A proper pair of gloves are vital if you want to enjoy your skiing adventures. Cold hands are a sure-fire way to put a damper on any ski trip, so finding a set of quality ski gloves is a must.
With hundreds of options to choose from, though, finding just one pair of gloves to pack for a trip to the slopes is no walk in the park.
Whether you’re looking for a pair of gloves to wear for a day of resort skiing or for a winter camping ski tour in the backcountry, here are 5 great options to choose from.
At What Temperature Are Gloves Needed?
There’s no set temperature where gloves are necessary. Rather, whether or not you choose to wear gloves wholly depends on your personal needs.
For most people, gloves are needed when the temperature drops below about 40ºF (4.4ºC). But, even in 50ºF (10ºC) conditions, a thin set of liner gloves can make a big difference to your comfort levels, especially if it’s windy or rainy outside.
Below 40ºF (4.4ºC), most people find that their hands are cold enough that gloves would be helpful. At around 20ºF (-6.7ºC), you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone walking around outside or skiing without gloves on.
Is it better to ski with mittens or gloves?
The mittens/gloves debate is about as old as skiing itself. There’s no real answer to this question as it all comes down to personal preference.
In very cold conditions, mittens provide much more insulation because they have less surface area, which means your fingers are less exposed to the cold. However, mittens gain their insulating prowess at the expense of dexterity. This makes them less suitable for ski touring or other activities where you need to frequently use your hands.
If you want a mix of dexterity and warmth, “lobster claw” gloves are a good alternative. These gloves are essentially mittens that have a separate compartment for your pointer finger. That way, most of your fingers get the insulating effectiveness of mittens. At the same time, you still have some of the dexterity of your thumbs and pointer fingers.
The 5 Best Gloves
A budget-friendly option for skiing and general cold weather adventuring, the Outdoor Research Adrenaline Gloves provide a decent amount of insulation without breaking the bank.
Featuring a burly nylon outer shell that’s waterproof and breathable, these gloves also have a Ventia insert that adds durability and padding to the back of the hand. Additionally, they feature an AlpenGrip LT Palm for an enhanced grip on ski poles.
Within the gloves is a soft tricot lining for next-to-skin comfort. They are also packed with EnduraLoft insulation and they have a waterproof membrane throughout.
The Outdoor Research Adrenaline Gloves have a nifty pull-on loop to make putting them on substantially easier while outside. Additionally, they have a Ladder-Lock wrist cinch system to trap in heat around your hand as you ski.
- Budget-friendly option
- AlpenGrip LT Palm for improved grip
- Tricot lining for next-to-skin comfort
- Cinches around the wrist to trap in heat
- Not warm enough for very cold conditions (under 0ºF/-17ºC)
A top of the line ski glove that’s as comfortable on the slopes at the resort as it is off-piste, the Black Diamond Legend offers a great mix of warmth and dexterity.
Thanks to their GORE-TEX liner, these gloves are designed to keep your hands dry, even on stormy days. Their abrasion-resistant Pertex shell also helps seal out the wetness for added comfort while skiing.
Inside, these gloves are packed with 170g PrimaLoft Gold insulation and a fleece lining. Combined, they provide ample insulation for frigid cold days.
For added comfort, Black Diamond designed these gloves with a 3D articulated pattern that’s curved to fit your hand. The fingers on these gloves are also made from quality sheep leather for added durability and dexterity in the mountains.
- PrimaLoft Gold and fleece for insulation
- GORE-TEX liner provides waterproofing
- Pertex shell to keep water out
- Leather fingers for added dexterity
The Hestra Army Heli Gloves are an award-winning offering from a legendary glove manufacturer.
These ski gloves are made from the company’s proprietary Triton polyamide fabric, which is durable, windproof, breathable, and water-resistant.
On the palm, these gloves feature Hestra’s Army Goat Leather, which provides a durable and high-traction gripping surface that’s specifically designed for use in wet weather.
As far as insulation goes, the Army Heli Gloves have a thick layer of G-Loft, which is a synthetic fiber that’s known for its insulating abilities in wet conditions. For added comfort, they also have a Bemberg polyester lining that feels soft against the skin.
- Durable Triton fabric for windproofing and water-resistance
- Extra grippy Army Goat Leather palm
- Longer design to keep snow out
- G-Loft insulation works well in wet conditions
- Nylon wrist cinch strap can be difficult to close
As Arc’teryx’s warmest glove offering, the Fission SV is designed for use in severe weather conditions on the slopes.
The outer shell of these gloves is made from Fortius 1.0 fabric, which is extra durable for use in rough weather. They have a GORE-TEX insert for complete waterproofing as well as a DWR treatment to prevent water from seeping in during a storm.
To help keep you warm, Arc’teryx built these gloves with a thick layer of Primaloft Silver and Gold Insulation. They also added some Octa Loft insulation in the lining, which offers a good mix of warmth and moisture wicking properties.
Finally, the Fission SV gloves have an elasticated wrist strap that helps to keep snow out and provide a precision fit, all at the same time.
- Fully waterproof construction with GORE-TEX and DWR
- Three types of insulation for maximum warmth
- Extra durable Fortius 1.0 shell fabric
- Precision fit for dexterity
- Very expensive
When dexterity and warmth are both top priorities, the Black Diamond Guide Finger Gloves provide a good solution.
Boasting a lobster claw-style design, these gloves allow you full mobility of your thumb and pointer finger while keeping your other fingers toasty warm. They are packed full of 170g PrimaLoft Gold insulation and have a 300g Polartec fleece liner for added comfort.
The liner on these gloves is also completely removable. That way, you can actually use the shell of these gloves – which features a waterproof GORE-TEX liner – on their own in warmer conditions.
These gloves also feature a goat leather palm that’s purposefully shaped to provide a better grip on your ski poles.
- Removable liner for added versatility
- High-quality PrimaLoft Gold insulation and Polartec fleece insulation
- Good dexterity with PrimaLoft Gold
- Lobster claw style gloves are not comfortable for everyone
Should ski gloves be tight or loose?
Ski gloves should be relatively loose but not so loose that they’ll fall off your hands. The reason you want your ski gloves to be loose is that tight clothing actually restricts blood flow throughout your body.
Thus, gloves that fit too tightly can make your hands colder, which is counter-productive while skiing. Instead, ski gloves should be somewhat snug on your hands, without feeling constricting.
Are Ski Gloves Truly Waterproof?
One of the biggest complaints people have with their ski gloves is that their hands got wet, even though the gloves were advertised as waterproof.
Unfortunately, unless you’re wearing a SCUBA diving drysuit with integrated gloves, no pair of gloves in the world will keep your hands dry in truly horrible weather. That’s because, regardless of how well designed a pair of gloves is, they will always have a large opening for your hand, which acts as an easy entry point for water when the weather gets really bad.
This means that while, yes, your ski gloves are “waterproof,” they have their limitations. If it’s really snowy outside, or you’re sweating quite a lot, at some point your hands will get wet. That’s just a fact of life when you play outside in the winter.
Therefore, it’s highly recommended that anyone heading outdoors in the cold, rain, or snow, come prepared with multiple pairs of gloves. Two pairs should be considered an absolute minimum, but the more the merrier if you want to keep your hands warm throughout the day.
Additionally, even the best of gloves need to be re-waterproof and re-sealed every once in a while to keep everything in ship shape. Leather gloves, in particular, should be treated with Sno Seal, or something similar, on a regular basis.
If your gloves have a removable liner, it’s also worth applying seam grip to the interior seams to stop water from leaking in. Reapplying DWR spray to the outside of non-leather gloves will also help prevent water from soaking through during a storm.
Finding the right pair of ski gloves is crucial if you want to enjoy your time on the slopes. The trick is finding a pair that strikes a nice balance between dexterity and warmth for superior performance in cold weather.
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