Mark Puleio is a New Englander whose passion for skiing naturally led him to a life of exploration in the mountains. He received a degree in Wilderness Leadership from Prescott College in Arizona in 1994, which provided a solid and diverse foundation for him to become a IFMGA/UIAGM licensed mountain guide. He owns and operates Alpine Guides International and spends most of his professional time in the European Alps. When not in the mountains, Mark works at his magnum opus, co-raising and homeschooling his three children in a small village in the hills of Vermont. – Alpine Guides International
Maybe it’s because my mother knit me wool mitts for the first forty Christmases of my life that has lead to my affection for the mitten. Plain and simple: I love mittens! Being a mountain guide for the last two decades in the New England weather has taken its toll on my hands I have even been known to wear mittens on the beach. I learned early here in Vermont that if you can’t lead water ice 4 in mittens you really can’t lead grade 4 ice. I have always sworn by the traditional Dachstein wool mitt, usually with some shell overmitt in accompaniment, while trying out the variety of mitts available over the years. Finally this past summer season, while guiding in the European Alps, I used the HOTMIT’N by CAMP. These Mitts far surpassed my expectations here’s why:
First off… orange…I mean how cool do these mitts look?! You see them and feel warm instantly. I love bright colors working in the mountains for rescue situations as well as visibility skiing with folks inside the “Ping Pong Ball.” The beautiful orange material is a windproof membrane allowing trapped warmth to stay in while keeping cold wind out. They did really keep the wind out and also shed snow really well. They also work well as boxing gloves to establish right of way on popular routes like the Gouter on the Blanc.
The size is very generous and available in two ranges, size 1: XS – M and size 2: L -XL. I am size 2 and found the articulation very good. These puppies are stuffed with 50 grams of premium down, making them incredibly warm. It seems there is more down on the top of the hands than the palm side, which increases the feel of the mitt. The sticky textured palm patch makes such tasks as operating GPS and maps easier. It also allows confidence while short roping and using one’s piolet. Thankfully, there is plenty of room for those of us who need the hand warmers every now and then.
While we are talking size here, let’s not forget these HOTMIT’Ns weigh 173 grams/6.1 ounces and packs into the size of my fist! For me, this is a huge deal. I only take in my pack items that serve multiple functions and take up little space. These mitts double time as wind protection for sensitive areas, booties, if your ever benighted, padding material for splints as well as keeping the summit champagne protected (when in France…) As a guide, there is nothing better than having warm hands when you come out the Margherita Hut at 4:55 AM on the Monte Rosa massive to head down the very open and sneaky Grenx glacier in honking winds and no visibility.
I have used these mitts one full guiding season. They have served me well alpine guiding in the European Alps, ice and alpine guiding in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont, and ski touring in the Smokey Mountains of Idaho. So far they have 50 days of use and are in great shape. The outer shell material is more robust than I first believed. The HOTMIT’Ns are indeed super warm. They are more than, “just for high altitude mountaineering” as their web site states. From negative 40°F/C at 1917 meters on Mt Washington, New Hampshire to 0°C at 4810m on the Mount Blanc massive of France and Italia, CAMP HOTMIT’N has done nothing but impress me. I am looking forward to having these along next month when I will be guiding in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru up to 6000 meters with the confidence of knowing I will have warm hands.