When you are passionate about photography of extreme cold weather, you don’t only find yourself with technical problems with the equipment, but also you have to face physical challenges that could ruin the photographic session.
And it is that finding yourself at -10ºC while having functionality in your fingers is almost more important than the type of camera you are prepared to shoot with.
I remember when on the summit of volcano Teide at almost 4000 mts , after a long walk, I barely endured 5 shots. At that time, I covered my hands with Thinsulate thermal gloves that I had bought for the occasion. Fine fabric that keeps your hands warm and comfortable. – The label said.
The place was spectacular and if I said I felt cold I would lie to you. Who feels cold in front of such a landscape? However, it took no more than half an hour when I lost all mobility in my hands and I had to return to the shelter much earlier than expected.
For the next trip I would prepare better, or so I thought. I disbursed a good amount of money to get the North Face Montana GTX gloves, waterproof and designed for subzero temperatures. They fulfilled perfectly what they promised, but at no time mentioned their use in Arctic photography.
I tried to take some shots with them on, but it was as difficult as if I had some kind of dysfunction in the hands, 100% hot and 100% useless inside the gloves. The result was a succession of putting them off and on , trying to reach a balance between heat and mobility of the fingers. Not at all efficient if you take photography art seriously.
Then I started looking for other gloves brands that were aimed at photographers shooting under extreme conditions and I found The Heat Company. When I told them about my disagreements with other gloves, they decided to send us a pair of their HEAT 3 SMART model so we could try them and tell our experience allowing us to freely express our opinion about what they call their flagship product, the gloves designed specifically for the German and Austrian combat forces.
When we opened the package sent by The Heat Company we found the following elements:
- 2 pairs of HEAT 3 SMART gloves in separate wraps
- 2 packs with 5 pairs of toewarmers (8h duration)
- 2 packs with 10 pairs of handwarmers (12h duration)
- 1 package with 10 pairs of bodywarmers (12h duration)
We also find a last package with protective balm to preserve the leather of the gloves.
As we were told, the Heat 3 Smart gloves and handwarmers are the perfect combination to ensure heat and mobility of the hands. That is why they always send a pair of warmers as a gift with all their gloves.
the HEAT company GLOVES FEATURES
The Heat Company denominates its gloves in three categories, liner, shell and hood.
The star product of the Heat Company is the so-called “Heat Layer system”·, where we can combine through different models among liner gloves and shells, getting the maximum comfort and the best protection against the cold. We can add to these gloves and shell another hood called “Polar hood” which will allow us to bear even the most extreme temperatures.
The gloves we tested in this review are the Heat 3 Smart, which combine an inner glove and a shell (different from the liner gloves and shells pointed above). In this case and unlike the previous system, the Heat 3 smart inner glove and shell are sewed and indivisible. Besides, this model might be combined with a Polar Hood cover if desired, even though we do not recommend this just for photography purposes.
At a first glance, the Heat 3 Smart gloves can appear excessively large and will make you think that they can be uncomfortable to use while you are operating the camera. To the naked eye it is a mitten of a thick and clearly impermeable material.
However, it has two zippers on both sides of the palm. Opening the zipper inside we can take our fingers out, now covered by a glove of thinner but warm material, giving the fingers full mobility.
The remaining part of the mitten is tied like a hood by a system of magnets to the back of the hand, keeping this element from hindering during the photographic sessions.
For the thumb, the operation is something different. The opening of the mitten is done by a Velcro system, attached by the same system to the back side of the finger when you want to use the inner glove. *Note: In the last 2018 version the Velcro was changed for a new magnet.
Analyzing them in detail the material seems highly resistant and the seams are well made and without weak parts.
The inner glove is made of Polartec® Power Stretch ® PRO ™. The touch is soft and warm. It is also very flexible which allows total mobility of the hand even when it comes to pressing a small button on our camera. The material is breathable, and protects against the wind. However, it is not waterproof, for this we must use the mitten.
The mitten is made of elastic Microfiber and leather on the hand palms (since we need more grip for the camera). It is totally water resistant, but at the same time it is breathable. It has a Primaloft Gold insulation filler that allows a heat storage of up to 95%.
- 1. Silver fabric for using all touch screens
2. Palm side full goat leather for more warmth & grip
3. Additional 4 oz Primaloft for even more warmth
4. Total freedom of movement by means of the elastic mitten function
5. Thumb flap also allows for optimal warmth and movement when needed
6. Mitten finger flap allows for maximum warmth
7. Primaloft filling ensures optimal warmth
8. Extra pocket on the back side of the mitten keeps the handwarmer (keys etc.) in place.
9. Safety strap with elastic wrist band prevents the gloves from falling off
The mittens with the inner gloves are easy to place without any help. The insulating effect is superior to any glove tested previously. Despite the large volume they are very light.
After a long walk with them on, the fingers can begin to sweat, but the humidity is not retained.
Handling with the mittens on is impossible not only for the use of the camera, but even to introduce the handwarmers into the pockets prepared for it.
REMOVING THE MITTENS
However, we can open the zippers necessary to take our fingers out without having to take off the mittens and once here, we can handle the camera, put the thermal heaters on or any other action that requires the mobility of the fingers. In addition to using them during photo sessions we used them during the handling of our drone without any problem.
The system of fastening the flap over the mitten seems very simple and reliable, both the Velcro for the thumb and the magnet for the rest of the fingers. At once I went from having warm and comfortable hands inside the mittens to having them working into the camera settings.
USE DURING THE PHOTOGRAPHIC SESSIONS
The insulating protection of the mitten is missed, but not enough to make it uncomfortable to work on the shoots. Even without the protection of the mitten, the inner glove is quite warm and insulating. In addition, thanks to the thermal heat of the warmers that I inserted into the gloves pockets, no heat is lost during the photo shoot.
RETURN TO THE INSIDE OF THE MITTENS
At the time of putting back the mitten, I encountered some difficulties. While the rest of fingers are easily inserted back into the mitten, the thumb resists. I can insert the finger, but the glove’s fabric is on the outside, which makes it impossible to close the velcro.
After several sessions, the best thing that worked for me was using the other hand to push the glove in turn with the thumb towards the inside of the mitten, and once inside, close the velcro. *Note: In the last 2018 version this was amended by changing the Velcro for a new magnet.
For the rest of fingers, the return to the mitten is very simple. Although the closure of the zipper can be a bit complicated the first few times. In the end you finish up making it easy.
The Heat 3 Smart gloves stand out for their removable mitten system. Both with the clasped and removed mitten, the glove is very insulating, making it suitable for use in sub-zero conditions.
With the mitten removed, the glove is very elastic and flexible so it can be used in activities where precise movements of the fingers are required, as it is in photography.
Opening the mitten is very easy and fast. However, the system of turning inside the mitten and closing requires a bit of practice.
The price is adequate, especially when compared to other extreme insulating gloves that do not allow any type of mobility at a similar price.
My opinion is that it is an essential product if you want to enjoy Arctic and extreme cold conditions photography.