I recently had an appointment with Dr. Google that culminated in a self-diagnosis of Raynaud’s disease. I wanted to find the best “photography gloves” for my condition so that I can keep shooting through the cold of winter, but with so many options, I was immediately left adrift in a cold sea. All my life, my hands and feet have gotten cold well before other human beings around me in the same weather. Late fall and winter sailing, skiing, backyard football, and long treks into the cold of night with photography gear—all memories punctuated with remembrances of cold hands and feet. Luckily, modern fabrics and technology have made photography-specific gloves better than ever and we, at B&H Photo, sell many brands.
It was my initial hope to test every pair of gloves that B&H sells but, upon putting all of them into my B&H shopping cart, I realized that I could, in one order, blow out the Explora budget. So, I pared down the list and received a large cross-section of our brands/gloves. I also enlisted the help of co-worker Carmen Rojas to give me her thoughts on the female-bespoke gloves, as well as all the unisex styles. We also expanded our search into “touchscreen gloves” because many of you are using your smartphones and tablets while making images, taking photos with said smart devices, or you might even have a digital camera that has a touchscreen LCD on its rear surface, so the touchscreen-sensitive gloves can be an obvious advantage in many ways.
I wanted to do a “test” of these gloves, but realized that there was no real scientific method to test precisely how warm a pair of gloves keeps my hands. The thought of jamming a calibrated Thermopen kitchen thermometer into each glove was erased by the realization that there was no way I could keep the outside air temperature consistent, nor insert my hand into each glove with the same initial temperature. So, the following review is not scientific, but Carmen and I will share our thoughts on each of the gloves we sampled on a blustery New York City winter day, and I hope this helps narrow down your glove shopping adventure.
Freehands Men’s Stretch Thinsulate Gloves / Freehands Women’s Stretch Thinsulate Gloves These gloves likely set the standard by which other photography gloves are judged because they bring some very nice features to a what-you’d-expect-to-pay-for-gloves price. The gloves are fleece lined and feel good to the touch. The palms are a mildly grippy silicone and the 3MThinsulate is waterproof and windproof—keys to any good cold weather glove. Finger access for the thumb and forefinger is included with magnets on the backs of the fingers to keep the flaps open. Because they are not bulky, these gloves would make a great addition to your camera bag for cold(er) weather shooting—especially on days where you find yourself wishing you’d given more thought to keeping your hands warm.
PGYTECH Photography Gloves These gloves are unique to our test for two reasons: 1) they feature finger access for three digits—thumb, forefinger, and middle finger, and 2) the finger access flaps are secured with snaps instead of Velcro or magnets. They also might be the heaviest touchscreen-sensitive gloves we tested. These gloves feature 3M Thinsulate for wind and waterproofing and a grippy palm material for traction on your gear. The finger-access snaps have the advantage of keeping the finger flaps secure, but they can be a bit frustrating to snap when working with the gloves. Carmen and I felt that magnets on other gloves were superior to the PGYTECH snaps, but also agreed that securing the flaps, in general, seemed like a superfluous feature. When compared to the Freehand’s Thinsulate gloves, these PGYTECH gloves will definitely be warmer because they are more like traditional winter gloves.
RucPac Professional Tech Gloves for Photographers These gloves are thin and will be best suited for fall or spring days when winter gloves are not needed. Touchscreen sensitivity is great on this pair, but there is no finger access, so you will either have to remove the gloves to manipulate your camera controls, or learn how to be dexterous when wearing them. The palms have a rubberized pattern for grip.
The Heat Company Heat 3 Smart Mittens/Gloves These are the gloves you’ll want to get when someone tells you that you have to walk all day through the snow in sub-zero temps while holding an aluminum tripod. These are mittens that have a zippered top that peels back to reveal the fleece-covered fingers of a liner glove. The outer layer is wind and water resistant with Primaloft Gold synthetic down insulation. Other features include a strong magnet to hold the mitten top back and a pouch on the back of the glove to insert heat packs. The mittens come with two heat packs and leather balm. A few things to note: The liner is not removable and it pulls out a bit when removing the glove. It’s somewhat annoying, but a circumstance of any similar design. Also, there is no bare-finger access. The mitten gives access to your liner-covered digits, but you cannot peel the liner back to expose your fingers. The liner fingers, however, are touchscreen sensitive.
The Heat Company sells several variations of the gloves we tested. The Heat 2 gloves have fingerless liners and you may purchase mitten shells and different liners separately.
Vallerret Tinden Gloves Very similar to the PGYTECH gloves in size and weight, these are more traditional winter gloves when it comes to warmth and feel. The unisex Tinden gloves come in six sizes ranging from XS to XXL. Carmen immediately said, “Now these I like,” when donning her pair of Vallerret gloves. Both gloves give you forefinger and thumb access on demand with magnets to hold the flaps back. Although we said earlier that the finger flap magnets were not really needed, the Vallerret magnets are not very aggressive—almost to the point of not working. Inside is luxurious Merino wool and a zippered pocket on the glove backs can store something small. The palms have a grippy surface for keeping your stuff secure when being held.
Like The Heat Company, Vallerret has many glove and liner options for custom needs.
Note: We originally tested (and photographed) the discontinued Vallerret Ipsoot and women’s Nordic gloves (still available in some sizes). The Tinden glove is almost identical in features and price point.
Agloves Polar Sport Touchscreen Gloves This pair of gloves is completely touchscreen friendly—not just the fingertips. So, feel free to don these and send texts using your knuckles, if that is your thing. The Agloves are good for chilly, but not cold, days, and there is no finger access to manipulate camera controls. These are less photography and much more touchscreen gloves. Unlike other similar gloves I have tried, these Agloves have gripper dots on the palm to help you keep your hold on objects. Here is another pair that’s great for shoving into a camera bag or your pockets for when you need them, but you won’t use this pair for an all-night January photo shoot.
Freehands Women’s Stripe Wool Knit Gloves These wool gloves are thin and not very warm, but Carmen liked the PVC-dot grippy palms and they do have finger access with magnets to hold the finger flaps. These gloves are great for three-season wear when you need just a little protection from the cold.
Outdoor Warmers Although they aren’t gloves, an electronic warmer is a game-changer for those like me who suffer from constantly cold hands in the winter. Even if you have warm gloves, you’ll benefit from plunging your hands into your pockets with these electronic heat sources—and many of them serve double duty as flashlights or charging batteries. I cannot recommend them enough!
That’s a five-fingered wrap on a bunch of gloves we sell at B&H Photo. Do you have questions about a specific pair or a pair we didn’t try on? Please let us know in the Comments section, below!
Meteor Mitts by Outdoor Research have a great insert, you can retract your hand into the mitten even if it is open. You have to buy the whole mitt though last time I checked. I find finger gloves under a mitt shell are still cold, half finger mitts more so, (and you can't retract). It does have a separate cover for the thumb but I often leave it on.
Thanks for the hands-on tip! Maybe camera companies have to invent cameras that are controlled by voice commands so we can keep our fingers covered!
Thanks for reading!
Did you really test Freehands in cold weather? Since I have a pair of Freehands Women's Stretch and it is just unbearable to use them on cold weather. I tried them in a couple of opportunities, in both cases temperature was about 0 Celsius degrees, the problem is that the border of the open finger is too tight, it cuts my blood circulation and simple I had to remove the gloves to stop suffering. In short, they doesn't work. The size is right for my hand and I am thin person, and my fingers are just regular size and thickness...
Thank you for your comments
Sorry for the delay. I actually do not work at B&H anymore, but was bored (not really) and thought I would "check the mail." :)
Yes, I did test a couple different versions of the Freehands, but did not subject myself to a long duration exposure to the cold. I wonder if a larger size would help you out, or if there is a way you could stretch the open finger border?
Were your fingers outside of the gloves for an extended amount of time? That could also be a contributing factor.
I hope you are staying warm and safe!
I 100% agree with you on this sentiment. While I would *love* to love the Freehands, I believe they are incredibly tight, too. I have small hands and usually any size/type glove is a bit large on me...these are absolutely constricting.
Let us know if you find a solution with our other brands/pairs!
I had just finished reading an article on Raynaud’s disease that the Today Show posted on Facebook. I also have Raynaud's disease, probably since the mid 70's was when I noticed it. I had just finished watching the Hokkaido Japan Winter Landscape Photography video on YouTube. That would be an exciting trip to take. But ... I may have to rethink my photography bucket list addition of photographing the Aurora.
When I did my Full Moon of 2012, I would remove my glove when changing lenses or B&W contrast filters, but it was only a short walk to inside. My fingers will turn white in the mildest of cold weather. Once, after I got out of the water from water-skiing the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa after Labor Day, my fingers where white.
This article will be helpful.
Thanks Ralph! I am glad we can suffer together!
Definitely go for the Heat Company stuff if you do chase the Northern Lights!