One of the biggest challenges in winter landscape photography is staying warm. If you have ever been out in subzero temperatures, you probably know that hands are often the first to get cold. With numb fingers, it becomes increasingly challenging to operate the camera. That is why protecting them from the harsh chilly conditions is imperative for landscape photographers. It sure is no easy task. Honestly, there probably is no one-size-fits-all sort of solution to that, but there are definitely products that can help. The Vallerret photography gloves are one of those. In today’s review, I would like to share my thoughts on the Vallerret Ipsoot model that I have been using extensively for the last month. Does it deliver on its promise, is there anything that could be improved, and most importantly – should you buy it?
Before we proceed, a quick disclaimer. This review is not sponsored or endorsed by Vallerret in any way. I bought the gloves with my own money and am not paid to write this review. Of course, if Vallerret is reading, I would be happy to accept their other products for testing – just saying! For now, though, this Vallerret Ipsoot review represents my own honest opinion. I share solely to help my fellow landscape photographers. That said, the links in this article are Vallerret and Amazon affiliate links. If you click on them and then buy anything, I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Don’t be shy, help the brother out – it’s free after all. And, it helps me run Sunset Obsession.
Why Vallerret Ipsoot?
If you haven’t heard of Vallerret before, don’t worry – they are a relatively new kid on the block. Vallerret is a Norwegian brand that specializes in making premium gloves designed specifically for photographers. The company started in 2015 with a successful Kickstarter campaign and has since grown its product line to include offers for all types of winter conditions.
The main feature of Vallerret gloves is what the company calls FlipTech finger caps. Essentially, it’s a design that allows you to flip off the tips of the index finger and the thumb without taking the entire glove off. Your hands stay warm, and you can operate the camera more naturally. As photographers, that’s exactly what we want. For convenience, once open, the caps are held in place by a pair of magnets. This prevents them from getting in a way all the time. Fancy name aside, it’s a simple concept, and I’m a little surprised no one figured it out before.
The gloves I am reviewing today is their Ipsoot model. The company describes Ipsoot as designed for deep winter. In their own words, these are the gloves for “very cold temperatures in deep snow”. Why Ipsoot, you might wonder? Well, these aren’t my first Vallerret gloves. I used to own the Markhof Pro model a couple of years back, before losing them somewhere in Frankfurt airport on my way home. One of my main issues with Markhof Pro was that they weren’t warm enough for me. So when choosing a replacement, it made sense to go for something more insulated.
The Look and Feel
In my opinion, the Ipsoot is a pair of fine-looking gloves. From the soft outer shell to the elastic wrist and the rubbery coating on the palm and fingers, the gloves are designed and put together extremely well. They feature a range of high-quality materials such as goat leather and Thinsulate. Overall, the gloves are soft, pleasant to the touch, and have a nice premium feel to them.
The company obviously put a lot of thought and consideration into the implementation of the flipping finger caps. In the Markhof Pro model (at least its initial version that I owned) the slits would often let through wind and chilly air even with the tips closed, compromising internal warmth. With Ipsoot, this is no longer the case. Vallerret did their homework and changed the design to fully seal the opening.
The outside of each glove features a small zipped pocket that could be used to store an extra memory card or something similar. One of those actually comes equipped with a tripod key designed in the shape of the Vallerret logo. Personally, I haven’t used either the pockets or the key myself yet, but I thought it was a nice little touch. Check out this short video where I demonstrate how the gloves look like and operate:
All in all, as far as look and feel goes, Vallerret Ipsoot get my definite seal of approval. They are scrupulously thought-through, expertly put together, and look the part – everything you’d expect from a premium brand.
Comfort and Usability
With regards to comfort, the Vallerret Ipsoot are extremely pleasant to wear. They fit really well and, once on, won’t let in the cool air. The inner 100% merino-wool layer ensures additional warmth and softness. The leather and the rubbery cover on the palm and fingers provide for a fantastic grip. I didn’t have any issues holding the camera. Another great thing about them is that they are very moisture-resistant. I could never get my Ipsoot wet, which is obviously important during longer trips in harsh conditions.
Unfortunately, this comes with one serious caveat. The gloves are bulky. Not yet in the ski clothing department, but close. In exchange for warmth, you lose quite a bit of flexibility in the fingers. This makes operating the camera rather clunky, especially one of a smaller variety. I am currently shooting with Sony A6400 and Panasonic G70, and let me tell you – it hasn’t been easy. Many a time I would just take the entire glove off out of frustration to do what I needed to do. Which we can all agree defeats the purpose.
Luckily, this is largely a matter of habit. It may sound strange, but there is a learning curve to these gloves. At first, I had to consciously force myself to keep them on and come to terms with slower speeds of doing things. I won’t sugarcoat it – there has been a lot of accidental setting changes and frustration involved. However, after I used the Ipsoot for a while and got through that initial phase, I became much more apt and confident with them. The movements come more naturally, and I am finally reaching the point where I can forget they are there and concentrate on taking photos.
On a separate note – if you wear glasses, a flipped-out thumb cap has an annoying tendency to get in a way when looking through the viewfinder. It’s a minor inconvenience, but perhaps something Vallerret could improve in future revisions.
Are They Warm?
No Vallerret Ipsoot review can be complete without discussing their warmth. Unfortunately, the company does not reveal the exact temperature ranges for their products claiming that those are too subjective. Instead, they offer their own custom warmth rating, which places the Ipsoot into the deep winter category. In simpler terms, that’s 4 out of 5 on their warmth scale, outperformed only by the arctic winter range. Personally, I’m not sure I’m convinced. To me, such an ad hoc solution seems even more subjective.
Therefore, all I can offer here is my personal perception. Personally, I’d prefer the Ipsoot to be a little warmer, especially considering their size and the resulting loss of dexterity. They are certainly more insulated than the Markhof Pro but still a far cry from a glove that can withstand “very cold temperatures in deep snow”. At least in my book. I also want to point out that I am not someone who gets cold easily.
To wrap it around some numbers, anything around or slightly lower than 0°C is probably fine. Below that, your mileage may vary. As one example, a couple of weeks back, I was out taking images at around -6°C in an open environment with fierce winds. It didn’t take long for my fingers to start freezing. This is where Ipsoot’s snug fit comes as a disadvantage since you can’t easily wear a thinner lighter glove beneath them.
Luckily, in Germany, we don’t get extreme temperatures very often, so for the most part, the Ipsoot did a great job for me. However, if you are sensitive to lower temperatures or live in an area with harsher weather, I would perhaps consider Skadi Zipper Mitt instead.
I would like to sum up this Vallerret Ipsoot review by answering the main question – do I recommend you buy them? Well, the truth is, it depends. As I said in the beginning, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to freezing hands.
If you love landscape photography and are serious about shooting in the wintery conditions, then yes, absolutely. Vallerret is the best there currently is for photographers, and while not yet perfect, they offer fantastic value. Keep in mind, you’ll have to learn to operate the gloves, and it might take a while to get used to them. But once through that initial phase, I’m sure you will enjoy and love the product. For me personally, the Ipsoot have become the default choice for any winter photography trips. If I were to lose them again, I would order a replacement immediately. Even with all their disadvantages, for landscape photography, they are head and shoulders above any other gloves I own.
That said, Vallerret products are definitely expensive. If you are just starting out or only shoot in the snow occasionally, the investment might not be worth it. I would suggest giving it some time. Once you reach the stage where you feel that using conventional gloves becomes a hurdle, go for it. Or, better still, drop a subtle hint to your friends. Vallerret gloves make for a great gift to a photographer, after all.
I’ll leave you with that. I hope you enjoyed my Vallerret Ipsoot review and got something useful out of it. If you still have questions about the Ipsoot (or the Markhof Pro) – by all means, let me know. Have a look around this blog if you like, or come say “Hi” on our Instagram or Youtube. And above all, happy shooting!