After using The Heat Company’s Layer System for two winters, we’re ready to share our views on the pros and cons of investing in the Wind Pro Liner gloves+ Shell mittens for photography.
When avalanche season starts, our hiking season ends. We try to stay in reasonable hiking shape by heading out and about for a photo walk several days a week: 5-10 km, preferably with some elevation gain, regardless of weather.
For years, we simply used quality gloves/mittens, taking at least one off every time we set up to take a photo. In 2019 we found some wind-blocking, foldover mitts that work very well for photography (review here). With Little Hotties handwarmers tucked into the finger area, they are a great choice for temperatures ranging from around 5C to -10C (40F to 15F). We know from experience that if it’s any colder, our fingers are painfully cold after shooting just a few photos.
Designed for Cold Weather Photography
Fast forward to fall of 2020, when COVID had pretty much all photo events running virtual. B&H hosted an online conference and one of the presenters raved about The Heat Company’s Heat 3 Smart Pro glommits, designed specifically for photography.
That afternoon, I called up The Camera Store and ordered a pair. Sizing was a bit of a guess. Fortunately, The Camera Store was great about tweaking my order after we did some more reading and decided I should order up a size. And I added another pair to the order, so we’d both have warm hand.
A couple of weeks later, we did the curbside pick-up thing. Then it was time for field testing.
Big Thumbs Down
We were excited about the touch tips on the thumb and first two fingers of each inner glove liner, warm Primaloft mitts and stylish red circle.
And we soon confirmed that Heat 3 Smart Pro glommits worked exactly as advertised for photography. Smooth zippers and strong magnets combine to make it easy to use the touch fingertips to adjust camera settings and take the shoot.
Unfortunately, our excitement didn’t last long. Most irritating? The fingertips of the stitched-in liner glove easily turned inside out when we took them off. A bit of bad sewing on one of Mr. GeoK’s touch fingertips got us thinking about longevity. (And when you spend over $200 on a pair of mitts/gloves, you want them to last). As well, if the temperature was any warmer than -15C to -10C, our hands would quickly overheat.
Two Thumbs Up – The Heat Company’s Layer System
So we took another look at The Heat Company’s website and then called The Camera Store about exchanging the Heat 3 Smart Pros for The Heat Company’s Layer System. Wind Pro Liners + Shell mittens, to be specific. For us, this turned out to be a winning combination.
This pairing brings all the advantages of the Heat 3 Smart Pro stitched together combo PLUS the following added benefits:
- True layering. If my hands get too hot, I can regulate temperature by leaving just my thumb flap open, just the finger flap open, both the thumb and finger flaps open or by removing the Shell mitten. Once when snowshoeing, I was more comfortable tucking away the Wind Pro Liners and wearing just my Shell mittens.
- Strong use case for the wrist cuff. If my hands get too hot, I remove the Shell mittens and let them dangle by the wrist cuff. Sometimes I store them in my pack instead.
- Two Little Hotties pockets. One on the back of the fingers (in the Shell mitten). And one on the back of the palm (in the Wind Pro Liner). So if it’s super cold, you can double up on the Little Hotties and keep your whole hand warm.
- Replaceable Wind Pro Liners. For me, this is key. The thing most likely to wear out from use is the touch fingertips. With the Heat 3 Smart Pro stitched-in liners, that means buying a whole replacement pair at C$200+. But with the Wind Pro Liner + Shell layer system, we’ll only need to replace the liners (~ C$80). In fact after keeping a keen eye out for Black Friday and Boxing Day sales, we each have a back-up pair of Wind Pro Liners tucked away in the closet.
- You can choose from seven different colours for your Shell layer. And the circle on the back of the mitten is the same colour as the durable fabric that is used for most of the Shell (the palms are goatskin).
More detail about all the features that make The Heat Company’s Layer System ideal for photography can be found here.
Each pair of Shell mittens comes with a pair of The Heat Company handwarmers, that are supposed to last up to 12 hours. For shoulder season cycling and winter photography, we typically use Little Hotties handwarmers. Why? Because they’re easy to buy locally and 8 hours is plenty long enough.
Shell mittens come with a small plastic jar of leather balm, and a square of synthetic sponge for applying the leather balm. With the end of the second season of use coming up, we’ve made a note to apply leather balm to the goatskin palms before storing our Heat Company Layer Systems away for the summer.
Some people might regret that the circle on the back of Shell layer is colour-on-colour. Because that red circle on the back of the Heat 3 Smart Pro seems to be a bit of a status thing. The Heat Company website makes a point of saying they brought back the red circle for the Heat 3 Smart Pro. But we care more for function than style.
But there is one big negative. The price. At time of writing, regular price for the Shell + Wind Bloc Pro liner = C$267 (approx. USD$210). That’s a lot! For us, it’s worth the price to have our fingers last longer than our camera batteries when it’s -35C!! And if we spread the cost out over 10 years or so (even adding in a pair of replacement liners), we think it’s good value for money.
I do have one question I want to dig into, though. And it has nothing to do with The Heat Company Layer System. Are Little Hotties compostable? Or at least are the contents compostable? I’ll post the answer in a comment once I find out.
Thoughts or questions about The Heat Company Layer system? Reach out by leaving a comment and we’ll get back you.