Warmest Mitten
Hestra Army Leather Extreme Mitt

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Hestra manufactures dozens of different styles of ski gloves and mittens, and the Army Leather Extreme may be the warmest and toughest out of all of them. These are built for dedicated dawn patrol, those who expect to be waiting in the lift line before the sun has fully crested the horizon.

Despite any squabbling about what the warmest glove may be, it’s hard to hold a candle to the insulative capacity of a mitten.

Hestra has a reputation for quality winter gloves, and though some may groan about the price and the “hype”, you won’t often hear people complaining about cold hands. What these mitts lack in mobility they more than make up for with durability, dryness and warmth. For a closer look at this exceptionally warm mitten, take a look at our in-depth review here.

Our Overall Review

4.7

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Available as a glove, mitten, and three finger glove
  • check-mark
    Interchangeable liner options
  • check-mark
    One of the best winter gloves for extreme cold
  • check-mark
    A ton of colors to choose from

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markLike most quality gloves, you need to stay on top of the waterproofing
  • check-markCan feel a little bulky even without the liners

Where to buy:

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Hestra Army Leather Extreme

The Hestra name carries serious weight amongst the crop of top performing ski gloves and mittens. Out of their expansive and impressive selection of garments, they claim the Army Leather Extreme Mitten is the warmest.

The Army Leather Extreme is an example of a simple build executed with high quality materials and a fine attention to detail, this is reflected in the price tag. Though it might be overkill for most weekenders, industry professionals and skiers with high demands for their hands can easily justify shelling out extra dollars for dependable performance.

I’ve put hundreds of days into my pair, splitting time between the notoriously frigid Gunnison Valley and the sodden Western Washington snowpack. The Army Leather Extreme delivers, with mindful upkeep you can have a glove that lasts years.

Specs & Features

  • Made of polyamide and goat leather shell
  • Removable liners
  • Gauntlet cuff
  • Elastic leases so you neer drop your mitt off the lift
See the complete list of the best Ski Gloves here!
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Warmth

If you’re interested in the Army Leather Extreme, you’re likely very invested in their ability to keep your hands warm. To achieve this end, Hestra employs a removable fleece liner with G-Loft insulation.

G-Loft’s lightweight, compressible, and quick dry qualities combined with a high degree of heat retention make it an excellent alternative to other synthetic insulators. Where forerunners (notably PrimaLoft) emulate down, the G-Loft approach is more akin to the hollow fibers of polar bear fur.

In practice, this adds a considerable amount of durability to the mitts. Instead of packing down from the repetitive pressures such as holding your poles, fibers snap back to their intended shape and keep consistent warmth as the seasons roll by.

After numerous washes and days on the slopes, your liners will wear down and eventually lose their effectiveness. Fortunately the liner is removable and replaceable, you can even switch up the fill and style.

All of this is assuming you don’t get them wet. But more on that later.

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Related Reviews

Dexterity

Mittens, particularly big, floppy gauntlet-style mittens such as this, aren’t known for allowing extremes in range of motion. In situations where fine-motor skills matter, you may as well be wearing pot-holders.

Most issues with your own gear- tightening boots, adjusting your jacket’s front zipper, or placing your goggles on your forehead to clear can be resolved without much issue. Getting into your pockets, buckling helmets, and worst, anything you need to help people out with is a separate issue.

I spent two seasons teaching children’s ski lessons, primarily in these gloves. In order to do anything with child-sized gear I had to take off my mittens, and every time I ended up with snow in my gloves. This added up to quite a bit of shaking slush out from my fingertips.

Those in the market for a supremely warm alternative but need a little boost in dexterity should turn their attention to “finger glove” models such as the Black Diamond Spark.

All this said, the Army Leather Extreme isn’t the most cumbersome model I’ve tried. Despite the heavy handed approach to warmth, the liner and shell are relatively compact and pliable, leaving more ambitious models like the Burton Mercury Mitt behind.

Water Resistance

I mentioned above that the only time I’ve been cold in these mittens is when they’re wet. Late season in the Northwest, I was taken off guard by a dramatic rise in moisture in the snowpack after being negligent about keeping up with waterproofing.

By midday my mittens were completely sodden through, and the sun was rapidly disappearing behind heavy cloud cover. After a couple of hours I was uncomfortable, but not to the point where I wanted to stop skiing.

The majority of the shell is made of a polyamide/spandex blend designed to allow a little stretch. It’s not totally waterproof, but makes up for this with excellent ventilation and wind resistance. I’ve also never had an issue with water leaking through the back of the gloves.

Also note that the synthetic fill held up surprisingly well, even when I could wring out the liners like dish towels. Though I later learned that G-Loft might not be as effective as alternatives when wet, but makes up for this by having a higher retention rate overall.

On the flipside, the whole palm is goat leather. While this adds a considerable amount of grip and durability, it needs to be regularly treated in order to retain any water resistant properties.

A little bit of maintenance a couple times every season goes a long way towards extending their life and effectiveness. Hestra makes their own brand of leather glove treatment, though you may also substitute this for other options based on your preferences.

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Durability and Materials

I’ve put no less than 250 full days of skiing into these mittens, and have swapped out the liners once. As of now they’re still going strong.

After being scraped along sharp surface snow, digging test pits, and clinging to the occasional tree trunk I would fully expect some more pronounced points of failure in either the leather or the shell. As of now any damage is mostly cosmetic. All credit is to the build, because I certainly haven’t been taking very careful care of them over the last couple years.

All the major seams are double stitched, the carabiner loops are reinforced with metal grommets, the wrist cinch is a substantial piece of webbing, and hard plastic components have yet to crack or shatter despite prolonged exposure to cold.

I think that people who handle sharp tools, or are doing constant physical labor wouldn’t have the same amount of success as I have. But in those applications you would probably want something more focused on durability like the Black Diamond Guide Glove.

Features

Leather Palm Grip

We’ve discussed the goat leather palm a couple times over the course of the review. The amount of coverage is great, and you can tell Hestra is cutting no corners when it comes to their use of expensive materials.The entire palm up around the tips of the fingers are covered in supple strips of goat leather.

Functionally this gives you a lot of surface area to work with. While this is poor compensation for separated fingers, I’ve never had any trouble keeping a hold of my poles or other slick aluminum surfacers on the chair lift.

Liner

A solid removable liner is the hallmark of any quality glove or mitten. The fact that Hestra gloves offer affordable replacements is testament to more than just ambitious expectations of the lifespan of their products.

Going on my third season with the same pair of mittens, I’ve gone through two sets of liners. I personally prefer the stock G-Loft option that comes standard with the glove, but there are split finger options, as well as different kinds of fills available depending on your preferences

You can’t understate the value of removable liners, particularly when skiing multiple storm sessions in a row. The ability to quickly hang dry your gear saves you the stress of trying to hang dry them after a wet day. You can just throw your mittens in the wash with your other grimy base layers and leave them to hang dry for the morning.

Wrist Closure

I mentioned above that I sometimes had issues with snow getting in the glove when I took them off in the middle of a run. The good news is I’ve never experienced such an infringement on my warmth so long as they were securely fixed around my wrist.

This is no great achievement for a gauntlet-style mitten, so long as it’s worn properly. But beyond the standard elastic cinch at the end of the cuff, there’s an additional webbing closure around the wrist to keep snow out on a real powder day.

I’ve only found use for them on really deep days. When every zipper, snap, and buckle is closed from boots to bibs. It’s another one of those extra features exemplifying Hestra’s fine-tooled, detailed-oriented approach that separates them from other mass-produced mitten manufacturers.

Hestra Handcuff

A wrist tether, similar to the noted closure above, is by no means something unique to Hestra gloves compared to the rest of the industry. But in that same regard it is simply made better than most models I’ve had the opportunity to test.

There are a few things that stand out, firstly that it is detachable where budget models tend to be fixed. The wrist loop itself, too, stands out compared to the crowd. It’s a wide loop of soft elastic material that lies flat under or over whatever layers you happen to be wearing.

As a final minor detail, the tether is a high-vis red that makes finding the cuff much easier in cramped conditions. These kinds of features are often no more than afterthoughts, and prone to breaking in other models, I’ve had no such issues with my pair.

Carabiner Loop

The Army Leather Extreme features a reinforced carabiner loop along the bottom of the gauntlet. Though a minor detail it allows you to walk from the parking lot to the slopes without the anxiety of keeping track of your gloves.Hestra’s copy indicates the loop is best for hang-drying your gloves, so they don’t lose their shape.

On cold, dry days in the backcountry I’ve found it a useful way to store my heavy downhill gloves within easy access on the outside of my pack, while working up a sweat on the uphill. A very useful feature when light touring gloves like the Fission SV aren’t enough to get by.

It’s a small, unimportant addition, but one that lives up to the Hestra standard. The fact that even this detail of little consequence is backed up with a little bit of metal is a final testament to the quality of these mittens.

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The Competition

The market is saturated with countless different models of gloves and mittens. The competition is stiffest among the high-performance models vying for the title of warmest.

While I’ve yet to try out anything that has performed as well as the Army Leather Extreme Mitt in terms of pure insulation- it’s not a perfect product. In certain applications it falls far short of other specialized options.

The Burton Mercury Mitt, for example, is much more versatile and imaginative in its design. It’s actually a mitten shell that fits over top of a pair of gloves, effectively solving the issue of both dexterity and dumping snow down your cuffs when removing mittens frequently.

Outdoor Research’s Alti Glove is in a similar league. Being a glove, it’s much more nimble than the Army Leather Extreme could ever be, but nonetheless is consistently ranked among the warmest options on the market.

If you’re the type who works in or around the ski industry, the Black Diamond Guide Glove can keep you warm, while offering the durability and mobility of a work glove. Those who need free fingers to tie knots and use a snow drill would be much better off than with a cumbersome mitt.

For extreme warmth, heated gloves and mittens like the Lucient, also from Outdoor Research are the best means of dealing with circulatory issues. Though it’s worth keeping in mind that heated outdoor gear is rife with it’s own set of issues that are best covered separately.

Finally, if you’re exclusively interested in Hestra products, they make dozens of different gloves and mittens appropriate for winter sport use. I certainly can’t fault you for your loyalties as is evidenced by my love for the Army Leather Extreme.

Who is it for?

Truth be told, the Army Leather Extreme is too much mitten for the average skier. On top of that, it’s expensive, only outpriced by other high-end products and heated gear. If you’re looking for something decent to take on your next ski trip, I’d steer you towards more affordable options like the Stormtrooper II from Gordini.

Still there are some who won’t be deterred by the price tag- and if you’re looking for the best, you really don’t have to do much more searching. People with chronically cold hands who don’t want to invest in a pair of heated gloves may also find this to be the next best thing. The only other group I can see really benefiting from these gloves are those who spend the better part of their winter riding the resort.

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Our Overall Review

4.7

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Available as a glove, mitten, and three finger glove
  • check-mark
    Interchangeable liner options
  • check-mark
    One of the best winter gloves for extreme cold
  • check-mark
    A ton of colors to choose from

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markLike most quality gloves, you need to stay on top of the waterproofing
  • check-markCan feel a little bulky even without the liners
FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What are the best ski gloves?

There are an overwhelming number of ski gloves on today’s market, and picking the right one for you is no easy task. Fortunately our ski glove guide has all the details you need thin the pack, and detailed looks at some of our favorites. In the meantime, here’s a shortlist of our top performers.

Best ski gloves:

How to clean Hestra gloves?

Hestra gloves all have their own set of best practices depending on your model of choice. As a rule, you should avoid washing leather gloves, and at best, spot treat them with a wet towel. Synthetic removable liners can be machine washed while wool ones need to be washed by hand.

For an in-depth look at one of our favorite Hestra models, take a look at our review of the Army Leather Extreme Mitt. Otherwise check out our best ski gloves page for the top of the industry across all categories.

How to apply Hestra leather glove balm?

Hestra’s leather conditioning balm is a great way to keep your gloves looking and working great throughout the seasons.

Using it is easy: while wearing one of your gloves, use a polish rag to apply a conservative coat to all leather surfaces of the glove. Be sure to pay attention to high-use areas. After your gloves have an acceptable coat, leave them up to dry somewhere room temperature.

For an in-depth look at one of our favorite Hestra models, take a look at our review of the Army Leather Extreme Mitt. Otherwise check out our best ski gloves page for the top of the industry across all categories.

Are Hestra gloves worth it?

There’s no doubt that Hestra makes some of the best performing gloves on the market, but does their on-snow performance justify the price tag? The answer largely depends on your purpose and your budget. People who spend upwards of 30 days a year on the slope may easily justify the cost, but others might be better off with something more affordable.

To see how our favorite options from Hestra stack up against the rest of the industry, take a look at our best of glove page. Our review of the Army Leather Extreme Mitt gives an honest overview of Hestra warmest mitten.

Where are Hestra gloves made?

Hestra’s design and testing takes place in their namesake village of Hestra, Sweden. Meanwhile, most of their manufacturing is done in their factories in China and Hungary.

To see how our favorite options from Hestra stack up against the rest of the industry, take a look at our best of glove page. Our review of the Army Leather Extreme Mitt gives an honest overview of Hestra warmest mitten.

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