HOW TO KEEP YOUR HANDS WARM GUIDE
Keeping your hands, fingers and other extremities warm in cold temperatures is crucial for safely enjoying winter sports. Before outlining some great tips to help keep your fingers nice and toasty on your next skiing trip, it's important to first stress that if you ever experience discomfort from cold fingers always err on the side of caution to prevent the symptom becoming worse.
Take the time to warm your fingers and hands if you feel them getting cold during skiing or snowboarding. If you at any point suspect you are suffering from frostbite or hypothermia find a warm location and seek immediate assistance from a qualified medical professional.
What is frostbite? Frostbite is the freezing of skin or body tissue and can occur at 31 °F/ -0.55 °C or lower temperatures. Frostnip, the first stage of frostbite, is usually signaled by the skin becoming very red and cold.
What is hypothermia? Normal body temperature is circa 98.6 °F / 37 °C. Hypothermia occurs at 95 °F / 35 °C when the body loses more heat than it can produce. Shivering is just one of many symptoms that someone may be suffering from hypothermia.
Why fingers and hands get cold? As your body gets cold it reduces blood circulation from the torso to the extremities so having a warm core is just as important as protecting your hands and fingers when in the cold.
Okay, so now the symptoms and reason for cold fingers are clearer here come our top tips for keeping fingers warm...
START warm to stay warm
Many people fail to realize that no matter how expensive your ski glove or snow mitten, it does not generate heat by itself. Instead, the majority of ski gloves only function as insulators, retaining the heat produced by your hand. In practical terms, this means you should always make sure to start your day skiing already nice and warm. Starting off warm rather than thinking 'my hands will warm up outside once I put my gloves on' is our first tip.
WEAR thermal insulating gloves
If you start the day nice and warm then the best way to keep your hand heat on the slopes is by wearing a pair of ski gloves with good insulating qualities. Generally, skiing mittens are better heat insulators than ski gloves. This as heat is more easily transferred between fingers and there is a smaller surface area for hand heat loss.
CHECK and prepare for expected temperatures
When shopping for a pair of thermally insulated ski gloves online don't forget to first check the temperatures you are likely to encounter at the ski resort or winter sports area you are planning to visit. For a quick guide to average winter temperatures at Europe's most popular ski resorts see our previous blog here. For our country guides for average ski resort temperatures click on one of the links below:
LAYER for maximum warmth
Even if you know expected temperatures for the area you will be skiing, the weather will more than likely be inclement. To safeguard against sudden drops in temperature or your varying activity level, make sure to wear glove layers. These can be put on or taken off as temperatures shift.
Start with a glove liner as a baselayer. Wear your main glove over this as a mid-layer. And then add an overmitt as a third final outer layer. This three layer combination will provide excellent thermal insulation as well as blocking the chilling effects of the wind.
WIGGLE fingers and add extra heat
Regularly moving your arms, hands and fingers increases will increase your blood circulation and is an important tip to keep your hands warm. Even small wiggling of the fingers is beneficial. This is especially important if your gripping a ski pole for a long period of time and your hands are in a raised position.
However always stop and ensure your in a safe position before getting your circulation up again. If your on a slope its especially important to remember that skiers behind you will not be expecting someone standing in the middle of a piste waving their arms.
Having a small hand warmer is also a convenient way to warm fingers. Besides glove layering, these are especially recommended as an additional heat source if you suffer from Raynaud's disease.