck in the winter is that you need to use your hands. The obvious solution would be a good pair of gloves right?
If you're here though, you've probably realized a conclusion I came to awhile ago – it's near impossible to find the right pair of winter gloves.
I thought as a Canadian and a snowboarder that I had it all figured out, but when you introduce photography to the mix, I honestly didn't.
- Winter sports are different than photography – With skiing or snowboarding, the athletic intensity is higher but when you're cold, you can put them in your pockets during those chair lifts, there's the chalet between runs, or you just don't go if it's that cold.
- The journey to mittens – Many people go through the journey of starting with gloves with fingers but once you've experienced cold weather, mittens can't be beat. You probably have awesome mittens but you can't use them for photography.
- Most gloves are geared towards winter sports – Think about it, when you go shopping for gloves, you immediately think about going to somewhere like REI or Moosejaw in the US or MEC, and SAIL in Canada. These retailers sell winter sports oriented gloves. How many of these are geared towards photographers? None.
- Contrasting requirements – Dexterity and warmth aren't exactly compatible needs and that's why these are such challenging features to fulfil together.
- Gloves don't work when you want to take them off – A telling sign of not having the right gloves is when you feel the urgency to take the gloves off to use your camera or other gear. Obviously your bare hands are going to work the best but the right gloves are the ones where you don't need to take them off.
- Lack of hands-free mode – I admit that it's an awkward sounding feature for gloves that I just made up, but we've all had gloves that you don't know what to do with when you take them off because they don't have the proper straps.
Introducing The Heat Company Brand
The Heat Company was born from the Austrian Alps in 1994 and their focus has always been on creating multifunctional outdoor gloves that thrive in the cold.
Their success has been largely tied to developing their gloves for military units in Germany and Austria. Knowing how demanding the military can be and the type of extreme alpine environments they're expected to excel in, that's an endorsement on its own.
Since then, they've expanded into the consumer field but you may not have heard of them in the mainstream because they've found a niche in photography. The secret is that not only are they great for photography but they're the best gloves in the market for any winter activity.
The reason why photographers use The Heat Company gloves is because they've really honed in on hybrid convertible gloves that revolve around combining liner gloves and mittens together.
If you look closely at a lot of pro photographers in the Olympics, mountaineers, winter expedition pros, hunters, and other adventurers, more people use The Heat Company than you think. Just look for that red flame logo.
How Do The Heat Company Gloves Work?
So what actually makes The Heat Company gloves special and what's the innovation?
In the winter, photographers need gloves to stay warm. Liner gloves allow you to achieve this by picking materials that cut down the wind and provide insulation.
This isn't enough on its own so The Heat Company has a pocket on the back part of your hand to slot in a hand warmer (the ones that aren't sewed in).
The Heat Company also employs touchscreen compatible fingers (thumb, index, and middle).
So far, this probably sounds like every other liner glove but when you combine it with their shell which can be built-in or separate, that's when you bring in the power of the mitten.
The shell that slips over the liner gloves is the bulk of the insulation, preventing cold air and wind from riding up from your wrists and keeping all that heat from escaping. The shell has a pocket which allow you to put in a hard warmer that's positioned at the tip of the mitten.
The magic of the shell is that there are zippers and velcro in place that allow you to open up to reveal your fingers and glove, with the flaps staying open thanks to magnets.
When you're cold and need to warm up, simply release the magnets, close up the flaps for your fingers and thumb, and seal that heat inside.
With the hand warmers generating an intense amount of heat, your fingers warm back up incredibly fast.
It's a simple idea but quite the unique set of features that you can't really find anywhere else.
Types of Gloves and Combos Available By The Heat Company
If you're new to The Heat Company, you'll see how many options there are which can get overwhelming.
The core capabilities are very similar as what we've described above but understanding that the naming scheme they use is deceiving, it makes sense to break them down.
I'll use the same wording as what you'll find on their website.
Heat 3 System
You'll be immediately drawn to this one. It has the highest number and so it must be the best one right?
Yes and no.
The Heat 3 System is the all-in-one glove where the inner liner glove is stitched together with the mitten shell.
Heat 3 Smart is the base model and then there's also Heat 3 Smart Pro. The difference is that the fabric liner includes Polartec Wind Pro to give extra warmth, durability, and breathability. It also comes with warmer Primaloft insulation. Lastly the liner gloves have a silicone print on it for non-slip grip.
Pros: It's a one-piece glove that has The Heat Company's unique magnetic system that allows you to convert from liner gloves and mittens. For some, this may work out better because you won't have to deal with taking a separate shell on and off all the time.
Cons: As a single piece, you can't separate the two so it's a little less versatile. There's no full leather shell option for this system so it isn't fully waterproof.
Heat 2 System
You'd think that the Heat 2 System is the next level down but it's in fact designed for warmer temperatures. Instead of a fully waterproof 2-in-1 packed with insulation, this is simply a softshell fingerless glove that can be converted to a mitten.
On its own, your fingers will be exposed with the exception of your thumb which has a cover.
Pros: Perfect for the shoulder seasons when it isn't that cold.
Cons: This is clearly not going to work for those seeking photography gloves that will thrive in extreme cold. Yes, you could add a liner but the insulation features just aren't there.
Heat Layer System
Lastly is what they call the Heat Layer System and is ultimately a mix-and-match of well-designed liner gloves with shell gloves.
This is ultimately the same two-glove approach as you've seen with the other systems. The difference is that you get to pick the exact liner glove that you like and the mitten shell. Unlike the Heat 3 System, neither are stitched together so you can use the liner glove as a standalone.
Admittedly, this is complicated by the fact that there are a ton of different liner choices and 3 different shells. It comes down to warmth and you can generally follow the scale of pricing to determine which is the warmest.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention their optional third layer. It's called a Polar Hood and is basically a full mitten shell that slips on the first two layers or with the Heat 3 System or Heat 2 System.
We've also seen some photographers call this the “Special Forces” system but honestly I wouldn't think of it this way.
Pros: You can customize the system to your liking depending on your use case. Separate layers gives you added versatility so you can use the liner gloves by itself when it's not that cold.
Cons: This can be more expensive. You may also suffer a bit of analysis paralysis because there are so many choices to make.
Heat Layer System Review
I was one of those people that follow a lot of those photography forums and Facebook groups so I knew about these gloves but it wasn't until this year that I finally picked up a set and put it to an extreme test with our Magdalen Islands itinerary in Quebec, Canada.
Liner Gloves – Durable Liner Pro
The Heat Company's Durable Liner Pro is their most expensive liner glove.
On the back side, this liner glove uses Polartec Wind Pro, providing wind protection while also staying breathable and being durable. This is the kind of material you'd find in technical fleece.
For insulation, it uses 3M Thinsulate which is a common material found in most winter gloves.
Like all stand-alone liners, they have a pocket on the back to allow a hand warmer to slip in. A small piece of velcro closes the pocket.
On the palm side is full sheepskin leather, complete with reinforced area between your thumb and index finger in cases where you're handling rope.
The leather extends into the fingers. The thumb, index finger, and middle finger all have special textile material that allows them to work with touch screens. In my case, they're a black felt but I know they've since switched to a silver material.
Lastly, at the wrist is an extra long knitted cuff so you get protection there too.
Why I picked them: On paper, these seemed to be the the most durable and weather resistant liner glove they have that could also stand out on its own.
What comes in the package: These gloves come as they and are connected with a small carabiner.
As liner gloves go, these are the most comfortable ones out there and since they're number sized, they fit well.
The range of dexterity you get from using the gloves is great as you'd expect.
Where I did have trouble though was with the touchscreen and I think this has to do with the stitching for the index finger that unfortunately twists the finger pad away from its natural position.
Other features that I thought were nice additions were:
- Clear labelling of left and right gloves.
- Plastic loops at the ends of each glove which give you the option to clip them either together or to a backpack with the included carabiner.
The reason why you'd buy this liner glove is for its leather and I thought that this held up quite well. Leather by its nature will show wrinkles and develop its own patina but that's to be expected. The materials have held up well and with proper use of leather balm, has continued to stay soft and supple.
The fleece has held up but I did notice that it started pilling soon after just from regular use. This was certainly disappointing.
Otherwise, all the materials held up after heavy use and I did not notice any performance degradation.
Something you'll find as an advantage over some of the other materials is that with leather on the palm side, you won't notice any pilling here nor will any of silicone grip material peel off over time as it might with some of the other liner gloves available.
One of the odd things I noticed with Durable Liner Pro is that because of the dyes used for the leather and how the stitching is done, the edges of leather material at the fingers will leave purple imprints on your hands if you sweat.
I asked the company about this and this is natural with all dyed leather and will get better over time. Since these are brand new materials, you'll see this happen.
Comfort and Fit
Again, with numbered sizes, you end up with a glove that fits your hand just right. The glove always felt comfortable to wear.
One thing that isn't quite sized to fit are the finger sizes. For the purposes of using them with a touch screen, I almost wish they were tighter to give me more control.
For me personally, I did have two awkward fits on the glove:
- The index finger on my left hand which was twisted towards my thumb, making it awkward to use with touch screens.
- I may not have as long of a thumb as the designers had in mind which meant there was a lot of excess material there and that resulted in poor feel there when using touch screens and tapping buttons. This also meant poor operation of the liner gloves when trying to tuck it underneath the shell thumb cover or poking it back out.
Another knock on leather is that while it is waterproof, it is also not as breathable. Yes, the backside is quite breathable but its your palms and fingers that get sweaty. As a result, you might feel like it is a bit “clammy” if you're doing something very active like skiing or snowboarding.
As liner gloves go, this was great but with the caveat that the system only works when combined with the shell. Exposed fingers are ultimately susceptible to cold and so anytime there is extended time using the camera, your fingers will eventually get cold.
That is why when you take a break, you tuck your hand back into the mitten to warm back up.
What does make a difference is the built-in hand warmer pocket. I found that I preferred using this pocket over the one with the shell because it was closer-to-skin. While it didn't provide direct warmth to my finger tips, it kept the rest of my hand warm.
Operating the Camera
With gloves like this liner, you have all of your fingers available to manipulate the camera as you need to whether it's using the thumbstick, directional pad, buttons, dials, or lens zoom or focus rings.
These gloves gave me confidence to keep them on while using the camera which wasn't necessarily the case with other gloves.
That said, there were certainly moments where my thumb seemed to unintentionally tapping other buttons but this is more of a layout issue of the camera than it is a glove issue. There is definitely some muscle memory involved when using your camera with a glove because you'll have to be more pronounced and precise with your presses.
Poor thumb fit for me also meant I needed to be more intentional with dial scrolls on the camera.
Operating the Drone
I had no issues operating the joysticks of the Mavic 3 controller. I always felt like I could get precise control of the flight while wearing the gloves.
Operating the Smartphone
While I had quite a bit of trouble with using the touchscreen on the smartphone, I also know that this is a very challenging problem to solve perfectly.
At the end of the day, it's impossible to be able to use the phone or type with the same level of precision and quickness as you would with your bare hands.
I have not see anyone perfect the touchscreen glove so this really isn't unique to The Heat Company. Here's why:
- There are always gaps in the fingers and thumb because gloves aren't perfectly molded to your hands so that severely hampers how effective you can be with these gloves.
- The touchscreen felt pads on these gloves are large and so you don't have the best control of how your touches will register with the device.
Specific to the Durable Liner Pro was the poor alignment of the left index finger which might be a specific anomaly in the one I received. It was useable but I had to twist it before using.
Thinking about how I used it while in the Magdalen Islands, I mostly resorted to using my left index finger for simple taps on my smartphone while holding the phone with my right hand.
Shell – Shell Full Leather
The Heat Company offers 3 types of shells. The Shell Full Leather sits in the middle and is arguably the best all-around shell that they offer.
The main difference between the types of shells is this:
- Shell – The palm side is goatskin leather but the top side and wrist area is a breathable fabric material which means that it's not fully waterproof and not as warm. The advantage this has is that it has a wide range of colors to choose from.
- Shell Full Leather – Constructed of goatskin leather all around which means it's close to waterproof (they can't give it that rating because of the stitching and zippers) and extremely durable.
- Shell Full Leather Pro – This is the same full leather construction except it comes with an extra long fold out gauntlet that goes further down your wrist to create an even tighter seal.
Why I picked them: For longevity and the highest level of warmth without having to go crazy with an extra long wrist seal, Shell Full Leather just made the most sense.
What comes in the package: These gloves come as they and are connected with a small carabiner. They also come with a ziplock package that includes a HEAT Leather Balm with instructions on how to care for the leather.
Let's delve into the specifics of how the Shell Full Leather performs in this The Heat Company review.
The Shell Full Leather goes overtop the liner gloves and as part of its core functionality can switch between being a full mitten or opened up to allow you to access your fingers and thumb.
The reason why the shells are so expensive because it is packed with features. Here are all of them:
- Opening for your fingers – There's a zipper on the palm side which opens up the mitten whereby there are magnets on the mitten top and back of the hand that keep the flap open. This then exposes your fingers while keeping the rest of the hand warm.
- Thumb opening – The thumb can also be revealed by loosening the velcro flap, and pulling back the thumb whereby again, the two circular magnets connect to keep it open.
- Pocket for hand warmer – Topside of your fingers is an extra zippered pocket for a hand warmer.
- Zipper slider garages – Anywhere there's a zipper is a leather hood that allows you to tuck the zipper slider in so it's not exposed when closed.
- Zippers are weather sealed – Similar to what you'll find with outdoor technical gear, these are laminated water tight zippers.
- Middle of palm is reinforced – You'll see an x-stitch at the palm which shows that's reinforced since it will have additional wear from holding things like hiking poles, skiis, and snowboards.
- Upper cinch – In the middle of the shell is your first cinch/drawcord. This is a simple button cinch with elastic cord that allows you to seal up this space to enhance heat retention. You find this type of cinch on most winter sports gloves. You can tighten this with one hand (important feature for mittens).
- Lower cinch – At the bottom of the glove is an additional cinch/drawcord which you'll likely use more often. This allows you to seal your shell around your jacket sleeves. The end of the cinch has velcro to stick with the glove so it doesn't dangle. You can tighten this with one hand.
- Elastic wrist straps – These are extra large elastic straps that allow you to pull the shell off your hands and have them attached to your wrist. These are detachable but we'd advise keeping them on as they are quite useful.
- Various pulls loops – At the bottom of the glove and near your fingers are loops that help with pulling the gloves for either better fit or to be able to take them off.
- Carabiner loop – To the side of the glove are reinforced loops that allow you to carabiner the gloves together and onto something like a backpack.
This simple but brilliant design is what will spark joy every time you use the shell.
That said, there are some issues that I noticed:
- The hook side of the velcro for the thumb flap unfortunately fell apart where it now doesn't really stick anymore.
- The thin thumb flap is so soft that you might notice some curling.
- Leather used for the zipper garages is also a little too soft where it doesn't always cover the entire zipper slider.
- When the zipper garages don't have a perfect seal, the metal zipper slider is left exposed which does come in contact with objects you might inadvertently touch.
- Since there was a lot of excess material in the thumb part of the liner, I found it challenging to either tuck the thumb back in to close it up or poke it through when opening up.
- The magnets are very strong which is good but I found that in storage, the thumb magnets were constantly sticking together.
- Closing the palm zipper isn't that easy because of the wrinkles in the fabric. A trick I learned is to poke your fingers toward you to push both sides of the zipper close together, making it somewhat easier to close the zipper.
The leather is of the highest quality and is naturally textured which gives it a rugged look. Like the Durable Liner Pro, the leather is extremely soft and supple.
The shell gloves are also quite chunky and in a good way. Thanks to the Primaloft Gold & Grip Control synthetic down insulation, you can feel the warmth right away.
Aside from some of the issues mentioned, the cinches and drawcords work well and the one-hand tightening is helpful.
Comfort and Fit
Just as there are numbered sizes for the liner gloves, the same sizes apply to the shell. As a result, the shell glove fit extremely well and this time with no specific gripes as I had with the liner gloves.
The inner part of the glove is a soft with its fleece-like material so it's extremely comfortable and cozy so you could in theory, use the shell on its own if you don't have liner gloves.
When the shell is fully closed, these are easily the warmest gloves you will ever use.
When combined with the hand warmer you can put in the shell and a second one in the liner glove, we're talking about a lot of heat generated not only by your hand but also externally.
When converted to expose your fingers, your fingers will start to cool down immediately but you'll find that the rest of your hand stays warm which means the insulation does an incredible job.
Operating the Camera
If we look at just the shell itself, it doesn't get in the way of using the camera and is comfortable to use whether your fingers are out or covered. The leather provides a good grip and is not slippery at all.
In fact, the shell has so much cushioning that it makes it easy to hold the camera.
Operating the Drone
Similar to the camera, no issues with operating the drone controller. You can defer to the liner for how it performs while flying.
Operating the Smartphone
Smartphone operation is as good as you can expect with a chunkier glove. With the flaps open, you'll have the smartphone on one hand and likely using the index finger of your other hand to tap and swipe.
Field Test in the Magdalen Islands
So far, we've done quite the deep dive into the two products by The Heat Company that I used while on our winter expedition to the Magdalen Islands (Îles de la Madeleine) where we faced mostly -10°C (14°F) temperatures.
Besides some of the quirks mentioned above, I should put in context that the combination of the Durable Liner Pro with Shell Full Leather was truly a game changer for using my camera gear in cold weather.
Warmer than ever before – Sure, my fingers eventually still got cold, but I could last out in the cold way longer than before. The rest of my hand never really got cold.
Ease of convertibility – I didn't realize how easy it would be to tuck my fingers back into the shell. If you watch the video in our article on the best photography locations in the Magdalen Islands, you'll see that I feature our experiences with the red foxes. We were out there for almost 2 hours standing on the side of the road, I distinctly remember being cold as heck but what gave me some reprieve between long periods of photographing the fox was that I could close up the gloves and warm up. Most of the time, I didn't even close the zipper.
Never felt like taking the shell off – It initially felt weird because you're so used to having to take your gloves off with bad gloves but I remember thinking to myself how amazing it was that I could use my camera without feeling the need to take the shell off.
Trick to keep the top flap straight and open – Normally you'd want to fold the main finger flap and snap the magnets together but I actually found that if I kept it open while using the camera, I could easily tuck my finger back into the warmth of the mitten in between snapping sessions. When I needed my four fingers again, I'd just pop them back out.
Annoyed by the wrist strap – One thing that I struggled with was the wrist strap. In those moments of going from the car to being outside, I would often forget to put the wrist strap on only to realize it much later or having to take it off and re-wear it with the strap on. I don't think the thickness was the issue but it was always that extra step that took extra time to put on.
Magnets like to stick – I mentioned the thumb magnets loving to stick together in storage but I also found it amusing that the magnet would stick to cars and other metal objects.
Great for rummaging your bag – If you have traditional mittens, you have to take them off if you want to go into your bag to do a lens switch or maybe swap to the drone. With these gloves, you have your fingers handy so you can grab lenses and things like that. The caveat is that because your hand is going to be quite chunky with the shell glove, you might not be able to dig that deep into your backpack before catching onto something or getting stuck.
WINTER PHOTO EXPEDITION
See some of the photography that we were able to capture on the Magdalen Islands which is located in the Quebec maritime region of Canada.
Field Test Snowboarding
Not only did I get a chance to use it for a photography trip but I also brought it onto the slopes as well.
Retire any other gloves you have – No joke, this glove combination by The Heat Company can pretty much force any other glove you have into retirement. I had amazing Burton AK (their top of the line collection) mittens that were extremely warm but the felt material was disintegrating. It's already in the garbage.
Extremely versatile – For snowboarding, I switched to mittens and never looked back but with this set up, I now have the ability to open up to use my fingers to tighten something, adjust gear, use my smartphone or cool down without having to take anything off.
Bathroom problems – While the wrist straps were super handy to have the shell dangling on my hands especially when entering the chalet but where you'll still need to take it off is if you go to the bathroom.
Didn't need to take the gloves off – As with photography, the advantage of this system is that you really don't need to take any of the gloves off when you're outside.
Be careful with metal – When skiing or snowboarding, you're grabbing into lift handle bars and poles at the base of the lift. If your zipper slider isn't perfectly in the garage, metal on metal will cause the paint to chip off. This is something I had to be more conscious of when using the Shell Full Leather.
Handling your skis or board – Leather is not impervious to sharp edges and I already notice a few areas where my snowboard sliced a few nicks in the leather. The good news is that leather is pretty strong and won't be ruined by a few cuts so be happy that it's there but if you're paranoid, don't handle your gear by its blade.
What Could Be Improved
We're always honest in our reviews and as part of that, we try not to leave anything behind in terms of what we noticed
Summarizing some of the issues I had with the gloves and a couple of additional ideas, here are areas that I think can be improved.
Durable Liner Pro
- The fleece pills quite easily and this is either something that's unavoidable because of heavy use as I've had this issue with other gloves but wonder if there's a material that is better with this.
- More precise material for the touchscreen-compatible material.
- Smaller thumb size and tighter around the fingers. I like how Arc'teryx has short and long sizing for some of their gear and that might be a way to solve this but I know that makes sizing charts really complicated.
- Examine if there's an issue with the index finger of the left hand (notice in the photo you can already tell it naturally bends the opposite way). It's hard to say if this is a manufacturing issue or a one-off.
Shell Full Leather
- Velcro hooks on the might become brittle in the cold (this happened on both hands).
- Zipper garages could use a stiffer leather to prevent it from folding in on itself.
- The cinch mechanism could be upgraded from the basic cylinders to something a bit more low profile.
- Would love the black ring to be red. I was definitely jealous that only the Heat System 3 has it.
Maintaining the Gloves
Both the liner and the shell feature leather and while they are low maintenance, still require some basic attention to make sure they last a long time and continue to perform well.
Before your first use, you should apply a leather balm to the leather. In addition, this should be applied periodically to revive the leather and at a minimum, once a year.
For practical reasons, the balm protects the leather from drying out and improves water repellency.
From a cosmetic perspective, the balm refreshes the leather's natural colour, reduces scratches, and keeps the leather soft and supple.
When you purchase the Shell Leather Pro, it comes with The Heat Company own leather balm and foam applicator.
The Heat Company's leather balm is made with beeswax and jojoba oil and the beauty of a balm is that it's not a liquid which can dry out in storage or of those one-time-use pouches that some other glove companies include.
This balm can be used quite a few times and only a thin layer is required. This is not a wipe-on-wipe-off leather conditioner. You apply it and leave it on.
To wash the gloves, the Durable Liner Pro can be washed by hand at a maximum temperature of 30°C (86°F) after which you should apply the leather balm.
NOTE: The leather balm only comes free with the purchase of the Shell Full Leather.
Tips for purchasing from The Heat Company
- Size matters – Make sure to follow their measurement instructions closely and have someone help you with it.
- Size down if in between – If you're in between sizes, go with the smaller size.
- Size down in general? – From my experience, I still found the glove to be quite spacious especially the liner so mI'm thinking that I could've gone with one size smaller. I haven't tested this theory though.
- Order early – These gloves are made in Austria and aren't mass produced. In the winter, there's a huge influx of orders so sizes will often sell out and be on back order. If you know you want them, order them ahead of the winter season.
- Take advantage of our promo – If you're in Canada, there's a special offer where you can get 10 free hand warmers. Don't miss this freebie!
The Heat Company Promo Code for Canadians
There's a hidden 10 pack hand warmer page on The Heat Company's Canadian page and if you use code GOINGAWESOMEHEAT, those hardwarmers are free ($20 CAD value) for every single purchase.
Overall Verdict of The Heat Company
Best gloves ever? I'd say pretty darn close.
I know I've been nitpicking on a lot of things and I discovered a lot of unique characteristics of this type of two-glove set up. At the end of the day though, it's a game changer no matter how you slice it.
With a convertible that melds the warmth of a mitten and the ability to convert to a glove with fingers without having to take anything off, this is what allows me to shoot a lot longer in extreme cold temperatures. It really is like a coat of armor.
From our trip to the Magdalen Islands, the best example of what not to do was unfortunately my wife. With her thin Columbia Sportswear liner gloves and really old skiing mittens, she was struggling to use her smartphone to take photos and operate the camera.
Yes, the mittens kept her hands warm but to do anything, she had to take them off. They didn't have any wrist straps so she has to throw them into her pocket. Her hand was then completely exposed to the wind and since the softshell gloves could only do so much, she could only snap photos in small spurts. As soon as she couldn't handle it anymore, she would hand me the camera and she had to slip the mittens back on.
Could better insulated gloves with fingers have performed better for her? Maybe, but then you also lose even more dexterity in the fingers for the smartphone and you become even more clumsy handling camera gear.
The liner glove plus shell by The Heat Company is the best of both worlds and that's something that photographers really need.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, they are absolutely worth the price if you're doing any sort of photography, videography, or drone flying in temperatures below -5°C (23°F).
It depends on the exact combination you choose but if you decide on the Durable Liner Pro and Shell Full Leather, the total cost is $357 CAD or $308 USD.
Not quite but close. Being made of leather all around, the Shell Full Leather is very waterproof but since you don't have taped seams like you would see with GoreTex, it can't be classified as waterproof. By applying the leather balm, it improves water beading and repellency.
Yes, but only as good as how the gloves fit your fingers. You'll be able to use your thumb, index, and middle finger but the sensitive pads on the finger tips aren't the most accurate so it will still be a challenge to use.
They do not offer technical ratings for warmth but with a liner and shell but anecdotally, using these in below -17°C (0°F) temperatures is not an issue when combined together. The caveat is that if your fingers are outside of the shell, they will still get cold at these temperatures.
The Heat Company gloves are made in Austria.
Yes, they are made from either real goatskin or sheepskin leather.
If you're in North America, shipping is free if your cart is over $100. If you're from the EU shipping is free if above € 25. In the UK and Switzerland, shipping is free above € 100.
The Heat Company gloves sell out quickly during the winter season and often can't keep up with demand especially outside of Austria so it's best to buy them in the off-season.
While best known for photographers, The Heat Company gloves can be used for mountaineering, hunting, skiing, snowkiting, snowboarding, and other outdoor winter sports.
TheHeatCompany.com is the global site and is what you should be using if you're outside of North America. If you're from the US, use TheHeatCompany.us, and if you're from Canada use TheHeatCompany.ca. Anyone can order from TheHeatCompany.com but you'll be paying significant international shipping costs and face potential duty charges since it'll come from Austria so make sure you are on the right website.
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