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Gloves or Mitts…Which are Right for You?

Gloves or Mitts…Which are Right for You?

During the months leading up to our official launch, a lot of people asked “Which should I get, the gloves or the mitts?”

Honestly, we’re so proud of both products that no matter which you pick, we don’t think you can go wrong.

But to help you determine which will best fit your needs, here’s a quick overview of each, followed by some suggested uses.

Why You Should Choose Winter Mittens

Snow mittens are the best choice when maximum protection from the cold is your first priority.

Why? Consider how toasty a sleeping bag can be when compared to sitting around a campsite wearing even a warm jacket. By allowing all your arms and legs to occupy the same insulated space, your limbs share the heat. Since a mitten works the same way but on a smaller scale, you can kinda think of it as a “sleeping bag” for your hand.

But more importantly, since a mitten doesn’t have material that wraps around each individual finger, a mitten has less outside surface area than a comparable glove. Less surface area on the outside equals a reduction in heat loss. Another advantage of mittens is fewer seams, which also have the potential to allow a small amount of heat to escape.

A researcher in Antarctica once tested these theories and indeed concluded that mittens consistently retained more heat than gloves.

Naturally, the downside to mittens is you can’t independently move your fingers. But depending on the activity, this may or may not matter. For example, you can grasp ski poles just fine wearing mittens. But on a fat tire bike, mittens may make it difficult to safely operate the brakes and (on some component group sets) the shifters.

Another thing to consider is if you have a condition that makes it difficult to stay warm, such as Raynaud's disease. Or maybe you’re just prone to being cold. If this describes you, mittens are definitely worth a look.

A final criterion may be the temperatures you expect to be exposed to. If you’ll be spending extended periods of time in temperatures below 0°F, mittens might be the better choice.

As you decide if mitts are right for you, it's worth note that in our Mainers mitt, we built in 400 grams of insulation over the back of the hand (compared to our gloves, which offer 250 grams of insulation over the back of the hand). Both the glove and the mitt are supremely warm, but when compared side by side, the mitt will feel warmer.

The extra insulation was appreciated by Maine-based nature photographer Tyler Kimbar, who put a pre-production pair of Mainers mitts through their paces:

"I was immediately blown away by the quality of the mittens. There is a soft fleece lining on the back of your hand and thumb inside the mitt that keeps your hands warm.” 

Choose Fingerless Mittens For:

  • Downhill and cross-country skiing in extreme cold
  • Snowboarding in extreme cold
  • Hiking in extreme cold
  • Ice climbing in extreme cold
  • Mountaineering
  • Snowmobiling
  • If you’re prone to cold fingers
  • Temperatures below 0°F 

Why You Should Choose Winter Gloves

Snow gloves trade-off a very small amount of warmth for an increase in dexterity.

By dexterity, we mean the ability to access a zippered pocket to retrieve your keys without removing your gloves. It can also mean operating your phone, taking photos, or pretty much anything else that requires more precision than is possible while wearing mittens.

But how much are you trading off in heat retention? Truth be known, a well-designed, properly insulated glove will keep you plenty warm in practically any normal set of winter conditions, which in most parts of the country, we’d describe as temperatures between 0°F and 32°F. Therefore, the majority of outdoor enthusiasts probably will be better served going with gloves.

As mentioned above, our Mainers glove offers 250 grams of insulation over the back of the hand, compared to the 400 grams of insulation our mitts provide over the back of the hand. Both the glove and the mitt provide amazing feel and dexterity. But when compared side by side, the glove will feel a bit lighter and less bulky.

For Colorado-based hiker through-hiker Daniel Flanagan, maximum dexterity is a must: 

"There's nothing worse than having to take your gloves off in the backcountry when it's freezing outside just tighten a strap or open your pack. Mainers has definitely solved that problem, and given me more time outside this winter season. Waterproof, warm, and nimble, Mainers hit the mark for extreme weather gloves." 

Choose Thermal Gloves For:

  • Winter cycling
  • Winter fishing
  • Activities that require fine motor skills, such as the opening and closing of zippers, latches, buckles, etc.
  • Activities that require you to operate electronics
  • Temperatures above 0°F 
So, there you have it! Click here to learn more about the Mainers extreme cold glove and click here to learn more about the Mainers extreme cold mitt.

More Reasons to Get Outside

More Reasons to Get Outside

Mental Health Benefits of Being Outdoors 

Between social distancing, working from home, and other precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe, you’ve been a shut-in all week.

Despite gorgeous summer weather, you spent your evenings and weekend indoors. You binge-watched shows, racked up screen time on social media, scanned for politically charged articles, and mindlessly whiled away the hours crushing candy.

Then when Monday morning rolled around and you logged in to work, your motivation was nonexistent, and your energy at an all-time low.

After hours of staring blankly at a computer screen, you finally hit your breaking point. Deadlines be damned, you had to be outside.

Maybe you laced up your trail running shoes, threw your mountain bike in the bed of your truck, strapped a kayak to the roof of your car, or just drove to your favorite nature preserve and started walking.

Whatever you wound up doing, in 20 minutes you started to feel better. Your mood improved, creative ideas flowed more freely, you found a solution to a problem you’d been struggling with all morning. And when you got back to your computer, you were a completely different (and more productive) person.

If this describes a recent experience of yours, it’s no accident. In fact, there is mounting evidence to support the power of fresh air.

So, the next time you find yourself in a rut, don’t feel guilty about taking a break. The mental health benefits of exercising outside are backed by actual science. Still not convinced? Read on.

4 Reasons Why Going Outside is Good for You

1. Being in Nature Improves Your Mood

Citing a 2015 study, Harvard Health Publishing wrote that time spent in nature led to “…lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.”

The article goes on to say that “calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body's fight-or-flight response.”

In non-clinical speak, we’re talking about chirping birds, a babbling brook, waves gently rolling onto a sandy shore, the crunching of leaves beneath your feet…you know, the general awesomeness of being in nature.

This doesn’t mean you should sell your place and move into a backwoods shack. According to the article, all you need is 20 to 30 minutes, three days per week in any spot that is quiet and free of urban stimulation.

For even better results, plan a couple of summer and fall camping trips over three-day weekends.

2. Being in Nature Benefits You Physically, Too

Referencing a study publishing in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, Time Magazine wrote that spending time in green spaces (including city parks) has been shown to “…lower stress, blood pressure, and heart rate while encouraging physical activity and buoying mood and mental health.”

Other research points to an increase in white blood cell function, which can help boost immunity and fight infection.

The health benefits of nature are so profound, in fact, that doctors are starting to write “nature prescriptions” as part of their treatment plans. Imagine, instead of opening the door to your medicine cabinet to reach for some pills, you get to open a cabin door or unzip a tent to venture outside! 

3. Time Outdoors Can Help Improve the Quality of Your Sleep

One of the pitfalls of modern living is the ever-presence of artificial light. This is because artificial light (including light emitted by smartphone screens and TVs) can negatively affect our “circadian rhythms,” which help govern our natural sleep-wake cycles.

As WebMD suggests, a week spent camping has been shown to “…reset the body's ‘clock’ to be more in tune with nature's light-and-dark cycle. The result was longer sleep.”

These findings were echoed in a Time Magazine article, which said that “…people’s internal clocks were delayed by two hours in their modern environment—which isn’t a good thing, since an out-of-whack sleep cycle has been linked to health problems like sleepiness, mood problems and a higher risk of being overweight. But they were able to recalibrate after a week in nature.”

Don’t have time for a week in the woods? Simply being outdoors can help you sleep, particularly as you age. According to Stanford Medicine, “…males and females 65 and over found nature to be a potent sleep aid.” They added that “If there is a way for persons over 65 to spend time in nature, it would improve the quality of their sleep--and their quality of life…” 

4. Exercise Lowers Your Blood Pressure

As the previous examples help illustrate, a nice, long sit at your favorite scenic overlook will do you a lot of good when you're stressed. As it turns out, the brisk hike up to the overlook is just as important.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, exercise leads to a stronger heart, which can pump more blood with less effort. They add that “…40 minutes of aerobic exercise four times a week may lower your blood pressure as much as some medications do.” 

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, start by getting outside and moving.