If you’re planning to go skiing or motorcycle riding, or if you like to exercise at this time of year by shovelling snow, then these heated gloves from the US, which are reputed to be the world’s best – and are priced accordingly – could be your top buy of 2014.
Battery-heated gloves are not unknown; I’ve tried a few over the years, but they are often pretty crude, with just a basic heated wire element meandering around the interior of the glove. And I’ve been told by skiers that many existing models tend to run too hot, so that the battery is swiftly exhausted, whereupon they become worse than useless because your hands, previously cooking, feel the cold all the more.
Chaval’s beautifully made gloves, with their leather exterior and waterproof, windproof and breathable man-made lining, claim to keep working for six to seven hours on one, four-to-six- hour charge, and my tests confirm this. They keep warm for that long because the heating system is different from others; instead of heated wires, the energy from the lithium batteries sewn into each glove goes into a flat, conductive polymer that covers all the key points inside the glove. Furthermore, the heat the gloves produce is flexible; if one finger is getting warmer than necessary, the heat in that part of the glove automatically turns down a little, saving power and excessive warming. There are other clever features as well. After a day wearing any glove, heated or not, the interior gets unpleasantly clammy, and before long becomes pongy and ultimately rots. When you recharge the Response-XRT gloves – which incidentally is as simple as putting a mobile phone on charge – they get warm, without this seeming to extend the charging time, and if you arrange the gloves as directed, air is drawn through them by convection, drying them out quickly.
There seem to be very few drawbacks to these comfortable and practical electric gloves. They are quite slow to start up – you need to allow five minutes. And I guess they look a bit gauntlet-like; if I were out on the slopes in them, I’d feel a little bit like Sir Gawain, as though I should really be holding a lance instead of ski poles. They also don’t seem to be outstandingly warm with the heat turned off. But these are minor quibbles, and I see that some outdoor-life websites in the US are already very approving of them. This is truly wearable technology of the best kind.