Thermalution heated glove system price (SRP: £415 for full stand-alone set)
Exposure protection for diving in cold waters has certainly developed over the years. Gone are the days of thick ‘woolly bear’ undersuits and 7mm non-compressed neoprene drysuits – and the tonnes of lead need to sink you. No, now you have technologically advanced undersuits, base layers, trilaminate and compressed neoprene drysuits, which all serve to keep you warm and toasty.
But perhaps the biggest innovation in recent years is the plethora of dryglove systems on the market. There is nothing worse than having frozen digits, and so the advent of drygloves, which keep your hands nice and warm, with all the increased dexterity that affords, have become a regular sight at inland and coastal sites in this country and beyond.
What could be better than a dryglove, I hear you ask. Well, how about a heated glove within your dryglove? There are a few heated glove systems out there, including one from Santi, which we reviewed a few months ago. Now Thermalution, who brought you the heated vest which could be used under a wetsuit or a drysuit, and full heated undersuits, have now released a heated glove system.
Many heated gloves are just on or off, but the Thermalution gloves offer three heat settings. The gloves are switched on and off, and you can move up and down the heat settings, via a nifty magnetic switch arrangement, which allows you to make adjustments on the fly even while you are diving. You simply cross your hands, which puts the magnet on one hand on to the control on the other. Vibrations signal heat changes and on/off. It takes a little bit of practice to get your hands into the right position, but you soon get the hang of it.
These would be perfect underneath a dryglove system, but as they can be used wet, they can even be used under a wet glove – say you are diving in the Med in the winter in a thick semi-dry with hood and gloves. Now you can add an extra degree of warmth to your hands.
However, I would say the majority of the time, these will be used under drygloves, so I paired them up with the KUBI dryglove system fitted to my Otter Atlantic drysuit. One thing to bear in mind, that I immediately discovered, is that if you are wearing the Thermalution gloves on their own underneath your dryglove, and your drygloves are quite tight, be careful not to snag a hole on your glove from the magnet on the Thermalution. If your drygloves are quite loose, this probably wouldn’t be such an issue. If you are wearing a pair of normal dryglove inner-gloves over the top of them – they are extremely thin, so this is not an issue – that removes the potential threat from the edges of the magnet.
Power Heated Gloves
You can get these as standalone products, with their own batteries which mount on your forearms, or you can add them on to existing Thermalution undersuits (some they can just be added into the system, others will require new batteries – if in doubt, contact the Thermalution team).
I was using the standalone variant. These come with batteries and holders which fasten securely around your forearm. A power cable then snakes down to your wrist, where it connects via a wet connector to the cable on the gloves. I tried various routing options – one time I had the cable from the battery poking out of my drysuit seal, so that I could just connect the glove, slide on my dryglove and I was ready to dive. This works fine, but I ended up with excess cable within my dryglove, which was a bit of a pain. The next time I opted to have the glove cable go under my drysuit seal, so the wet connector and all of the battery cable were tucked inside the arm of my drysuit. Everyone will have their own method, but this second style worked best for me. I also found it was easier to put on the gloves, connect them to the battery packs and then don my drysuit. This was less faff than fishing out the power cable from the battery, connecting it to the glove and then trying to push it back under my drysuit wrist seal.
In use, I found the ability to switch them on and off, and toggle up and down the heat settings, during the dive was a huge bonus. I whacked them on full heat to start with, and I actually had to dial it down slightly as my hands were getting too warm – something I never thought I would say when diving in the UK!
Due to a mishap with one of my drygloves – when I had put a tiny pinhole in it after snagging it on the glove magnet – I am also able to confirm that the heated gloves work well when wet! My entire dryglove flooded minutes after entering the water, but the heating elements in the glove meant that I was still able to complete the dive. Alas, because the cable from the glove to the battery goes under your drysuit wrist seal, water also tracked up here and so by the time I exited the water, I had a rather damp arm… Still, that’s a good reason to have a spare undersuit with you!
As I found with the Thermalution vest, these gloves are multi-purpose. I have put them on to take the dog for a walk when the temperatures have been hovering around freezing – nothing beats the feeling of toasty warm hands when you are crunching through the frost in the morning. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, I haven’t been able to test them out on my mountain bike yet, but I imagine they will be awesome for keeping my hands warm when out on the trails in Wales.
Heated glove systems in general are not cheap, but if you are doing lots of cold-water diving, then nothing comes close to keeping your hands warm and with full dexterity. And with the forearm battery mounts, as we’ve said, with the Thermalutions, you can use these for all sorts of other activities too.
The Thermalution gloves are depth-rated to 100m, so will be fine for the vast majority of technical divers out there. They come in four sizes – small, medium, large and extra-large.