I was approached by Norwegian photography glove manufacture, Vallerret during the summer of this year to see if I would like to review their purpose designed photography gloves.
Now I am very much someone who wants this site to remain neutral and not be biased with reviews, hence I always pay for my own items and give you my own honest opinions.
I explained this to Vallerret and they said they were happy for any review thoughts to go up no matter what as they too wanted an honest review, I couldn't really say no to that !
I was very aware of Vallerret as a company as I had been looking at them for sometime as my hands do suffer in the colder months and they seemed like the ideal solution to this, let me explain further.
Operation of a camera with warm gloves on can be almost impossible due to the bulky nature and the fact your fingers cant have the same amount of dexterity and sensitivity needed to operate the camera.
Vallerret have an innovative approach to get round this by having thumb and forefinger caps that fold back to expose a bare finger and thumb tip to give you all the feel and control back and of course in this modern age, be able to operate the touch screen on the camera.
The finger caps are neatly held in place by some hidden magnets on the back of the glove and can be quickly folded back to cover the finger and thumb again and keep the all important warmth in the hand, clever stuff.
So why not just wear a pair of fingerless gloves I hear you ask ? Well sure you could but your finger tips would soon become very cold and this would spread down your fingers into your hands and render fingerless gloves useless.
Vallerret gloves however offered much more than just a glove without fingers.....
So before I get into the full review of the glove I'll talk a little bit about Vallerret as a company as I'm trying more and more to buy from ethical companies these days and I like to research anyone of them that I buy from.
Vallerret is committed to sustainability and is currently working with schemes to completely offset its carbon footprint and is a member of the 1% for the planet foundation which essentially means donating 1% of annual sales to support environmental non-profit organisations who work hard to create a healthy and vibrant future for our planet, something I really admire in a company these days and give my utmost support.
Vallerret was founded by Norwegian photographers Stine Lyng Jorgenses & Carl Van Den Boom who had found the problem of cold hands was directly effecting their photography and wanted to do something about it.
The idea was born and researched and was started on kickstarter in 2015 which quickly grew in support as other photographers had been having the same issues saw the benefits these gloves would offer them.
With all the best ideas it was a simple one but incredibly effective and solved the problem nicely for photographers.
Vallerret being based in Norway are subjected to real extreme cold temperatures and know a thing or too about keeping warm, all of this knowledge was poured into the making of the gloves.
Photographers the world over were consulted in the designs and the gloves were extensively tested and valuable feedback from real world photographers was used to make them even better.
When you speak to the team at Vallerret you will realise just how passionate they are about their products and how much they believe in them, this was a massive confidence boost and the fact they come across as really nice people was a huge bonus too.
Now over in little old England we don't suffer the same extreme cold temperatures as the Norwegians do but where we do come unstuck is usually the wind chill factor.
This can make a -1 temperature quickly feel like -15, no joke.
While speaking to Vallerret a decision was made that the Markhof Pro 2.0 would be the best glove suited to the UK climate as it was classed as a mid winter glove (By Norwegian standards) So it should cope with pretty much anything the UK could throw at it.
Worth noting here that Vallerret do gloves to cope with the deepest winter conditions so if you are planning to venture to colder climates then there are other choices you can make.
The construction of the Markhof 2.0 is so well thought out with features like webbing material on the palms which grips your camera or tripod superbly even in the wettest of conditions and it gives a secure feeling that it wont slip from your grasp, much more so than your own bare palm.
The Markhof 2.0 glove also comes with a neat little zip pocket on the back of each glove which is perfect for memory cards or such like, I keep a lens cloth and Zeiss wet lens wipe in mine. It also comes with a neat little tripod key for any adjustments I need to make, this has come in very handy (Pun intended) on many occasions.
The glove is constructed from a combination of goat leather (known for its great abrasion resistant properties) 2 ply DWR outer shell and suede panels which all work to give a water resistant finish, although the glove is not sold as fully waterproof.
The Markhof Pro 2.0 is available in 2 colour ways, Black or Black/Grey (I went for black)
On the inside of the glove the construction is made of 100% Merino wool which is highly regarded for its excellent breathability, being light weight and soft and has great antibacterial qualities and is of course a natural fibre from Merino sheep.
This is backed up with a Thinsulate layer which is a synthetic fibre that is known for its excellent warmth holding ability.
The Markhof Pro 2.0 has a pre curved design to suit the hand while gripping the camera very nicely but even holding your hands in the straight position it works perfectly and is still very comfortable.
Finally there is a jersey cuff which grips the wrist nicely without being uncomfortable at all but keeps the elements firmly at bay and the glove comfort level high.
Small point of reference but the Markhof Pro 2.0 was named after Simon Markhof a German adventure photographer who has been pivotal in the development of Vallerret's gloves from the start and who is renowned for going to some of the most hostile terrain around in order to capture the undisturbed beauty of the landscape, if you need product pedigree then look no further.
The Markhof Pro 2.0 as the name would suggest is the second incarnation of the glove with some serious updates making it next level and unsurprisingly one of their best sellers.
All Vallerret gloves come with a 100% satisfaction or your money back guarantee which gives great buyer confidence and shows the manufacture believes in their product and stands behind it.
So thats a bit about the product, so now I had to wait for it to turn up and then worst of all the big long wait till winter to use them !
When the gloves quickly arrived I couldn't wait to have a look.
They came in a beautiful black velvet like bag to keep them in tip top condition while in the bottom of a ruck sack.
The gloves were very lightweight and super comfortable when I tried them on, I could feel how warm they would be, one problem though.....it was in the middle of summer.
I put the gloves in the cupboard until they were needed which sadly wouldn't be for a few months yet.
Autumn finally came around and with temperatures quickly falling with a few mornings around 1 degree I thought it might be time to give them a go.
How Did They Perform ?
The gloves were very easy to use when on with the fold back fingers neatly clipping onto the hidden magnets (Which you cant feel on your fingers) The silicon palm non slip grip was perfect and my camera felt rock solid in the hand and almost stuck to my palm.
Operation of the camera was now an easy task with the finger & thumb exposed and then quickly flipping them back to stay warm, I was also easily able to operate my phone with the gloves on too which was handy as I constantly keep an eye on weather updates and keep in touch with other photographers to see if weather is better elsewhere etc.
More and more of my photography these days is being stationary in a fixed position waiting for a fixed composition to get the light I wanted over it and this can mean often being static for hours at a time which in the depths of winter can be very uncomfortable and the hands are usually the first thing to suffer and once that sets in then packing up is not far behind.
The Markhof Pro 2.0 was solving this problem nicely, while the temperature wasn't that low the wind was bitingly cold and yet my hands remained nice and toasty without ever getting sweaty.
The morning quickly passed and I had to get to work, the added advantage here was I was able to keep the gloves on in the car and drive due to the non slip palm !
Test two came rather unexpectedly, I was on the coast and temperatures were not that cold at the time, around 9 degrees but the wind got up, in fact it got up to over 40 MPH and the temperature felt like it had dropped a lot even if it hadn't, I had the gloves in my rucksack so I put them on and the wind didn't get through at all and a comfortable shoot carried on despite severe wind burn to my face !
Not long after the heavens opened and heavy rain came down, despite the gloves not being sold as waterproof I have to say nothing got through the glove itself, just a small bit wet on the cuff so I was pretty impressed.
They also came in very handy while clambering over rocks on the coast giving me a decent grip on the rocks without ever feeling bulky at all.
Test three was far more like it, a chilly November morning where the temperature had gone into minus figures and that coupled with a high wind seemed like the perfect chance to put the Markhof Pro 2.0 through its paces.
It did not disappoint, my hands remained warm, dry and the shoot was far more enjoyable because of it.
I will report back in a few months with further experience of the Markhof Pro 2.0 to let you know how its coped with the British winter but so far I'm really impressed.
The gloves are priced at the time of writing with an RRP of €74.95 on Vallerret's website and I believe that translates to roughly £65 but you cant put a price on comfort during your photography, you will function better, stay longer and be a more effective photographer because of it.
Vallerret have come up with a winning solution for the colder months with the Markhof Pro 2.0 and I couldn't be happier with them and now they are always in my bag just in case.
They do exactly what they say really, functional well thought out gloves that keep you warm and allow your hands to breath and keep your photo session on track.
They are well made, seem strong enough to last a long time and you don't really feel like your wearing gloves as they are very comfortable.
So was there anything I didn't like ? Not really, they performed very well and if I had to be ultra critical I would say the magnets could do with being a touch stronger as the finger tips didn't always hold against them, but that didn't actually effect the glove in anyway in its performance, and maybe the cuff could have been slightly tighter but that is probably more down to my size choice than anything.
TOTAL 46/50 92%
If your looking to be comfortable in your Autumn/Winter photography then I highly recommend a pair of Vallerret's excellent Markhof Pro 2.0 gloves. You don't have anything to lose as they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee ! Thats a winner in my book, toasty togs take better shots !
As always, Happy shooting
Vallerret's website can be seen by clicking HERE
*Gloves were kindly supplied by Vallerret for review purposes. No money, influence, endorsements or conditions were made. The above review is my 100% honest feedback.