Every year, I update our guide to the best photography gloves on the market to ensure it stays current. Sometimes, that means removing gloves that are no longer available; sometimes, it means adding a new glove that has come to market. This year, RucPac added a new photography glove to their lineup, so I got my hands on (and in) a pair to test them out.
I have previously reviewed RucPac’s other glove, the RucPac Photography Tech Glove, and found it an excellent low-priced option for people who don’t shoot in frigid temperatures. I awarded it the ‘best budget glove’ title in the group photography glove test. I was then excited to see that RucPac added a second model to their lineup this year—one designed for use in much colder temperatures than the first one.
RucPac calls this glove the Extreme Tech Glove, but let’s be clear: they are a photography gear company, and they are designed first and foremost for photography. These gloves are what I call a Full Mitt Flipper. The mitt and the thumb fold back to reveal all your digits, allowing you complete control over your camera gear.
Gloves of this type are incredibly versatile. If they are thick and well-constructed, they do a good job of keeping out the cold but also allow you excellent dexterity. The downside to this design is that they are not a good option in falling snow because there is no watertight boundary in the area where the mitt folds back. If you also happen to put your hand down in deep snow, they tend to act like a scoop and trap snow in the forward mitt section against your now-cold and wet fingers.
This isn’t a fault of the RucPac gloves. It also happens with other gloves of this design, such as the similar Heat 2 Softshell glove from The Heat Company. The important thing is that potential buyers understand when and where it is best for this type of glove and that if they really need a fully waterproof/snowproof photography glove, those options exist on the market and are detailed in the photography glove group test.
I think most serious winter photographers are likely to end up with two pairs of photography gloves: One that is lightweight, dexterous, and likely not waterproof, such as this RucPac glove, and another that is a full-on winter warrior such as the Heat 3 Shell Mitten from The Heat Company.
RucPac Extreme Glove Fit, Feel and Function
The first photos I saw of these gloves did not do them justice. They didn’t look much more than mitten-shaped glove liners, but they are much more than that. When I unboxed the package RucPac sent me, I was surprised to see how thickly padded these gloves were. These are not liner-style gloves that could be worn inside another glove. They are far too thick for that.
This thickness is a good thing. Their surprisingly substantial nature means they are comfortable in freezing weather. Living in the Yukon as I do, it was no trouble to put this to the test, and I found I was comfortable wearing them down to around -18 degrees Celsius (0F) for prolonged periods, as long as there wasn’t a strong wind or blowing snow.
Regarding temperature recommendations, I always have to add the caveat that I live in a very cold part of the world and have likely gotten somewhat used to cold conditions. This makes it hard to say, with any certainty, what sort of temperatures you would be comfortable with. However, I rate their warmth as better-than-average and far better than expected. When you consider that they only cost $59.99, this is impressive.
Once the thumb and mitten are folded back, magnets hold the flaps. I’m told that final production versions of these gloves will also feature a small piece of hook and loop to close the thumb and mitten a little tighter when they are not in the folded back position. This will help to keep the wind out and some blowing snow if you get suddenly caught in a blizzard.
You’ll need to use the pair of elastic loops sewn onto the back of the two middle fingers to remove the gloves. Usually, you would grab and pull the fingertips with a regular glove, but of course, they don’t exist on these gloves. The elastic loops are the solution, although I found the elastic to be a little tighter than I wanted it to be, making it somewhat tricky to grab.
Overall, I was delighted with the comfort provided by these gloves and the dexterity available when the fingers and thumb were exposed. It should be noted, though, that these gloves are only very mildly water-resistant. I don’t think this will be a problem for most people because people rarely shoot in the rain, but it’s worth remembering when choosing your handwear for the day. Again, if it’s snowing heavily outside, this isn’t the right glove for that moment.
One more thing I want to point out is that the gloves offer little resistance to abrasion. The outer material is a very soft fleece-like material that will quickly catch on sharp objects or be worn down by repeated action on abrasive surfaces such as nylon rope or rough metal. If this is something you might be affected by, you should choose a glove with a leather palm, such as the previously mentioned Heat 2 Softshell glove.
Rubber Grip Pattern
In the review of the RucPack Professional Glove, I commented on the excellent grip provided by the sticky patterning on the palm of the glove. For the RucPac Extreme, nothing has changed. It uses the same pattern and still provides much more grip than expected. Just make sure you don’t pet your dog while wearing these gloves. I made that mistake and then had to spend 15 minutes trying to pull hairs off them before taking the photos for the review!
RucPac has done a great job with these gloves, particularly as they have a wallet-friendly price of just $59.99. These gloves aren’t for extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow, high Arctic winds, or torrential rain but are suitable for very cold, dry temperatures. Your mileage may vary on their temperature limit, but I was very comfortable in them down to -18c (0F).
Mittens have always been the best option for photography gloves because you can quickly expose four fingers. With a regular glove, you would need to expose individual fingers one by one to get the same dexterity. It would be painstaking and fiddly. With a flipper-style mitt, you can quickly expose the fingers, get the shot, and get your fingers back in their cozy covering before they get cold.
Unless the weather is wild, this glove style is my go-to whenever I leave the house in the winter. Although my previous favorite, the Heat 2 Softshell, offers a little more protection against moisture and a leather palm for abrasion resistance, I find the RucPac Extremes more comfortable. Moving forward, it will be tough to choose between the two.