Onyx ArcticShield Glomitts
Last updated December 5, 2014
This is an in-depth review of possibly the warmest photography-friendly solution available for keeping your hands and fingers warm - the Onyx ArcticShield Glomitts. What's a glomitt, you ask? Simple - it combines the features of gloves and mittens - thus, "glomitt." Gloves are great for dexterity, but it's well known by winter sport enthusiasts that mittens keep your hands warmer. They do this by keeping your fingers together, rather than individually exposed - in a pocket of warm air.
There is no shortage of so-called "photography gloves" on the market. The problem they mostly all have is that the fingers are typically exposed, all the time. While this is great for cooler days - it's not so great in the dead of winter. Especially when it gets really cold out. This is where mittens really come into their own. The other problem is, these gloves rarely have much in the way of features - they're really just gardening gloves with the fingers cut off - and sold for 10x the price. Whereas garden gloves can be had for $2.99, these so-called "photography gloves" retail for $21.95.
If you go a bit more upscale, into gloves proper - they'll have fingers that can be optionally exposed. Many are simple fleece gloves, which are not so great in damper conditions as they do nothing to keep your hands dry, or stop the wind. Then you have soft shell gloves which solve both of those problems, yet create another. You're shooting with thicker, proper gloves but they're also fairly bulky and ruin your dexterity. There are also wool gloves, and combinations of all of these... But what's missing are mittens - or a way of shooting with the full dexterity of your fingers.
Enter the glomitt. When set up to face the elements, they're mittens - keeping your hands (and especially your fingers) nice and toasty. When you need more dexterity, you can fold the mitten "cap" back, exposing a fully gloved hand underneath. Finally, if you need to shoot and adjust dials, levers and knobs, you can expose one or more fingers. Because they're mittens, the fingers underneath don't need a bulky glove to stay warm. Sounds like the perfect solution, right? We thought so. And the only glomitts out there that fit all these criteria that we were able to find at the time of writing were the Onyx ArcticShield Glomitts - which come in black, blaze (orange) and a variety of camo patterns such as Realtree AP and Mossy Oak. They sell for $39.99 USD, which is quite reasonable.
In case you're wondering, Onyx is an outdoor brand under the Absolute Outdoor, Inc. company, located in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. Absolute Outdoor is affiliated with Kent Sporting Goods Company, based in New London, Ohio and specializes in a multi-brand portfolio of outdoor, water sports, and marine products - mainly for hunting and ice fishing.
- Onyx ArcticShield Glomitts - G530BLK / H3GLM
- Added pin-dot material for better grip
- Thin design for good dexterity
- Adjustable wrist buckle
- Contains magnets
- Windproof, water resistant, breathable, moisture management
- Polyester shell fabric
- Polyester lining with ArcticShield Technology
- Available in black, blaze (orange) and camo patterns
The gloves are made from polyester, in China. There's no mention of Thinsulate or any other name-brand insulating material other than mention of their own "ArcticShield Technology." But they are a good thickness and warm. The inside feels a bit like (but is not quite) fleece; the outside is also very soft, with a corduroy-like texture and pattern. The downside of these materials is that they're a magnet to fuzzies, pet fur and other hairs. If you have rough hands, they'll snag a little on the fabric. Here's what Onyx says of ArcticShield Technology:
ArcticShield™ cold weather products with RE-tain™ technology, captures more than 90% of your body heat and returns it to you, providing you the warmest outerwear that you can buy.
RE-tain™ is a three-layer material that reflects radiant energy. RE-tain™ is super thin, lightweight, windproof and helps block moisture.
Patented ArcticShield™ products with RE-tain™ technology are revolutionizing the sporting industry by making it possible to spend longer periods of time in cold weather conditions.
You can get more info on the materials and the rest of their line of apparel and accessories in this product catalog from 2011.
The Onyx ArcticShield Glomitts have all the usual features found in good winter (sport) gloves, but let's first take a look at their standout feature, and why we're reviewing them here. The fact that they're mittens first and foremost, providing the ultimate warmth for your hands - yet open up to progressively reveal dextrous gloves and finally, bare fingertips for fine-grained control over camera functions.
When fully closed up, they're mittens. There's simply no better method of keeping your hands warm and dry. These glomitts do not disappoint in that regard. The one negative is that because of their convertible nature, there's an open seam between the mitten cap and the layers underneath. So if you're intending to dunk your hands in water or get into a snowball fight while out shooting, they may not be your best option. The cap bottom does overlap a bit, and you do have a gloved hand underneath, so they do keep out the wind and cold.
The palms are covered in a rough-textured, grippy, rubbery-like material - save for the thin band where they need to flex for folding out of the way. This ensures a good grip on your gear when you're not actively shooting.
Should you need the use of your fingers, which is likely to occur frequently enough, you can fold back the mitten cap quickly and easily. Curl your fingers and pull back on it, towards the top of the glomitt. To help keep it out of your way, there are two magnets sewn in - one on the cap and one on the top of the glomitt. Slick and functional! Though honestly, we wish the magnets were bigger, with more holding power. If you flex your fingers a bit too much - the cap comes loose.
The gloved part underneath is warm and thin. Very dextrous, for handling your camera and other objects without any bulk getting in the way. You can't even see which fingers open up typically - though if the gloves are a bit on the small side, the length of your pointing finger might pull a bit too much, exposing a sliver of skin at the seam. Though as they break in and stretch a bit, this should, hopefully, stop happening.
And now for the pièce de résistance - for working your camera's controls, you can peel up the thumb and pointing finger, as found on pretty much any photography glove. In the case of the pointing finger, the glove material simply slips over the end of your finger (which dangles by the wayside, or it can be tucked into the mitten cap). The thumb, which is not part of the mitten and cap, also slips over your thumb - but attaches, again with magnets - much like the mitten cap itself to the top of the glove. This pair of magnets seems to hold a bit better, but again, we wish they were a bit larger and stronger.
Moving to the top of the glomitt, we can see the other features. At the wrist, there's a pull strap so that you can tightly close off the back of the glomitt, to prevent the wind or snow from getting inside. This keeps your fingers from getting cold and/or damp. It also serves to keep your glomitts on tight, so they don't pull off easily. If you're ever worn ski/snowboard gloves, this is the same deal.
Towards the back end of the glomitt are pull-cinches on elastic cords, which are captured on one side. Just pull on the knotted end of the elastic cord, the the rear of the glomitt will close down against your jacket sleeve. This will be your first line of defense against wind and weather. To release it, just compress the cinch. Easy as pie, and again - very much like winter sport gloves.
Finally, there is a clip - with one half on each glove - so that you can clip them together. This will keep you from losing one Glomitt... You'll either keep them both - or lose them altogether. Some gloves have clips that can be attached to your jacket, at each pocket. Something you might see children do... But it is convenient since they're kept outside of your jacket and in the right place. Gloves are usually too big to fit in your pockets, and not all jackets have interior mesh/gear pockets (such as for gloves, goggles and hats).
The Onyx ArcticShield Glomitts are an excellent option for keeping your hands and fingers warm while still being able to photograph or use smart devices such as a phone or tablet. The reason to choose them is twofold; they're the warmest option that we've been able to find and honestly, the only ones we were able to find and be happy with, feature-wise.
These glomitts have pretty much all the feature boxes ticked, from a winter sport glove perspective. However, there are a few minor shortcomings in fit or function here and there. Thankfully, none of them are showstoppers - and for the price, can be easily overlooked. While they don't have any "name-brand" listings for either the insulating or shell materials, they seem like they'll do the job just fine. While not a high-end brand or construction, they're inexpensive. And when it comes to photography, that's a nice thing.
Time will tell how they perform for us, and how long they'll last. But we look forward to having toasty warm hands for once while out shooting this winter season. Therefore, we recommend the Onyx ArcticShield Glomitts.
You can purchase them online at Onyx directly in black and blaze (orange) - or a variety of camo patterns for $39.99 USD + shipping ($7.99 USD), or save a bit by picking them up on Amazon (black) for $39.95 USD and possibly (if you're a Prime member) free 2nd-Day shipping. You can also use Google to find other outdoor sporting goods vendors.