Hands-on Gear Review

Hestra Heli Mitt - Women's Review

This Editors' Choice winner is perfectly plush for cold, dry days in the hills and mountains.
By: Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 21, 2017
Price:  $130 List  |  $77.38 at Amazon - 40% Off
Pros:  Super-warm, super-soft and articulate liner, interchangeable liner system, great leashes, standout fit, versatile
Cons:  Limited features, limited dexterity, not best for wet climates
Manufacturer:   Hestra
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 9
  • Warmth and Breathability - 25% 9
  • Water Resistance - 25% 6
  • Dexterity - 20% 5
  • Features - 10% 6
  • Durability - 10% 9
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Editors' Choice Award

Our Verdict

The autonomous Hestra Heli Mitt stole our hearts with its cozy liners and amazing thermoregulation. Of all the gloves tested, it has the BEST fit with an incredibly high level of versatility. We love it so much, that it earned our Editors' Choice Award for ski mittens (again!). We took this baby cross-country skiing in Northern Quebec where the temperatures reached -40 degrees. We went to the resort and ski toured in the mountains of Colorado. In all cold weather conditions, our hands were quite happy. The liner is ultra-plush, warm, and removable. This glove hasn't packed out or fallen apart after five years of use! Even if it did, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

This year, the closest competitor to this Editors' Choice winner (aside from our other Editors' Choice winner, the Arc'teryx Fission Glove - Women's), is the Hestra Heli Three Finger - Women's. This glove has the same basic construction of the Heli Mitt, but with a different structure, providing a different function. The Hestra Heli Three Finger features a three-pronged 'lobster claw' with a gloved interior while the Heli-Mitt has just a regular mitten interior. Both provide decent protection from the element, but the 'three-finger' construction allows for better dexterity while sacrificing a little bit of warmth. If you prefer warmth over dexterity, this Editors' Choice winner is the way to go. Be prepared for most conditions mother nature can throw at you. Whether you're riding the double blacks at the ski resort or exploring the backcountry for the day.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Heli-Mitt by Hestra is complete with a goatskin palm, three-layer polyamide shell, and a removable liner. In addition to exceptional warmth and comfort, this glove is incredibly versatile and a perfect option for the resort skier or backcountry explorer.

Performance Comparison


This mitt is warmth  versatile  and soft to the touch. It has a long legacy of excellent durability and craftsmanship  with a lifetime warranty to back it up. Ladies  let us introduce the Hestra Heli Mitt  our Editor's Choice for Mittens this year!
This mitt is warmth, versatile, and soft to the touch. It has a long legacy of excellent durability and craftsmanship, with a lifetime warranty to back it up. Ladies, let us introduce the Hestra Heli Mitt, our Editor's Choice for Mittens this year!

Warmth & Breathability


If you don't want a mitten as warm as the Hestra Heli Mitt, but want something with similar performance, check out the Hestra Heli Three-Finger Glove.


We assumed going into our tests that mittens would score higher in warmth than most gloves, but this contender really surpassed our expectations. The Fiberfill insulation feels really nice on your fingers and does an amazing job with thermoregulation. The one-pull tightening and release system at the hem of the mitten retains warmth when it gets really cold outside (like -40F cold). Furthermore, the cinch strap around the wrist provides another point to regulate heat again. When performing tests where we had to put our frozen hands into a glove or mitt to see which one warmed up the quickest, the Hestras came out on top. If you find the liners aren't enough for you, add another thin-wicking liner, or switch it out for a different liner that keeps your hands nice and warm. One of the best upsides of this glove!

The removable liners of the Hestra Heli Mitt are soft and SOOO warm. Our tester has notoriously cold hands  and this is one of the only mittens able to keep her hands cozy and warm all day long while skiing multiple laps at the resort.
The removable liners of the Hestra Heli Mitt are soft and SOOO warm. Our tester has notoriously cold hands, and this is one of the only mittens able to keep her hands cozy and warm all day long while skiing multiple laps at the resort.

Some of our testers mentioned that this mitt was almost too warm for days when it wasn't very cold. If you live in an area that doesn't get too cold and you're looking for middle-of-the-road warmth in a glove, check out the Outdoor Research Arete - Women's.

On this warm day we took off the shells to increase breathability and wore just the liner. This is a huge plus with this glove. Alternatively  if its a little wet outside  you can simply take the liners out from the shells  and just wear the shells.
On this warm day we took off the shells to increase breathability and wore just the liner. This is a huge plus with this glove. Alternatively, if its a little wet outside, you can simply take the liners out from the shells, and just wear the shells.

Water Resistance


Make sure to treat Hestra products with a leather treatment to retain water resistance. Hestra makes it easy as they send a small sample to you with any purchase.


If you're living in a dry climate, the Heli Mitt is a must-have piece of gear. Featuring Hestra's Triton 3-layer polyamide fabric, we experienced little to no water permeation while skiing in the mountains. It comes with reinforced soft cowhide leather palm, which doesn't allow water to pass through the material, nor does it get "swampy" after continual use - similar to the Arc'teryx Fission Glove - Women's. Even after multiple exposures to water, the leather has not cracked or sliced away (with proper treatment). In addition, the polyester liner wicks away moisture well. If you accidentally get your hands wet and need to slide your hand back inside, it does not stick to the liner but easily goes back in. We found this difficult with other gloves like the Outdoor Research Arete - Women's.

The fabric provides decent water resistance  but during our dunk tests we learned that this mitten does leak at the seams.
The fabric provides decent water resistance, but during our dunk tests we learned that this mitten does leak at the seams.

Even though this glove is great for dry climates, we wouldn't recommend it for places that are wet all the time. During our dunk tests, we were a little surprised to learn that after just 15 squeezes under water, this mitt began to leak at the seams by the tips of the fingers. By the one-hundredth squeeze, the mitts were completely soaked inside and took a while to dry out. In addition, on wet days in the mountains, we noticed the mitts becoming a little bit saturated, but not so bad that we lost warmth. On dry days, it was just fine. We had the exact same results for the Hestra Heli Three-Finger gloves. If you're in a wet climate, check out a completely waterproof option like the Dakine Tundra Mitt - Women's. This warm mitt provides great warmth and absorbed the least amount of water in our dunk tests. In addition, it did not leak. If you're in a dry climate, this mitten is truly the way to go!

The mitt on the right was worn throughout the day while the mitt on the left was not. It absorbed a little water  but we never felt anything get down to the liner over a seven-hour ski session. What does this mean? Waterproof!
The mitt on the right was worn throughout the day while the mitt on the left was not. It absorbed a little water, but we never felt anything get down to the liner over a seven-hour ski session. What does this mean? Waterproof!

Dexterity


Hestra has an outstanding fit system that utilizes a different sizing technique than other companies. Simply measure your hand and get the size that fits you perfectly. Leave behind the process of wondering if you are a small or medium or large.


During our testing, we found that when a glove excels in one area, it tends to lack in another. For the Heli Mitt, dexterity is not its strong suit. As with all mittens, when the liner and shell are together, you don't have any individual digits available to zip zippers or tie shoes. If you're in a search of mitten or glove that can do this, check out glove options like the Arc'teryx Fission Gloves instead.

When removing the liners from the shell  we were able to grab the skins and pull them off without a problem. No liners = more dexterity = more versatility. Win!
When removing the liners from the shell, we were able to grab the skins and pull them off without a problem. No liners = more dexterity = more versatility. Win!

In comparison to other mittens, we really like how the thinner leather provided better dexterity than mittens that are thicker, like the Dakine Tundra Mitt. When we took out the liner and used just the shell of this mitt, we found that it performed well. We were able to zip up our jacket, pull off climbing skin, and even tie a shoelace. However, if you're looking for a glove that performs just as highly as the Heli Mitt does, but has better dexterity (when fully intact), the Hestra Three-Finger is the way to go. Its liner allows use of individual digits, while the shell keeps fingers warmer than most gloves. If you prefer a full mitten with better dexterity, check out the Swany Legend II Mitt - Women's. It has a cool little feature where you can unzip the side of the mitten for use of your gloved digits underneath. But, if you're okay with sacrificing dexterity for warmth, the Heli Mitt is a perfect choice. We used it while skiing laps on the resort and while exploring the backcountry, and it did just fine.

Features


This product has the features that you really need, whether you're sitting on lift chairs, battling deep powder, or heading out on a long adventure tour. The long cuff design features a one pull hem cinch and release which keeps snow out on deep, deep powder days.


The Hestras come with features like a one-pull tightening system  removable wrist straps  and wrist adjustment. Not only that  but is has a long gauntlet that fits over your jacket comfortably to keep snow out.
The Hestras come with features like a one-pull tightening system, removable wrist straps, and wrist adjustment. Not only that, but is has a long gauntlet that fits over your jacket comfortably to keep snow out.

The removable wrist straps are helpful for those worried about losing gloves on the chairlift.

Here the Hestra Heli Mitt is pictured with a detached leash.
Here the Hestra Heli Mitt is pictured with a detached leash.

One of our very favorite features of the Heli Mitt — and something that only the Hestra Three Finger offers as well — is the versatility of the liners. Add them in, switch them out, or take them out completely. The mitt allows enough room for you to choose a warmer or cooler liner, giving you autonomy in how you regulate your own body heat on the slopes. If you're looking to hike uphill, take out the inserts, and just wear the shell. If you want a liner that allows for you to stay warmer, switch it out altogether. You can even wear a thin glove liner (hopefully with smart phone compatible tips, like the Burton Gore-Tex) underneath both the mitten liner and shell to accommodate a more dexterous experience in the hills.

One of the standout features of the Heli Mitts is that you can take out its liner  add your own  just use it as a shell  or just use the liner independently. Being able to manually regulate your body temperature makes this perfect for backcountry skiing and resort riding.
One of the standout features of the Heli Mitts is that you can take out its liner, add your own, just use it as a shell, or just use the liner independently. Being able to manually regulate your body temperature makes this perfect for backcountry skiing and resort riding.

Durability and Construction


Like any product made with leather, the Hestra model definitely needs special treatment to maintain its waterproofing. The author is a long-time Hestra owner and knows that these mittens and gloves need to be sealed one to two times a season to maintain top performance. Since she first purchased a pair of Hestra mitts five years ago, she has noticed only simple abrasion, but no cracking of the leather, or unraveling of the seams. What's super surprising is the liner is still warm and hasn't packed out, even with regular washing.


This is the way the Hestras looked after intensive use. There is no sign of wear and tear and the liner looks like new! The goatskin leather is highly durable and will last for years with proper treatment.
This is the way the Hestras looked after intensive use. There is no sign of wear and tear and the liner looks like new! The goatskin leather is highly durable and will last for years with proper treatment.

During our two-month testing period for this review, we did not notice any wear and tear - even after exposing these mitts to the elements The stitching is bomber, the materials are high quality, and you can expect to use them for many, many years. The same is true for the Hestra Heli Three-Finger glove. The only glove that seems to have a little better craftsmanship and durability is the Arc'teryx Fission Glove. We noticed its stitching is completely seamless and during our dunk tests there was no leakage, unlike the Hestra products. That said, both Arc'teryx and Hestra offer lifetime warranty on their products. Another huge plus in the durability department!

Best Applications


The Heli Mitt has many applications, including just about anything that involves cold, dry weather. Whether you're jumping out the helicopter to get your next freshie or shoveling snow when it's - 20F outside, they will keep you warm. The only places we would avoid using them is while ski mountaineering, as they don't provide great dexterity. Other than that, this is still our favorite mitt for riding the lifts at the resort and getting out into the backcountry.

Amber  the author  shredding it down Sheep Chute while testing the Heli Mitt  our Editors' Choice Award winner. This mitt is incredibly versatile  allowing great warmth  thermo regulation  and protection to keep you playing all day.
Amber, the author, shredding it down Sheep Chute while testing the Heli Mitt, our Editors' Choice Award winner. This mitt is incredibly versatile, allowing great warmth, thermo regulation, and protection to keep you playing all day.

Value


At a price of $130, this highly durable and warm mitten is more than worth it! If you get cold hands in the winter and want something warm, stylish, and durable, the Heli Mitt is (in our opinion) your best option. If you're looking for something that isn't as warm but offers more versatility with higher dexterity, check out the Best Buy Award winner, the Gordini Gore-Tex Down III - Women's. If you're pinching your pennies, take a look at the simple, yet surprisingly high performance Kinco Pigskin Leather (~$16).

Conclusion


This dreamy and adorable mitten is the Editors' Choice Award for a Winter Mitt. It features a wonderful balance of warmth, thermoregulation, versatility, and quality. The price is just right at $130, and we know it will be accompanying us on many snowy adventures to come.

Amber rides the ski lifts in Telluride  testing the warmth and breathability of the Hestra Heli Mitt (Our Editor's Choice winner).
Amber rides the ski lifts in Telluride, testing the warmth and breathability of the Hestra Heli Mitt (Our Editor's Choice winner).

Amber King

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Most recent review: February 21, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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