Once again, we are approaching that time of year when many birds that are migrating spend time in our region. I eagerly awaited this event last year, and was especially excited as I had just purchased the last few pieces of equipment that I wanted for my ideal BIF set-up. Unfortunately, I took ill with a tumor next to my kidney before I could even fire off one shot. It was bad enough having to undergo a number of months of chemotherapy, but I thought that I was mostly out of the woods when I was told that the tumors were in remission in May. Unfortunately, chemotherapy drugs are "the gift that keeps on giving", and as the cold weather approaches, I am now finding out that I have circulation problems in my hands in cold weather, a problem sometimes referred to as Raynaud's Syndrome.
I was out shooting a sunrise the other morning, and within a few minutes of setting up my tripod and camera, my fingers lost circulation and went numb. And this was while I was wearing thin gloves and borrowing some hand warmers from a friend! So, I spent some time at a variety of local outdoor stores looking at glove and mitten options, and I am even more confused with all of the options available.
I am assuming that when I go out shooting, that the temperature will be somewhere between 30-40 degrees, and that I will be standing around for much of the time. I am shooting a D300 on either a ballhead or a Wimberley Sidekick, and figure that the ability to feel a half-press of the shutter is an essential criteria when choosing some hand protection. I am also figuring that the ability to use my thumb to work the dials and control pad is important, but I am still not sure what the best arrangement would be.
I am assuming that the gloves do not need to be waterproof, as I most likely will not be shooting in winter rain. Windproof fabrics do seem important, since I will be standing around for a lot of the time, and I will not be generating much heat from activity.
I could find the heaviest liner glove that still allows me to operate the controls, or I could find a very thin liner and use it in conjunction with a heavier glove or fingerless mitten. I have also seen arm gaiters/warmers that might work in conjunction with a liner, and there are also some gloves that have small pockets which willhold a hand warmer.
My questions/concerns are weather a liner/outer shell will be too cumbersome to take on and off, and if my hands will mostly be without the shell, thereby leaving me without much protection. The fingerless mittens or fingerless gloves with retractable mitten tops also look good, but I am also worried about lack of protection.
Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated as this is new territory for me, and I would like to keep my glove/mitten expenses within reason.
#1. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 0Scotty Nikonian since 07th Feb 2002Wed 10-Oct-12 01:16 PM
What I use when in a cold climate is thermal silk gloves which are very close fitting and allow manipulation of controls and over the top I wear woollen fingerless mittens - these keep the rest of the hand warm. I found this combination worked well for me in temps down to 20F in New England.
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#2. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 1Wed 10-Oct-12 01:27 PM
>What I use when in a cold climate is thermal silk gloves
>which are very close fitting and allow manipulation of
>controls and over the top I wear woollen fingerless mittens -
>these keep the rest of the hand warm. I found this
>combination worked well for me in temps down to 20F in New
Thanks for the recommendation. I have been giving this type of set-up some consideration, and my neighbor, who knits extensively, has offered to make me a pair of fingerless mittens. I like this arrangement since my fingers are never fully exposed to the elements. But, I am still open to other suggestions as well.
#3. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 0
I find surgical gloves under my regular leather gloves keep my hands warm when riding motorcycles in the rain. That may help.
My biggest challenge is shooting Aurora when it is -20ºF or colder. For that i go with heavy roomy gloves and hand warmers inside. If needed, I exchange them for lighter gloves to make adjustments then switch back to the heavies.
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#4. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 3RLDubbya Nikonian since 24th Dec 2011Thu 25-Oct-12 04:08 PM
I use a pair of fingerless gloves - very snug fitting, made by Black Diamond. Over these go a pair of large mittens, with a single finger, insulated with Thinsulate and waterproof. The mittens have wrist hang ties, so that I can take them off, they then dangle from my wrists, and I have some protection from the fingerless gloves to shoot.
After shooting, hands go into pockets with chemical handwarmers, then back into mittens. You could size the mittens to allow for chemical hand warmers.
Hope that helps. I have a buddy with Raynaud's, and he uses the chemical handwarmers from fall through spring.
#5. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 4Fri 26-Oct-12 11:24 PM
I recently picked up some hand warmers to try, and I have several gloves and/or mittens that I am evaluating that have pockets for them. I was hoping to use them tomorrow night, but came down with a bug, and it looks like rest for me this weekend.
#6. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 0
The starting point is probably liner glovers. You can cut off the finger tips if needed. Some light weight gloves have textured finger tips.
For cold weather, I use foldover mitts. My wife uses them too - and her hands are always cold.
And the ultimate solution is the Cozy Camera wrap. I used this wrap with my camera in Yellowstone in the winter with temperatures down to minus 40 degrees. The wrap has pockets for heat packs. Its expensive but an excellent product for cold weather.
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#7. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 6Sun 28-Oct-12 10:44 PM | edited Sun 28-Oct-12 10:45 PM by Replytoken
>The starting point is probably liner glovers. You can cut
>off the finger tips if needed. Some light weight gloves have
>textured finger tips.
>For cold weather, I use foldover mitts. My wife uses them too
>- and her hands are always cold.
>And the ultimate solution is the Cozy Camera wrap. I used
>this wrap with my camera in Yellowstone in the winter with
>temperatures down to minus 40 degrees. The wrap has pockets
>for heat packs. Its expensive but an excellent product for
I am currently evaluating a couple of pairs of liner gloves, but I have not yet resorted to cutting them up. I did pick up a pair of fold over glove/mittens from Mountain Hardwear that are almost identical to the pair that you have linked to. I have not yet tried them out.
The Cozy Camera wrap is not something that I have seen. It looks interesting, and I will be further researching it when I have a free moment. Thank you for the suggestion. I hope at some point to either post a detailed update, or link to a detailed review on one of my blogs when I am further along and know more.
#8. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 7Mon 19-Nov-12 03:42 PM | edited Mon 19-Nov-12 11:01 PM by Replytoken
I am still looking at a variety of gloves, mittens and glomitts and have a question. Several of the fold-over glomitts use small magnets to hold the mitten flap and the thumb hatch back when they are not in use. Does anybody know if these magnets can cause any problems with a D300 body?
UPDATE: I took Eric's advice and purchased a pair of Simms Foldover Mitts at a local store. They seem well constructed, do not use magnets, and have a thumb hatch. Hopefully they will be better than the last pair of fingerless mittens that I returned, twice, for bad stitching.
#9. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 8Gama53 Nikonian since 01st Oct 2011Mon 26-Nov-12 11:54 PM
Something else to consider would be a muff with a couple of hand warmers in it. I have a bit of arthritis in my hands so cold - no grip when you think you are holding tight- can be troublesome & scary. A muff and light gloves work in most weather for me. Consider also a pair of golfer's winter gloves. Virtually wind proof with soft leather on the palms and fingers for good feel.
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#10. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 9Wed 28-Nov-12 02:41 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. I had considered some tyeps of hand muffs. Cabela's make avariety of them for hunters, but right now I am still evaluating what I currently purchased. The Simms have been good, and I like that there is both a pocket in the wrist for a hand warmer, and that one could easily sutff antoher hand warmer int he mitten overlay so the fingers get some extra warmth if your hands are not being used. I have also noticed that a good base layer (read "thermals" if you are over 50ish and "long johns" if over 70ish) has helped me stay warmer. The names and the fabrics change, but the concept remains solid! Dress for the weather.
#11. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 6
Wow! I never thought about something like this Cozy Camera Wrap! Great idea. I plan to spend time out of doors with my birds and this may be just the ticket! Thanks for the idea.
#12. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 11mkbee1 Registered since 26th Nov 2012Sat 29-Dec-12 02:44 PM | edited Sat 29-Dec-12 02:47 PM by mkbee1
O.k., first, if you want your hands and feet to stay warm, put a good, warm hat on your head, wear a balclava,and/or use your jacket's hood. That's where we lose 60% of our body heat..gotta keep the brain warm, you know! Don't go too tight...hat, gloves, or too many pairs of socks in regular shoes... it will cut down circulation, and fingers and toesies will get colder. (Don't ask how I know this!) Avoid cotton like the plague...it absorbs body moisture, then loses insulation ability. If cotton is all you have, Don't Sweat! Cold, wet jockey shorts WILL stunt your growth!
Take a couple of granola or chocolate bars. They will provide fuel to keep your body warmer.
I use various things, but mostly, either wool fingerless foldover glomitts with thin liner gloves, so I can work the camera controls if it is really cold, inside fleece lined Chopper mitts, or just the glomitts if the weather is fairly mild.
Use mittens, because they take less energy to keep fingers warm, compared to gloves with fingers, and have more room for handwarmers. One of the gloves needs to be long enough to cover your wrists well. Blood vessels are closer the the surface there, and keeping them warm will keep the fingers warmer.
Secure the heavy, outside gloves with an "idiot string"; a length of paracord or something, long enough to go over your shoulders inside the outer jacket, and down the sleeves. Have enough length to hang maybe 6-10 inches below the sleeves, to give room to get in and out of them without major contortions. Alligator clips on either end will secure them to your mittens. It may look funny, but you always know know where your mittens are, which is a good thing.
But, my problem is, I can't keep my fingers warm, even with the gloves folded into mittens. Mostly,I just deal with my numb fingertips. I haven't used hand warmers yet, but, I will be looking into that.
I am also considering the clunky-looking military surplus riflemen's gloves and liners, which have the trigger (shutter) finger separated. They should be warm. Neoprene fisherman's gloves also look promising, and they come in fingerless,too.
Go with a buddy, and let people know where you will be going and when you expect to be back. And...if it is just too cold, don't go. Life and/or health are not worth risking for photo!
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#13. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 12Tue 01-Jan-13 08:31 PM
>But, my problem is, I can't keep my fingers warm, even with
>the gloves folded into mittens. Mostly,I just deal with my
>numb fingertips. I haven't used hand warmers yet, but, I will
>be looking into that.
>I am also considering the clunky-looking military surplus
>riflemen's gloves and liners, which have the trigger (shutter)
>finger separated. They should be warm. Neoprene fisherman's
>gloves also look promising, and they come in fingerless,too.
Good advice, Carl. I was out twice this week, and well dressed this past weekend, but it was very challenging, and somewhat discouraging, to say the least. It was in the mid-30's with a bit of sun peeking through the clouds, but, like you, I ended up trying to shoot with numb fingers.
FWIW, while I recommend using hand warmers, they did little for me when I was actually outside waiting to shoot. I sandwiched my very numb right index finger between two warmers, and I could not even tell if they were warm.
I also recommend the Simms fishing gloves that Eric called out in his post above. These are among the best that I have tried, but I am still looking to see if I can find an effective liner to use in conjunction with them.
Also, I highly recommend Marmot's wrist gaiters. They are one of the few pieces of equipment that are easy to use, and tend to help the overall situation.
Finally, the biggest lesson that I am learning is that I need to have as much of my equipment set up before I even step out of the vehicle, as my time becomes somewhat limited when I am exposed to the cold. Normally I head out in my Vanagon, which is somewhat like a small living room on wheels, but this weekend we we evaluating an AWD vehicle, and there was little room for assembled gear. Then again, it did have heated seats!
I wish I had a better update on the situation, but at this point, I am going to ride it out to see how I adapt over time. Thankfully, my wife has suggested a nice alternative for winter photography. There is a glass museum with a hot shop about an hour from where we live, and the temperature in there is almost always toasty warm. I enjoy photographing when there is a full crew in the hot shop, but I had set my heart on improving my birding photography. It's a shame that our migration season is in winter. Perhaps I need to migrate to a warmer climate during the winter months like so many of these birds?
#14. "RE: Cold Weather Advice Needed" | In response to Reply # 13