I get asked this a lot from people in southern climates: “how do you do it in such cold weather?!” They think they could never do it. But, they could, they just need to wear the right gear. And being a card carrying Gear-Head, I’ve got lots of it. Although I have to admit, I’ve acquired much less this past year. Maybe because two years ago, I was such a Gomer (to steal a word and refer you to my friend Jill, of Jill Will Run’s blog), that I was a total running merchandiser’s dream.  Tell me something would help me run better, and I’d buy it.  I was so worried about not having that dream piece of equipment or clothing that would make me an awesome runner rather than just a middle-of-the-packer.

And then, I got real. And realized I was not ever going to receive a raise again, even though I work for a pretty well-off school. Plus, before my husband switched jobs last November, he’d taken a 10% pay cut at his previous job. Doesn’t sound like a lot at first, but it does make a difference in your budget. At least the professors kept their “student entertainment” funds intact, and the students still have food brought in at dinnertime, just for, you know, showing up to class.  Ah, well. (Can you tell I’m a bit bitter about that?)  Ok, enough about that – I can’t change it, so why try? (No, really, I was part of a focus group that suggested cuts in order to save jobs, and that was one of the suggestions. Clearly, it went unheard.)  Ok, I really am digressing…need to get off this subject!  

Brooks Wanganui Cabrio Mitt, photo from thefind.com

So, I’m going to write some reviews about my purchases that have gotten me through the cold weather. Usually bought with discounts through my employer or by signing up for email coupons.   By the way, so as to not piss off the FTC, I should mention no one has asked me to review these products, or sent them to me free of charge. As I said, I paid for them with my own money. The only reason my work ID gets me a discount is because my employer is a pretty big one in my area.

To keep these posts (relatively) short, I’ll just cover one per post. I know, you’re sitting on the edge(s) of your seat(s), wondering “what will she review next?!” Ok, so the Brooks Wanganui Cabrio mittens.  I did pay $28 for them (minus my 10% discount) when my husband woke up one morning saying he wanted to get some “real” running shoes. READ: expensive, not bought at the discount store. I was excited. This meant maybe eventually we could do a race together, and I could go to one of my favorite (albeit expensive) stores: Marathon Sports

One thing that sucks about wearing just gloves or just mittens in the northeast. Your hands love them at first, and then as you warm up, so do your gloves. Your hands start to sweat. And before you know it, you’re left with the unenviable dilemna of “should I take them off, and risk cold numbness, or should I keep them on, and get hot, & sweaty, and then let the sweat turn to cold wetness?” With these gloves, I feel like I’m wearing, simultaneously, a heater and air conditioner on my hands. Really. They are nice and thermally (is that a word? If not, it should be.) They’re not too bulky to throw in your jacket pockets if you get REALLY hot, or you just plain overdressed to begin with (Exhibit A, my last post from the Bradford’s Valentine Road Race). (Did I also mention, they’re also good for wiping sweat off of your face?)

The mittens are magnetized, so when you flip back the mitten part, you don’t have to worry about that rounded part just flopping all around the place. Y’all know what I’m talking about. The fingered portions of the gloves are just long enough to keep your digits warm. I also must add that they are just long enough and warm enough to prevent my knuckles from getting all dry-skinned, red, and cracked, as would otherwise happen if I was running, and had to completely take my gloves off every time I ran outside and got hot. (Yep, it’s happened to me in the past, and it’s pretty painful. It sucks.)

The one thing I would advise is this – if you are a person with small hands, make sure you do buy a small, and don’t let yourself be impatient and buy the medium size, just because you are at the store with your husband and don’t want to be the only one leaving empty-handed. I did. So, the thumbs are a bit on the big side for me, which can make opening up my snack baggies filled with sports beans a bit on the difficult side. I’ve learned to deal with it by opening up the baggies with my pointer and other fingers, but it does make me slow down a bit so I can concentrate and not fall on my butt in front of a car, at the same time.

Nike thermal gloves with key pocket, photo from thefind.com

I prefer these gloves over other pair, which are thermal gloves from Nike, with a key pocket in the palm.  I can’t fault these gloves for being not warm enough. For me, they’re just too warm. It may be that I sweat more than the average person (ok, my husband says, so romantically, that I sweat “like a farm animal.”) But, I end up having to take them off, then getting cold, and then putting them back on again, during my runs that are anything longer than 2-3 miles.

Bottom line: the Wanganui mitts may seem expensive at first, but they are totally worth every penny.