Boiled wool mitts are made by repeatedly boiling heavy wool gloves in hot water until they shrink to the desired size. The boiling process preserves the natural oils occurring in the wool and results in a very tightly woven mitt that is windproof and virtually waterproof. Boiled wool clothing has been around since the Middle Ages and is prized for its warmth and value. It’s surprising that there’s not more of it available, if only from cottage manufacturers who could tailor it for niche winter hiking and mountaineering use.
I tested Hestra boiled wool mitts this year, alongside Hestra insulated gloves and insulated mitts. All in the same -20?C temperatures in Norway. Of course, the Hestra insulated mitts were best but I was stunned at how good the boiled wool mitts were. Dachsteins are famous among climbers but relatively unknown among hikers. They are relatively cheap too, as the technology is not particularly new. They will definitely be on my list for winter hiking. I use Buffalo mitts normally which are much lighter and do much the same thing but perhaps not in such cold temperatures. Mitts are definitely the warmest thing to put on your hands in winter – if your hands are already cold, they warm them up far more swiftly than gloves and they keep them warm. Consider my epiphany complete!