UKC

Winter Mitts - Fat Ones to Thin(ish) Ones! Group Test

Mitts: perhaps not the sexiest of outdoor clothing, but if the weather is at its worst, or you suffer from cold extremities, then these are the things that will make the biggest difference to your hands.

We've some of the best mitts on the market in this test, and although mitts generally break down really into two different types; the rugged waterproof Mitts that you can actually use for technical climbing (obviously not as technical as gloves), and the super-fatty pairs for those who are either wheezing up at high altitudes or want something for winter Alpine bivvies (masochists!), we've mainly covered type 1. The exception to this is the super lofty Berghaus mitts, which are very fat and very warm, but not dextrous. Read the review for full info!

Back to generalising about mitts... It's quite simple really, having your fingers all together in a mitt is a lot warmer than having them individually in fingered gloves. Whether this is because the fingers can help to heat one another up, or because there is less surface area that needs to be insulated, or because the freedom of movement in the mitt means that the blood flow to the fingers is less restricted, we aren't really sure. But what we do know is that if you take a glove and a mitt of exactly the same weight of fabric and insulation (in fact many of the mitts in this test are available in a glove version) then the mitts are far, far warmer. FACT!

In this review we've looked at warmth, dexterity, water resistance, durability and overall design. We've climbed, skied, hiked and camped in these mitts at low temperatures and in terrible weather, and here are our findings.

One thing is for sure, there isn't a bad mitt in this bunch, but some were better than others, and some were more suited to specific tasks. Read on to find out which mitts won our best in test, and why.


Overall Summary

Model

Image Info Ratings

Rab Nebula

Price: £80

Weight: 260g

Rab Nebula Mitts, 34 kb
Warm mitts, fairly robust and do the job. Could be tweaked to improve the design/fit.

Water resistance

Durability

Warmth

Overall Rating

Berghaus Ulvetanna

Price: £120

Weight: 307g

Berghaus Ulvetanna Down Mitts, 83 kb
Overkill for Scottish winter, but if you are Polar-bound or in Alaska or the Himalaya these fatties are brilliant for that.

Water resistance

Durability

Warmth

Overall Rating

Black Diamond Crew

Price: £100

Weight: 320g

Black Diamond crew Mitts, 22 kb

All in all hard to fault these excellent mitts at a good price from Black Diamond - nice one!

Best in Test Highly Recommended Small, 5 kb

Water resistance

Durability

Warmth

Overall Rating

Mountain Equipment Pinnacle

Price: £120

Weight: 235g

Mountain Equipment Pinnacle Mitts, 77 kb

Winner of best mitts on test. Damn good. Well done to Mountain Equipment!

Best in Test Small, 5 kb

Water resistance

Durability

Warmth

Overall Rating

Arc'teryx Beta Shell + Atom

Price: £190

Weight: 220g

Arc'teryx Beta Shell, 42 kb
Very sexy, very sleek, pretty tough and pretty warm. If you've got the cash to splash then why not. We liked them!

Water resistance

Durability

Warmth

Overall Rating

Outdoor Research Meteor

Price: £55

Weight: 285g

OR Meteor Mitt product shot, 166 kb
Tough, warm and versatile, OR Meteor Mitts may not be the most refined in this line-up but they are hard to fault at this price. A good all-rounder.

Water resistance

Durability

Warmth

Overall Rating

Montane Extreme

Price: £35

Weight: 151g

Montane Extreme Mitt, 16 kb

Good mitts, great price. Not the most refined, but maybe perfect for Winter ML holders and MICs etc to have a spare pair for the bottom of the rucksack. They even come with a little stuff-sack for just that purpose!

Best in Test Good Value Small, 5 kb

Water resistance

Durability

Warmth

Overall Rating

Rab Nebula Mitts £80

Warm hands on a cold ski day with the Rab Nebula Endurance Mitts, 176 kb
Warm hands on a cold ski day with the Rab Nebula Endurance Mitts
© Jack Geldard

Rab Nebula Mitts, 34 kb

At first glance these mitts look pretty chunky, but when you put them on you realise that most of the 'chunk' is behind the hand, meaning the Nebula mitts are surprisingly dextrous (for their size).

Weighing in at 260g, these aren't the lightest mitts in the test, more mid-weight. They are filled with synthetic insulation (Rab's own 'Cirrus') and they are shelled with a water resistant Pertex outer.

Warmth-wise we found these Nebula Mitts to be perfectly warm enough for Alpine winter, Scottish belays and probably beyond.

The palms of the mitts have a grippy reinforced material that seems fairly hard wearing (so far) but we don't think it has quite the beef of a real leather palm (get it!).

We did come up with a negative for the Nebulas though, and that was fit. You can't go far wrong with mitts, as they aren't the most complex of designs, so of course the Nebulas went over our hands and kept them warm! But if we are looking closely then we thought that the mitt itself was slightly too narrow in shape, and the thumb section was hard to find with the thumb, and slightly too high up the mitt. Also we found the insulation or lining behind the hand on just one of the mitts seemed to fold over slighty, as if the inner was wider than the outer and didn't have anywhere to go. It could just have been our test model, so we'd say try before you buy.

Weight: 260g

Summary:

Warm mitts, fairly robust and do the job. Could be tweaked to improve the design/fit.

More info: Rab Website

Berghaus Ulvetanna Down Mitt £120

Berghaus Ulvetanna Down Mitts in Scottish winter - overkill!, 110 kb
Berghaus Ulvetanna Down Mitts in Scottish winter - overkill!
© UKC

Berghaus Ulvetanna Down Mitts, 83 kb

These mitts are fat, very fat. These mitts are warm, very warm. These mitts are not hugely dextrous due to the previous two facts, but you can't have it all!

The down insulated Ulvetanna mitts from Berghaus are by far the warmest in this test and are clearly aimed at extremely cold temperatures and high altitudes. They are overkill for Scottish winter, but could be a finger saver in the harshest of Alpine winter conditions. But they are best suited to the Greater Ranges.

Weighing in at (for the size) a fairly light weight of 307g the Ulvetanna mitts are are not waterproof, but are windproof and filled with a hydrophobic down, so do offer some wet weather performance; however they are designed for temperatures where water will be in a white, frozen form, not in the rain type form! They have a leather palm for added grip and durability, and this, combined with a good fit (for a fat down mitt) does add quite a bit of usability to the mitts.

They are clearly a high quality product and seem well put together. They have really easy to use drawcords, nice and chunky, and a large gauntlet that covers the wrist easily. We had them in size large, and they were roomy for the size, swallowing hands easily.

They have a really comfortable micro-fleece liner, and the Pertext outer fabric, whilst not as tough as the leather palm, certainly held the down well and was completely wind-proof.

You can tell these are a well-thought-out product, and the little extras like the red loops to clip them to a harness (upside down of course) and the slight curve to the palm to follow the natural shape of the hard, means they aren't just a big bag full of down.

Weight: 307g

Summary: Overkill for Scottish winter, but if you are Polar-bound, or off to Alaska or the Himalaya, and need something super warm, these fatties would be brilliant.

More info: Berghaus Website

Black Diamond Crew Mitts £100

Black Diamond Crew Mitts in action, 178 kb
Black Diamond Crew Mitts in action
© Jack Geldard

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large, 15 kb

Black Diamond crew Mitts, 22 kb
These tough and warm mitts from Black Diamond were one of our favourites in this test. They have Gore-Tex inserts and we found them to be 100% waterproof.

The exterior of the glove is tan-coloured leather on the palms and a stretchy nylon softshell type fabric on the back; both were tough.

The liners felt great, with a micro-fleece on the palm side giving a warm touch and also quite a lot of dexterity, and a puffier thermolite insulation behind the hand for added warmth.

Our test team climbed Scottish grade V in these bad boys, as well as days skiing, and the obligatory wet walk-ins and outs! They have performed excellently throughout and it was actually very hard to tell the difference between these and 'Best in Test' winners from Mountain Equipment. They were very very similar in spec.

They were quite big for the size, and we liked the roomy nature of the Crew Mitts, and we found them fairly dextrous too. They didn't win simply because they weighed a bit more than the other mitts. When in use we couldn't tell at all (what's 100g!) but in the specs table it became clear they were tipping the scales at over 300g - well you get durability for your weight with these well built bruisers.

Summary: All in all hard to fault these excellent mitts at a good price from Black Diamond - nice one!

More info: Black Diamond Website

Mountain Equipment Pinnacle Mitt £120

Max Cole testing out the dexterity of the Mountain Equipment Pinnacle Mitts in Scottish Winter, 170 kb
Max Cole testing out the dexterity of the Mountain Equipment Pinnacle Mitts in Scottish Winter
© Jack Geldard

Best in Test Large, 14 kb

Mountain Equipment Pinnacle Mitts, 77 kb
At first glance these Mountain Equipment Pinnacle Mitts look very similar to the Black Diamond Crew Mitts (above). And in many ways the two products are similar: they are both Gore-Tex lined, and have tan coloured leather outers, and they are both exceptionally good mitts.

On further inspection it becomes clear that where the ME Pinnacles differ slightly from the BD offering is in the fit/sizing. The ME mitts are slightly smaller sized, with a very slightly smaller sized cuff. They are a little more technical in their fit, and hug the hand well.

They also have a fibre-pile lining on the palm side of the inside of the glove. ME state that this 'reduces slippage when using ice tools' and we found that with these mitts it is actually possible to grip a tool effectively, and still have a certain level of feedback whilst climbing. They certainly aren't the first choice for Scottish 9 technical climbs, but for Alpine romping or easier Scottish gullies you feel confident on the tools.

What this meant for us was that, when carrying these beauties as belay/emergency mitts it gave us a bit of confidence knowing that if we did drop a climbing glove, we could carry on using one of these effectively. Of course they're not as good as thinner gloves for handling gear, but we did find gripping a ski pole, an ice axe, and basic rucksack buckles no problem in these mitts.

The little extras were all there with Mountain Equipment obviously trying hard to make these the perfect mitts. They have small tabs for clipping them on to a 'biner, and carrying them on your harness (cuffs pointing down, no snow inside), and they have a really nice elastic wrist loop, and an effective one-handed cuff closure system. Our only tiny criticism of these mitts was that the elastic on this was a little long, so when we pulled them tight it was a bit distracting - answer was, we cut 3cm off the end of the elastic - job done.

Quality-wise they are extremely tough, made from some softshell and mainly brown leather, with a reinforced leather patch on the wear point on the palm that has kevlar stitching.

The warmth was excellent, easily up to the job in Alpine winter, Scotland and we would love to take them to the Greater Ranges, confident the UKC review budget would take more of a battering than our hands would in these warm, tough and fairly dextrous mitts.

Weight: 235g

Summary:

For us these were the best mitts on test. Damn good. Well done to Mountain Equipment!

More info: Mountain Equipment Website

Arc'teryx Beta Shell Mitten + Atom Mitten Liner £125 + £65

Emily Andrew skiing a winter storm day in the Alps in the Arc'teryx Mitts and liners, 187 kb
Emily Andrew skiing a winter storm day in the Alps in the Arc'teryx Mitts and liners
© Jack Geldard

Arc'teryx Beta Shell, 42 kb
What to say about these sleek, amazingly well made, warm, dextrous and waterproof mitts? Well lets start with the whopping price of £190! I think it is only fair to say that you could buy 3 pairs of the Outdoor Research mitts and then go out for a pub dinner for the price of these babies. But if money is no object - and for us here at UKC towers then of course that is the case - then these mitts are basically amazing.

The Gore-Tex is faced with two different types of fabric (Arc'teryx do seem to be the kings of this multi fabric construction, and it is always so seamless-looking!): a tough fabric on the palm and a lighter fabric on the back of the hand. Despite us loving leather, we have to say we were totally impressed with the palms of these, they are tougher then they look.

A close-up of the clean lines of the Arc'teryx Mitts, 91 kb
A close-up of the clean lines of the Arc'teryx Mitts
© Jack Geldard

The warmth of the mitts wasn't quite up to the standard of some of the other mitts on test (obviously the Berghaus ones were like sticking your hands in the toaster, but the ME ones and the BD ones were warmer we thought too), but they are plenty warm enough for all but the most polar of conditions - Alpine winters are no problem.

Summary:

Very sexy, very sleek, pretty tough and pretty warm. If you've got the cash to splash then why not. We liked them!

More info: Beta Shell - Atom Liner

Outdoor Research Meteor Mitts £55

Without the inners they feel baggy - room for gloves underneath, 78 kb
Without the inners they feel baggy - room for gloves underneath
© Dave Saunders

OR Meteor Mitt product shot, 166 kb

The Meteor is a modular mitt, a lightly insulated weather-proof shell with a detachable fleece inner. You're effectively getting two pairs of mitts for the price of one (a fair price too), and this gives you three different options for maximum versatility.

Used on its own we've found the inner is good for fair weather walk-ins, gearing up and camping. The 300-weight polyester fleece feels very snug, and comes a long way up the arm for super wrist coverage. However the fabric provides no wind protection and of course wets out instantly in damp above-zero conditions.

The finger and thumb sections both fold back, so you can use bare digits for fiddly tasks. They are held open, just about, by little magnetic patches. One issue to be aware of with these magnets is that they are strong enough to affect a compass needle - as such, the mitts are best stored and carried at a safe distance from your compass. In addition, the inners should not be worn if you're compass navigating.

A pocket on the back of the fingers takes a heat pack – handy in an Alpine winter. The inner secures to the main mitt with Velcro, and once inserted it stays in place with no significant slippage or wrinkling.

The outer alone is still a functional mountain mitt, but one with much thinner and lighter insulation than most on test. This is good for dexterity in less frigid conditions, and also makes it easy to stuff in a pocket or rucksack with minimal bulk. In a size equivalent to other makes there's just enough room inside the Meteor's shell to use it as a belay overmitt on top of an insulated glove. The nylon outer is waterproof and breathable, but it's not a big brand name fabric which may help account for the Meteor's affordable price tag. You also get a grippy rubberised palm, pre-curved fingers, a wrist strap and elastic gauntlet hem, removable tethers and a biner loop.

Wearing both layers in one gives you easily enough warmth and protection for the worst of a Scottish winter. It's a fairly bulky package, but no more so than many another mitt. If you were willing to slip off the outer every time you placed gear, it would be just about feasible to lead a route in these, though we're thinking long easy snow plod rather than mixed testpiece.

Weight: 285g

Summary:

Tough, warm and versatile, OR Meteor Mitts may not be the most refined in this line-up but they are hard to fault at this price. A good all-rounder.

Montane Extreme Mitts £35

Montane Extreme Mitts, 166 kb
Montane Extreme Mitts
© UKC

Best in Test Good Value Large, 11 kb

Montane Extreme Mitt, 16 kb

Coming in at a brilliant price of £35 you would do well not to discount the last, and certainly not the least in terms of value in this review; the Montane Extreme Mitts.

These mitts are the lightest on test by a long way (or should that be 'weigh'!), at only 151g. They are a Pertex-shelled mitt with fibre pile against the palm (nice and warm and cosy to the touch) and a Primaloft insulation across the back of the hand. Very similar to the higher priced mitts above, but without the waterproof layer of Gore-tex.

The palms are reinforced with a grippy, rubbery material that is fairly robust, but not as tough as leather. We wouldn't want to climb tens of rough Cairngorm routes in these.

The cuffs are quite small (in fact the mitts are quite small all over) but the cuffs do fit nicely over jacket sleeves, and work well. The wrist straps are Velcro and fasten securely, really locking the mitt on to your hand. The simple red elasticated drawcords work fine and do their job without any fuss.

That is what these mitts are all about really. Not the most refined looking, but smart enough in a nice black colour with a white Montane logo. You really can't go wrong with these as a lightweight emergeny mitt / second glove, and at £35 a pair you'd be mad to run the risk of cold hands!

As the mitts are fairly small and not the thickest on test, they weren't the warmest either, but more than adequate for Scottish winter where the fibre pile and synthetic insulation kept our hands warm when the mitts wetted out - which they did fairly quickly in wet snow and rain.

Summary: Good mitts, great price. Not the most refined, but maybe perfect for Winter ML holders and MICs etc to have a spare pair for the bottom of the rucksack. They even come with a little stuff-sack for just that purpose!

More info: Montane Website


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