In Search of the Perfect Photography Gloves
I’m a pretty outdoorsy person. I do lots of activities outdoors, including during the winter months, which here in New England can be pretty cold and raw. My hands also get cold pretty easily (I think due to poor circulation), which means that I need to wear gloves pretty frequently. I’ve found a number of different kinds of gloves that are great for a number of different activities- I have gloves for skiing, gloves for hiking, gloves for biking, gloves for snowshoeing, gloves for just walking around town. What I’ve yet to find though, are gloves that are good for outdoor cold-weather photography.
The difficulty is that cold-weather photography presents a somewhat unique set of challenges for those of us with cold hands… it isn’t (usually, unless you’re chasing after your subject!) an aerobic activity, so the gloves need to be warm. But, given the ever-shrinking size and ever-increasing sophistication of digital SLR camera bodies, the controls on these cameras tend to be very small and require precision and dexterity with the fingers in order to operate them. So big, bulky, well-insulated gloves won’t do.
So the cold-weather photographer needs gloves that are warm, but also thin and which provide good enough dexterity to still be able to use small buttons and dials. I was at my local REI recently and saw a pair of gloves called Seirus All Weather Xtremes that seemed to fit the bill perfectly: the advertising on the packaging said they were “as warm as bulky 200g gloves,” waterproof, windproof (good in New England where sometimes the wind is worse than the cold) and still provided great dexterity. I tried them on in the store, and they did in fact provide pretty good dexterity. For fifty bucks they certainly weren’t cheap, but if they would finally end my years-long quest for good cold-weather photo gloves, they’d be worth it. I bought them.
Sadly, after only a few days of use, it was clear that these gloves were not my answer. They did provide good dexterity, but they were not warm (my hands got cold almost immediately in 30-degree weather) and even worse, they made my hands feel damp and clammy even when there was no moisture around. They got returned. On returning them though, I saw another version of the same glove, this one called simply the All Weather, that was not waterproof but had one fewer layers and might be more breathable (was cheaper too, at thirty five bucks). Worth a shot.
Turns out these guys have better dexterity, feel somewhat warmer and give me somewhat less of the damp, clammy feeling. Better, but still not great. So while these gloves are okay, I’m still searching for my El Dorado.
Know of another glove that fits this bill? I’d love to hear about it.
UPDATE 02/18/10: This past weekend I was at a fantastic two-day shoot on Cape Cod with Jack Hollingsworth and a number of other awesome photographers (this shoot was so good that its going to get its own blog post… more on that later!). A good portion of the shoot was done outdoors, on a beach and fish pier in Chatham, MA. The temperature was in the 20′s and the wind was whipping (who knows what the wind chill factor was), and if ever my hands were going to freeze, this was it!
This time, in addition to the Seirus gloves I’ve mentioned above, I tried an experiment. I layered my EMS Polartec fleece gloves (don’t pay full price, they go on sale all the time!) underneath a cheap pair of Home Depot leather-palmed work gloves ($10 maybe?).
This combination was fantastic. Both pairs of gloves are snug-fitting and low-profile, so they offer really good dexterity (more than enough to operate the tiny controls of SLRs). The combination was also warm and very wind-resistant. I think I may have found my answer!
Leave a Reply