Keeping your hands warm and dry when you’re outdoors can be the difference between a good trip and a bad one. As always, with winter gloves, the real challenge is finding the right combination between warmth and flexibility. So, let’s take a look at a few things to consider when you’re looking for the perfect pair of ski or snowboard gloves this season.

Mittens or Gloves?

Mittens keep the fingers all in a bunch and nice and warm even on the coldest of days, but they can be bulky and clumsy. Ski and snowboard gloves offer greater dexterity of the fingers. However, you will never get the same amount of warmth as a mitten can offer.

Overall, glove technology has come a long way from simple wool and cotton attempting to trap heat around your hands. Layering with special synthetic insulating materials and high-tech waterproof exteriors from brands like Gore-Tex can help make your winter sports gloves more than up to the task of keeping your hands both warm and dry.

Three finger gloves are a good compromise between the extra warmth provided by a mitten and the desired dexterity from a glove. These gloves typically isolate your index finger like a glove and bundle your remaining fingers together like a mitten.

Materials

Most quality ski and snowboard gloves are made with some combination of Polartec® and Gore® fabrics or leather on the outside, with insulation from providers such as Primaloft® and Thermoloft®. Leather provides added wind protection and warmth but may take some breaking in before they are as pliable as synthetic fabrics.

Waterproofing and Breathability

As with all of your outer layers, waterproofing and breathability are very important to evaluate when making your glove choice. At the lower price range, you will find gloves that have water-repellant outer shells and an inner waterproof membrane to keep water from getting to your hands. These options work well in dryer warmer conditions but don’t hold up under more prolonged exposure to colder wetter situations. They also have poor breathability, which can cause your hand to sweat, leading to the inside of the glove being damp and cold. Higher priced gloves will provide the high-tech fabrics and materials needed to ensure that your hands stay both dry and warm. Will you be skiing or snowboarding? If you are snowboarding, you will inherently be touching the snow more than the average skier.Therefore, you will need a robust glove with higher waterproofing properties.

Liner Gloves and Layering

Liner gloves give you tons of warmth without sacrificing your grip. One good thing about layering with liner gloves is you can buy an exterior shell glove, and then switch up your liners depending on the conditions. Use a thin liner for mild days, a midweight liner for climbing or cold days, and a thick insulated fleece lining for especially cold days.

Over or Under the Cuff?

Some skiers and snowboarders prefer gloves with a gauntlet style cuff long enough to come over their coat sleeves. This type of cuff ensures that a nasty wipeout won’t send snow billowing into your jacket. Another option is an under cuff, which is a shorter tapered style cuff that hides away neatly under your jacket sleeve. The size and design of your jacket sleeves are essential in determining which style of cuff will work best to keep the snow out.

Fit

Without the proper fit, your gloves will not give you the warmth or comfort that you desire. A glove that is too snug may limit circulation, causing your hand to feel much colder than it is. Conversely, a glove that is too big will be much harder for your body to keep warm. The ideal fit will allow at least a quarter-inch of space between the tips of the fingers and the tip of the glove.

Other Features

  • Hand Warmer Pockets – Typically found on the top part of the glove, these pockets allow you to insert hand warmer pockets in an area of the glove that will disperse the heat without increasing hand sweat.
  • Soft material on the thumb – Often, the material on top of the thumb is a soft fabric that allows you to wipe your nose when needed without rubbing the skin raw.
  • Leashes – These are cords that you wear around your wrist, allowing the glove to dangle safely when you need to remove it to give your hands a breather or adjust your gear.
  • Touchscreen Compatibility – There isn’t much worse than having to take off your nice warm glove exposing your hand to freezing conditions when you need to interact with your phone. From thin glove liners to full-on mittens, many glove options allow the ability to utilize the touchscreen of your device right through the glove.
  • Heated Gloves – For the coldest of days or for those outdoor enthusiasts that can never find a glove that can keep them warm, heated gloves are the best of the best. The prices and sizes of the battery packs continue to come down, making these gloves more and more prevalent. Heated gloves are often made with quality leather materials, offer different levels of heat, and are still suitable gloves when not utilizing the heating options.