As I read a headline warning of another ‘Beast from the East’ potentially hitting Britain, I smiled to myself, knowing that this time I had a handy gadget to protect myself.
While plummeting temperatures are a good excuse to invest in more winter sports gear, historically, there’s always been a painful downside for me.
My Raynaud’s Phenomenon symptoms mean that cold weather results in my hands going numb, making some everyday tasks difficult.
This year, however, one self-gifting investment has changed things for the better, and more than paid for itself.
While I love gadgets, I never knew a pair of heated, electric gloves could bring such joy.
These gloves, which I charge to ensure my hands stay warm, have made things so much easier.
I’m a fairly robust, outdoor loving, middle-aged father of five, so I’ve always kept quiet about my painful hands when temperatures dropped.
It was only relatively recently that I realised the pain I experienced in my hands during winter days out wasn’t normal.
My fingers get very painful and, quite alarmingly, they also have a habit of turning white and going numb.
About a year ago, after I mentioned this, a GP said I might be suffering with a circulatory disorder and so I took her advice to look into it.
I now know that, like my dad before me, I suffer from Raynaud’s Phenomenon – an abnormal reaction to the cold that the NHS estimates may affect up to 10million people in the UK.
The symptoms vary from mild to more acute but the most common sign you suffer from it is a pretty extreme reaction to the weather.
I’m lucky that my Raynaud’s isn’t too severe and only affects my hands but for some it can impact lips, ears, nose and toes and be quite debilitating.
Medication is available for extreme cases but the best advice from medics is to keep warm and avoid going out when temperatures are low.
Easier said than done.
As a man who loves skiing, is the family’s designated car de-icer, enjoys watching his kids from the touchline, lives for winter Twickenham visits and has a very energetic, frost-proof cocker spaniel, staying inside isn’t really an option.
Thus far, I tried to grin-and-bear it. Normal gloves just didn’t keep my hands warm so I accepted that I’d always need a painful 30 minutes for my hands to return to normal after returning indoors.
It wasn’t great, but thanks to this new life changing gadget – my electric, hand warming gloves – I’m now able painlessly to enjoy all the things I want to in cold weather, no matter how low the mercury gets.
Things like skiing, which is funnily enough where I made the discovery.
I heard a woman in Morzine, a resort in the French Alps, lauding the gloves while queuing for a chair lift.
The timing was perfect – the previous day, I’d very reluctantly had to leave my sons on the slopes as the pain in my hands had become so extreme that I was struggling to hold my poles.
As I heard the heated glove devotee ahead of me waxing lyrical about the joys of having warm hands all day in temperatures well below zero, I made a mental note to get straight onto Google after my descent.
I’d never heard of them before and was initially sceptical as to whether they would work but I thought it was worth a try as she really did sound pretty convincing.
There are a plethora of options online. I decided to go for the well-reviewed and reassuringly expensive Snow Deer Heated Glove Liner.
At a cool £120, it was pricey for a pair of gloves, to say the least, but it wasn’t long before I realised that the lady I’d heard on the lift was right.
By the time I returned from that trip they had been delivered and, since popping them on, I can’t imagine winter without them.
They are genuinely phenomenal and my love for them is beginning to verge on the evangelical – much to the amusement of my family.
The gloves are easy to use. Each has a small battery within it that needs to be removed and charged up before wear.
Charging takes a couple of hours. Once the batteries are inserted back in each glove, the warming effects can last up to six hours depending on the heat setting you choose.
The gloves themselves are just a regular black design – perhaps a little chunky but nothing too out of the ordinary.
They’ve generated a lot of interest from fellow dog walkers, skiers and outdoor exercisers alike.
Admittedly, I may be the one initiating the chat on chilly mornings with my enthusiasm for the gadget but it turns out there are a lot of other outdoor lovers suffering in silence.
I went for the most versatile version that I could wear all winter as opposed to the larger, ski specific design.
As a result, mine aren’t waterproof and an additional pair of large ‘lobster’ outer gloves has been needed for skiing.
My family’s division of the fashion police are not loving the look, but I’m fully converted, whether I’m just doing normal activities or taking to the slopes.
It’s the latter where I’ve been this week, and the Snow Deers have been put through their paces – trialled at altitude in -14°C.
I’m pleased to report no chilly fingers from first lift until last run enabling me to ski for the entire day, while my sceptical, conventionally gloved wife had to retire early for restorative mulled wine.
It sounds like such a simple thing but being able to be outside in sub-zero temperatures and not have any discomfort is a revelation.
Dog walks no longer require a 30 minute defrost period and I’m building up a lot of windscreen scraping brownie points on these frosty mornings.
As a fully signed up gadget addict and devotee of Apple products, I feel a little uneasy going on the record attesting that something as simple as a pair of gloves are the tech that changed my life.
But they really are rather special.
As told to Ellie Fennell
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Day Wolf heated glove liners
The Tech I Can’t Live Without
Welcome to The Tech I Can’t Live Without, Metro.co.uk’s new weekly series where readers share the bit of kit that has proved indispensable for them.
From gadgets to software, apps to websites, you’ll read about all manner of innovations that people truly rely on. If you have a bit of tech you can’t live without, email Ross.McCafferty@metro.co.uk to take part in the series
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