Before winter began, the Heat Company reached out to us to see if some of our readers would like to use and review their Heat 3 Smart Gloves in our harshest Canadian winter conditions. Five lucky readers who won the opportunity, through our Facebook page, rose to the challenge and provided some great feedback on these innovative gloves. Originally manufactured for the military, it quickly became obvious that these gloves had a wider range of use and found their way into the photographic community. Thank you to our readers for participating in the review.
Read on to see what our reviewers thought of the gloves, and the photos they took while trying them out.
— Roy Ramsay, Editor-in-Chief
Part of My Photographic Arsenal
What a difference a good pair of gloves can make on a cold winter day. My experience with the Heat 3 Smart Gloves has been awesome. These gloves delivered on all counts. They kept my hands very warm, dry and comfortable in the extreme cold, in rain and snow, and in the constant icy mist of Niagara Falls.
I was able to use all the functions on my camera with the fingers of the glove, perform setting changes and lens changes, and add and remove the lens caps and hoods. The silver material on the pointer finger and thumb of the gloves allowed me operate my smart phone with no trouble. The thumb flap was also very handy when I only needed to adjust settings and didn’t require all fingers to be free. The leather on the palm and base of the thumb added extra slip protection.
Another nice feature is that the gloves can be adjusted at both the wrist and further up on the arm, which comes in handy depending on the type of jacket you’re wearing. The extra long cuff is also nice so you don’t have to keep tugging or adjusting to keep your wrists warm and covered.
There’s a little pocket on the back of the glove where you can keep a credit card, keys or anything you can think of that will fit.
The safety strap was a genius idea for those moments when you need to free your hand quickly; no fussing with trying to shove gloves into a pocket or your back pack. This feature reminded me of the string that used to keep my mittens attached, but in a much more mature and sophisticated manner.
I would definitely recommend these gloves become a part of your photography arsenal if you live in a climate that requires such protection.
Thank you to the Heat Company and Outdoor Photography Canada magazine for the opportunity to wear and review the Heat 3 Smart Gloves.
— Catherine Rioux Whitford
Fort Erie, ON
Bitter Cold Temperatures and Dexterity
Brrrr… Winter is well upon us, and that means half of us are hibernating and the other half are shooting with cold, achy fingers. Until now, those of us who wanted cool, clean winterscape shots were forced to wander out with bulky mittens and at best a clumsy pair of thin gloves underneath. Often these gloves made it too cumbersome to dial in our settings and get that critical focus, so the gloves came off. No longer do our digits have to suffer the elements to the point where we skip the shot, pack it in early or avoid going out to capture our beautiful Canadian winter landscapes and wildlife.
I received my Heat 3 Smart Gloves from Outdoor Photography Canada magazine in November for a product review. I can say that at first glance they certainly appeared to be everything the Heat Company promised. These Austrian-made gloves are built with quality materials, sturdy construction and make for a very comfortable fit. They have lots of compartments to add extra hand warmers, a zippered pocket for memory cards and other small accessories and webbing between the first three fingers so you can take the gloves off with great ease and without inverting all the fingers. The thumb and index fingers have a patch of silver fabric that allows you to use the touch screen of your camera or cell phone. Most importantly, they deliver on their promise to provide both protection from the cold and the dexterity to do what we love to do: take great photos.
Now, in November it’s only moderately chilly where I live in the southern most area of Canada, and snow is just out of the question. So I figured what better place to put these new gloves through their paces than my favourite stretch of Ontario highway in Algonquin Park? We arrived on a Sunday with the park almost entirely to ourselves. There was a foot and a half of snow on the ground and some great drifts. We pitched the tent at Mew Lake and immediately took the snowshoes and camera down to the airfield for a four-hour, blood-pumping hike through the snow. It wasn’t long before we heard the familiar sound of a beaver munching through some branches. I found my vantage point, unzipped the mitten and exposed my gloved fingers. I had no problem adjusting the settings of my 5D Mark III and 100-400mm lens. The biggest problem shooting handheld with a telephoto lens is often camera shake. Now try that at 14 below and you have a real problem. But that wasn’t the case on this day. I was able to snap off a number of shots over 5 to 10 minutes before my hands started to quiver from the cold.
It’s often said photography is all about compromise. Do I have time to set up a tripod? Am I willing to shoot at a higher ISO to get the shutter speed I need? Am I going to give up a couple hours of sleep to be out there for the first rays of sunlight? These Smart Gloves allow you to get the shot without exposing your hands directly to the cold. You’re not going to shoot non-stop for 30 minutes in sub-zero temperatures, but you will be able to shoot longer, make your exposure adjustments and be ready for the anticipated moment. I’ve used the gloves on numerous shoots in the past couple of months and they don’t disappoint. For a week in Algonquin Park, day trips to Point Pelee National Park and chasing eagles up the St. Clair River, I don’t leave these at home. At 10 to 15 minutes continuous shooting at -28 C with the wind chill, my fingers still hurt, but with bare skin I wouldn’t be able to shoot for 60 seconds! I’ve used other gloves in the past and few provided enough dexterity to do the job. If you shoot for a few minutes and slip your fingers back into the mitten, they warm back up quickly and you can shoot for hours.
Of course, we have to come back to the compromise: you aren’t going to pick up these gloves at your local camera store for a song. With a price tag of $200 and your eye on that new lens you’ve been saving for, you’ll be asking if they’re really worth it. Every photographer will have to answer that for themselves, but take a moment and consider how much you spend on things like lens filters, software to “fix” your photos and other accessories. I think we can all agree that you want to get the best possible image you can in camera, and that means being on location at the right time, making quick decisions to adjust for conditions and having the ability to make those adjustments when necessary. The Heat 3 Smart Gloves let you do this. If you enjoy cold weather photography you need to be prepared and protect yourself. We still have plenty of cold weather ahead of us and this photographer’s fingers are going to be cozy and warm.
— Chad Berry
Chad Barry is an Ontario-based nature and wildlife photographer.
Up until now, the choice to shoot outdoors during the Canadian winter came down to either being able to adjust my cameras and lenses, or having ice-cold, painful fingers. I couldn’t have both!
My Heat 3 Smart Gloves have changed all that. During an hour photographing waterfowl in the ice-filled St. Clair River on a -15 C chilly morning, I was able to adjust my equipment, get my images and avoid the throbbing of near-frozen fingers. For the first time something was colder than my hands!
The design of these gloves is evidence that a lot of thought went into their creation and usefulness. The mitten portion keeps my fingers toasty between shots. When you have to unzip and use your fingers, you have almost the dexterity of bare skin, and the excellent finger-glove allows plenty of “warm-time” to make adjustments and get the shots without hurrying and making mistakes. The silver fabric fingertips make using my touch screen mirrorless camera easy, and I can adjust the wheels and buttons on my DSLR with no problems.
The leather palms provide excellent grip, and the long cuffs keep the wind out and the wrists warm. The gloves are easy to put on and take off, and the lining and insulation never gets bunched up and tangled. The material appears to be high-end and every part is well made. There’s a pocket for keys, memory cards or even heat packs if you’re really in a cold location!
The only thing I would change is the metal carabiner clip used to keep the gloves together. After being outside for an hour, the carabiner gets really cold, and you wince when it touches your exposed skin after removing the gloves.
— Dave Noordhoff
Great Fit and Easy to Use
If I had to use one word to describe the Heat 3 Smart Gloves it would be “spectacular!” Venturing out in -40 C temperatures was not an issue for the gloves. Winds were strong and snow was blowing across the open prairie, but I’d have to say that my hands were the warmest part of me the entire 45 minutes I was out there. The zippered compartment on the back of the glove held a hand warmer, which made for extra coziness. With pull strings to provide a snug fit around the wrists, it made for an even more draft-free garment, and the long cuffs provided added protection from the elements. Every zipper was easily accessible and maneuvered. The fold down flap for exposing the finger glove was very easily magnetically snapped into place on the back, with even a bulls-eye location indicator on where to snap it, which made it all quick and easy. The fingertips on the interior glove allowed for all of my camera setting changes without having to take off my gloves.
I was somewhat concerned when ordering the gloves that they’d be the wrong size when I received them. However, the Heat Company’s website provides an easy-to-measure guide for your hands and corresponding size charts. The gloves I received were a perfect fit!
If I could change anything about this glove, the only thing that comes to mind is the wrist straps. The concept of having wrist straps in place so that you can quickly remove the gloves if need be and not have to worry about them dropping or losing them is excellent. However, they are a one-size-fits-all strap and in my case, the one size did not fit all; they’re too large for my wrist and hands. I found that when I took off the glove, it very easily could slip through my hand, thus posing a threat of losing it and the hassle of having to carry it around, which defeats the purpose of having wrist straps. If I were to redesign that part of the glove, I would make it adjustable to allow an individual fit.
I went out various times with the gloves, each time doing landscape, nature and wildlife photography. I use a Canon 5D Mark II on manual setting with various lenses, so I spend quite a bit of time fine-tuning the camera, changing lenses and staying out in the elements for periods of time. The gloves didn’t let me down and are the best ones I’ve ever used.
All in all, I give these gloves a definite two thumbs up and without a doubt, would highly recommend them!
— Suzanne Pearson
Skiing and Photography
I recently had the opportunity to try out the new Heat 3 Smart Gloves from the Heat Company. Originally designed for Special Forces, they’re marketed as being ideal for use in the mountains, skiing, etc., which is ideal for me as I’m a ski and snowboard photographer in the Selkirk and Monashee mountains of interior BC.
I used them in a variety conditions, from warm, fast ski hill laps to freezing cold days of ski touring. The first thing I noticed is that these gloves are warm, really warm. My first day of use was backcountry ski touring on a -25 C day and I was out for about nine hours. The gloves were super warm, even in the howling wind on ridge tops. On the ski hill the hand flap was useful for more than just using my camera; it worked really well as a temperature control, helping cool down my hands when it was getting a bit warm.
Using my camera with the gloves on was super easy, with no issues whatsoever with changing lenses, taking photos and general use of the camera. If anything the thumb flap is a hindrance as I didn’t need to flip it up to use the camera at all, and at high speed while skiing cold air would rush in through the Velcro closure. Having the liner glove under the mitten flap is great as taking your gloves off on cold days to take photos is awful. The liner glove makes a huge difference.
The safety straps are great as well. I love knowing I’m not going to lose my gloves down a bottomless rock well when I’m scrambling to get into position for a shot. Unfortunately the stitching blew out on them on day two; hopefully it was just a rogue poor stitch. The silver fabric worked well on my touch screen devices, and held up compared to other gloves I’ve had where the touch screen-friendly material peeled off after a couple days. I noticed if you’re scrambling around in deep snow the magnets on the hand flaps sometimes jam up with snow and won’t stay open, which can be frustrating. The webbing between the fingers on the liner glove is awesome, like amazing awesome. I don’t know if its intention is to make taking your gloves off easier, but it works great. No more pulling your hands out of your gloves and having the wet liners stick to your fingers and end up inside out and fighting with them for half an hour to get them back in place. Just hold the webbing and pull your hands out.
Overall I was quite impressed with these gloves. They kept me warm, their intended function of being camera and device-friendly was successful, and they were tough and durable enough to handle some fairly big days of ski mountaineering. For the uphill side of ski touring they would probably be a little warm, but as my gloves that I’d use to shoot with upon arrival at my destination, they’re great gloves.
— John Antoniuk