The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.

Astis Sacagawea Mitten

Astis Sacagawea Mittens, Blister Gear ReviewAstis Sacagawea Mitten

Size: Small

Available Sizes: Small, Medium, Large (unisex)

Reviewer Profile: 5’3” and 120 lbs. (tiny hands)

Weight per pair: 1.2 lbs (544 grams)

Features:

  • Waterproof/breathable silicon injected suede leather
  • Hand stitched and beaded in the USA
  • Polartec® Thermal Pro® High Loft insulation
  • 3M Scotchgard™ Protector treatment to preserve integrity of leather
  • Generous length and gauntlet

Days Worn: 35 +

Locations Tested: Alta Ski Area, Grand Targhee, Snowbird

MSRP: $195

When I first laid eyes upon Astis mittens, I found myself spellbound: could such a high degree of glamor actually be functional? I had to know. These mittens demanded a review.

But when I showed up for a BLISTER ski day at Alta, some of the crew were unable to handle the sheer fabulousness of the Sacagawea mitten, and the review was nixed.

I persisted and allowed the mittens to work their charms. Plus, a number of readers who saw these mitts in various BLISTER photos requested more information, and so the universe has brought us to this present moment: here, finally, is your Astis Sacagawea Mitten Review.

The Story of Astis

“Astis” is the Cree Indian word for mitten, and the company aims to emulate the fine craftsmanship of the traditional leatherwork of this tribe. Founded in 2011, Astis was created by two friends who wanted to replicate a pair of handmade leather mittens bartered from a Cree Indian woman for a Swiss Army Knife 15 years prior. Unable to find a suitable replacement when the family dog destroyed the original pair, Astis was born.

Astis manufactures their mittens and gloves here in the USA. The suede leather hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is injected with silicon during the tanning process to enhance the waterproofing on the hide. The beadwork is completed in Los Angeles, and the mittens are stitched in two facilities, one south of San Francisco and another in Bend, Oregon.

Aesthetics

Obviously the intent of these mittens is to shock and awe, and I’ve enjoyed many a conversation with random ski strangers.

I’ve found over the course of this winter season that while wearing these mittens, there are two very distinct responses: those who see great beauty in these mittens, and those who find them utterly outrageous. In my unofficial statistical analysis, the former reaction is more prevalent than the latter by a ratio of approximately 8:1.

(And I’ve formed my own theory about this: so long as you can ski faster than the person who finds the mittens to be ludicrous, it is perfectly reasonable for you to be wearing these mittens. If not, well then it’s up to you to rock the hell out of them.)

The leather is incredibly soft to the touch, and the palms are reinforced with a thicker section of darker leather for added durability. The mittens are intricately hand-stitched with nearly invisible stitchery, and the beadwork is immaculate.

Astis Sacagawea Beads, Blister Gear Review

I’ve had perfect strangers refer to them as “a work of art.” Something about these mittens seems to strike a chord with people: maybe the uniqueness, or the fact that it’s actually a product made within the USA.

My nose is one of the few naysayers toward the Astis Sacagawea, however, as the mitten provides no safe haven for snot. I do appreciate and utilize the nose wipes located on the thumbs of my more conventional gloves, and notice their absence on the Sacagawea mittens—I just feel a bit odd about wiping a stream of snot on these mittens. It just doesn’t feel right. (My friend, however, uses the rabbit fur as a nose wipe on the regular, claiming that the fur naturally fluffs up following application of a runny nose, but I just can’t bring myself to freely wipe my nose all over them. So snot rockets it is.)

Sizing

Astis provides three general unisex sizes: Small, Medium and Large. Having child-sized hands (I’ve comfortably worn size Small or Extra Small for Black Diamond, Gordini, Kombi and POW gloves), I naturally opted for the size small. The fit is definitely generous (the compartment for my hand is about an inch wider than the actual width of my hand, and I can also easily wiggle my fingers independently of each other), which did leave me wishing Astis produced an XS for tiny folks such as myself (or perhaps children). But though they are roomy, the size Small works just fine. Having allowed many people to try on these mittens, I can say that any female with small-to-average-sized hands will comfortably fit in the size Small, and I would not recommend sizing up for these mittens.

Warmth

Astis Sacagawea Mitten Cuff, Blister Gear Review

Astis Sacagawea Mitten Cuff and Liner

I’ve recently used Gordini Elevation II Mittens, the Black Diamond Patrol Glove, and the Kombi Minx mitten, but simply put, the Astis Sacagawea is the warmest mitten or glove I’ve ever used. The Polartec Thermal Pro High Loft insulation does its job remarkably well. The inside texture resembles shearling sheep’s wool, but the material itself is much smoother and silkier than wool. They feel incredibly soft and luxurious.

On that aforementioned day at Alta with the BLISTER crew, the Supreme Lift Station reported 9 degrees Fahrenheit, and we were seeking fresh powder. While the reviewers around me complained of cold digits, I reveled in the warmth and beauty provided by the Sacagawea mitts. Similar stoke can be reported while skiing on New Year’s Eve at Grand Targhee resort in a balmy -2 degrees F. There is simply no way my other mittens or gloves could have kept my hands warm in these frigid temperatures.

 

13 Comments

  1. Jonathan March 6, 2013 Reply

    Glad to hear they have as much go as they do show. Do they have retention straps (didn’t see them mentioned, although you might have been including their absence in the ‘ease of removal’ paragraph)?

    In a quest for warmth and function this year, I went with the slightly creepy Hestra lobster claw gauntlet thingees earlier this year. They have none of the steeze of the Astis, but the retention straps are fantastic, encouraging bold mitten removal, even on the lift…

    Thanks for the eagerly anticipated review!

  2. Author
    Lexi D. March 6, 2013 Reply

    Hey Jonathan!

    These mittens do not feature any sort of retention strap, so do be careful when removing them on the lift!
    I can’t even really imagine how tragic it would be to lose one of these mitts!
    Thanks so much for reading up!

  3. Julie March 6, 2013 Reply

    Awesome review! I’ve been noticing those mittens everywhere, and wondering about their durability/waterproofing! Thanks!!

  4. Marcel March 6, 2013 Reply

    Cool mittens… I’ve been seeing a lot of buzz about those mittens and finally a reputable review! Unfortunately pretty much sold out everywhere! Maybe I will have to wait for next season…. those are freaking awesome looking mittens!

  5. Lexi D. March 7, 2013 Reply

    Hey Marcel!
    Have you checked out Backcountry.com? We provide a link above.
    They’ve got quite a few pairs and styles still in stock.
    I would snatch some up soon if you see a pair you can’t live without : )
    Thanks so much for reading!

    Happy snow sliding!

  6. Michael October 11, 2013 Reply

    real cool gloves that also seem to be superwarm but have you also enough free moving space with your hands or fingers exspecially if you have to pull fast the activation handle of an avalanche airbackpack (and every second counts in such a situation) or are they too bulky …. that´s my only fear with this gloves/mittens… because I never have seen a pic of people skiing with such mittens/gloves using an ABS…. thanks a lot….your answer would really help me further before I order them…

  7. Author
    Lexi Dowdall October 22, 2013 Reply

    Hey Michael,

    Thanks for reading my review!
    You are right, cool gloves that are super warm – that much I can vouch for.

    I performed a highly scientific test in which I put the gloves on and attempted to pull a lawn mower pull cord to simulate the airbag rip cord. Based on the results, I don’t think it would be a good plan to use these mittens with an avalanche pack. The mittens (on me) are rather bulky, and I can easily imagine a scenario in which it would be difficult to get a decent grip on the toggle, as the bulky fabric could get in the way. There is also very limited dexterity with these mitts, so all in all – this is not a recommended combination of gear.

    The mittens are so warm, they are not really suitable for backcountry skiing at any rate. They would be nice for Heli-Skiing, but again, I believe they are too bulky to deploy an airbag with 100% efficiency and accuracy.

    Astis does actually make gloves in addition to mittens. I’ve never tried a pair on, but I bet dexterity is going to be better with Astis gloves over mittens.

    Bottom Line: If you do plan to use an ABS system, I would not use these mittens. I recommend perhaps the Patrol Glove by Black Diamond, which offers awesome dexterity and durability.

  8. Michael October 23, 2013 Reply

    Hi Lexi,
    Thanks for your answer, sad for me…..but this is what I always thought about the mittens and we are using ABS sytems 80% of the winter time in the European alps…so no way…. just thought it could be a warmer alternative to my Hestras ….thanks also for your awesome reviews

  9. Rachel December 9, 2013 Reply

    I really really really like my Astis mittens!! I ski 100% in Utah, and my favorite days are the ones of constant snow and temps in the teens – keeps others off the mountain — and I frequently am in terrain where few others trek!! I, too, get loads of POSITIVE compliments on my mittens. And I’ve been invited to tag along with some backcountry skiers as a result of my mittens!! For the extra cold days, I wear my running gloves that have a mitten/pocket/sleeve thingy to folder over the fingers, insert a heat pack, and put on my Astis mittens. I have had NO problem with wetness seeping in from the snowy days nor getting stuck inside from sweaty hands. I had Hestra before – really wanted to love them, but they just weren’t warm enough. And the Astis easily pull over my jacket cuff – another nuisance of most handwear that just doesn’t have the circumference to get over the cuff… Glad it is ASTIS SEASON once again!!

    • Author
      Lexi Dowdall December 9, 2013 Reply

      Totally agree Rachel!

      -9 degrees F at the top of Alta yesterday. I was so happy I had my mitts in those temps, I got a few curious comments from onlookers as well. People were eyeing them because they look so warm!

  10. Julie August 20, 2015 Reply

    Hey, thanks for a great review! I had my eyes on these babies for two seasons now and was always a bit skeptical. I typically wear wrist guards under my mitts, do you think I would have an issue getting these on and off with the guards? Another concern I have is when I get to the top and have to strap in I tend to hold on to my board for support – Do you think they would be durable enough?

    Thanks!

  11. Lexi August 20, 2015 Reply

    Hey Julie,

    Thanks so much for reading.
    As far as durability is concerned, I wouldn’t expect these mittens to wear out any faster than comparable mittens you use to hold your board while strapping in up top. In general leather is more durable than synthetics like Gore Tex, so I wouldn’t expect these to break down on you right away. They will of course wear with age, but nothing beyond what you would reasonably expect. Mine are 3 seasons old now, and while a bit dirty (I should wash them with a leather treatment), they still have tons of life.

    It’s hard for me to say whether these would fit over your wrist guards or not, it depends on the thickness of the guards. Like I experienced, the size small was HUGE on my small hands, but they do run much roomier than other brands when you compare sizes. If your guards are low profile I would assume they can fit in there. You could always order them from Backcountry.com and ask for a free return label in case they don’t fit.

  12. Molly November 3, 2015 Reply

    These are truly beautiful gloves but in your descriptions of them, features, you do not mention that the fur is rabbit. As it is a major features of many of the gloves I find this omission disappointing. For many, this fact is all important as faux fur is there buying pattern. Otherwise, a very good review!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Membership Popup Ad - JE Ninos2a