Gloves kind of feels like both big and too small a topic to go under Useful Travel Items but then, not only are gloves more important to people like me than to people who tend to travel to warmer climates, I also hold slightly controversial opinions.
I have so many gloves! If you have a habit of going to the Arctic Circle during winter, you need to. My dark secret? I really like mittens.
My main work-a-day mittens are a pair of bright orange Cintamani Júna ones I bought in Reykjavik. They’re made of Technostretch – I’m not entirely sure what Technostretch actually is but it’s quite thin and lightweight, soft with a very slightly foamy texture on the outside and very slightly fleecy on the inside. They have long cuffs that you can fold over or you can leave long to fill in the gap between mitten and sleeve. They’re a little bit big for me but that’s fine. I coveted these things from the second I first saw them but it took a year or two to actually decide to invest in them because they’re a little bit ridiculously expensive for what they are. But I’m very fond of them, they’re easy to spot and hard to lose, they’re warm and cosy and I’m willing to invest occasionally in good equipment.
In terms of technical handwear, let’s start with my liners. They’re Icebreaker Apex Glove Liners, teeny-tiny things – mine are a size small – and they’re absolutely skintight. Although I’m not a big fan of gloves, they’re warm enough to wear alone in all but the most vicious Arctic snowstorms but they’re also light enough to wear under something tougher. And they’re handy for when you want to slip the big gloves off to fiddle with your camera/hat/hair/glasses and don’t want to accidentally freeze off your fingers while you do it.
The Beasts are my technical mittens. They’ve taken me forever to track down because I don’t think the exact ones are made anymore but they’re Trekmates Mens Lite MountainXT Mitts – I think. They’re lovely quilted padded mittens on the outside and fleece gloves on the inside. They’re windproof and waterproof and approved by a snowmobile guide for use during a white-out snowstorm at too many miles an hour instead of the provided gloves. These are a size large – so as to fit the small liners inside – but even without the liners, I don’t think I’d want to go down a size. They have grippy grids on the palms but they’re kind of iron-on and I’ve destroyed quite a lot of the grip. My favourite feature is that they have a miniature pair of snap buckles on them so you can clip them together – this is very helpful in not losing them!
Those are my main cold-weather gloves. I also own:
These are the sheepskin mittens I bought when I went to Finland in 2008 and they’re still going strong – and when I say “sheepskin”, I mean “Primark” and when I say “still going strong” I mean “I don’t really wear them much anymore”. But they’re far better quality than I had any right to expect of Primark.
These are my snow gloves from my snowboarding days – and there really wasn’t any need to replace them with the mountain mittens. I remember buying the mittens and the liners in London the day I went to Iceland in December 2013; maybe I got as far as London before realising I’d forgotten those winter essentials.
And then there’s these. I was given these as a Secret Santa present by someone who knows I go to cold places and they’re lovely, they’re so pretty… but I have so many gloves and I don’t have enough hands to wear them all.
I also have some very small, light, soft woolly gloves that appeared in my bag towards the end of 2013; I have no idea where they came from. And I have been known, especially at work in winter, to put on some cheap black woolly fingerless gloves (the office is a converted pub with very old single-glazing in less than brilliant condition).