Operating cameras in the winter can be challenging. The controls on digital cameras can be small, so wearing bulky gloves won't work. Over the last couple of months, I've been testing a number of different options for keeping my hands warm when still having the dexterity and tactile ability to operate the camera.
Here's what I've found in ascending order of value as the temperature gets colder.
Mountain Hardware Power Stretch Gloves. These a basic liners that are thin and have great tactile ability. The fingertips are seamless for great sensitivity. Not waterproof or windproof, so best used in situations when it is not that cold, or if you only have to have your hands exposed for a short time. These can be combined with their gloves and mittens, but I did not test those combinations.
Next up is the Seirus Xtreme All Weather Glove. These are waterproof gloves with fleece lining, and are a step up from liners alone. They are a bit stiffer than a liner, but still have good tactile quality because they have a sticky surface on the thumb, index finger and palm. I definitely could work for a longer time wearing these than a liner alone.
In the past, I have combined liners with fingerless fleece gloves. REI made these for a while, but no longer. What I found as a great replacement for that is the Swany Toaster, and it's even better than my improvised solution. The Toaster has two components. The first is a removable fleece glove liner. The second is a durable oxford cloth mitten with a waterproof side zipper. What that means is that you can wear the liner at all times, and keep your hands inside the mitten when you are walking around looking for a location, or just standing around waiting for the light. But when you need to use the camera controls, you can open the side zipper and peel back the mitten so you can work with just the liners. An elegant and well thought out solution, with cinches at both the wrist and bottom to keep heat in and snow out.
Last up is an electric glove, the Venture Battery Heated Glove Liner. These stretchable gloves have good tactile ability and generate heat from batteries that sit in a pouch near the wrist. For really cold days, these are nice to have because they actively generate heat. They can even be layered under other gloves for more protection. I have the model that uses AA batteries, but they now have a model that runs on rechargeable lithium batteries, which would have a longer life than the AA's and be more environmentally friendly.
Choosing gloves is a personal odyssey. I've been frostbitten a couple of times, so every year I look for the newest solutions to keep my fingers warm. This years crop was very good. From my experience, the winner is the Swany Toaster. I really liked the Venture Battery Heated Glove Liner for the super cold days, but the Swany Toaster had the edge in normal cold weather conditions because it combined the functionality of the Mountain Hardware Power Stretch Gloves with a warm mitten. The name is well deserved, keeping my hands warm, and providing quick access to the camera controls. And I didn't have to think about carrying spare batteries for long days.
I'll do another test next year, and report back again.