Gear Review: Flambeau Heated Gloves

If you're a card player, you know the great feeling that comes from being dealt a hot hand. And when you're the one doing the dealing, it's even sweeter. Well, here's a way to deal yourself hands that may not be hot, but at a minimum are toasty warm. And just to be clear, I'm not talking about cards, but those appendages with which you use to play cards or fish or hunt.

Keeping our hands warm is one of the greatest challenges faced by those of us who love to get outside in the winter. And traditionally that challenge is met by building gloves with more and higher quality insulation. This works to a limited extent, but as the gloves get bulkier and then turn into mitts, dexterity is quickly sacrificed and the cold is never beaten back completely. However, like four aces rescuing a hand of cards, we now have electrically heated gloves saving our hands from that creeping cold.

For a month now I've been working and hunting with a pair of electric gloves marketed by Flambeau Outdoors. They aren't the first electric garment I've encountered, but they are the first gloves I've seen, and that suggests this is the start of an emerging trend. It all seems to be possible because of the availability of high-quality, low-priced power sources, specifically rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. And as soon as I spotted these gloves, my experience with a lifetime of Canadian winters told me they needed to find a way onto my hands for testing.

Opening the packaging revealed a removable battery built into each glove that supplies current to heating elements lining the fingers and palm area. A handy switch regulates that current to settings of off, low or high, and light insulation built into the gloves holds in the heat. A waterproof, breathable liner keeps things dry and allows moisture to escape. At the lower setting, the battery is reported to last 4-5 hours. Recharging is done by a cable that plugs into any USB port, with both gloves charging at the same time.

To date, these gloves have kept my hands toasty while sitting on a snowbank calling coyotes, and also while using a snowblower to clear my driveway and those of my eight nearest neighbors. The other morning it was 0 degrees Fahrenheit when I steered a bullet into a calf-killing coyote, but I had to remove the gloves to take photos. While the gloves allow plenty of dexterity for operating a rifle, they are still too bulky to tweak the settings of a complicated camera. By the time I was done, my hands weren't just cold, I was in pain! With the camera tucked away, sliding my hands back into the heated gloves was heavenly. Although they cost about $100, that morning I wouldn't have sold my gloves for $500.

Flambeau claims the batteries can be recharged over 1,000 times, and they back the gloves with a 2-year warranty. The gloves are just part of a line of electric garments that will be coming out over the course of 2015. Look for heated insoles, a vest and a hand-warmer. I'll just need to add a pair of spare batteries so I can go a full day without recharging my "hot hands."

P.S. Did you know North American Hunter has an online store?