The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Swany X-Cell II Mitt - Women's Review

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Price:  $140 List | $83.97 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Super warm, excellent water wicking and soft liner, waterproof, great features, optional venting
Cons:  Takes a long time to dry out, bulky feeling
Manufacturer:   Swany
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 6, 2015
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72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 30% 8
  • Water resistance - 25% 8
  • Dexterity - 25% 5
  • Features - 10% 8
  • Breathability - 5% 6
  • Durability - 5% 8

The Skinny

In a race for the Editors' Choice award, the Swany X-Cell Mitt put up a heck of a fight. This single construction mitt-glove hybrid features a mitten exterior to lock in warmth below 0F and an interior with glove-like fingers. Not only that, but the liners wick moisture and are ridiculously soft. During an impromptu snowball fight, one of our testers lost her gloves and ended up with some wet hands. After slipping her hands back into this mitt, the triplex insulation warmed her hands immediately and the moisture was wicked away, leaving her hands bone dry. Moreover, the Swany X-Cell II Mitt has HUGE pull tabs to cinch down the long snow proof gauntlet AND a pocket to slip hand warmers into when it got even chillier than subzero. All our testers loved it! So why wasn't it awarded our Editors' Choice?

Warmth is a really important factor in the hills during winter. The Hestra Heli Mitt - Women's proved that it was the warmest product of the bunch - not only from the first time putting it on, but throughout days of ice climbing, snowboarding, and ice skating. The Swany was a close second and kept our hands nice and toasty when the weather turned. However, it didn't do the trick on the wet days. On a cold day in Leadville, CO, while digging snow pits for the day, we noticed our hands getting cold. We found that it was because once the Nubuck leather (used in the outer) got soaked, it took forever to dry. Our hands were still dry, but this cold outer began to freeze and eventually transcended to our fingers. This left us cold and unhappy. Even though the Hestra Heli Mitt doesn't have as many features, it is still more waterproof and warmer than the X-Cell. Aside from this wet experience, this mitt showed great performance in every other weather situation.


Our Analysis and Test Results

An extremely warm, single, long gauntlet glove, the Swany X-Cell II Mitt is perfect for resort skiing and any cold weather endeavor. Sail down the slopes without a worry or care about your hands getting too cold.

Performance Comparison


Riding in Leadville  CO  for the day is a perfect function for these bad boys. Warmth is not a problem unless you encounter wet snow.
Riding in Leadville, CO, for the day is a perfect function for these bad boys. Warmth is not a problem unless you encounter wet snow.

Warmth


Featuring triplex insulation, stacked at 200g/m3 on the back of hand and 150 g/m3 on the palm, the Swany X-Cell II mitt made it to the top three in our warmth metric. The mitten exterior allows you to move your fingers to increase warmth within the mitt-glove and the shell locks it in. Our biggest caveat with the X-Cell was its long-term warmth throughout wet days on the mountain. When wet and saturated, this product stays wet, meaning less warmth. However, if you're just looking for a glove that will still ride high with you in the resort, it's a perfect option for really cold weather - just don't get it soaked. If you're looking for a glove that won't lose its heat in the wet weather found in places like the Pacific Northwest, check out the Arc'teryx Beta AR Glove - Women's, our Top Pick for Wet Climates.

Feeling pretty psyched to be wearing these babies in -20F weather as we look for the St. Lawrence in Quebec City.
Feeling pretty psyched to be wearing these babies in -20F weather as we look for the St. Lawrence in Quebec City.

Water Resistance


The Nubuck leather featured on the exterior of this glove is soft, supple, and typically used in work gloves. It does a great job at keeping water away from your hands and is extremely waterproof. The Dryfinger II insert also helps to ensure your paws stay warm…and not wet. During our dunk tests we learned that the nubuck leather actually absorbed the most water of any leather glove tested, making it one of the most absorbent gloves. As we discussed above, in cold weather this becomes a problem as the cold weather can make the glove very cold, and your fingers might become frigid - something we experienced first hand.

The nubuck leather (in comparison to goatskin) is much softer and doesn't only absorb more water more readily  but also absorbs dirt and grime. This is simply because it is more porous. As a result  the nubuck and hairsheep leathers aren't as durable as the harder goatskin.
The nubuck leather (in comparison to goatskin) is much softer and doesn't only absorb more water more readily, but also absorbs dirt and grime. This is simply because it is more porous. As a result, the nubuck and hairsheep leathers aren't as durable as the harder goatskin.

That said, the water never transcended the Dryfinger II insert, and our hands were still left dry in both field tests and during the dunk test. So if you're going to be skiing in climates like Colorado that aren't as wet, consider this a water resistant and cold weather go-to glove-mitt. If you're looking for something a little bit more waterproof AND warmer, check out the Hestra Heli Mitt. For your ultra waterproof option, the Arc'teryx Beta AR is a perfect complement to any mild wet weather arsenal.

Dexterity


A unique build of glove indeed! The Swany X-Cell II mitt is both a mitten and a glove. The result? Well, dexterity was OK. A lot of our testers felt this was a strange construct and didn't see a huge advantage in terms of dexterity. Because the construction was really thick, it couldn't pinch, grab, or handle as well as any of the gloves tested. If you're looking for a glove with great dexterity, check out the Pow Gem or our Best Buy Award winner, the Outdoor Research Arete - Women's. In comparison to the Hestra Heli Mitt, we actually found that the mitt had better dexterity because you could remove the liner and just use the shell. In the case of the X-Cell II, we were not able to do this.

The Swany X-Cell is still a single glove. The liner comes out for better drying power. We still found this to still be pretty bulky and less dexterous than the Hestra Heli Mitt - despite the gloved fingers inside.
The Swany X-Cell is still a single glove. The liner comes out for better drying power. We still found this to still be pretty bulky and less dexterous than the Hestra Heli Mitt - despite the gloved fingers inside.

Features


The Swany is simply loaded with features. It has the best one-pull gauntlet fit system due to having LARGE glove compatible pulls. The zip pocket on the back of the palm works as both a vent and a place to put your hand warmers on really cold days. Although it is single construction, you can still pull the liner out if it gets wet to dry out. The liner is still attached to the glove, but you can pull it inside out. The removable wrist straps are designed to keep you from losing your gear on the hill and there is an added wrist enclosure to lock in heat when it gets really blustery outside. Furthermore, it has a pull tab to help you get your gloves on if your hands are wet.

This mitt is loaded with features! The cinch straps are present and removable  the pull and release tabs around the gauntlet hem are HUGE  and there are pull tabs to help you get it back on if you need to take it off!
This mitt is loaded with features! The cinch straps are present and removable, the pull and release tabs around the gauntlet hem are HUGE, and there are pull tabs to help you get it back on if you need to take it off!

Oh, oh! One last mention is the amazingly awesome water wicking interior liner. Read on to learn about that.

Breathability


Surprisingly, this single glove-mitt hybrid is quite breathable. We wouldn't recommend taking it out on an uphill skin where you sweat too much, but the zippered hand warmer pocket located on the back hand of the glove also acts as a ventilation system - bonus!

Karlotta shows off the venting pocket that doubles as a place you can put in hand warmers. If it gets too hot  zip them down. If it gets too cold  put in a warming packet and zip them up!
Karlotta shows off the venting pocket that doubles as a place you can put in hand warmers. If it gets too hot, zip them down. If it gets too cold, put in a warming packet and zip them up!

To make this treat really delicious, the liners did the best job of any tested to take moisture from your hands and wick them away towards the shell of the mitt. During our test to see if the liner would pull out when a wet hand was inserted inside, we found that the liner did not pull out. In fact, the liner immediately absorbed the water, wicked it away, and our once-wet hands were almost immediately dry and warm. This was the only glove that did this. As a result, the Swany was given a 6/10 for breathability. It did not earn top marks because it was a fairly heavy glove that still made our hands sweat quite a bit.

Durability


The Nubuck leather materials used throughout the glove, in addition to its tight stitching patterns, had a little observed wear and tear through our testing sessions. This was primarily from carrying skis, skates, and snowboards. Because of the soft supple leather, it will not be as durable as the goatskin leather used in gloves like the Hestra Heli Mitt and Arc'teryx Beta AR. It was also really difficult to clean and got dirty quickly.

The Nubuck leather is soft and supple  and not as durable as goatskin. It also was hard to wash  but overall  we did not notice many signs of wear and tear other than some scratches. It's important to treat these gloves in order to ensure continued performance.
The Nubuck leather is soft and supple, and not as durable as goatskin. It also was hard to wash, but overall, we did not notice many signs of wear and tear other than some scratches. It's important to treat these gloves in order to ensure continued performance.

That said, this is still a durable glove-mitt that you can anticipate lasting for at least a few seasons, provided that the leather is treated one to two times per season.

Best Applications


Since the Swany X-Cell II is a single mitt with great warmth but does not do so well in extremely wet weather, we would recommend these primarily for resort skiing. They are great for 0F conditions, but their use, in our experience, should be limited to drier climates where the snow is not super wet (like in the North Pacific or North Atlantic). Since there is no removable liner and additional liners added to the glove don't work so well, we would not recommend these exclusively as backcountry wear gloves. Frigid ski lifts and cold deep powder days is what these babies are built for.

Resort skiing with friends is by far one of the best uses for the Swany X-Cell II.
Resort skiing with friends is by far one of the best uses for the Swany X-Cell II.

Value


At $139, this is one of our more expensive gloves tested. Even though the price may be high, expect to wear this glove for many years, provided you treat them with a sealant regularly (one to three times a season depending on use). Is it worth the price? We think so, as long as you're not going to be putting your gloves into the snow for the length of the day. Check out the Arc'teryx Beta AR instead if that is your intention.

Conclusion


The Swany X-Cell II is fantastic cold weather mitt that almost won the podium with our Editors' Choice Award. Take these out on the coldest days of the year to your favorite resort and enjoy the day without worrying about your digits.

Taking a stroll back through time in Quebec City! Another function for these cold weather mittens.
Taking a stroll back through time in Quebec City! Another function for these cold weather mittens.


Amber King