Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitt Review
Cons: Palm can wet out after extended use in moist climates
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitt is one of our favorite all-around mittens for skiing and snowboarding and only narrowly missed our Top Pick Award for our review team's favorite mitten. The Black Diamond Mercury barely eked out our award over the Army Leather because it offered better weather resistance (and the Army Leather's leather needed to be re-conditioned more frequently) and was ever-so-slightly warmer; however, the Army Leather sports a cozier feeling fleecy interior and better overall dexterity. The Army Leather Mitten should be on any skier or snowboarder's radar who frequents cold temperatures, especially if these zones are very wet. The added warmth bonus of superior dexterity was that our reviewers found themselves having to take this option off less than other mittens, which helped keep our hands warmer by not having to expose them to the elements.
The Leather Heli Ski Mitt is warm enough for the slowest and coldest of New England or Midwest chairlifts or for those who simply have poor circulation. This contender was close in scoring, but not quite as warm as the Black Diamond Mercury Mitt; this was one of the reasons that the Leather Heli Mitt just barely missed out being our Editors' Choice for the best overall mitten. The Army Leather Mitt remains close in warmth, and the fleece insulation used is more durable and long-lasting than the 340g of PrimaLoft used in the Mercury. Our testing revealed that the Army Leather Heli was warmer than either of our other high scoring mitts, The North Face Montana Mitt or the Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger.
The Army Leather Ski Mitt has average to marginally above average dexterity compared to most mittens on the market, scoring a 6 out of 10. It performed well enough to buckle ski boots and zip jackets with large zipper pulls, but it was poor at other tasks, like unlocking car doors or signing our name. We did think the Army Leather Heli Mitt was noticeably more dexterous than our Editors' Choice award winner, the Black Diamond Mercury Mitt, but not as dexterous as the less warm Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger or The North Face Montana Mitt.
If there was any major downfall of the Army Leather Heli Ski Mitt, it would be in this metric. Earning a 6 out of 10, it performed fine in colder snow storms, where most people are going to be using this mitten. In warmer storms (close to freezing), the palm would wet out by the end of a day of skiing, making our hands feel cold. You can and should treat the durable leather palm fairly regularly, especially if you use this mitt in warmer snow climates, like the Pacific Northwest.
The Army Leather Heli Ski Mitt is tough. Built with a durable leather palm and beefy nylon shell, we found that these mitts will stand up to many years of heavy use. If you take into account its fleece insulation, which will take longer to pack out than a warmer (for its weight) Primaloft or other synthetic type material, it is likely one of the most durable mittens or gloves in our review. This contender earned a perfect 10 out of 10 for this metric.
The Heli Mitt is a fairly no-frills mitt that seems to offer just the most important features, like a palm-side cinch strap that increases dexterity, a gauntlet cinch to help keep the snow out, a removable liner for quicker drying, and a thumb side goggle wipe. We also like the Heli Mitt's removable, seemingly perfect length wrist leashes. We felt that is was more likely that we'd take off our mitten to do something than with gloves, so we appreciated the Hestra's comfortable wrist leash. We also really liked the ring of Velcro that attaches the liner to the inside of the shell - to help lock it into place. We gave the Hestra Mitt a 9 out of 10 for features, with the Black Diamond Mercury Mitt being the only other competitor to score higher.
The Heli Mitt is a much warmer than average mitten that will be great for skiers and snowboarders in colder climates or for users who have poor circulation. It's also a great option for hands that just get cold easily. The Army Leather Heli is not the best choice for lots of closer-to-freezing snow days, unless the user is diligent about treating the leather palm, and often.
The Hestra Army Leather Heli is an okay value. Don't get us wrong, it's a fantastic mitten; it just doesn't come in at an overall fantastic price point considering it doesn't feature a waterproof membrane.
Despite the price point, our testers really like this mitten. It was a previous Top Pick award winner, as it is warm and incredibly durable yet still dexterous (more so than our overall Editors' Choice the Black Diamond Mercury).
— Ian Nicholson