Mitts are an often overlooked essential part of your winter gear. Weather you're out walking the dog, running Iditarod or anything in between you might know how important it is to keep your hands warm. While most people think they can depend on modern synthetic fibers made from petroleum products and chemical hand warmers, the serious know this is futile. What if you run out of hand warmers? What if you get your mitts wet? Instead of these worries, invest in a well made set of mitts with all natural fibers and wool or fur liners. Experienced winter travelers will tell you there is nothing better than a fur mitt in the true cold. I make two styles of winter mitts and there are three liner options for them. They are explained below and there are photo galleries of my past work.
Musher Mitt vs Wilderness Mitt
The main difference in these two similar styles of mitts is the width and length. Most people do well with the Musher mitt, its a great option for working outside, ice fishing, snow-machine riding, hunting and general outdoor activities requiting warm hands and a mitt that will fit over a standard hoodie, winter coat or Carhartt jacket. This mitt is usually fine with a polar fleece liner, but can be custom ordered with a wool fabric liner, or shearling sheepskin liner if you plan to spend extra time outdoors in wet snow.
The Wilderness Mitt is wider and longer than the Musher, and the palm is shaped a little different. This mitt is designed with long distance mushers and Arctic explorers in mind. The opening on this mitt is wide enough to go over the biggest of parka sleeves and I always make it with at least a wool fabric liner. For serious people who spend days at a time in the wilderness I generally go all out with the liners on these and use shearling sheep, mink or beaver liners coupled with wool fabric to make a mitt that will retain its warmth no matter how wet it gets or how long you're outdoors.
1) Polar Fleece - This is a good, soft, cost effective option for everyday use. It comes in an infinite variety of colors and patterns and no one seems to be allergic to it. I include it in the base price of any order, all my hat inventory and the vast majority of my mitt inventory come with a polar fleece liner.
2) Wool Fabric - I can't say enough good things about wool. Its warm when its wet, it is extremely breathable and less prone to clamminess because it wicks moisture vapor away from your skin. It is odor resistant and resilient to prolonged use. I recommend this for all Wilderness Mitts and for people who will be using their Musher mitts frequently and in wet snow conditions.
3) Fur and Wool - This is what I recommend for the most serious of winter explorers. It is the most expensive option because uses about twice as much fur as it would with a fabric liner, however you will not regret it when you're in the wilderness. This particular example is a combination of wool, shearling sheep (thumb) and mink (back of hand). Other excellent fur liners include beaver, muskrat or full shearling sheep. With fur inside and out you can expect to use your mitts without chemical hand warmers at -60 Fahrenheit. This particular pair has been used at -90F with windchill and the owner used no handwarmers.