Snow gloves and mitts are essential for your skiing adventures. Although appearing relatively straightforward, the snow glove can be a complex product, if picked incorrectly, freezing hands and numb fingers can completely ruin your day on the mountain. Not to worry though, we have put together a handy guide to keep those hands warm and dry from your first tracks to the last lift.
So what is best, gloves or mitts? How thick should they be? What material should they be made out of? These are some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to snow gloves and mitts, this guide will help you understand and answer all of these and more.
Gloves vs Mitts
When buying a new pair of gloves, the first question you will need to answer is, gloves or mittens? Generally speaking, mitts are warmer than gloves, due to all of your fingers sharing one compartment, this generates more heat than separate compartments. Yet, the biggest drawback of mittens is the lack of mobility compared to gloves, making simple activities such as adjusting goggles, answering your mobile and accessing pockets tricky. Three finger hybrid mitts, known as lobster mitts, combines the best of both with the dexterity of gloves and the warmth of mitts.
Gloves and mittens vary in the amount of warmth they provide; it is difficult to guide how warm your gloves should be as it comes down to personal needs. If you ski in warmer conditions, then you will want a less insulated glove or mitten however, if your hands feel the cold more than others a warmer glove will be best suited to your needs. A gloves warmth is dictated by the type of shell material, the type and amount of insulation and how waterproof and breathable the gloves membrane is.
The majority of the gloves and mittens, that we at Snow + Rock sell, start with a synthetic fabric body, usually nylon. High end gloves usually use waterproof and breathable fabrics with a membrane, found between the shell and liner, or coating of ePTE, expanded Polytetrafluorethylene, also known as Teflon, or PU, Polyurethane. These waterproof breathable fabrics come in both hardshell and softshell fabrics and are both used within glove and mittens.
Usually cowhide or goatskin, leather is a natural water resistant material that is more durable and pliable than nylon. When combined with a micro porous membrane and treated properly, leather gloves can be waterproof, windproof, warm and last for years.
Poor waterproofing can cause gloves to become wet but more commonly, gloves become wet due to our own perspiration and a lack of breathability from inside the glove or mitt and wet hands can quickly become cold hands. In a waterproof and breathable glove or mitten, a membrane is placed between the outer shell and liner, the membrane has microscopic pores too small to let liquid water enter but large enough to allow water vapours to escape. How waterproof and breathability a glove is depends primarily on the membrane.
Gore-Tex has long been the benchmark of performance outerwear and accessories. Gloves and mittens with a Gore-Tex membrane, are typically the highest waterproof and breathability handwear products on the market.
Windstopper, created by Gore, is a ePTFE membrane that guarantees a windproof and highly breathable performance, yet is not waterproof. Ideal for cold, dry conditions, the softshell fabric, typically coated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent), keeps your hands warm and comfortable with less bulk and layers.
An R-Tex membrane will only be found in Reusch gloves and mittens. This membrane is a highly stretchable insert, that adapts to the special needs of the hand. It guarantees breathability and complete weather resistance against cold, wind and humidity.
The main reason why people wear gloves, is to keep their hands warm, so it is important to find a glove with the correct insulation for your needs. Properly insulated gloves will provide warmth and breathability without restricting movement.
Known for its superior warmth to weight ratio, down is ideal for cold dry conditions. Made up of goose and duck feathers, the insulation traps air which helps to keep your hands insulated. However, down insulations warmth decreases once wet, making less than ideal in wet and snowy conditions.
Primaloft is a patented synthetic microfiber insulation material that is warm, breathable and water resistant. Although it is not as warm as down insulation, Primaloft delivers great insulation, even when wet, making it ideal for wet conditions.
Reusch’s own insulation development, transforms every glove into a reliable heating source throughout cold seasons.
An insulating material made from polyester fibre, Fibrefill is ideal for cold and wet conditions.
The lining is an extra layer built in to provide extra warmth and a comfortable feel. Liner material will vary depending on the brand and glove. The most common liners found in glove and mitten liners are fleece, wool or a synthetic material. Typically, synthetic liners will have moisture wicking qualities to help pull sweat away from your skin and pass it through the membrane.
Most gloves and mittens have grips and reinforcements located on areas that get the most use, such as the palms and fingertips. These areas of the glove, may be made up of a variety of materials, such as leather or vinyl, for extra durability.
Choosing the right cuff length is mainly a personal preference when it comes to snow gloves and mittens. The style of your jacket may be a factor in determining which cuff length and style will work best. The main duty for the cuff is to keep snow out of your gloves and jacket, some are designed to be worn under your jacket cuffs whilst others are meant to go over.
Typically, a zip pocket is used for disposable hand warmers that you can insert during cold days however the opening may also double up as a vent to shed heat when temperatures increase.
Usually only found in snowboard gloves, the wrist guard is used to help support the wrist against impact when falling to prevent injury.
The nose wipe is normally a soft, suede or other absorbing fabric found on the thumb to wipe your nose with.
Size and Fit
It is important that your glove and mittens fits properly, a correctly sized glove or mitt will provide dexterity, warmth and comfort. For the best performance, a glove should fit snugly and allow enough room at the end of outstretched fingers for you to pinch a quarter of an inch of fabric, whilst making sure your palm is completely inside the cuff so that your wrist remains covered. When making a fist, the fit should not be too tight that is restricts your fingers from bending.