After discovering my fleece gloves became impossible to put on when my hands became wet I started looking for a different solution.
What i came up with is a pair of 3 ounce home made mittens.
I figured all I really needed dexterity wise was to hold my trekking poles and cinch my packs hip belt. Beyond that I wanted a pair of mittens that were absolutely easy to remove for more delicate tasks and put on without needing to mess with toggles, line locks, or the dreaded velcro.
I also wanted my mittens to be as light as possible and instead of being water proof they would be made of hydro-phobic materals instead.
Needless to say amongst all the offerings at REI and elsewhere nothing quite struck my fancy.
So I went down to the fabric store and bought some felt weight polyester micro fleece and some uncoated ripstop nylon.
Then i sewed up my own par of mittens based on a drawing of my own hands. I made the forehand area big enough so on really cold mornings I could make a fist in there. The elastic band is positioned just behing my thumb bone and it is just tight enough for a snug fit without restricting blood flow. The mittens just slip on and anatomy holds them there.
I used them in 0 degree windchill in Pennsylvania this past Christmas while shovelling snow and on a few hikes there. I also tried them in the rain back here. Mid forty degree temps and 20 mph winds up at the open space in the rain. They get soaked but the nylon blocks the wind and the micro fleece absorbs very little water. They certainly are not intended to be arctic wear but they kept my hands warm while hiking in cold rain.. which is all i wanted rain performance wise.
I spent 20 bucks on the material but I still have enough to make 10 more pairs of mittens or something else. So the total cost for this pair was perhaps 2 bucks plus about 20 hours of sewing and prototype testing. I hand sewed them cause my sewing machine does not like modern fabrics.
Share your advice and personal experiences, post a gear review or ask any questions you may have pertaining to outdoor gear and equipment.
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- The "gauntlet" style wrist can be tucked under the sleeve of my shell of windshirt. It was really fun creating and sewing these mittens by hand. I'm kinda glad the machine couldn't handle the ripstop nylon and fleece. As far as coating the nylon, I know how to turn it into silnylon but I think it is better to leave them as breatheable as possible. My hands are in and out of them so much during the day they would get wet inside anyways. At least they dry in a flash.
- Fabric stores have our modern outdoor fabrics like ripstop nylon and poly fleece.. the trick is to check the seconds bin. My materials were the very ends of the bolts of fabric so they were majorly discounted. I used polyester thread for my projects to avoid mildew or rot that cotton thread might face under wilderness conditions.
You can make more money, but you can't make more time.
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