Search

How I Keep My Fingers Warm - Tips From an Arctic Sled Dog Musher

Whether you ski, hike, camp, or just want to spend quality time outdoors in winter time, you need to have proper gear to protect your fingers from the cold weather. After working as a sled dog musher above the Arctic Circle I learned to keep my fingers warm quickly because my hands are the most important asset out there (of course, alongside my brain which makes all the decisions).

Sled dog musher cuddling sled dogs in arctic snowy landscape
Keeping my hands warm so I can cuddle my dogs with all 10 fingers! (Photo by Piotr Bilder)

It is very important to keep your fingers warm at all times as you need your fingers to work to perform activities vital for your survival.

Remember! When outside, at temperatures well below freezing, never do things barehanded.

Once you take your gloves off, your fingers will get cold very quickly, and it will take long time and a lot of effort to warm them up again. Better do things slower than risk having non-working hands!


TIPS FOR KEEPING HANDS WARM

  • Keep away from synthetic “waterproof” gloves. These gloves have a plastic layer inside that is supposed to prevent water and snow from getting into the glove, but they aren’t actually waterproof. All gloves get wet eventually. And these ones, take forever and a day to dry out once they get wet. Better have something from leather that will dry out next to your campfire.

  • Regardless of the type of gloves you wear, don’t forget that once gloves get wet, they are cold. Have spare ones handy to change them out.

  • Use mittens when it’s really cold. Mittens are going to keep your fingers warmer than gloves that have separate openings for each finger, because they will preserve the heat emitted from all fingers.

  • Prefer wool and leather over fleece. Fleece is polyester, and they can’t protect you from the cold. Nothing compares to wool.

  • When the weather is extra cold, have ridiculously big outer mittens. Huge mittens will give you space to wear layers. And we know that the air needs to have space to get trapped between layers to keep your hands and fingers warm.

  • Quickest way to warm your fingers up on the go is to make a fist inside the glove. If you are in camp then place your bare fingers in your armpits under your shirts. That's the most effective way to use your own body heat to warm up those freezing fingers.


TYPES OF GLOVES AND MITTENS

The exact type of gloves and mittens you need of course depend on the level of activity you do and how much precision you need. Here are some gloves that I use and I'll explain in witch situations I need them. Hopefully this will help you get a better understanding what type you need to keep your fingers warm:



Leather working gloves – My thinnest type of glove I use for detailed work. I use them for feeding, cleaning, and harnessing dogs. Gloves made of natural leather will definitely keep your fingers warm. Most importantly, when these gloves get wet, they dry out pretty fast.


Example: Hestra Kobolt Winter Working Gloves




Leather warmer working gloves – Great gloves for doing chores at really cold temperatures (below -20°C / -4°F. These gloves are typically bulkier than the regular leather gloves, but you will still be able to complete different activities with your fingers. These leather gloves are durable and extra warm since they are made of natural fibers. They have an extra woolen layer inside for extra warmth.


Example: Hestra Fält Guide Gloves



Big windproof mittens – I use them for driving the sled. These mittens are super big and super warm, used for arctic expeditions. When you want something more suitable for not so extreme conditions for yourself then remember always to buy a big size so you can layer liner gloves and/or wool mittens underneath for added warmth.


Example: NonStop Arctic Votta or Hestra Army Leather Extreme


100% wool liner gloves – these are usually worn under the big mittens. With these gloves you can easily use your fingers to do different chores without exposing your hands to the cold. They are not meant for long term use, though, so keep your warm over mittens close and put them on immediately when you have finished your tasks.


Example: Hestra Heavy Merino Liner Gloves



Beaver mittens – perfect for driving the sled at -25°C (-13°F). Natural materials are the best protection from the cold and beaver fur is the warmest and most durable fur that you can find. These are bigger mittens, and under them you can wear lamb wool gloves. You can find custom made beaver gloves straight from the maker on Etsy.com Not everyone needs these beasts but they are definitely an investment worth making if you are spending as many hours on a dogsled as I am!


*Some of the product links above are affiliate links that earn me a small commission when you buy thru them.