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Thread: Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

  1. #1

    Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

    Currently I'm rocking an acrylic underglove with fingers, with my bike mitts being the outer layer. I pull the mitts off intermittently to perform whatever adjustments necessary, and then throw them back on as fast as possible. I keep edging a bit too close for comfort towards frostbite. I think the problem is twofold: my undergloves are pretty flimsy, and barely protect my fingers, while the mitts that go overtop are also pretty flimsy.

    I might even need to change technique entirely. If I could wear a fairly flexible outer glove at all time, perhaps I could avoid removing any layers unless extremely fine manipulations are necessary.

    Anyone have some experience-proven glove brands or models compatible with using a 4x5 camera outside in -30 celsius (max)? Any techniques to share?

  2. #2
    Do or do not. There is no try.
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Massachusetts, USA

    Re: Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

    For skiing I use a set of Dakine mittens with their polypropylene liner gloves. The outer mitts are windproof, the liners are not. I have to remove the mittens when I want to use the Perkeo II (120 rollfilm folder) in my chest pack, and it gets cold after a minute or so if there's any wind blowing. Otherwise this combo is plenty warm at least down to -20 with wind.

    I've thought about, but not yet tried, wearing a pair of big-as-I-can-find nitrile or latex gloves over the liners as a wind block. I'm not sure if the moisture buildup inside would be problematic or not - polypro retains warmth when wet, but it might get kind of clammy.

    You probably know that mittens will be warmer than gloves, but the dexterity problem is definitely an issue. I wonder which of the many 4x5s made over the years has the largest knobs and controls? If you use a Canham it might be worth contacting Keith to see about special oversized bits for this purpose. The danger there would be that bigger knobs allow for more torque, and you don't want to strip things.

  3. #3
    SE Penna. chassis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Pennsylvania, USA

    Re: Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

    What subject are you shooting? Landscape? The reason for the question is: if you are shooting landscapes you generally have time to work slowly. My suggestion is chemical hand warmers in your outer coat pockets, or a "muff" where you can put both hands. I don't know what language you speak, so I don't know if "muff" translates well. This approach then does not require gloves to work with the camera, bare hands can be used. Or thin gloves at the most.

    If you work slowly, make one camera adjustment at a time, and return your hands to the warmed pockets or muff, you should be OK. It will take more time to work this way, compared to working at 20C. But it will work and your hands will not freeze. I have used a similar approach and been exposed to -15C for 8 hours using this procedure.

    In my view no pair of gloves, unless they incorporate chemical warmers, will solve the problem of extended exposure to -30C, while giving the dexterity needed to operate a large format camera.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Grand Junction,CO

    Re: Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

    I use something similar to these. I wear thin under armor gloves inside the mittens with hand warmers in the finger part of the mittens. You can do many camera functions with the mittens and when you need greater dexterity you just flip the finger portion of the mittens back and use your fingers. It works pretty good.

  5. #5
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chillicothe Missouri USA

    Re: Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

    A store like Cabelas or Bass Pro Shop that caters to hunters has a variety of gloves intended for cold weather shooting of something noisier than cameras. I still prefer the OP's use of lighter gloves under very warm mittens with the mittens tethered so they dangle close at hand while adjusting the camera.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Re: Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

    Plain white cotton knit work gloves, for working with the camera (and even then I have to remove 1 glove to do things like put on a cable release). On top of those, a pair of grandmother's style heavy wool knit mittens. Or I might alternate the two, keeping one or the other pair in the pockets of my jacket. I like hand coverings that can breathe, and something like skidoo (thanks to the Palins, 'snowmachine') gloves are overkill if you're walking. If your hands get sweaty while walking, you won't be comfortable setting up no matter what you're wearing at that point.

    If you're going colder than -30, then use what the Inuit use: sealskin mitts. Again, I would alternate with cotton work gloves for the short periods of time needed to work the camera. I have done LF at -30 a couple of times, I was quite comfortable except I wished I'd worn snow pants instead of plain jeans. Or at least my thermal underwear under the jeans. I do own a goose down, coyote fur winter parka suitable for work in the far North, I wouldn't dream of wearing something like that for a hike with a heavy pack in any weather short of -40.

  7. #7

    Re: Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

    Heat packets seem like a good idea. I'll go pick some up.

    I might just need some higher quality undergloves, too. It seems like most of you are using a similar technique. I'd credit this to my poor circulation. When I have my hands de-mittened for even a minute or two at -15C, I can't seem to warm them back up, even with the mitts on. That's the specific problem I'm having. My hands do not seem to retain heat in a normative way.

    I thought I'd ask this question because you see all these historical and modern LF photos taken in winter, and they must have been taken in reasonable comfort. How the hell was Ansel Adams not losing his fingers out in Yosemite's winters?

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Re: Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

    Raynaud's syndrome?

  9. #9

    Re: Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Raynaud's syndrome?
    I just looked that up and it looks quite scary! I'm pretty sure that's not what's happening to me. I'm a very slight, tall person with slender fingers. In general I'm pretty vulnerable to the cold. Poor circulation in the extremities runs in my family.

  10. #10
    adelorenzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Whitehorse, Yukon

    Re: Articulable/dextrous gloves for -30c shooting?

    For think gloves check out your local bike/ski shop for gloves used for nordic skiing, biathlon or winter cycling. These need to be warm and yet dextrous enough to shift gears, shoot rifles etc.

    That being said no thinner glove will keep you warm at -30 especially when handling cold metal. I recommend a pair of beaver-trimmed moosehide mitts or, if you can't get those, some down-filled expedition mitts. Nice to have ones that hang from a string so you can easily pull them on and off to work.

    Rather than heat packets, on extreme days I use Zippo warmers inside my mitts. Otherwise after having your hands out for a while it's hard to re-warm them as your mittens will be cold as well.

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