The other week I went to the local army surplus store and poked around the racks and stacks of the stale smelling offerings. It's quite nice there, if you can get past the awkward people who examine you as you browse the products they sell. I came across a wire basket containing wool socks and grabbed a couple of pairs to leave in my car trunk for an emergency. As I lifted up the package, I saw beneath it a pair of military arctic gloves. Now these gloves are (as far as I can figure) the ultimate in gloves for cold weather. They are issued by both the Canadian and the U.S. military to be used in the arctic bases (North West Territories, Alaska etc...) so I figure they've had some extensive testing. Currently it is -18° Centigrade, or -30° Centigrade with the wind chill. That's -1° Fahrenheit, or -22° Fahrenheit with the wind chill.
They are big. I have big hands - my piano teacher even said so back in grade 10 - and this pair reads 'Medium' and I can fit my hand plus a live ferret, a half pound of licorice allsorts and an unopened bag of Jelly Tots into just one glove.
They have detachable liners that can be dried out in case they get soaked with perspiration, or just mucky.
The leather palms are made of horsehide. Horsehide is known for its rugged durability. Most of those WWII US Air Force leather jackets were made of horsehide leather for this reason.
Canvas draw-tabs and straps allow you to pull the wide gauntlets over your thick winter jacket's sleeves and then pull them tight. Small canvas loops are there to attach to a lanyard so that you won't drop them in the deep snow - I am going to use some 550 paracord to make some nice decorative and tough lanyards.
Finally, the back of the glove is covered with thick woolen fleece. This allows the user in extremely cold weather to wipe frost from their faces and beards without running the risk of scratching numbed, unfeeling facial flesh with cold-hardened plastic or rough edges. It is also useful just to hold against cold cheeks and noses etc... to warm them up quickly in case of impending frost nip.
I wore them down into the valley recently (second picture, hanging from the tree), and while it was very cold outside, my hands felt warm as though they were inside my coat pockets while standing in my living room at home. The wool liner insulates, and the layering effect traps air inside.
My only complaint was that they were so loose, I found myself trudging through the snow, holding my hands up and out like a surgeon who has just scrubbed up and is ready to examine the appendicitis in room 327, as soon as the nurse slips on his latex gloves. That was tiring after a while. Adding the lanyards would help that, and so would wearing a very light cotton or wool mix pair of gloves inside the gloves for a bit of friction. I'd recommend that anyway, so that if you need to be dexterous, you are still at least protected from the extreme cold if you have to slip the big gloves off.
I keep them in my car trunk, just in case an avalanche catches me unawares and I need to camp in the forest for a few days.
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