THE BEST GLOVES FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY
WE ALL KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO WORK WITH FREEZING HANDS: LET’S FIND OUT THE BEST GLOVES FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY!
Due to my growing love for the great northern landscapes and for the north’s amazing winter light, during the years my work brought me to photograph in more and more extreme weather conditions. I work fairly regularly in cold and strong winds, under the rain and in the snow, often in freezing temperatures. After all, you cannot expect balmy temperatures in Iceland in December, or in northern Scotland in February! Since I find few things as unpleasant and hard to overcome as working in the field with freezing hands, I have been on a quest to find the best gloves for landscape photography for a long time now. During the years, I tried pretty much everything I could put my hands on – or in, in this particular case. Let’s see what I discovered, and what my solution to this problem has been!
THE WARMTH VS AGILITY CONUNDRUM
Keeping your hands warm, by itself isn’t terribly difficult. Just get technical gloves made for arctic expeditions, and you’ll be fine. But, are these the best gloves for landscape photography as well? Not quite, unfortunately. The problem is, to work as a photographer you need to keep your hands warm while, at the same time, being able to operate your camera, lenses, filters, tripod’s head, and so on. Due to the small size of camera controls, and of controls on your tripod’s head, you need agility. More, due to today’s cameras and their technology, together with the need to use a smartphone, being able to operate a touchscreen with gloves is always a bonus (and often a must).
Big, warm gloves are amazing to keep you warm, but you’ll inevitably need to take them off to operate your camera or your phone. Smaller, less bulky gloves with touchscreen compatible fingers are great to use your cameras & phones, but they won’t keep you warm enough when the weather gets really cold, or if you’ll need to stay out for a long time.
During the years, I tried and solve the warmth vs agility conundrum using the warmest gloves I could find in the “smaller, less bulky” category. However, as I kept moving norther and norther for my work, and as I kept traveling more and more in the winter months, they ended up never being warm enough for my work.
TECHINCAL GLOVES VS DEDICATED PHOTOGRAPHY GLOVES
After trying technical gloves made by pretty much any mountain brand, gloves promising to keep you as warm as you’d ever need to be, I decided that none of these were working for me. They definitely weren’t going to be the best gloves for landscape photography, not even close. Luckily, in recent years, dedicated gloves made for photographers started to appear on the market. Out of these, two brands caught my eye: Vallerret and The Heat Company.
VALLERRET VS THE HEAT COMPANY
Vallerret gloves looked like a good solution: Merino wool inner, leather exterior, Thinsulate insulation, and flip finger caps to operate your camera. On paper, they looked like they could be the best gloves for landscape photography, and a solution to my troubles. During a trip to Iceland, frustrated with my existing arsenal of gloves, I went to a camera gear shop looking for two pairs of Ipsoot Vallerret gloves, one for me and one for my wife who assists me during all my trips & Workshops.
Ipsoot are supposed to be Vallerret’s warmest and best, they felt great when we tried them in the shop, and so we bought them and off we went. In the field, however, it was a very different story. The flip finger caps refused to stay closed, flipping open practically by themselves; and even forcing them close, either holding them down with my other hand or by putting my hands in my jacket pockets, my fingertips froze when operating the camera and didn’t warm back up when closing the fingertips.
While they might have been good in milder climates, in freezing Iceland the gloves weren’t nearly warm enough. Not only I had very cold hands when working, but my fingers couldn’t stay warm even keeping everything close and my hands in my pocket while waiting for the light. After getting back home from the trip to Iceland, I had a few weeks around New Year before hitting the road again, and I set out to solve the glove problem for good before going back to Scotland & Iceland in February 2020. After long researches, I settled for The Heat Company.
The Heat Company’s solution to keeping your hands warm is, rather than a single glove, a system made by a liner layer, a shell layer and a waterproof cover if needed. For each layer you have various options. Starting with the liners, personally I decided to go for the Wind Pro Liner. They are wind and water repellent, made by PolarTec Wind Pro and they feature touchscreen compatible fingertips on three fingers per hand, together with a handwarmer pocket. There is a total of eight different liner models for you to choose, which I believe are more than enough to satisfy all requirements.
Coming to the shell layer, I went for the Shell, a pair of windproof and water repellent mitten-shaped gloves insulated with Primaloft. The Shell gloves feature openable thumb tips that can be folded down, are kept open by magnets and closed by Velcro; they also feature openable mittens, closed with a zipper and also kept open by magnets. Contrarily to the Vallerret gloves, the thumbs & mittens on The Heat Company’s Shell do stay open when you need them to be open and stay closed when you need them to be closed.
More, the Shell features a handwarmer pocket, elastic wrist bands to prevent them to fall off when you take them out of your hands (and to keep your midlayer jacket’s sleeve airtight on your wrist, helping insulating you from the cold), two different elastic strips to tighten them at the wrist and over your jacket for maximum thermal insulation, and carabiners to attach them to your shoulder bag, or to one another.
Since they feature handwarmer pockets both in the liner and in the shell, using The Heat Company’s system you can decide where to put your handwarmer, or even put one in each layer when working in particularly cold climates.
So far, my wife and I used The Heat Company’s heat system in the Icelandic winter, on the Isle of Skye in February, on the Italian Alps, on the Isle of Arran in Scotland, in Northumberland and Cornwall. Our Wind Pro Liner and Shell worked great, and between the gloves and the handwarmers we never had cold hands again.
Like every other piece of equipment, you need to choose your gloves according to your requirements: no gloves are the best gloves for landscape photography universally, for everyone and under any conditions, but with all the offer available nowadays you can certainly find the best gloves for you and your photographic application. Let me offer you some recommendations, arranged by temperature & time out in the field.
Moderately cold weather, out for any length of time. Since temperatures aren’t extreme, pretty much any warm gloves would do here. In these situations, I just keep my Wind Pro Liners on, and I am good to go.
Cold weather, out for a short time. If you stay out for a short time, even in cold weather, again pretty much any warm gloves would do. In these situations, I use my Wind Pro Liner and keep my Shell handy just in case, attaching them to my bag via their built-in carabiner.
Cold weather, out for a long time. Even if the temperatures are not extreme, staying out for a long time (i.e., for a sunrise session of 1-2 hours) will suddenly turn what you thought were warm enough gloves into inadequate ones. After a while, in fact, the cold will go through them and manage to make your life very unpleasant. In these situations, I wear my Wind Pro Liner and my Shell, generally keeping my mittens & thumbs open when I work and closing them when waiting for the light.
Extremely cold weather, out for any length of time. When the weather is extremely cold, no matter how long you stay out, you’ll need to keep your hands as warm as you can. In these situations, I wear both my Wind Pro Liner and my Shell at all times; if I am out for a short time, I’ll add a hand warmer in my liner, while if I am out for a long time, I’ll add two hand warmers – one in the liner and one in the shell – for maximum comfort.
As far as my quest for the best gloves for landscape photography, while everyone has their own requirements, for me personally the search is over. The Heat Company system is, hands down, the best I have ever tried. Not only theirs is the warmest set of gloves I have ever tried, but their gloves are the easiest I ever worked with, and the system provides me with the outmost flexibility and modularity too.
Put your liners on, and you’ll be fine in moderately cold weather, as well as in cold weather if you don’t stay out too long. The liners are wind and water repellent, they offer good thermal insulation, great fingertip control and agility even when using my filters, and they allow me to use my touchscreen devices such as my iPhone or my camera’s screen.
Add your shell, with handwarmers if need be, and you’ll be fine in any kind of weather. To use your camera, simply open your thumb & mitten exposing your liner-covered fingers, do what you need to do, and close them again to get some heat back into your fingers. Especially if you use hand warmers, your fingers will always be toasty when the mittens are close and will warm up again really quick, once you’ll close them again, even if you kept your mitten open for quite some time to shoot.
Since I am on the road for 2-3 months at a time, organizing my equipment in the most efficient way is fundamental for me. Thanks to The Heat Company’s system, all I need to do is carry a pair of liners, a pair of shell gloves, and enough hand warmers as necessary for the number of days I know I will be in extremely cold climates. With that, I am ready to leave in late September, when the weather is mild, and stay on the road until mid-December, when I am working in the Icelandic winter, and all with the same set of gloves. For me, The Heat Company’s gloves are indeed the best gloves for landscape photography; as always, your requirements, and therefore your solution to the gloves’ conundrum, may be different from mine.
Disclaimer: At the time of writing, I am not affiliated with any brands mentioned here in any way. I am a professional photographer looking for the best equipment for my work, I buy all my gear with my hard-earned cash and I don’t get paid by anyone to write articles for my blog. Following my findings as reported in this article, I contacted The Heat Company to start a partnership allowing me to offer you a 10% discount for the purchase of their gloves & warmers, without any kickback to me – I am happy to do it just because I believe these are the best gloves for landscape photography on the market today, and I am happy to do something to make it easier for you to enjoy them as well. The Heat Company doesn’t want me to publish the code here, so please CONTACT ME to get your discount code!
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