The Vallerret Alta Arctic Mitts are Vallerret’s warmest, most weatherproof and heavy-duty gloves or, more accurately, mittens. Like the company’s other gloves, they are tailored specifically for photographers and, in this case, they’re designed for anyone braving extreme cold. The mittens can be worn alone or layered over other gloves for added warmth.
The Vallerret Alta Arctic Mitts are an excellent choice for photographers facing extremely cold conditions. While they are expensive and bulky, especially when worn over other gloves, their exceptional protection against severe cold and features like the weatherproof zip and harness system outweigh the drawbacks. They are ideal for those who prioritise warmth and functionality in harsh environments.
- Warm and dry
- Weatherproof zip across the palm reveal your fingers
- Supplied with a harness
- Sized for wearing over other (liner) gloves
- Too bulky to stuff in a pocket
What are the Vallerret Alta Arctic Mitt Photography Gloves?
Vallerret’s Alta Arctic Mitts are basically large, well-insulated mittens that can be worn by themselves or over other gloves. Vallerret recommends wearing them over the company’s Markhof Pro V3, but I’ve also used them with more commonplace PolarTec liner gloves.
The Alta Artic Mitts are made from DWR Goat leather and DWR twill with a laminated membrane and a nylon taffeta liner. There’s also Polartec fleece and 5oz insulation to keep your hands warm.
Although they are similar to Vallerret’s original Alta Over-mitts, the Alta Arctic Mitts have a couple enhancements including the introduction of a weatherproof zip across the palm, replacing the standard YKK zipper. This zip grants quick access to your fingers for camera operation. In addition, the mitts have flip-back thumb caps, allowing your thumbs as well as fingers freedom of movement and direct access to your camera.
The thumb caps are held by magnets while there are press-studs to hold back the finger caps.
- Product type: Mittens
- Designed for : Deep winter
- Sizes available: XS-XL
- Materials: Goat leather, DWR Laminated soft twill, Nylon Taffeta liner and Polartec fleece insulation
Build and Handling
These mittens feature a deep cuff that fits snuggly over your jacket sleeve, while a cord can be tightened to keep the wind and snow out.
Helpfully, Vallerret provides a carabiner to keep the mitts together when they’re not in use, and in an upgrade from traditional mitten strings, there’s a harness to wear over your jacket. This harness is particularly handy when you want to slip the mitts on and off quickly without misplacing them. That’s particularly useful with the Alta Arctic mitts because they are too bulky to fit easily in the average coat pocket.
I tried wearing the harness under my jacket with the glove leash section threaded down the sleeves, but I found it limited my movement. It’s also inconvenient to have the mitts at the end of your sleeves when you’re not wearing them. Consequently, I reverted to wearing the harness over my jacket. This needs some careful thinking if you’re carrying a backpack. If you’re wearing the gloves when you put the backpack on, you need to ensure you keep the mittens on when you take the backpack off – otherwise you end up in a tangle. You only need to get it wrong a couple of times to work it out.
While they might feel rather cumbersome, especially when worn over other gloves, the mitts offer excellent protection in freezing conditions. The zip across the palm comes with a long leather tag which makes it easy to grab. I pulled it with my teeth on a few occasions. Once it’s open, you can get your fingers directly onto your camera. If you’re wearing gloves such as the Vallerret Milford or Markhof Pro V3 Gloves underneath, you’ll need to flip off the inner glove finger caps as well.
I find that the thumb cap of the Vallerret glove generally aligns with the cap on the Alta Arctic Mitt, making it easy to expose my thumb. I also sometimes wiggled my thumb out through the palm opening along with my fingers.
While the palm zip and thumb caps can be opened fairly easily, I often slip my hands out of the mittens if I’m only grabbing a quick shot. It’s quicker and easier, plus with the mittens hanging by my side on the harness, I don’t need to stuff them in a pocket or find a safe place to rest them.
The mitts are available in five sizes; XS, S, M. L, XL, and there’s a size chart on Vallerret’s website to help you find the right one. I wore the small size and found them just right with or without under-gloves. My partner, who at 6-foot 2-inches is a foot taller than me, was also able to wear them comfortably without additional gloves. He’d need a larger size to wear additional gloves underneath.
I wore the gloves in the Alps with temperatures down to -10C and probably lower, plus awful windchill accompanied by warnings of frostbite. Thankfully, the gloves lived up to their promise and my hands were warm throughout without inner gloves.
As you might imagine, at -10C with serious windchill, the temperature of my fingers dropped dramatically when I opened the finger caps to use a camera. Fortunately, the cap offers a little protection from the wind, but I was glad to put them back on after taking a few shots. Despite my fingers getting very cold, they warmed up quickly once I had the mitten back on properly with the finger and thumb caps on.
Most of the time, I don’t bother using the press-studs to hold back the finger caps, but it’s handy to have them occasionally. The magnets that are designed to hold the thumbs caps are a bit hit-and-miss, but generally the caps stay out of the way when my thumbs are exposed to the elements.
I’ve worn the Vallerret Alta Over-Mitts in Iceland and in the Alps in the past and found them to be a very reliable option for keeping extreme cold at bay. They are also more water-tight than the Skadi Mitts and my fingers stayed dry for a whole day when handling wet ski poles and drag lifts. The new Vallerret Alta Arctic Mitts aren’t a dramatic departure from their predecessors, but it’s good to have the weatherproof zip across the palm and the thumb caps are helpful. Although bulky, they are light and a very comfortable mitt to wear.
If I were sure that it would be dry, I would opt to wear the Vallerret Skadi Mitts because they are less bulky than the Alta Arctic Mitts. But if it’s likely to be damp or temperatures are set to fall below -10C, I would wear the Alta Arctic Mitts.
They are pricey, bulky and rather awkward when worn over other gloves, but that seems inevitable with gloves or mittens for extreme cold conditions. It can take a moment to get used to wearing gloves on a harness, but it proves its worth quite quickly as you never need to put down your glove or are at risk of losing one.
Follow the link to order the Vallerret Alta Arctic Mitt Photography Gloves