In landscape and outdoor photography, the only thing that worse more than bright sun and stifling heat is shivering cold. This is especially true when wearing conventional gloves and trying to operate a camera's small, fiddly dials and touchscreen.
To solve this, PGYTECH has introduced three models of gloves designed for photographers and videographers working outdoors. The company sent me two models to review: "Professional" and "Master", the latter of which provide supplementary heat at the touch of a button. I recently tested both sets of gloves during a winter landscape photography trip to California and have the following to share.
- Well designed, quality materials
- Comfortable to wear
- Touchscreen pads on three fingers
- Master gloves get very warm
- Master battery can be used as powerbank
- Longer battery life would be nice
- Master model is pricey
- Somewhat bulky in your camera bag
Professional and Master
Both the "Master" and "Professional" gloves use the same mix of splash-resistant plastic and 1.3m "Thinsulate" Cotton and HIPORA Liner. Both feature drawstrings that tighten the gloves around the wrist, plus a lateral PGYTECH branded synch strap that tightens the gloves at the base of the hand. The "Master" gloves are a little longer, extending an extra inch or so up the wrist for better skin coverage under a jacket sleeve.
The index, middle, and thumb fingertips have touchscreen compatible material that works with phones and camera screens. For more precise control, all three tips fold backwards, revealing bare fingers. This allows you to use a camera as you normally would without gloves while keeping the majority of your hand and fingers warm.
The "Master" gloves include an additional, secondary flap that covers all four fingers and provides additional warmth against the elements. The back of the flap has a small zippered pouch for small items like microfiber cloths, SD cards, etc.
Master heating and charging
The key differentiating feature of the "Master" gloves is their battery-powered heating system. Heat is powered on an off through a white button on the back of the hand, with options for low, medium and high heat. Power is toggled on and off with a long press.
Power comes from two 4000mAh rechargeable batteries (one in each glove). The batteries are stored in a velcro pouch under the wrist, and connect to the gloves using internal USB-C cables. Each battery has its own power button, plus four LED lights that indicate how much charge is available. Both batteries are identical and may be used in either glove.
Interestingly, the batteries can also be used power banks. I connected mine to an iPhone 15 Pro Max, and it worked fine. Power output is low (5 watts), so they wouldn't be a replacement for a dedicated power bank, but would come in very handy when no other power options are available and you need some in a pinch.
I'm glad PGYTECH designed the gloves with a removable battery, for then the batteries may be removed and packed in carry-on luggage, while the gloves may be packed in checked luggage. It also means the batteries can be removed to conserve weight, or when temperatures don't necessitate heating.
Cold weather testing
I tested both sets of gloves during a winter photography trip in California, where temperatures averaged between 25 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Both the "Professional" and "Master" gloves were sufficiently warm and comfortable, but on dark early mornings and late evenings when temperatures dipped below freezing, I was glad to have the heated "Master" gloves.
That said, my hands did get hot and sweaty while hiking and wearing the gloves. They felt too warm and insulated. In those situations, I would have preferred a lighter, thinner glove. This is one of the downsides of the "Master" and "Professional" gloves, for you either wear them or you don't (unlike gloves with an outer layer that may be removed when temperatures rise).
The "Master" gloves provide "Low" heat for a decent stretch of time, but the "Medium" and "High" modes drain the battery quicker. I timed each mode and found the following:
- Low heat: 4 hours, 50 minutes
- Medium heat: 2 hours, 53 minutes
- High heat: 2 hours, 10 minutes
For me, low heat was warm enough when temperatures were around freezing. On a couple of occasions I turned them up to medium and high, which was nice, but low did a suitable job of warming my hands without feeling hot when standing stationary behind a camera.
Besides the more advanced heating tech in the "Master" gloves, the biggest difference between the two models is price. At the time of this review, the "Master" gloves cost 2.5x more than "Professional", with an MSRP of $130. That's a good chunk of money for a pair of gloves that are more or less the same as the "Professional" gloves but with heat and an additional flap.
Then again, the "Master" gloves may be used in any cold weather environment, with or without heat. That makes them more flexible and usable compared to the "Professional" gloves which cannot get as warm in sub-freezing temperatures. The "Master" gloves cost more, but can be used in a broader range of temperatures, and should keep hands warm in any winter environment.
Overall, I think both sets of gloves are just right for photographers and videographers operating small, fiddly cameras, phones, and tech in the great outdoors. Both are well insulated, warm and comfortable, with the "Master" gloves going a step further.