How to Choose Ski Gloves and Mittens

You might have put on the best winter jackets and shoes you could ever get on the market for skiing and snowboarding. However, without proper hand protection, you will still end up suffering from the harsh cold temperature in your environment. Therefore, it goes without saying that investing in the right ski gloves or mittens is just as important as investing in other protective skiing gears.

However, picking the perfect pair of hand protection can be an overwhelming experience. After all, there are tons of brands, styles, sizes, fabrics, and durability levels on the market to choose from. In order to make your search for the right gloves a bit less daunting, we have created this detailed guide including the certain factors you have to consider when buying one as well as a comparison between gloves and mitts. Let’s get started.

The choice between mittens versus gloves has been an age-old debate among many snowboarders and skiers. In fact, most snow goers will have their own opinion regarding which is the better choice between the two. However, it ultimately boils down to personal preference.

If you’re after more dexterity, then gloves would be the better option as they can help you hold onto poles or set up your bindings with ease. Meanwhile, mittens provide you with more warmth, thus resulting in more comfort.

That said, let’s have a look at their aspects to see which one you want to go for.

1. Mobility

As far as mobility goes, gloves have an edge over mittens. Of course, you can still expect a bit of bulkiness, and freely moving your fingers while wearing gloves might not be as easy as you would think. This means that you should still pay attention when holding on to poles or the sides of chairlifts.

Some of the tasks that you can do easily when using gloves are as follows:

  • Holding your phone
  • Opening pockets in your backpack
  • Removing a wrapper from your snack bar

On the other hand, mittens will allow for less mobility. Mittens will encase your fingers in a single “compartment” as opposed to gloves that will have separate sections for each of your fingers. As a result, you’ll be able to grab onto ski poles a bit easier. However, when it comes to other tasks, you might experience some difficulties with mittens than you would with gloves.

Therefore, when it comes to overall mobility, gloves are the winner is the gloves vs mitts mobility matchup. However, not all gloves are created equal, so it’s pretty common to come across gloves that offer more mobility than others, especially when considering factors like the materials used, their thickness, and how they can fit around the hands of the wearer.

Alternatively, if you prefer the warmth of mittens without having your mobility restricted, then you can also opt for three-finger mittens. You can consider them as a hybrid between the two.

2. Warmth

With both gloves and mittens designed for additional warmth and comfort when snowboarding or skiing, you might want to assume that both of them offer the same level of warmth.

As it turns out, however, the mechanism between the two differs. Gloves have separate sections that provide excellent coverage and warmth for each of your fingers. On the other hand, mittens tend to rely on the closeness of your fingers as a means of generating even more heat. Due to that, mittens are considered generally warmer than gloves. Also, they have less surface that’s exposed to the cold as opposed to gloves.

However, you have to keep in mind that the warmth of any mittens or gloves will depend on their build quality and the materials used. This means that some mittens will be less warm compared to gloves and vice versa.

3. Skiing Advantage

When it comes to the mittens vs gloves skiing discussion, you’ll find that most skiers will prefer wearing gloves since they can provide them with more dexterity and will make handling gear a lot easier. However, it’s also possible to wear mittens for skiing. The only major issue you’ll come across is that it can be a bit harder to hold poles when you’re wearing mittens.

Although it’s possible, you’ll find that your grip won’t be as firm compared to gloves. The most ideal option would be to go for lobster mittens, a variant that features a separate pocket for your thumb and index finger.

However, even though you can enjoy more dexterity with gloves, bulky gloves can still make it hard for you to maneuver. But if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of dexterity in exchange for more warmth, then they would suit you just fine.

4. Snowboarding Advantage

It’s pretty much the same with skiing, except that in the mittens vs gloves snowboarding discussion, it’s in reverse. As opposed to skiers, snowboarders tend to prefer mittens since they don’t really need the extra mobility that’s offered by gloves for holding poles. Besides, they can benefit more from the warmth that’s given by mittens.

However, either of them can work just fine, and your choice will depend on how much comfort and warmth you need. Then again, another reason why most snowboarders prefer mittens is simply because they’re a lot easier to put on and off.

There are also some who find mittens to be somewhat limiting while some would prefer the extra warmth they offer. You just have to keep in mind that every snowboarder has his own preference, so if you already have your pair of gloves and thinking about switching over to mittens, you should first get a feel to see if you will like them or not.

How to Pick the Right Gloves and Mittens for Skiing

Now that we’ve had a bit of a comparison between mittens and gloves, let’s now move on to how you can choose the right hand protection for your skiing escapades. Basically, you have to consider several important factors. They’re as follows:

1. Insulation

Needless to say, ski gloves and mittens are supposed to keep your hands warm and comfortable while skiing. However, aside from their differences in terms of their design, you also want to consider the form of insulation used in your preferred hand protection. You can find gloves and mittens in the market that uses one of these insulation types:

  • Down – This one is perfect for dry conditions and is excellent for extremely cold conditions that don’t only involve moderate activity. This insulation type is made of feathers and down plumules, making it capable of trapping air, thereby keeping your hands properly insulated. When it comes to cold and dry conditions, down insulation is hands down the perfect choice. However, it doesn’t do well when it comes to wet conditions.
  • Primaloft – Primaloft makes use of a synthetic microfiber material for retaining warmth and conserving your energy at the same time. As opposed to down insulation which works great on dry conditions, Primaloft is the perfect choice during wet ones. Though it’s inferior to down when it comes to warmth, it does offer better insulation even while wet, not to mention it’s also water-resistant and breathable.
  • Thinsulate – The last one is Thinsulate which is made of ultra-thin microfibers. Compared to the other two, Thinsulate is more ideal if you’re after dexterity due to its less bulky build while still providing excellent insulation.

2. Cuff Style

Picking the right length and style for a glove’s cuff for your skiing activity is actually a personal preference. However, the main concern should be on how you can keep liquid from penetrating into your gloves and jacket. Your jacket style might also help determine the ideal length and style for the cuff that will work best for you.

That said, here are the several cuff styles you want to keep in mind when buying a ski glove or mitten:

  • Under the Cuff – This is the shorter length version which generally ends at the base of your wrist. As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy greater mobility around your wrist area. Aside from that, it can also allow your jacket cuffs to cover your gloves. In most cases, this style is best when paired with an adjustable jacket sleeve.
  • Over the Cuff – Compared to under the cuff gloves, longer cuffs normally extend past your jacket’s sleeve, thereby providing you with added protection against snow. This one doesn’t rely on personal preference, but you have to check your jacket’s cuffs to make sure they can be adjusted.

3. Heated Version

To be fair, gloves and mittens are actually available in a heated version to provide you with extra warmth during those extremely cold days. Needless to say, they’re the best possible option if you think the warmth that’s offered by your current gloves or mittens aren’t enough to keep you comfortable.

Compared to the typical gloves and mittens, heated versions are powered by small batteries that will heat up your hands from the inside, thus providing you with extra warmth. You have the option to choose between low, medium, or high heat settings which will last for around 2-8 hours depending on which setting you chose.

Aside from that, the batteries that come with them are rechargeable, though you can always bring some extra pairs if you want to ski all day or plan to go for multi-day trips. Of course, they’re generally more expensive compared to your typical gloves or mittens. However, the comfort that they offer during those bitter cold days just can’t be overlooked.

4. Size

The size will also play a major importance while buying either gloves or mittens. Keep in mind that the bigger ones will only reduce your agility. However, you should also keep in mind that the tighter ones can instead reduce blood circulation in your hands, thereby potentially leading frostbite during extremely cold conditions.

Therefore, you want to make sure that your preferred gloves or mittens can fit your hands properly. Not only will they offer you excellent warmth and comfort, but they can also provide you with better dexterity. Ideally, you want to look for a glove that will fit your hands snugly while providing enough room for your fingers without you losing your grip.

Also, you have to make sure that your palm is tucked inside the cuff to make sure that your wrists are fully covered. Fortunately, most manufacturers will provide their sizing chart so you can decide which is the right fit for you. They usually measure the circumference around a hand’s widest part in inches. Therefore, you want to measure yours as well then refer to a manufacturer’s sizing chart after.

5. Shell Material

Most ski gloves and mittens are made of synthetic fabric such as nylon. However, you can also find those made of leather and ones made of a combination of both. Most high-quality models will use waterproof yet breathable fabric and use either PU (polyurethane) or ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene) as a coating.

Meanwhile, those who are after durable gloves and mittens, the ones made of leather is no doubt the best option due to the material’s durability and natural water resistance. Leather gloves and mittens are often made of goatskin or cowhide, though cheaper ones can be made of pigskin.

Despite being water-resistant, they should be treated with wax every year to maintain that inherent ability.

6. Membrane

The membrane, or basically the coating of a glove or mitten’s shell material, is the one responsible for keeping your hands dry regardless of the condition. Since snow or water penetrating inside your gloves could lead to frostbite, it will be the job of the membrane to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Though in most cases, wet gloves are often due to lack of breathability as well as your own sweat. However, as long as your gloves have a well-made membrane, it will not only prevent liquid from entering but will also make sure that your hands can breathe.

There are actually several waterproofing materials that are used for ski gloves and mittens. They’re as follows:

  • Hipora – Hipora is known to be breathable, waterproof, and windproof with the use of a polyurethane coating. It features tiny pores all over the coating which allows it to prevent liquid from getting inside while allowing moisture to get out.
  • GORE-TEX – This type of membrane is placed between a glove’s insulation and outer shell. Out of the other waterproofing materials used for gloves, GORE-TEX has the highest level of waterproofing and breathability.
  • WINDSTOPPER – The WINDSTOPPER fabric is made using an ePTFE membrane to make sure it’s breathable and windproof. The only caveat, however, is that it’s not waterproof. Still, it offers excellent wind protection and breathable, thereby keeping you warm without the bulky size. This makes it suitable for cold and dry climates but not ideal for wet conditions. However, most WINDSTOPPER products are coated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) to offer a fair amount of water resistance. But then again, that won’t be enough if you got caught in wet conditions.

7. Liners

A glove’s liners refer to the extra layer of material in ski gloves designed for added comfort and warmth. These are close-fitting gloves that will help minimize the risk of exposing your bare skin to the harsh cold winter. However, due to their lightweight design, liners are also ideal for use during the spring season. They can wick moisture away during moderate activities, are capable of managing moisture, and has a thin feel that you almost won’t feel them at all. Moreover, most of them are touchscreen-compatible too!

The good thing about using liners is that you’ll be able to get an exterior shell glove then switch your liners according to the weather conditions. For example, if you go for a thicker liner made of polyester, you’ll be able to enjoy better insulating properties.

Besides, liners are convenient after you’re done skiing since you can just take off your bulky gloves or mittens then use your liners for that extra warmth. However, do keep in mind that most high-quality gloves or mittens on the market will no longer need liners since they are capable of providing enough warmth on their own.

8. Touchscreen Compatibility

Liners aren’t the ones that have touchscreen compatibility. In fact, you can find several gloves on the market that has this feature as well. Touchscreen compatibility simply means that you’ll be able to use your phone or other devices that have a touchscreen while wearing your gloves.

However, only a few ski gloves and mittens have this feature which is often found in light to midweight gloves. Though this might be a nice feature to have, you might want to ignore this if you need more warmth from your gloves.

9. Palm Reinforcements

Most ski gloves and mittens will have reinforcements on the palm area to provide you with better grip and protection from your edges. Like other parts of a glove, the material that makes up the palm area can also affect its overall performance and cost. On cheaper products, the palm area could be made of synthetic material. Meanwhile, more expensive ones would go with leather.

Leather can offer better mobility compared to synthetic materials. Aside from that, it’s also more durable and can resist edge cuts better. However, it will require regular treatment for that ability to last, and that means using the right cleaners and reproofers to maintain its overall quality. On the other hand, palm reinforcements made of synthetic materials don’t need any maintenance at all.

10. Other Features

There are also several other features you want to consider when looking for the perfect ski gloves or mittens for your needs. However, while these features can add extra comfort and convenience, they’re not, in any way, necessary. Besides, these features will tend to add to a product’s overall price, so only consider these features if you really need them and if you have extra money to spare. They’re as follows:

  • Handwarmer pockets – These are ideal if the insulation offered by your gloves or mittens aren’t enough to keep you warm and comfortable during very cold conditions. In most cases, these pockets are located on top of the gloves to make sure that mobility won’t be compromised. They can also act as vents during warmer weather.
  • Wrist loops – These are strings that attach to your jacket or wrists, thus preventing your gloves from going too far in the event you drop them.
  • Closure system – This is designed to close the cuff around your wrist, thereby securing the gloves on your hands. It normally comes in either an adjustable strap or a zipper version.
  • Nose wipe – Often made of a soft and absorbent material, a nose wipe is actually convenient for wiping your nose without the need to take out a tissue from your pocket.
  • Mini squeegee – Some gloves and mittens come with a mini squeegee on the thumb area to help wipe your goggles.
  • Padding – This is designed to protect your hands from any damage when you accidentally bump against rocks, trees, or even race gates.
  • Articulated fingers – These pre-curved fingers allow you to handle poles and chairlifts with ease.

Conclusion 

If you are to choose, which one would you use for skiing? Gloves or mittens? Well, the answer to that would depend on your personal preferences. As what has been mentioned, if you’re after more mobility, then gloves are the better choice. Meanwhile, if you prefer more warmth, then you’d want to go for mittens. Also, if you have more money to spend and would like to enjoy more warmth and convenience, then you can also consider those products that come with extra features mentioned earlier.

Regardless of your choice, the factors listed above will help you on how to choose the right gloves and mittens for your skiing adventures. Just make sure that you keep them in mind when you go shopping for gloves on the market. Good luck shopping!

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