Permit me a subhead here:
OH MY GOD THESE MITTENS.
There. That’s off my chest. Now I can continue.
As many of you know, I live and ski in Vermont and seriously, there’s not much colder than a New England winter. Finding something that keeps your hands warm isn’t something that’s taken lightly. I can’t even begin to tell you how many chairlift rides I’ve had where the main topic of conversation has been which glove works the best, or which combination of gloves/handwarmers/liners keeps you the warmest.
Chairflift friends, I’m happy to report that we’re going to have to find something else to talk about. Because, ladies and gents, I think we have a winner: The Chaval SuperNova Mitten.
This isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed Chaval Outdoor’s products. In 2013 I reviewed their Response-XRT Glove, and in 2017, their SuperNova Glove. Truly, I loved them both. The Response-XRT was good, and the SuperNova, even better (you can see my reviews here and here). So a few weeks ago Chaval sent me their SuperNova mittens to review, which is why I posted the aforementioned subhead. Because, and I’ll say it again, OH MY GOD THESE MITTENS!
Who is Chaval?
Not to be punny, but in recent years the market for electric gloves has seriously heated up. Look through any ski magazine, and you’re likely to see ads for these by the the larger glove companies. Chaval isn’t big; the company was founded in 2012 by two high tech guys who are avid skiers and outdoorsmen. But they’ve been getting some tremendous buzz in the outdoor world, and I think it has to do with their products’ unique technology, which is described below.
If you read my review on the SuperNova gloves, this is going to sound familiar, because both the gloves and the mittens share the same ALPHAHEAT technology. Which means both of them are very different from conventionally heated varieties.
Chaval explains this using an electric blanket analogy. Electric blankets in the 70’s and 80’s were powered by a network of heating wires and controlled by a switch with three heat levels. Conventional heated gloves use this same principle. Chaval, however, decided to do something different. Instead, they tossed out the wires and replaced them with a paper-thin nanotech polymer heating film. This has proprietary molecular ‘programming’ that allows it to self-regulate heat output and maintain an even temperature throughout the mitten. So instead of requiring you to regulate the heat by constantly adjusting it up or down, Chaval’s technology does it for you, automatically. Pretty slick. Extra bonus: the film is considerably less bulky and easier to flex. So you don’t have the stiffness you get in other heated gloves or mitts.
How is the SuperNova mitten different from SuperNova gloves?
Well, obviously, they’re mittens. And that makes a huge difference in the warmth department. It’s generally accepted that mittens are warmer than gloves. After all, your fingers are all together in a confined space, so they generate — and are warmed by — your own body heat. The SuperNovas amp this up with a shearling wool liner which is extremely warm, all by itself.
If you’re one of those who worry that mittens will hinder your dexterity, set that aside. The SuperNova mittens feature a half-trigger finger for improved hand function, without isolating the index finger. They’re also touch screen compatible, so you can use your electronics without a problem.
• One touch technology: There’s only one button to deal with – an on-off switch. Hold it down for 3 seconds, and the mitten comes on (the “C” on the gauntlet of the mitten lights up). Hold it down for three more seconds, and it goes off. This prevents you from turning it on or off accidentally and draining the battery.
• Completely rechargeable: This is a biggie. Instead of bulky batteries, each mitten features connectors that attach to an exterior power supply for charging. A full charge takes from 5-7 hours. When you’re ready to use them, simply disconnect from the charger, latch the connectors together, and you’re ready to go. Pretty idiot proof.
• Built in drying system: The charging system doesn’t just charge the mitten; it also acts to dry the liner, too. This means the mittens are comfortable when they’re ready to use. It also prevents bacteria from growing inside.
How long does the charge last?
This is probably the most critical element in a heated glove or mitten. I have friends who own gloves from other manufacturers, and every single one of them has problems. They tell me their gloves don’t keep a charge. They’re not warm enough. They die after a very short time.
This isn’t the case with the Chaval SuperNova mittens. Chaval claims their gloves/mittens last three times longer than all other glove brands. Why? According to the company, much of the stored power in other gloves is used for purposes other than producing heat. Other technologies waste upwards of 50% of stored power to drive these extraneous components. The ALPHAHEAT design doesn’t require thermostats or other electronic components, so all its stored power is used to produce heat.
All this is interesting, but do they work?
I’ve worn them skiing five or six times now in temperatures as low as 3°F, and honestly, these mittens are incredible. You don’t even need the heat turned on to see how warm they are. The liner, and the mitten configuration, do a lot to keep your hands comfortable without the electrical boost. But when you do turn them on, be prepared to say ahhhhhhhhh. Because that’s where they really shine. The warmth is amazing. Even better, the dang things just don’t die! I can’t vouch that they last three times longer than anyone else’s heated glove or mitten, but I’ve been carrying around a pair of glove liners in case they lose their charge, and I haven’t had to use them yet.
Also worth mentioning: the SuperNovas are beautifully made and extremely comfortable. The exterior is specially treated goatskin which is soft, supple, and nice to the touch. Yes, Chaval recommends applying waterproofing to them before wear, and this is probably a good idea. It even provides some with the mittens, so you don’t even have to go to the store.
I have one very minor complaint: The wrist straps. Yes, I’m glad they’re there. I need straps so I don’t drop my gloves if or when I take them off on the lift, something I’m in mortal terror of doing. But these just aren’t as secure as I’d like them to be. I think it’s something that could be improved.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the price. At Chaval’s website, the SuperNova mittens are listed at $425. Yes, there are other heated mittens or gloves that are cheaper, but if they don’t work, what’s the point? That said, I’m sure that for some people, the price 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 and feel it really takes away from the enjoyment of the day, then these mittens could be worth it. Another thought: put them on your birthday or Christmas list. That way someone else will buy them for you.
What’d you think, Ski Diva?
You know, I thought the SuperNova gloves were pretty great. But frankly, these might even be better. Maybe it’s because all your fingers are together for added warmth, maybe it’s the shearling wool liner. Whatever it is, these take hand warmth to the next level. As I said in my review of the SuperNova gloves, I liked them even when the heat was off, and when it’s on, wow. Just wow. I wish I could fit my entire body in these gloves [mittens]. But since I can’t, I’ll just have to settle for my hands. This goes double here. The SuperNova mittens are a shining example of how heated gloves/mittens are supposed to work, but usually don’t.
Chaval is running a contest for a free pair of mittens. The drawing dates are January 18 and February 15. To enter, go here.
Bottom line: Two ski poles (way) up!