REI Minimalist GTX Mittens 2.0 Review

REI Minimalist GTX Mittens 2.0

REI’s Minimalist GTX Mittens 2.0 are 3-layer Gore-tex mitten shells that are ideal for use as rain mittens by themselves in cool weather or over a fleece or wool glove liner in winter. They have long gauntlets that cover your wrists, with a burly velcro strap to hold them in position and prevent water from leaking down your arm and wetting your hands. They also have touch screen compatible tape on the thumb, fingers, and palm that provides enough dexterity for clumsy Smartphone use.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight/pair: 1.4 oz (size large)
  • Length: 11 in (size large – past your wrist)
  • Construction: 3-layer GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable shell
  • Seam-taped: Yes
  • Touch screen compatible: Yes
  • Sizing: true to size, but size up for layering with a liner
  • Fabric: recycled polyester

REI Minimalist GTX Mittens 2.0 are 3-layer waterproof/breathable Gore-tex mitten shells that have velcro wrist cuffs and are seam-taped. They weigh just 1.4 oz for the pair and they have a clip so you can attach them to one another which makes them easier to find when stuffed in a backpack. They’re superior to most cottage-made rain mittens because they are factory seam-taped, which is a huge plus since seam-sealing rain mitten shells at home is much messier than seam-sealing a tent.

These REI Mittens have tape on the thumb, finger area, and palm which make them touch-screen compatible.
These REI Mittens have tape on the thumb, finger area, and palm which make them touch-screen compatible.

I’ve used other rain mitts in the past including Mountain Laurel Designs Rain Mitts and the two previous versions of these REI mittens: the REI Minimalist GTX Mittens 1.0 (now on sale at REI Outlet) and the version before those that used an eVent waterproof/breathable membrane instead of the current Gore-tex membrane. This new 2.0 version is very slightly different than the previous 1.0 version and I’d be hardpressed to say which is better. The only differences on the 2.0 version are the touch screen compatibility feature, a beefier velcro wrist strap, a reflective logo, and the use of recycled polyester as a shell.

Don’t get too excited about the touch screen compatibility in the 2.0 version. Mittens, by their very nature, are very low dexterity. While the thumb, fingertips, and palm are taped to make them screen compatible, you’re going to feel like the Michelin man if you try to use your Smartphone with them, as in fat-fingered. My advice is to wear a screen-compatible glove inside the mittens, at least in colder weather, so you can pull out your hand for better dexterity to manipulate a Smartphone if needed.

The REI Minimalist GTX Mittens 2.0 are 11″ long, just like the previous model, which is long enough to cover my wrist and watch. This is good to seal in your body heat since your blood flows so close to the skin at your wrist. The velcro wrist cuff allows you to wear a mitten over a rain jacket/shell sleeve if it doesn’t have its own wrist cuffs to seal in your wrist heat, or with the mitten under the rain jacket/shell arm if it does. Either way, you’re covered.

The mittens are long enough that they can be worn over your sleeve.
The mittens are long enough that they can be worn over your sleeve.

The nice thing about 3-layer Gore-tex mittens and gloves is that it takes a little longer for your hand perspiration to overwhelm them than a 2-layer or non-breathable one. This is less of an issue if you climb the hill on the ski lift, but if you’re on foot and hiking hard, your hands will perspire and eventually make the insides of the mittens damp. No way around that. But the value of using rain mittens, like rain gear, in general, is to stay warm, by blocking wind and evaporation, not to stay perfectly dry.

These mitten shells have an external DWR coating to make rain bead up and roll off the surface of the mitts in order to maintain their breathability. But DWR coatings wear off very quickly on clothing like mittens which are subject to so much abrasion. When this occurs, the polyester will wet out, blocking breathability, unless you refresh the DWR coating periodically with a treatment like Nikwax TX Direct. If you don’t refresh the DWR, they’ll still prevent rain from making your hands wet, although your hands will get wet more quickly from the perspiration which is trapped inside.

You can also use the REI Minimalist GTX Mittens 2.0 as an external shell for winter sports, which is what REI originally intended them for, but if you do I’d suggest sizing up a size or two so you can use a much warmer and bulkier inner glove.

Overall, I’m pleased with the REI Minimalist GTX Mittens 2.0. They provide a good wind, rain, and warmth layer for cooler weather and more exposed terrain. But they’re really not that much different from the previous 1.0 version.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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