Women's gear, up first
Three hand-warmers to cure chronically cold fingers
It was 30 degrees and overcast at the base of the Copper Mountain ski resort, and Bradford Peterson was shivering. “Can we move to the fire pit?” he asked his friends, who were tipping back beers at the slopeside bar.
An avid skier and a former competitor on the Freeskiing World Tour, Peterson runs cold—a trait he shares with the vast majority of women. So Peterson took it upon himself to make some of the coziest—and sweetest—hand-warmers you can buy.
Astis mittens ($195) aren’t just for women. Sizing is unisex, as are the beaded designs. But according to Peterson, women make up about 70 percent of Astis buyers, possibly because women are tired of their fingers being cold all the time. And they’re willing to pay a premium for something that promises to end the suffering and look good doing it.
Made with silicone-impregnated suede and lined with Polartec Thermal Pro insulation (not animal pelts, as you might expect from the furry cuff), these mitts are almost as warm as they look. In temps below about five degrees, I need to boost their warmth with chemical handwarmers or liner gloves. (The mitts’ roomy fit allows for them.)
As is, they’re just right for most ski days, when I’ve found them to be surprisingly functional. Let’s face it: all that fur and hand-stitched beadwork makes them look more like a showpiece than a tool, and I wondered if the fringe would end up getting tangled in something. Yet my Astis mitts have proven to be breathable, effective at keeping snow out of my cuffs, hassle-free, and waterproof—even in puking snowstorms. I like that there’s no dangly cinch cord or leash to deal with and they play well with jacket cuffs.
That they're so functional might explain why they’ve become a kind of cult favorite among core Rocky Mountain skiers (Astis is headquartered in Denver). Sales are strongest at Jackson and Crested Butte. And wherever you spot them, they tend to be worn by real rippers. From Winter Park to Sun Valley, they’ve become a women’s badass badge.
That makes sense, because you gotta have plenty of self-confidence to carry them off. Astis attract lots of attention and verbal applause. “Nice mitts!” is something I hear every time I glide into the lift line. Want to stay anonymous? Don’t wear these. But if you want your daily uniform to be functional and fun, Astis is your answer.
Need the nuclear option?
Dakine Tundra Mitt ($120) is the coziest all-purpose mitten I’ve found (only models designed for high-altitude mountaineering provide more warmth). It packs a wad of down and synthetic Primaloft insulation across the back of the hand, but the palm is made of supple, thinly-lined leather. My fingers stay warm on subzero days, but I have enough dexterity to operate boot buckles and zipper pulls.
Want leather, sans beads?
Hestra Women’s Fall Line Mitt ($150) builds in enough polyester fiberfill insulation to keep my fingers warm down to 15 degrees, and the fit is superb: Hestra tailors its women’s models to suit our smaller, narrower palms and longer fingers. This model also includes interior “finger garages,” which can be a polarizing feature (some wearers say they wick sweat and boost dexterity, while others find them fussy).