Outdoor Research Alti Mitts
If you absolutely need the warmest mitten available,…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $128
If you absolutely need the warmest mitten available, these are the gold standard as far as I am concerned. The combination of a windproof/waterproof shell with some synthetic insulation, a huge removable insulated mitt, well-designed idiot leashes, and a nicely-curved leather palm and thumb make these a winner. They are too warm for most weather and fairly bulky.
- Super warm
- Well-designed for very cold weather
- Nice leather palms
- Liners maximize use of hands for a mitt
- Bulky, sacrificing hand dexterity
- Expensive unless purchased on sale
My hands don't get particularly cold when i'm hiking, so i made do for years with other mittens and gloves. on really cold days, i knew those other mitts would leave my hands a little cold. a few years ago, i found these on sale and took the plunge. i should have bought them years ago.
THE TESTING GROUNDS:
I have used these on several hikes in and around the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the winter.
WHY THEY ARE GREAT:
First, they are without question the warmest winter hand wear i have used. worn with a pair of relatively thick glove liners, they have kept my hands happy in the worst weather. -30, -35...they are fine. i like the fact that the outer shell (windproof/waterproof gore tex on the back, nice grippy leather palm) includes some additional insulation on the back, primaloft, in addition to the mitten liner.
second, they give you a surprisingly good feel for whatever is in your hand for a mitten designed for deep cold. the liner has fleece between your fingers and the palm of your hand because it gives you a little better feel for an ice axe or trekking poles. i also like that the palm and thumb have a good curve, makes them easier to wear and grab things. having a removable liner makes them very easy to dry out. i have had days where the liners were a little damp from sweat; i just remove them and sleep with them in my bag, and they dry overnight.
third, the leashes, necessary in bad weather, are both easy to use with mittens via a large disk that tightens them and highly visible because they have light-reflective strands woven into the leash.
fourth, the pull cord that seals the gauntlet is easy to use with mittens on, with one hand.
fifth, the gore tex shells work - well-taped, they don't leak. i chopped ice away from a spring that runs year-round in the white mountains, ended up with quite a bit of water all over the mitten shells in sub-zero weather. the mitts were sheathed in ice; my hands were dry and happy.
sixth, they are made very well. no failures, no loose stitching, nothing has torn or ripped, despite fairly significant contact with brush, rocks, and ice, and having spent quite a bit of time gripping the head and shaft of an ice axe.
Apparently, the shells have a pocket somewhere to hold small hand heat packs; i have never used those.
The only downsides, for me, are that these are very bulky and too warm for temperatures much above zero, unless you have circulatory problems. while the shell can be worn alone with lighter gloves, the shells are fairly large to accommodate the big mitten insert and a little baggy to wear with thinner gloves alone. also, they cost an awful lot unless you find them on sale.
If you hike or ski in sub-zero weather and want to keep your fingers intact, and if you want something that will last a long time, these are well worth it.
I only had these in around zero degree F temps but…
Price Paid: $200
I only had these in around zero degree F temps but they were incredible. When I topped the mountain I was hit with a very cold arctic wind and the fleece gloves I was wearing did nothing. By the time I could drop my pack and get these mitts my hands were numb.
I did not have the dexterity to use my hands to put the mitts on and had to use my teeth. Once I had these mitts on, my hands were able to recover quickly and stay toasty warm.
I don't think the zero degree F temps I experienced was really a challenge for the mitts. These mitts are very well made and I would not hesitate to buy them again.