I’m normally a gloves kind of guy, unless it’s seriously cold, and then it’s mittens all the way. As winter got started here in Alaska I found myself thinking it might be nice to just throw on a light pair of mittens, and for about the same bulk as a similar set of gloves it would be warmer.
Cue the REI sale and their Wallace Lake mittens at 25% off. Before I get started, remember that for most people (that is, not people with Raynaud’s disease or the like) your core temperature has as much or more to do with your hands being cold than what you’re wearing on your hands. Interestingly the relationship works both ways: cooling your hands can cool your core.
I normally run on the cold side, and I’ve been wearing the Wallace Lake mittens daily in temperatures from the high 30s to the high teens. I’ll say up front I got them for light about-town use, not for tearing up the backcountry. I don’t think they would stand up to hard use, so be aware.
That said they have been comfortable across that entire temperature range, and again that depends on what I’m wearing. This morning at 20F plus a light freezing wind they were fine, but I was also wearing insulated snowpants in addition to a light fleece under an Arc’Teryx Proton LT hoody.
As far as design goes, given the entry-level price point I’m more than happy with these mittens. The shell material is moderately windproof, the fleece lining and cuff feel great, and the thumb is touch-screen compatible. The nameless synthetic insulation is not sewn-through, and that keeps the cold spots to a minimum. The polyurethane palm material stays pliant in the cold and provides good grip. The only thing we found ourselves missing was a fleece snot-wipe on the back of the thumbs.
I like that they pack away small, so I can keep them on me all the time. I also like that I can put them on over thin Mechanix-style gloves, so if I’m working outside in cold temps I can have both dexterity and warmth with the combination of the two. Overall the Wallace Lake mittens are a keeper, a great little light-duty mitten at a reasonable price.