Keeping Your Hands Warm for Winter Photography

One of the most common questions I get about winter photography is how I keep my hands warm for winter shooting. The video below shows my solution. It ain’t pretty nor fashionable but it works for me. If you wish to share your own solution feel free to add your comments below to help those first-time winter photographers. BTW the temperatures I mention in the video are in Celsius.

And for those wanting inspiration on why you should go out in the winter check out my Winter in the Canadian Rockies eBook for purty snaps and lots of practical information on how to prepare for winter photography.

22 Responses to “Keeping Your Hands Warm for Winter Photography”

  1. Hi Darwin! I will try that, I definitely need warmer mitten. Oh, by the way, I just finish reading your your ebook and I love it! Thanks a lot for sharing!


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by photo blog feeds, Alltop Photography. Alltop Photography said: Keeping Your Hands Warm for Winter Photography Photography.alltop […]

  3. How timely a post, Darwin as we are having the worst winter in a long time here in the Northeast US. I normally wear glove layers, sans hand warmers, and inevitably, my fingers get frozen so thus ends my time outside. I recently purchase heated snowboarding pants (hold on, I’m getting to a point here) which I never even knew existed (but are AWESOME) so I began researching the concept of heated gloves. At first, all I found were bulky kinds designed for motorcyclists and outdoor sports. Recently. I came across a few lightweight designs. Haven’t narrowed down my choice yet, but will soon. I am stunned someone has designed a lightweight, waterproof, rechargeable lithium battery-operated glove geared specifically for photographers. From what I read, most outdoor photogs complain of cold hands!

    • Looks like there is a big opportunity for some techy person to make some big bucks on photographer gloves. Let us know what you find. Darwin

      • Just getting back to this now. My reserch has not come up wtih the perfect solution. There doesn’t appear to be a glove that is thin enough to allow proper dexterity to use camera controls AND keep your hands, and fingers, warm. Definitely an opportunity out there…would be great to get someone like the Dyson company to come up with a solution!

  4. Thanks for sharing these much needed tips! Could you elaborate a bit more on the material of the gloves, especially the inner glove? For the chemical warmer, you must go through them rather quickly (especially these days…); do you buy them in bulk at a discount store?

  5. Thanks for sharing that Darwin. Very good tips.

  6. Excellent Darwin! It’s all about keeping the hands from getting to the point of no return for me. I use a similar approach and often add a wind-proof convertible mitten that peels back to a fingerless glove. I have a lot of gloves and mitts and am always on the lookout for the next best thing since sliced bread. Thanks for the video!

  7. I just use inner and outer Burton® 🙂 gloves without any chemical warmers at all and those are working just fine.
    Next Canon should have a speech function build in. “Change Aperture to 8” bbbzzzzzfiiiiiieeeeeeetsss done. Easy Breezy

  8. Thanks Darwin. I was just discussing this problem with a photographer yestserday! Your eBook is beautiful!


  9. Darwin,

    I haven’t seen your video yet because I don’t want to play it at work. However, I’ve been using the same chemical hand warmers for some time. I’m currently using a fleece glove liner, a hand warmer, and a ski mitten. The only problem I have is cold thumbs, but I take occasional breaks and move my thumb into the mitten part.

  10. I’m always on the lookout too, for the “best solution since sliced bread”, but the solution that seems to work best for me is a thin liner glove with a mit over top that peels back to expose the fingers. My first inner gloves were white knit purchased from Marks Work Wearhouse (not the workglove liners, something made nicer than that). They didn’t stay white for very long, though! Now I’m testing a pair of knit gloves made in New Zealand. Wool blend includes possum.

  11. Minus 25? MINUS 25!!!
    Here in SF we think it’s cold if it is anywhere below 50. lol. sheesh…
    Love the video… Does your camera ever freeze where you can’t operate the controls? The image takes my breath away, but I expect nothing less 😉

    • I *think* he is talking -25 Celsius (-13 F) but yeah, that is still cold and for you in CA downright arctic! For us here in MA, well, still cold but nothing we haven’t seen before!

    • A couple of pics of cameras at around -20 Celsius, although these are around ice (i.e. there was water spray) so more frozen than they usually would be. Both bodies – Canon 1D II’s – kept going, although one did have an error for a while, but was fixed by warming up the battery.

      On the same day, my friend’s 5D II froze up completely and refused to work at all. Most of the buttons and scroll wheels had a nice coating of ice that had to be chipped away to continue operation. Additionally, the focus rings on both lenses froze solid as well.

    • Cameras seem fine down to about -40F but the batteries die fast so I keep an extra battery warm against my body and swap it out when the one in the camera gets cold. Warming up the cold battery revives it so I go on shooting by just swapping batteries. d

  12. Undoubtedly a more expensive proposition than regular mittens, but as a climber I’ve also found my climbing gloves make excellent cold-weather photography gloves. They’re warm, windproof and dextrous enough to fiddle around with camera gear.

    Down to -5, I use any random glove. The key is choosing ones that are breathable enough so your hands don’t sweat excessively.

    From -5 to -15 or so, Black Diamond Punisher or Arcteryx Cam SV gloves are my mainstays. Both are warm and dextrous enough for precise control.

    Below -15 I use a pair of Black Diamond Specialist. Slightly thicker and bulkier, but nice and warm.

    If needed, a pair of Black Diamond Mercury mitts get put on over the existing pair. These things are like portable ovens!

  13. Peter Calamai Says:

    When I was spending some time filing stories and photos from the Canadian research icebreaker Amundsen in the Beaufort three years ago, temps out on the ice could be minus 35C and there were sometimes stiff winds. I had spare lithium batteries for my Nikon D300 inside my vest/parka and I was double-gloved. What defeated me was having enough flexibility in my fingers to flick the catch on the camera’s battery compartment to change the batteries.
    A photographer from Magnum was also on that leg of the IPY Circumpolar Flaw Lead expedition. He had the same problem with changing batteries on his Canons. The solution: He got a wood screw from the Amundsen’s shops and tied it to a shoelace which he put around his neck. When he next needed to open the battery compartment on his canera he held the shank of the wood screw and put the lip of the head under the catch. It worked like a snap.
    I did the same thing, You have to remember that we were out on thick pack ice with at least a 10-minute snowmobile ride back to the icebreaker. The same severe circumstances probably don’t apply on land, even in the Rockies.
    For those interested, both the Nikons and the Canons held up well in the cold and wind. The owners, less so.

  14. Thanks so much for the tips Darwin I just recently discovered the hand warmers and they sure do work well. I always have just braved the cold weather and made do. These make things much easier.
    Really love your short videos. Keep them coming

  15. […] was cold: Time Lapse of an Antarctic Journey by Ship: Darwin knows how to keep his hands warm in winter: Anastasia Taylor-Lind, female war photographer: Katharina Hesse – Human […]

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