One thing that can absolutely ruin a day on the slopes is cold fingers. Now, with ski and snowboard season nearly over, I can tell you about a pair of heated gloves I’ve been testing that have kept my hands toasty warm in temperatures as low as -9 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius) — even with lots and lots of snow.
The Supernova gloves I tested come from a company called Chaval, which designs and integrates its heating tech into gloves on Bainbridge Island just outside of Seattle (the leather gloves are made in Vietnam). The Supernovas feature an integrated battery and a single button near the wrist that activates the heating.
WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT THEM?
The best part about these gloves is the self-regulation. You turn them on and forget it; there’s no need to manually adjust the temperature to low, medium, and high settings like other heated gloves. Chaval manages the heat through a process of “micro-regulation” whereby the heating elements sense and then react to places that need warmth — like fingertips, for example, after a cold hand is inserted into the glove.
ARE THEY GOOD?
Yeah, the Supernovas are great. The gauntlet design kept the snow out and I got cozy, all-day usage (up to six hours) without the batteries ever running out. (I always ran out of power before the gloves did.) They never exhibited any excessive warmth when bending the fingers as I’ve experienced with other heated gloves. The better heat distribution is at least partially due to the incorporation of a more efficient polymer heating film that avoids the clunky wire mesh woven into less sophisticated heated gloves.
Chaval says that its gloves are tested to work in conditions as extreme as -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-28.9 degrees Celsius). In my testing, I left the gloves powered on full time when riding in 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) weather or colder. In temperatures between 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-12.2 to -6.7 degrees Celsius), I found that I could wait an hour or so before needing to turn them on in order to offset the chill that resulted from the dampness of my accumulating sweat. I didn’t need the heating at all closer to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) as the insulation was enough to keep my hands warm even as the moisture built up. Fortunately, the gloves dry as they charge which meant they were always ready at the start of a new day.
Yes, they’re bulky, but the fingers provide enough dexterity to grab zippers, adjust helmet straps, and buckle up bindings. And thanks to the touchscreen-compatible index fingers and thumbs, I could also jab at my iPhone with enough accuracy to launch Find Friends to see where our group was and launch the excellent Slopes app to track my daily runs. But you can forget about tapping out a text message on tiny smartphone keypads.
The only minus here is the internal charging connector. Chaval calls the charging process “cave-man simple,” and it is, although the internal connector is as elegant as a Neanderthal. The clumsy two-piece assembly is totally out of place in a wearable garment. And the clip that holds it together snagged the hell out of the sleeve inside my snowboard jacket. Nevertheless, it’s easy enough to disconnect and attach to the external charger. Just don’t forget to reconnect it, or your gloves won’t turn on.
AM I HAPPIER OR MORE FULFILLED?
You bet I’m happy. Frozen hands can spoil a day on the mountain. My friends had to buy those little heater packs to insert in their gloves last week when that Siberian cold front blasted through Europe, and I got to smile with superiority every time they removed their gloves in sub-zero weather just to poke at their phones.
SHOULD YOU GET A PAIR?
The $299 price tag for the Chaval Supernovas isn’t cheap, especially compared to a good pair of unheated snowboarding / ski gloves (Burton sells Gore-Tex leather gloves for about $100) that can be augmented with disposable hand-warmer pads for as little as 50 cents a pair. But if you’re looking for all-day convenience and excellent heat distribution in gloves that work with your touchscreen, then, by all means, buy the Supernovas. My hands have never been more comfortable in 20-some years on the slopes.
Chaval Supernova /
$299 from Chaval
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.