Today I have for you a review of the Simms Fishing Exstream Foldover Mitt I recently picked up for winter fly fishing. Suprisingly, I haven’t found many in depth reviews of this glove so far. I was debating between the Foldover Mitt, Half Finger, and full finger Flex glove, but finally pulled the trigger on the foldover version as they are the best between both worlds.
Just for some background, I bought these to try do more winter flyfishing in the streams in Central/Western Mass and for a few steelhead trips in NY this year. I’ve had a pair of full finger neoprene Glacier Gloves I bought before my last steel head trip, which, I kind of hate. Mainly because they aren’t that warm when its super cold without the liner, and they offer no dexterity. I think they have since updated the glove with an interior lining, but mine don’t have them being 5 years old. Without a liner or lining, the sweat builds up inside the glove and makes your hands super cold and makes them near impossible to peel off.
With the Simms Exstream Mitt, you essentially have a half finger glove with the option to make it into a full coverage mitt along with a folder flap to cover the thumb. The mitten snaps in place against the back of the hand, while the thumb folder back and tucks into a flat strap stitched into the glove. The interior of the glove is lined with a red orange “cookie monster” soft lining. Looks like faux fur, but traps a lot of heat and warmth. Many jackets in the past couple of years have started using this, including Arcteryx, EMS, and Mountain Hardwear. Don’t get it wet though, as its like petting a wet dog once soaked.
On The Water
I tested these on a day fishing the Westfield River in western Mass with some friends this weekend and have to say they kept my hands warm. The temperature in the morning started off at a brisk 32F and warmed to only about 42F by mid afternoon.
Getting out of the car and rigging up my flyrod, reel, and line I used the gloves in “half finger” mode. By the time I was done rigging, my hands were already starting to get uncomfortably numb (standing in an empty parking lot fiddling with lines will do that). So the option to fold over the mitts was a god send while I walked the half mile down the trail to the river. With the glove in “mitten mode”, its not very practical for fishing, especially if you are streamer or dry fly fishing. Since I was nymphing, I did find it possible but not easy. I found I could poke just my index out from under the mitt on my rod hand to keep the line pinched against my rod handle, and fish with the mitt covering all my fingers on my line hand except for my thumb. With just my thumb exposed, I could successfully pinch the line against the mitted fingers while doing the light stripping/mending/and resetting you usually do with high stick nymphing. After a few hours, the temperature was climbing up toward 40 and I folded the mittens back and my fingers stayed warm in half-finger mode. I was skeptical if they would keep my hands warm, as I’ve never worked with half fingers before. The gloves also have a flap in the wrist that lets you put a heater packet if its really cold but you need your fingers for line management. Then again, if it was any colder than 32F, fishing would be miserable with your eyelets freezing anyways.
I did find a couple issues with the gloves though. First off, the thumb flap on my line hand (left hand) did not seem to stay put behind its thin strip of elasticated fabric. The flap on my rod hand did. I don’t know if the strip had a little too much slack in it, got a little stretched out (even though the gloves were brand new) or what, but I found the thumb constantly just out and flapping in the breeze. I think even these strips were more elastic, they would hold in place better.
Another issue I have is with the mock wrist sleeve. Generally, in the case of winter gauntlets, you have a sleeve with the cinch cord that lets it cover your wrist and draw down tight. Or, in the case of winter gloves, you have a trim profiled wrist that velcros down flat and your jacket sleeve goes over it. With the ExStream, they made something in between. Its not that wide and takes some effort to pull over your sleeve and has no draw string, but its just a little too bulky to tuck your jacket over. So what I found was this sort of wrist flap that kind of covered my wrist, but my jacket was constantly pulling out of it. If it were designing the glove, I would’ve gone with a 4-way stretch fabric wrist cover that lays flat and rides up the wrist a few inches for the warmth. The gloves aren’t water proof after all, so if you’re hand is going into the water that deep, covering over your jacket sleeve isn’t helping much.
Oh, I forgot to mention, these aren’t waterproof gloves, obviously, since they are half fingers to start. If you want something fully waterproof, then you’ll have to go the Glacier Glove or Kast Gear Steelhead glove route. They do block wind though, as the glove is made from a soft faced soft-shell Polartec Powershield Pro outer. The fabric is very similar to my EMS Fader softshell (which I fish with) which I believe is a Schoeller brand fabric, with a similar soft nose and wind proofing. But what you lose in waterproofness, you gain in dexterity. They are pretty easy to pull off with your teeth before landing a fish, which I recommend doing even if you’re using a landing net. However, you can safely handle a fish with the gloves on, as Simms put some effort into a research fabrics that minimize fish mucous removal while handling. (Go Simms!)
All in all, for $60 retail, the Simms ExStream Foldover Mitt is a sound investment for anyone planning to do more cold weather fishing. I debated between these and the solely half finger version (which are $10 cheaper) because they fit a hair better, but opted for the added option of a mitt for warmth. I’d rather have the mitt and never use it, than to not have it and have cold fingers wishing it were there. Dan, at Stone River, made a good point that if I absolutely hate the mitten flap, I could always just cut them off. Considering I needed them on my first morning out with them, I think they can stay. :)
Buy it from Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1Mhb1Sg
Buy it from Stone River Outfitters here, like I did.
Buy it from Backcountry.com here: http://goo.gl/pQpQhh