Available Sizes: Small, Medium, Large (unisex)
Reviewer Profile: 5’3” and 120 lbs. (tiny hands)
Weight per pair: 1.2 lbs (544 grams)
- 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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.