Dachstein’s Arctic Boiled Wool Gloves are very warm, three-ply, boiled wool gloves (more on this below) that make exceptional liners in waterproof shell mittens. When the mercury drops to near zero or below, these are the gloves you want to be wearing. I usually wear them inside a waterproof/breathable shell mitten. They’re also ideal for people who get very cold hands in winter or who suffer from Raynaud’s Disease. Dachstein also makes heavier, 4-ply wool mittens that are popular with mountaineers and winter hikers but lack the dexterity of these Arctic Wool Gloves.
Boiled Wool Clothing
Boiled wool gloves and mittens are made by repeatedly boiling heavy wool gloves in hot water until they shrink to the desired size. The boiling process preserves the natural oils occurring in the wool and results in a very tightly woven fabric that provides all the benefits of natural wool. Boiled wool clothing has been around since the Middle Ages and is prized for its warmth and value.
Boiled Wool Gloves vs Mittens
However, boiled wool gloves are more difficult to make than mittens where the fingers of the hand are all housed together in the same space. With gloves, there’s a tradeoff between maintaining space between the fingers and warmth. Since each finger has to be insulated separately, you can’t make boiled wool gloves quite as heavy or thick as mittens.
Dachstein, after much experimentation, managed to make these gloves with 3 layers of wool (called 3-ply), compared to their Dachstein’s Extreme Warm Mitts, which are 4-ply, twice as heavy, considerably thicker, more wind resistant, and much more waterproof. Then again, gloves do provide more dexterity than mittens and you can easily improve on their warmth by layering them under a waterproof/breathable shell mitten. Dexterity vs warmth is a common tradeoff when it comes to winter gloves and mittens.
I switch to these Dachstein Arctic Wool Gloves when the temperature drops below zero in New England’s White Mountains, which it has been doing a lot of lately. I like to wear them inside my waterproof/breathable shell mitts, so I retain some dexterity when I remove my hands for tasks that require some dexterity like unzipping a pack pocket or buckling my backpack sternum strap or and hip belt.
I normally wear mid-weight fleece gloves inside my mittens, but they’re not warm enough when it gets really frosty out. That’s when these Dachstein Arctic Gloves earn their keep. While you can certainly wear the Arctic Gloves alone and they’re quite breathable, they’re not very water-resistant, so a waterproof/breathable shell glove is required if you’re going to encounter liquid moisture.
I also really like the fact that the cuffs on these wool gloves can be unrolled if my hands get cold so that the wool insulation extends up my arm, over my fleece hoodie arms, and under my hardshell jacket. My hands stay much warmer that way. There’s really nothing like them.
These Dachstein wool gloves are not lined so the wool feels a little rough when worn. They’re not itchy, but not smooth like a more refined wool glove. You get used to it pretty quickly. In terms of dexterity, the gloves are perfect for use with trekking or ski poles, an ice axe, and I can even operate my point and shoot digital camera when wearing them. Driving however can be a challenge because the wool doesn’t really give you a sticky grip on a steering wheel.
Dachstein bases their sizing on the length of your hand from the wrist to the top of your middle finger. I wear a size 8 and my Dachstein 3-ply gloves weigh 4.2 oz for the pair or about half as much as Dachstein’s 4-ply Extreme Warm Mitts.
If you use a waterproof/breathable mitten and liner winter glove system, which is pretty common (See Winter Hiking Gloves Systems), I suggest you give these Dachstein Arctic Boiled Wood Gloves a try as a liner for very cold weather. While they’re not as warm as Dachstein’s 4-ply Extreme Warm Mitten, they are not as bulky and can be worn inside moderate-sized shell mitts. They also last a lot longer than fleece gloves or synthetic insulated liners which break down with heavy use and lose their loft. Boiled Wool – anything that hasn’t been improved on after 1500 years has to be pretty exceptional!
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