Canada wins the war on frozen fingers

The military’s finger-warming vest could be a hit with anglers


Canada wins the war on frozen fingers

An amazing new invention by the Canadian military could mean you’ll never suffer from frozen fingers again.

Researchers at the Department of National Defence have developed the Torso Heating for Dexterity in the Cold system, a close fitting battery-powered vest with a built-in thermostat. Rather than covering the hands with a heated glove, the vest increases the wearer’s core temperature to the point where the body can keep fingers warm on its own. It’s the first of its kind in the world, says Darren Menabney, business development officer at Defense Research and Development Canada. “There’s nothing out there that really does the same thing.”

The vest uses a built-in control system to monitor the wearer’s finger temperature, and turns up the heat when they’re chilly. This fools the core into thinking that the body is overheating, triggering an automatic response to send warm blood to the extremities.

Defence scientists originally developed the vest for military snipers, helicopter flight engineers, medics and mechanics who do delicate work in frigid weather and can’t wear gloves. A working prototype of the vest has already been built and tested on soldiers, who took apart their rifles and put them back together again in -25° C conditions without any problems.

Now the military is accepting applications from private partners to license the technology and commercialize the product for consumers. Menabney predicts that the vest will be popular with people who want to keep their hands warm while performing detailed tasks, such as anglers, hunters, drivers who need to change a tire, or even homeowners who want to put up Christmas lights.

“It’s a neat idea, the fact that you can have your hands out in the cold and not feel it,” says Menabney. “It gives you a whole new kind of freedom.”


Canada wins the war on frozen fingers

  1. Very cool … pun intended … great to have when I drag the ride out … hate wearing gloves on the hog. Not mention the numb knees twould be great not to have suffer from them anymore.

  2. Overheating the body core enough to force the finger and hand vessels to be so flush as to give all that heat away?

    Hold on a sec — we sure the “solution” isn’t worse than the problem? How febrile does the core get? Anywhere for all that hyperthermia to go, besides buckets of sweat to mess up the insulating layers and besides frying the muscles, kidneys, heart, brain, …?

    A call out to anyone with a decent knowledge of physiology: would you wear this thing so you could tie up your boots in -60C weather?

    • What i want to know is why stop at the fingers? At -40c you are likely thinking, great my hands are warm, pity my —- just fell off. Then again where would you put the full body battery? Now maybe a really, really long cord. Eh, maybe not!!

  3. I doubt it’s hot enough for hyperthermia.

  4. That said, it’s an elegant enough idea that I’m surprised no one thought of it while designing heated gloves.

  5. Man, I could so use one of these for future Rideau Hall stakeouts.

    • I much prefer the old fashioned remedies myself. Nothing a bottle of scotch wont cure, including frozen fingers. Polish vodka is even better. Plays merry hell with the typing though.

    • I agree.” nice picture”

  6. Quite the exciting invention!

  7. Skeptics abound as usual. This is not meant to replace gloves or mittens, it is a short term use thing. For aircraft mechanics such as myself, having to remove gloves on the flightline at -30 is the norm. If this innovation will allow me to remove my gloves for manual dexterity, for a longer period, great…..where can I get one!

  8. I can see the rock climbers lining up at MEC for one already. A longer season, great friction, and toasty crimpers… Nice!

    • Wow, no kidding! I gotta get some for winter bouldering!

  9. I’m a landscaper who does snow removal in the winter and this would be perfect for me. I’ve used those back pain wraps that heat the muscles, and they work to an extent, but battery power sounds better. I hope the batteries are rechargeable

  10. Interesting.Electric vests are nothing new, I’ve been wearing one on my motorcycle for 20 years. Hmmm, all I have to do is turn up the heat a bit more!

  11. You can find battery powered heated clothing available for consumer use.

  12. They need to make the battery compact and light weight so that I can use this for snowboarding. For those not understanding the concept here….when the body gets cold it slows the pumping of blood to your outer extremities (such as toes, fingers) in order to keep your core warm. If your core is already warm it will pump warm blood to your fingers AND toes. This isn’t JUST for your fingers.

  13. I regularly walk my dog and I have got into the habit of carrying a really big extra hot mug of tea or coffee depending on the time of day. That works very similar to what they have described. Of course I am excercising too and the combination really heats up the core temp. On many occasions I have to take off my gloves to cool off. However if you are just sitting in a cold fishing hut the vest makes more sense.
    Good idea.

  14. Judging by the majority of comments here most of the people are not working outside on the cold days. As a service technician for heating and air conditioning this idea is great. Our job often involves us being on top of the roof to repair roof top equipment (that seems to always break down in the extreme weather) while you office people sit in the comfort of your office and write comments such as those above. In the winter time it is very difficult to dress for this weather and to expose your hands for any period of time is difficult at best. The parts are small and the gloves, mitts or what ever else you try to use to keep hands warm just does not work. In fact it is often the cold hands that force us to go inside to warm up. There are times where a simple job done out in the winter will take at least 2 times what it would normally take in the summer time. The idea of being able to work outside in the winter for extended periods of time with no gloves is a great idea for us service techs. If this works as they claim sign me up I am willing to try.

  15. I don’t know what is “new” about this. Gerbing’s has been doing this for years. My company used to work with them on some military projects where they were doing this stuff 4 years ago. They now have a whole line of battery operated products –

    I don’t use their stuff because I have a nice and warm job indoors but if I did work outside these would be the people I would call. They have a very loyal customer base who swear by Gerbing’s.

  16. Its a lifesaver for anyone with Raynaud’s disease. I was going to quit my job, I work outdoors. These gloves saved the damn day!