Updated: June 5, 2015
Best Winter GlovesFinding Great Winter Gloves and Mittens - Ask most people who spend time outdoors in winter what the single most important piece of clothing is, and they will likely say the winter glove. While most of the rest of your body has some natural protection against the cold (and that includes the protection of heat generation), your hands do not. In addition, no matter what reason you have for being out in the cold weather, it's likely you will need to use your hands. That means the best winter gloves have to keep you warm while at the same time offering flexibility. Whether you make the most of winter by skiing, snowshoeing, or ice-fishing, or you barely tolerate the cold steering wheel on your morning commute, gloves are a must. In this guide, we will take a look at some of the most popular winter gloves, with advice on features to look out for, where to buy, and what prices to expect (or jump quick to the list of best-selling winter gloves).
What are the Different Types of Gloves?
Choosing the right winter glove for you depends on several factors, including what you are going to use the gloves for, how mild your winters are, what style you find most pleasing, and, of course, how much you can pay. Building a snowman or playing with your kids on a snow day requires a sturdier glove (and perhaps waterproof gloves), while a dressy outfit needs something more sleek. Companies like The North Face and Head make gloves for the active winter outdoorsperson, Isotoner and LL Bean make some nice casual cloves, while Swany, Tillman, and others manufacture dress gloves for going to work and meetings in winter and other occasions. Chances are you'll need a few pairs of gloves to make it through the winter and do all the things you want to. Here are some different types of gloves to try:
- Winter Sports - Are Fleece Gloves The Best Choice? - Some people pray for freezing temperatures and snow so they can hit the slopes, hop on their snowmobiles or snowboards, or go ice-fishing. They need gloves that will keep their hands warm - and also protect them as they come in contact with snow, ice, and water. These gloves should have an outer lining that is made of a synthetic material and is resistant to wind and water, and yet allows for breathability. Gore-Tex is a great choice. The inner layer should keep your hands warm and protected from the elements. Fleece linings, particularly polar fleece, are popular. To winter enthusiasts, it is important that they have a complete range of motion, which is why most choose gloves over mittens. There are versions, though, that provide the best of both worlds, such as Burton's mittens that feature a glove liner inside. The outer layer, then, provides cozy warmth, while the inside allows dexterity in movement. A glove liner is included with Burton's Gore-Tex mitten. Burton's Gore-Tex 3-in-1 Snowboard Over Mitten, for instance, has a fleece lining glove with a nylon mitten shell. This allows for the dexterity of a glove but also has the warmth of a mitten. These are about $65 and well worth it to skiers, snowboarders, and other crazy people who love the cold. High-end gloves, like the New Generation Zanier Heat GX, which has a lithium battery to keep your hands toasty, cost about $350 -- while other heated gloves are $50 or less. Want cheap winter gloves? On the lower end, you can still find great gloves like Outdoor Research's Snowline glove for under $30. If you can't afford a lithium-powered glove, don't worry. Fleece and a good shell will provide plenty of warmth for your outdoor adventures.
- Winter Work - Men's Gloves That Work As Hard As You Do -- While some of us are off skiing, others have to work. Working outside in the winter can be not only uncomfortable, but dangerous as well. It is absolutely essential that your hands be warm to prevent frostbite. The right choice for you will depend on how much dexterity you need in your work, as well as how cold your winters are. For instance, if you need your fingers, a lightweight glove like Fox River Mills's Fingerless Winter Chore Gloves (less than $12) is a good choice. They are made of 85 percent premium rag wool to keep your hands warm without adding bulk. If you can afford a little bulk, then gloves like the Gorgonz Winter Pro 475 Cold Weather are great. These have a 40-gram Thinsulate insulation layer, a waterproof and breathable liner, and a synthetic shell. These have neoprene knuckles, cuffs, and straps to make winter work a lot more comfortable. Yet another option is a glove/mitten combination. Fox River Mills makes a fingerless mitten with lining. This is great for those who drive, get out and work, drive, and repeat. In the car, they can flip the mitten top down. Their fingers are protected by the glove lining. When they get out, simply flip down the mitten for incredible warmth. These, too, are very reasonable at just over $20. Work gloves tend to be on the less expensive side, and you can find many excellent pairs by top brands such as Carhart or Youngstown. They are widely available online.
- Winter Wear For Those Who Need to Dress Up - Who wants to wear a pair of puffy, big mittens with their formal winter wear? Leather is a great choice for dress gloves because it is an extremely durable material and it has a sophisticated look and feel. They are perfect for any number of occasions, but to ensure that you look good and your hands are warm, you should make sure you have a good liner. You can find Fratelli Orsini Italian Rabbit Fur lined gloves for just over $100. There are also rabbit fur lined gloves for about half that price if you look online. If rabbit is not your style, cashmere and wool lined gloves can be found for $50 - $100. If leather is a little pricy, try suede. This offers just as great a look, but often the price will provide a bit more warmth.
- Kid's Gloves And Other Choices For Playing In the Snow - Sometimes women's and men's gloves choose form over function. They look fine as we walk from our heated homes to our heated cars and then into our heated workplaces. If you have to shovel your car out of a snow bank or want to go out and play with your kids, however, these are not your best choice. What is? If you have a pair of winter sports gloves, these are great for playing in the snow. A warm lining and a synthetic shell will keep your hands warm and dry. They are a great choice for kids mittens. You can find inexpensive pairs online or in your local stores. You could also opt for a good pair of knit gloves or mittens. A pair that you've made yourself from wool or cotton yarn may be the perfect fit for outdoor adventures. For colder days, you could always slip a pair of thin stretchy gloves underneath for added warmth. Most smaller kids prefer mittens because they don't have to try to line up fingers into those small holes, and keeping the fingers touching each other inside the mitten keeps small hands warmer (think of the fingers as little people sharing body warmth!)
Best Gloves for Winter Activities - Driving GlovesWhether you ski, snowboard, Nordic Walk, or pursue any number of other winter time activities (and that includes snow shoveling) you'll need a hardy glove to do it in. Every winter activity glove, without exception, should include three different layers. On the outside will be a waterproof cover; Gortex, nylon, polyester cashmere, and many other fabrics work well here. Next is the insulation layer. Insulation can be a little bit tricky, because of the vast range of composite materials out on the market today. Wool is always an old standby, but produces problems with texture (it can get itchy), smell (when it gets wet it can make your hands smell strange), and warmth (cold wind cuts right through). Better materials include brand names like Thinsulate, Polartech, Primaloft, and so on. You can usually find the insulation brand sewn into the inner lining of the glove. That inner lining is of course our third feature. It will wick away sweat as you work in the cold, so you stay comfortable.
An interesting development worth taking note of in winter glove technology recently is the arrival of the heated glove. Companies such as V5 Gloves have models like the Sprint and the Endurance which come with heated liners courtesy of a built in battery. They can last up to five years, but be prepared because their price tag is steep; anywhere from $150-$350 a pair! If you opt for traditional gloves, the best glove prices will be somewhere between $50 and $80 for winter activity gloves.
Why do I need Casual Winter Gloves? Winter MittensWhen you are looking just to drive or get to work in the cold weather, casual gloves will do the trick nicely. Isotoner and Outdoor Research are amongst the leading manufacturers in this category. Look for a glove with some finger grips on it, as these will aid you in your normal activities such as driving and even talking on your cell phone, without having to take your gloves off. There are gloves in this category which have removable fingers so you can gain some better dexterity when you need it, but these can cause some problems. First, any gap no matter how small in a winter glove will let cold air in. Second, taking the fingers off can cost you a lot of extra time. We recommend a full glove, if you need your fingers that badly whipping them off for a minute or two won't hurt! What will you pay for casual winter gloves? Most models cost between $20 and $50, but of course there are always high end fashion designers who will charge more.
Where Can I Purchase Winter Gloves?A variety of options are available online. We've noted quite a few links to Amazon above - most people already shop with Amazon and trust them, so that is a good place to begin. They have products ranging in styles and prices from suede gloves by Solnex for $42.00, to Go Gloves with deerskin palms and a fleece back that are also thermal-lined for $16.95, to Rothco's Thinsulate hunting gloves for $6.99. Amazon also offers free shipping on certain items, so remember that you can take advantage of that as well. Another site to check out is www.gloves-online.com. They have Freehands Fleece Gloves especially designed for use with cell phones and IPhones for $19.95 (Amazon carries them as well). These winter gloves are currently one of the hottest trends in glove wear. Another great site for winter gloves is www.onlygloves.com. Check out all the possibilities before you make a decision.
When you are shopping for winter gloves, think about what you need them for, if they can serve multiple functions, how they look, and how much you can spend. Warm hands help keep your entire body warm. Along with good winter hats, these are essentials for making it through any winter.