Army Leather Heli Ski Gloves – A History

The Story Behind our Army Leather Heli Ski Gloves

More than 20 years ago, on November 27th, 1998, CMH – Canadian Mountain Holidays – invited a select few to an event at the Riche Banquet Hall in Stockholm with the aim of promoting Heli-Skiing in Canada. Claes and Svante Magnusson (the third generation Magnusson’s in the family company HESTRA) were two of those few that received an invitation. As the evening went on, Claes and Svante began talking to CMH’s then-President Mark Kingsbury. Mark told them about the guides’ working conditions and the type of strain their gloves were subjected to on a daily basis, and that they were in need of better, more durable gloves. After the meeting, Mark sent a fax to Claes and Svante in which he summarized what qualities the gloves needs to have to cope with the harsh conditions prevailing in the Rocky Mountains: 

”Our gloves due to the nature of Heli-Skiing and the type of work the guides do must perform several functions very well. First comes warmth, then durability, comfort and waterproofing. Goretex or other similar plastic coatings do not work. Our guides spend all day loading skis into the helicopter and digging in the snow. Our guests spend all day in the snow falling and putting on skis.” – Mark Kingsbury, President of CMH, December 1998.

Claes and Svante realized that they were facing a challenge. They decided to base the design and functionality on another popular model called Philippe Raoux, which had been in the range since the beginning of the 90’s. This model had proven to be perfect for skiing, but something more durable was required in order to fulfill Mark’s wishes. The first models that were produced therefore consisted of our most durable leather type, the same type of leather that at this time was only used for the Swedish military (hence the name Army Leather).  The samples had two different types of polyester fabric on the back of the hand, one of which was red and the other blue. In January 1999, the first models were ready and sent to CMH’s headquarters in Banff, Canada, attention Mark Kingsbury. Svante Magnusson told Mark to evaluate the two samples by using each one on each hand, something that Claes and Svante Magnusson themselves would regularly do when evaluating new models. Mark began evaluating the models, one on each hand as instructed, for ten full days of Heli-Skiing. After the evaluation, the red sample proved to be more water-resistant and the Army Goat Leather seemed to be holding up to the harsh conditions as it barely looked used after the 10 days of use. The collaboration on the new model started, with feedback continually given by Mark Kingsbury; the glove must be warm, durable, comfortable and water-resistant.

In September 1999, the Army Leather Heli Ski model was officially launched, and the model was included for the first time in Hestra’s range of ski gloves. It comes with the durable Army Goat Leather in the palm and the durable, water-resistant polyester fabric on the back of the hand. The lining consists of Bemberg polyester with a sturdy insulation. The liner is removable, meaning it can be dried out after a long day of skiing. The model is launched in three colors; black, navy blue and red. Shortly after launching, the Army Leather Heli Ski becomes a highly appreciated and popular model among both recreational skiers as well as professional guides.

The close partnership between Hestra and CMH has continued throughout the years and in 2000, Hestra also initiated a collaboration with CMH Nordic. By 2005, in conjunction with the launch of the Army Leather Heli Ski Outdry model, HESTRA became the official glove supplier to CMH. Today, the model is used by almost all Heli Ski operators in Canada and in addition to CMH, HESTRA now cooperates with over 20 Heli Ski operators worldwide.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the official launch, and the Army Leather Heli Ski is perhaps Hestra’s most famous glove to date. The model is largely unchanged and is now available in a total of nine different models and eleven different colours. Put simply, a functional and timeless classic, designed to last year in and year out.

Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitts

I just wanted to reach out and let you guys know that we absolutely love our mittens. We live in interior Alaska and spend our days snowboarding, cross country skiing, and ice skating. We own 4 pairs of Army Leather Heli Ski Mittens and they are truly the best! Thanks for making such an awesome product! 

Anna Dietz

Outdoor Project Review – Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Three Fingered Glove

If you want the warmth of mitts but hate the clumsy feel, these are the solution. Plus, they are ultra durable and comfortable. The Heli Ski is a superb glove, and I am thrilled with them. I would highly recommend them.

Tam McTavish - Pro Contributor

Outdoor Project – Hestra Falt Guide Glove

Hestra’s Fält Guide Gloves are extremely durable, boasting 100% leather and removable liners made from terry cloth and wool pile – and you can even swap in other liners of your choice! Your hands and digits will thank you for treating them to some of the world’s finest mitts.

Katherine Jondo

Gear Patrol – Hestra’s Standard-Setting Leather Ski Gloves

Hestra’s Army Leather Couloir (New for winter 2018/19) sets the standard for performance from a leather glove. The Ergo Grip technology features minimal excess material in the palm area and pre-curved fingers for added dexterity in everything — from backcountry riding to chairlift laps to gripping beers at après. Windproof, waterproof and breathable… your go-to glove this winter.” Buy Now

Gear Patrol Online Magazine


Hestra’s new backcountry-specific Ergo Grip Incline Glove is built to handle everything beyond the boundaries. What we love most about this glove is its pre-curved fingers—this feature yields such incredible dexterity that a neurosurgeon might consider these during work hours…Read More at FREESKIER

Backcountry Magazine 2018 Editor’s Choice Awards

Hestra Army Leather Patrol Mitt  Bottom Line: “A trusty mitten for frigid days or a reliable pair to toss in the pack in case of emergency.” Buy Now!

Ski Canada Magazine All Mountain Buyer’s Guide 2018

Hestra Army Leather Patrol Glove With a classic look, these leather-palmed and fabric-backed gauntlet-style gloves are ready for years of heavy use and abuse. A removable liner glove adds warmth and versatility. Buy Now!

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.