I’m one of those people whose hands are always cold. No matter what the temperature, no matter if I’m indoors or out, I have icy fingers and cold hands. To make matters worse, I suffer from Raynaud’s Syndrome, which means every now and then my fingers turn white and go completely numb. It’s not pretty — and it’s very uncomfortable, to say the least.
So keeping my hands warm is a real challenge. Mittens are warmer than gloves, so when I’m skiing, my usual set-up is Black Diamond’s Mercury Mitt, a very toasty, though bulky, mitten I discovered a couple of years ago. When it’s really cold, I add glove liners. And when it’s really, really, really cold, I’ll throw in a chemical heat pack, too. The problem with this is what I gain in warmth, I lose in dexterity. And I look like I’m wearing lobster claws.
Oh, for something super warm that lets me pick up something I drop on the ground!
Enter Chaval Outdoor’s Response-XRT heated gloves.
I’ve long been curious about heated gloves, but I always thought that the ones that’re out there work for only a few hours before losing their charge. Then you’re stuck with no heat and a glove that isn’t all that great in the cold.
So when Chaval sent me a pair of their Response-XRT gloves to review, I was hopeful — but a little bit skeptical, too.
According to Chaval, these gloves operate differently from any other heated glove on the market today. Instead of complicated wiring that can easily break down, they use a polymer film that changes its electrical properties in response to heat and cold. Simply put, the film acts like a thermostat to automatically adjust heat levels so your hands are never too warm or too cold. But unlike a thermostat, it’s not bulky. Chaval claims its gloves will heat three times longer than any other brand.
Now you’re talking. But let’s see if these babies work.
Out of the box:
First of all, you gotta love the graphics. When you open the box, you see the words CONQUER THE COLD on the underside of the lid. Whoa, this is one confident company. It certainly made me hope for the best.
But I move on. The gloves are seriously great looking. Well made, good quality construction. The outer shell is nice, soft, water resistant leather. There’s a generous gauntlet with a bungee closure to keep out the snow. A wipe spot on the thumb for well, you know. Inside the shell, there’s 3.5 ounces of cushy insulation. But the best thing is what’s not there: no big battery pack, no annoying wires.
The box also contains a charging device, a net bag to for glove storage, and a very thorough, easy to read sheet of directions that tells you everything you need to know about how to charge the gloves, make them work, and take care of them properly when not in use.
A note here: Chaval is introducing activeDRY, a new charging device that they say recharges the glove and dries the inner glove cavity at the same time. They claim this reduces drying time by up to 50% and helps prevent unpleasant odor and bacteria growth. The gloves I received did not have this with them, but if it works as advertises, I think it sounds pretty good.
And a caveat: I have small hands, and the gloves I received are currently available only in unisex sizing — which means “Men’s.” If that works for you, good. For me, no. The gloves were way too big. I mentioned this to the company, who assures me they plan to offer smaller, women’s sizing next year.
How they work:
It’s easy. First you charge them up. This takes from five to seven hours, and according to the directions, will become more efficient the more you do it.
To put them on, you disconnect the charger (obviously), snap in two connectors in the glove, and turn them on using a button on the cuff. The button looks like the “play” button on a video player, so it’s easy to identify. It actually lights up so you can tell that it’s on. Once you’ve had enough, or if you want to preserve the battery, you shut them off with the off button, which looks like “pause.” I don’t know how it could get easier.
Chaval says its gloves have a maximum operating temperature of 62°F, although the heating duration per charge depends on the required heating output, the ambient temperature, the user’s physical condition, and the charging condition of the batteries.
Also worth mentioning: when you put them on, you do not feel any wiring around your hand. There’s a stiffish sort of plate in the gauntlet (I think this must be the battery pack) and a small one in the back of the hand, but that’s it. Essentially, there is nothing to interfere with your movement or comfort.
Were they comfortable? Yes. Were they flexible? Could I move my fingers? Yes and yes. And now, the important part: Were they warm? YES! And they stayed warm. I was out skiing for four hours with a wind chill of about 10°F, and my hands were not cold. A major triumph. What’s more, I could move my fingers and actually do things with them. Hooray!
So what’d you think, Ski Diva?
For people who have cold hands and don’t want to resort to bulky lobster claw mittens, glove liners, and chemical packs, the Chaval Response-XRT is a godsend. They kept my hands toasty warm the entire time I was out skiing. If I could encase my entire body in this glove, I would. And I like the dexterity, too, which I don’t get in mittens.
One big drawback: the price. At Chaval’s website, they’re listed at $389.97. So yes, a lot of money. For some people, this is going to be a deal breaker. But this is one of those quality of life issues. If you, like me, always suffer from cold hands, don’t like the conventional set up, and feel it really takes away from the enjoyment of the day, then these gloves could be worth it. Another thought: put them on your birthday or Christmas list. That way someone else will buy them for you.
Chaval is running a contest now to give away free pair of gloves monthly over the next few months. That’s even better. The drawing dates are December 18, January 15, and February 12. To enter, go here.