Karbon Heated Gloves

Heated Gloves: A Massively Easy Way To Beat Frozen Fingers

If you’ve ever been snowmobiling with a sled without handle warmers and cheap gloves, you’ll learn the definition of pain! Frozen fingers, that is. And let’s correct that, as even promising gloves can fail miserably. Imagine flying down a frozen lake at 100 km/hr on an exposed sled, and it’s not hard to see why. But, so is sitting dead still on your backside for 4 hours on a hunting watch in December. I’ve learned both the hard way! But there is a solution – heated gloves, and it works! Let’s discuss it and look at some hard-warming options.

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The Human Body is Flawed

Our bodies are a marvel of engineering. The body has ways of protecting us, and thermal regulation is the mechanism we want to look at today. It likes to keep a constant temperature, and it’s an example of homeostasis, which we may have long forgotten. That’s because the last time we heard that was in grade 6.

The human body likes to be at 37 degrees Celsius, so much so that the body will eventually reduce blood flow to our extremities to preserve vital organs. You know what I mean – it’s everything in your chest at the expense of cold fingers. This is great in a survival situation where you could lose a hand or foot to frostbite but still be alive to talk about it – and there’s a viral blog post for you that no one wants to read.

But in good times, that mechanism makes for an uncomfortable Sunday skate when the hands and fingers get a little frostier than they should. Everyone also “feels” cold a little differently, and if you can relate to the frozen finger issue, this is a fantastic post for you.

Further Reading: 5 Strong Reasons Why You Need Safety Ice Picks

Let’s Re-Think Gloves

We all know man invented gloves long ago to combat cold. But at some point, a wiser man invented a satchel. When the pouch gets exposed to air, it generates heat, which probably generated a gazillion dollars by solving an age-old problem. But does it? These hand warmers don’t work, not if you wear gloves. Let me explain.

Hand Warmer Packs

I went muzzleloader hunting in December this year and packed your typical winter gloves. Of course, a spare “dry” pair is always in the pack, only in the form of shooting gloves. As it turns out, the winter gloves aren’t so warm anymore. Perhaps the insulation is wearing or flattened out over time. I wouldn’t know other than my fingers were freezing!!! Confidently whipping out the hand warmers, it didn’t take long to realize they weren’t doing squat.

The problem is that our palms don’t get cold – it’s our fingers! Some may argue that warming the palms sends warmer blood to the fingers, but that’s not the case. On that hunting trip of mine, the hand warmers did nothing with the winter gloves. 

As to the much thinner shooting gloves, they at least have exposed fingers that tuck into a mitten-like pocket. That helped better than the winter gloves since there is contact between the fingers and the warmer. However, the relief is marginal at best, on top of simultaneously being a royal pain in the ass. Those who wear gloves instead of mittens do so because they need their fingers!

Heated Electric Gloves

Now we’re talking! Let’s go back to that hunting trip for a minute. My hunting mate had this pair of Holmes Workwear heated gloves. After complaining of frozen fingers, he told me to try the Holmes Gloves on and crank the heat on high. Relief came within minutes and on the fingers. Every finger that is and all the way around!

In a split second, it’s a moment of financial pain knowing your bank balance is about to diminish thanks to a newly minted glove budget. But it’s also like hitting the lottery for anyone who enjoys the outdoors in the winter. The suffering is finally over. Below, we will provide you with two heated glove reviews.

Karbon Heated Leather Gloves

Karbon Heated Gloves Close Up
Close Up of the Karbon Heated Gloves

The moment you decide to get heated electric gloves, it’s not an effortless item to find. It took a month to find a pair of heated electric gloves in-store. Of all places, a liquidation store had a pair of Karbon gloves in stock!

Technically a ski glove, the Karbon heated gloves are made of supple, black, goatskin leather. The Karbon has a reflective black print, which was new to me until I examined the box for specs. More importantly, these are thick, insulated gloves. Even without turning them on, they are thicker and warmer than most winter gloves. Yet they are soft and supple, allowing for good grip and dexterity.

Electric Features

The Karbon gloves advertise up to 6 hours of heat. When you investigate, as usual, that’s on low. Medium provides 3.5 hours, and high comes in at 2.5. I can confirm that 2.5 hours on high is accurate, and it’s impressive considering the amount of heat they generate. Charging backup is roughly 6 hours or so.

The batteries are great LiPo. It’s hard to tell which is better, LiPo (Lithium Polymer) vs Li-ion (Lithium Ion). Both are modern battery technologies, and LiPo is a big player in the RC car industry. Modern RC cars pack an incredible amount of power. They can push 10 lb cars to 60+ mph. That’s reassuring enough for me that the manufacturer made the right choice in battery technology. We are way past NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) and shouldn’t mention NiCd (Nickel Cadmium). Those would be a deal breaker for a purchase.

The Karbon heated gloves batteries are stored neatly in a YKK zippered compartment of the gloves, and the charger, of course, will charge both batteries at once.

One nice feature of the Karbon is the large LED square button on each electric glove. It lets you know with confidence that your gloves are on. With a long press, the heated gloves turn on or off. A short press will switch between the three heating levels. Of course, the buttons are big enough to operate with thick gloves on. Don’t overlook this either – it’s mind-boggling how many cold-weather pieces of gear are not glove-friendly.

Further Reading: Survival – Stranded in a Car During Winter

Glove Features

This post is more about heated winter gloves, but these Karbons are so superior that they deserve a mini-review. In addition to water-repellent leather, the gloves have a hipora water barrier membrane. The insulation is Thermolite, and if I hadn’t read the box, I’d never notice the carabiner hook slot on the index fingers. The hook slot allows the gloves to hang dry with the fingers pointing up to drain any captured water. It’s brilliant!

Karbon Heated Gloves with a Carabiner Hook on Fingertip
A loop on the index finger allows for hanging with a carabiner

The glove openings are wide and effortlessly wrap around the cuffs of just about any thick coat. Further, they can cinch down with a drawstring, easily adjustable via a clip. In other words, it’s hard for cold, wind or water to get in.

My favourite feature is the nubuck on the back of the thumb – for nose wiping. Yes, you read that right and even the manufacturer advertised. But it works and solves yet another problem of being cold. Just don’t take your gloves off the next time you shake with someone who’s wearing gloves!:)

Holmes Workwear Electric Gloves vs Karbon Heated Gloves

The only other pair of heated gloves that I can compare with the Karbons are the Holmes Workwear Gloves. Since encountering these during a hunting trip, I was determined to find the Holmes-heated gloves before finding the Karbons. These gloves share many similarities and may be manufactured by the same company. 

Both batteries, buttons, general layout and so on are almost identical. Even the leather is goatskin on both pairs. While this seems like a branding ploy, it’s not, as there are some differences. The Karbon heated gloves are more expensive and deservedly, as they have more leather. The insulation is also thicker, and the Karbons are a more premium glove.

The interesting point is the perceived electric heat is higher on the Holmes Workwear gloves. Perhaps the heating element has less insulation to work through – who knows? For those who prefer more intense heat – the Holmes gloves are the way to go. For others that venture out with longer days, the Karbons may be more suitable, as they are a thicker, warmer glove for when the batteries die. 

The Verdict

Based on my friend’s smiles and warm fingers, he’s VERY pleased with his Holmes Workwear gloves, so much so that it inspired him to run out and order all sorts of electrically heated items. As to the Karbon heated gloves, I am beyond pleased with mine. Now, if only I could steal them back from my wife and kids, there might be a shot at enjoying winter! If I didn’t have one or the other, I’d buy the first pair of heated gloves I come across in a heartbeat and can recommend either one. 

November 2023 Update

Both the Karbon Heated Gloves and the Mike Holmes Workwear Gloves seem to be a hit or miss online. We know of an American-based company called ActionHeat, which specializes in heated clothing, boots, socks, gloves, accessories, etc. Although we may not have experience with this brand, the reviews seem positive. The pricing is in line with that of the Holmes and Karbon gloves. 

Heated gloves are starting to make their way into your local outfitter, but be forewarned that the retail price for brands like OR, Mobile Warming and Kombi, start at $200 and go up from there. The customer reviews on these expensive gloves are not great. ActionHeat is worth looking into as a cost-effective solution to beat frozen fingers.

outdoor apparel ideas: Action Heat Heated Gloves Mens

5V Premium Heated Gloves – Men’s

outdoor apparel ideas: Action Heat Heated Gloves Ladies

5V Featherweight Heated Gloves – Ladies

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Some Tips Before You Go

You Can Cycle Your Electronics

Stretch your batteries simply by cycling your heated gloves off and on. Say you’re on a hunt and have three more hours to go, but the heated hunting gloves have been cranking on high for an hour – do yourself a favour and shut them off. If you run them for 10 minutes every half an hour or something along those lines, your heated gloves will have a longer lifespan.

When You Don’t Have Electric Gloves

A trick to nurse some frozen hands and fingers back to health is using your exhaust! If you are sledding, ATVing or even working alongside a road by car, you have a powerful source of heat as long as you have an engine running. While the exhaust stinks, it’s not the end of the world, nor will you care when your fingers are screaming for relief. Simply putting your open gloves right into the path of hot exhaust gasses can make for a piping-hot glove in a minute! Call it low-tech, if you will, but it delivers results every time.

Don’t Forget the Toe Warmers

While we bashed the hand warmers, that’s not the case in the foot department. Toe warmers work!

Hopefully, your boots are one size bigger than your shoes. Winter boots should always be one size bigger so they don’t constrict your feet. That constriction means less blood flow and colder feet. On top of that, you can wear thicker socks if you have the room.

Let’s take this a step further. Put thin socks on and slap a toe warmer pack under your toes. The warmers’ sticky backer will adhere well, and the thin socks will let the heat through. Then, put some thick socks over the thinner socks and toe warmer. It will help hold the toe warmer in place, hold the heat in and add a thick layer of insulation around your feet. Pair this technique with some quality winter boots. You can now be outdoors ALL DAY long with warm feet! If only gloves were that easy, we wouldn’t have this post today.

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Heated Gloves: A Massively Easy Way to Beat Frozen Fingers
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Stelios Lazos
Stelios Lazos

Stelios comes from the corporate world where he was a highly successful executive. Inspired by his love for the outdoors he has re-located with his family to live to the BushLife where he blogs about his adventures. Finding inspiration in the never-ending questions from aspiring outdoors people, Stelios aims to share his knowledge, one post at a time.

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