Honest Review: Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Mitts

We asked our art director to wear the Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Mitts in a cold environment. So he took them to the highest peak in Canada. This is his review.

Mountain Hardwear has been around since 1993, formed by a small group of former employees of Sierra Designs. They are based in Richmond, California and make technical outdoor clothing, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, and gloves. I had the opportunity to review the Absolute Zero Mitts, which was ideal considering I was embarking on a journey to the top of Mount Logan, the highest peak in Canada. These mitts are designed for really cold weather, probably -25° and below. They are big, puffy, and warm as heck. They’re probably overkill for a spring ski traverse in southern British Columbia or the Pacific Northwest, but they really shine in more extreme places like the 14,000-foot peaks of the Cascades, or Northern BC, or the Yukon, where I found myself earlier this year.

Snapshot: Absolute Zero Mitts

  1. Pros: One of the warmest mitts on the market.
  2. Cons: You won’t be able to do much when you’re wearing them — they turn your hands into flippers.
  3. Price: $230 Cdn
  4. Who Should Buy: If you’re going to a big, high mountain, or just a really cold place.
  5. Who Shouldn’t Buy: If you’re staying below 10,000 feet, or if you have sweaty hands.
  6. Helpful Hack: You’ll probably want to wear them with a thin liner glove, so you aren’t pulling them off to bare hands. So size them accordingly. I wore a size large.
  7. Author’s overall rating: 9.5/10 — The only thing I noticed was the grippy palm dots were starting to wear off after my adventure.

The Test

In May of this year I took the gloves to Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain at 19,6550 feet. It’s cold there. The three-week trip was a ski ascent via the popular King’s Trench route and temperatures varied from -10°C in the sun with no wind, to -35°C or lower in strong winds or shaded aspects.

The author wearing his Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Mitts on the very top of Canada.

The Verdict

The mitts stayed in the pack most of the time, as I was usually able to get by with a combination of my regular ski gloves and a liner. But when they did come out of the pack, they were essential for keeping my hands from freezing or getting frostbite. They were used on the summit of Mount Logan, and during a brief storm at 18,000 feet as we descended from the plateau through the Prospector Col. Both times I felt an acute sense of relief when I pulled the gloves on. As my friends swung their arms furiously to keep their hands warm, I could feel my hands getting toasty with hardly any effort. It was like sticking them between two down pillows.

The mitts are well made, with lots of features. They are impressively fat and puffy, boasting 700-fill down. They are also quite light, as they are mostly made of lightweight fabrics. Putting them on you realize these are serious gloves for serious cold. The cuff and wrist can be tightened to keep out storm snow. There are wrist leashes so you don’t lose them if you need to take them on and off in high winds. The palms are textured for grip, and the outside of the thumb has a soft nose-wiping material (if you’re snot isn’t frozen to your nose already).  The outside of the glove has a waterproof, windproof membrane the company’s dubbed “OutDry” and you can watch the video below, featuring the late mountaineering legend Ueli Steck, to understand more about how that construction differs from other brands. There’s also a non-removable high-pile fleece liner inside for added warmth and comfort.

Overall these are great mitts for very cold situations. They have all the little details that you would expect for a glove of this price, without anything unnecessary. I suppose they could be made from heavier materials to make them tougher, but these aren’t meant for driving your snowmobile to go ski-touring. They are for saving your hands in the big mountains of the world, so every ounce counts. They didn’t get worn a lot up Mount Logan, but they saved my hands when I needed them to. And for that reason I believe the price is right.

Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Gloves – The Deets

  • MSRP of $230 Cdn
  • 700-fill down inside, plus a non-removable high-pile fleece liner
  • Outer material is waterproof and windproof OutDry® membrane
  • Weight: 282 grams (9.95 ounces) for the pair
  • Colours: Orange
  • Available in sizes XS – XL, unisex

Author / Contributor

Chris Rowat

Chris is KMC‘s art director and most avid adventurer. He spent eight years in Toronto working with internationally renowned designer Bruce Mau before moving to the Kootenays in 2001 and founding Chris Rowat Design, a Nelson-based studio with clients throughout North America.
 

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