It’s always been a trade-off for Raynaud’s sufferers – style or warmth: Either you look fashionable and freeze your paws off, or you wrap your hands in thick, bulky mitts that make you look like Nanook of the North heading for the slopes. So we were really excited to discover these UNIQKNITS™ self-heating gloves.
They look and feel just like standard gloves, even come in a variety of outer fabrics (including merino wool and cashmere) and fun designs, like stripes, rag wool and snowflake prints. New in 2018: Thinner glove liners with the same warming technology and hats!
The secret sauce is in the inner liner fabric. The design team used a combination of hi-tech fibers that work together in a patent-pending process to power a unique self-heating capability when interacting with the wearer’s skin. There are no batteries to charge, no wires to get in your way. And because the team uses high-tech knitting machines that work much like 3-D printers, there’s no sewing involved and therefore no seams that might cause discomfort.
The company specifically designed these gloves for people with Raynaud’s and other medical ailments that can impact circulation, and asked our organization to give them a true test. Since the samples arrived in July, the only way to try them was in the freezer (hurts just to think about it!). I was really amazed to find that while the gloves didn’t offer immediate warmth when I put them on (not that I needed it on an 80 degree day), I was able to hold everything I touched in the freezer – including ice cubes and putting my hands inside the ice tray – and I felt no pain. I also didn’t feel cold with my hands hovering inside the freezer. This was a first for a glove without an external heat source. The gloves also offered nice traction holding a glass. Some fabrics are kind of slippery for that task, a plus for us Frosties.
The team took my feedback and came back to me in December with some new designs. They’d partnered with Portolano®, one of the world’s premier glove and accessory manufacturers, to create stylish outer layers with their high-tech gloves inside. I was asked to again test a sample.
My first impression was how lovely the gloves are – soft, attractive, you’d never guess they were anything but a standard pair of nice looking, quality cashmere gloves. I tested them walking the dog when our temperature outside was in the single digits to teens. Then again driving around town for errands when it was 5 to 10 degrees.
The results were impressive: Normally my hands in this weather would be really cold in the car, and I’ll find myself rotating sitting on them while keeping one hand on the wheel, but not an issue for the test!
A word about the fit: These gloves work best when they are a really snug fit. That means you may have to tug a bit to get them firmly down on each finger. And once you’re wrapped up in them, you may hesitate to take them off after they are comfortably set.
For this reason I wanted to see how well I could perform everyday tasks on my errands with the gloves on. At the drug store, I was able to do all of my shopping with them on, including (with a few tries) taking a credit card out of my wallet to pay at the counter with the gloves still intact, which was commendable.
I love the dexterity they offer which we Frosties so often lose when wearing our warmest gloves or mittens. I was also successfully able to use my iPhone with them on. The touch-sensitive fingertips are a bonus feature. The only negative to mention is that, unlike the inner layer on the prototype that offered traction when holding a glass, the outer layers are made of more soft materials which can be a bit challenging when driving a car. Hope there will be a version soon with the non-slip texture of the original prototype gloves to securely hold the wheel and other slick objects.
The company recently expanded its product line to include liners made with the same technology, sporting the same stylish fabrics, and asked us to test them. I tried them on their own on milder days (in the 50’s), and they did a nice job, warm and comfy, offering good dexterity. Any colder or windier, and they’d need to be used as liners, as wind can go through the fabric. As liners, I had trouble fitting them under my gloves because the fingers were a bit too long, but I was able to use them on a double-digit wind chill day under my mittens, and they worked well, comfy and warm.
We’re getting positive feedback from fellow Frosties on UniqKnit’s products, and you can read one of their testimonials on UniqKnit’s blog. The common thread across all of their feedback is that they never had gloves that kept their fingers warm before or kept their fingers from going white into attacks. While we can’t promise that every Raynaud’s sufferer will have this experience, it’s great to hear that these gloves are working for many Frosties.
- Warmth vs. Protection – The gloves did an excellent job of protecting me from the cold, but – while they are positioned as self-heating – I did not experience added warmth. The manufacturer explains the process works because it is “heat sustaining,” a technical term I don’t fully understand. But it appears that the insulation in the inner layer of the glove is actively producing heat in a way that helps you maintain your body warmth when exposed to the cold. That may be a nuance, but it’s important for managing expectations for those planning to try the gloves.
- Put Them on Before Cold Exposure – If your hands are already cold, the interaction of the fabric with the skin won’t have enough heat to jumpstart the process, so make sure both your hands and the gloves are at least room temperature. The one time I used the gloves and felt cold penetrate them I had stored them next to a cold window, so they were a bit cold before going outside, and I noticed they weren’t as effective.
- Avoid Getting Them Wet – We were told by the manufacturer “If or when the gloves get wet, the heat generating process halts, but this is totally reversible: as soon as the gloves are dry, heat generation will start up again.” So they aren’t a good option for cleaning the snow and ice off your windshield!
Special Discount for Our Members:
Offer Code: RA2020
The company’s product line includes ten different glove designs (including flip-top mittens and liners) plus two styles of hats available on UNIQKNITS’ web site. They come in sizes 6 through 10, and are priced at $40 to $90 – a good value for gloves offering this level of cold protection, and less than the prices we’ve seen for a standard pair of Portolano® gloves that are just fashion statements.
But it gets even better: As a proud sponsor of the Raynaud’s Association, UNIQKNITS™ is offering our members a 10% discount on most styles. To qualify, simply enter the discount code RA2020 and click “Apply” during checkout.
Keep in mind that these gloves can be a tight fit, so you might want to order a size up, but make sure they are still snug enough for optimum protection.
The product offers a stylish, comfortable solution for situations where gloves requiring external heating sources aren’t convenient or won’t fit the occasion. They were developed by a team of fashion insiders and technology execs on a mission to bring relief to those suffering with Raynaud’s, and we applaud their efforts!
If you do try the gloves, I hope you’ll share your feedback with us.
1 Mayfair Road
Eastchester, NY 10709