I’ve previously mentioned boiled wool mittens in an older article about mittens and gloves.
They are warm, bomber and very weatherproof.
I’ve long been a proponent of the classic liner glove/shell mitt combo.
Simple, effective and versatile.
But, I’ve been skiing by myself a lot and on overnights. Meaning I keep a consistent pace with little breaks.
What I’ve been finding is that the usual enemy of winter trekking is happening: Compromised breathability.
My inner liner was getting a bit damp. And, at night, my hands were getting a little colder.
This past season, I started using some Dachstein wool mittens I’ve acquired.
I *thought* I had purchased a pair previously, but looking at the two pairs side by side, suspect I may purchased a different brand of boiled wool mittens. Looking over various websites, the coloring makes them look to be a British brand called Ortovox. (Which, oddly enough, I used a lighter version of the mittens from this company).
Don’t know what the difference is between the two pairs in detail, but the Dachstein wool mittens seem to be more pliable and less stiff. Both are obviously good quality, so perhaps it is just preference as well.
I also ordered an extra-large so my liner gloves will fit in easier. That may be more of the reason to be honest as the original ones seem to be smaller.
In any case…the end result?
The wool breathes much better than the nylon shells, my inner liners stay dry even when snowing and the hands are warm.
The Dachstein wool mittens are essentially very effective soft shell mittens.
Now, I should say they have been effective in cold and dry Colorado winters (or New Mexico over Thanksgiving at night). I suspect in weather much above 15-20F, and with wetter snow, I would not want to use these mittens. Hence why I still pack the shell mittens. And in spring ski conditions, I doubt I’d use the Dachstein mitts at all and will go with lighter mid-layer mittens and a shell as needed.
But I have become a convert. With the combo of a liner glove, Dachstein mittens and nylon shell mitts, I think my winter hand system is dialed in quite a bit for many conditions.
If there is an evolution to my winter system for the Rockies, it is getting more and more breathable clothing in place of WPB fabrics. Fleece, windbreaker pants, anorak windbreaker and wool or light polyester pants with good base layers is how I approach winter. The wool mitts are just another step in this evolution. I suspect the nylon shell mitts will be used similarly to how I use my traditional WPB shell jacket: Limited use but definitely should be packed for winter use.
There is a reason why Dachstein mittens are a classic. I am seeing that for myself.
Getting them: Various stores have sold them on and off in the past but no longer carry them. Dachstein sells them direct on Amazon now!
Which brings me to how I received my current pair as a disclosure: I’ve used boiled wool mittens in the past. As mentioned, I wore out a light pair from Ortovox that I loved. Sadly, they don’t even seem available in the UK (Any person who knows how to get these lighter boiled wool mittens? 🙂 ) When the owner of Sweater Chalet saw an invalid link for the boiled wool mittens, he also offered to give any readers of this blog a discount. My love for older school clothing systems may help some readers of this blog anyway.. 🙂 That was back in July, but I wanted to use the gear a bit first before posting my impressions of the newer, if a previously used type, mittens.