Nothing can kill a great ski day like cold fingers, so make sure to choose a quality glove that fits the type of skiing you do most. The options range from gauntlet-style synthetic nylon gloves to undercuff leather gloves from powerhouses like Swedish manufacturer Hestra. You also want to keep a close eye on insulation and features like removable liners, which offer more flexibility should the weather change. Below are our picks for the best ski gloves for the 2016-2017 season, with price points from over $200 down to $15 or less for old-school Kincos. All gloves on this list are either unisex or include a link to the women’s-specific version. For more background information, see our glove comparison table and buying advice below the picks. To complete your kit, check out our articles on the best ski goggles and ski helmets.
Shell: Polyamide/goat leather
Insulation: Polyester fill
What we like: Beautifully made, warm, and durable.
What we don’t: Requires some maintenance to stay waterproof.
Women's: Hestra Heli Glove
Ski professionals the world over have trusted Swedish manufacturer Hestra for decades, and the Heli is our top pick. This comfortable and highly functional ski glove has been around for years, but its hybrid leather and synthetic construction remains best in class. The Heli’s premium build quality, warmth, and comfort all stand out and at a price that easily undercuts other high-end ski gloves. For these reasons, we think the Heli is the perfect partner for keeping you warm on the mountain.
As with nearly all Hestra products, the Heli has liberal amounts of leather in its construction. The benefit is that the glove flexes easily and is very durable, but you will occasionally need to reapply a leather conditioner to keep moisture at bay. Some prefer a glove with a nylon shell for better waterproofing, but we find the simple maintenance to be well worth the effort—even for skiing in the wet snow of the Pacific Northwest. This popular glove has spawned a couple variations, including a mitten for maximum warmth and 3-finger glove that splits the difference. For a truly waterproof version without removable inserts, check out the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex glove.
See the Hestra Heli Glove
Insulation: PrimaLoft One synthetic, wool
What we like: Very warm, long-lasting build, and comfortable.
What we don’t: Takes some time to break in; below average dexterity.
Black Diamond’s Guide glove is legendary among hardcore skiers for its impressive warmth and durability. In fact, it’s the warmest glove to make our list, and unlike the Hestra Heli’s above, the design is completely waterproof with a Gore-Tex insert. Black Diamond uses both PrimaLoft synthetic insulation and thick boiled wool in the removable liner. For skiing in cold conditions, the Guide is unbeatable. It’s like a furnace for your hands.
The downside of all this material is that the glove can take some time to break in. We’ve had ours through two ski seasons and it still lacks the flexibility that you get right out of the box with the Hestra Heli’s above that are nearly as warm. It’s a compromise many are willing to make, however, and the Guide’s are among the most popular ski gloves on the market. If you’re not prone to cold fingers or ski in mild conditions, you can save money by opting for a glove with lighter insulation and better dexterity, like the Outdoor Research Arete or Marmot Randonnee below.
See the Black Diamond Guide Glove
Insulation: Thermolite synthetic
What we like: The best all-leather ski glove on the market.
What we don’t: Expensive and still more prone to absorbing moisture than nylon.
Named after the legendary freeride skier, the Seth Morrison Pro is a high-end, all-leather ski glove that is waterproof and breathable. Constructed with supple goat leather on the front and tough cowhide on the back, the Morrison Pro has the best freedom of movement and dexterity among our highly insulated picks. It’s capable of anything from big mountain descents to carving laps on a cold day.
Price is the biggest impediment here, which is driven up by all of that high quality leather. The Hestra Helis above, for example, deliver almost as much performance at a significant $60 savings. But if you value the improved dexterity of a fully-leather glove, the Morrison Pro may be worth it. And as with the Heli gloves, the leather is treated and you’ll want to periodically refresh it with a wax-based sealant such as Hestra’s Leather Balm or Sno-Seal.
See the Hestra Morrison Pro
Insulation: PrimaLoft synthetic
What we like: Warm and reasonably affordable mitten.
What we don’t: Harder to grip a ski pole.
Women's: Black Diamond Mercury Mitts
For keeping your hands as warm as possible, you just can’t beat a mitten design. It may compromise dexterity for skiers trying to grip a ski pole, but by keeping your fingers together, you get extremely efficient warmth (your fingers warm each other). The Black Diamond Mercury is our favorite mitten option for offering the expected bump in warmth without a huge leap in price. It’s also made with 4-way stretch in the shell and includes removable split-finger liners to make it very user friendly.
As with other BD ski gloves we’ve worn, it has a bomber construction that should hold up to plenty of wear and tear. Really, the only downside is whether or not you’re comfortable wearing a mitten. We still find a glove to be more convenient and effective for skiing, but smart designs like the Mercury are a convincing reason for those prone to really cold hands to give mittens a shot.
See the Black Diamond Mercury Mitt
Insulation: Thermal R synthetic
What we like: Dexterity and comfort at a great price.
What we don’t: Not as warm as the options above.
Women's: Marmot Randonnee Gloves
It’s the little things that make a ski glove great. The Marmot Randonnee is case in point and our favorite glove at the $100 price point. Grippy leather covers the palm and bottom side of the fingers and dexterity is excellent, falling just short of the far more expensive Morrison Pro above and Arc’teryx Lithic below. The nylon shell covering the back of the hand isn’t as durable as our top-rated Heli, but its thin construction breathes well and gives you excellent mobility.
For the price, you get the expected levels of warmth, which translates to a step down from the four picks above. Active and backcountry skiers will appreciate a little less insulation—hence the Randonnee name—but we’d prefer if the liner were removable to make it more adaptable to a range of temperatures. But back to those little things—details like a plush interior, easy to use gauntlet closure, and comfy nose wipe make it a standout in a crowded field.
See the Marmot Randonnee Gloves
Insulation: Thermacore synthetic
What we like: A great value choice for resort skiers.
What we don’t: Not as warm and not as precise a fit.
Women's: Burton Gore-Tex
For resort skiers that don’t want to spend a ton on gloves, the Burton Gore-Tex is a nice choice. This glove does just about everything you need to stay dry and comfortable: it’s reasonably warm (and includes a zippered pocket for slipping in a hand warmer), has a tough build, and a strap along the back of the hand for adjusting the fit. Burton also includes thin liners that are removable and can function independently as a shoulder season hiking or running glove.
What do you give up by choosing a more affordable glove? For one, the options above are warmer and the Burton Gore-Tex can’t compete in freedom of movement or quality of materials. And while we like the inclusion of a liner glove, it doesn’t fit as nicely into the shell as the premium choices like the Hestra Heli and Black Diamond Guide. But these are understandable compromises, and the durable construction, touch screen-friendly fingers, and Gore-Tex liner make it a solid value.
See the Burton Gore-Tex Gloves
What we like: Quality feel, great dexterity, and price.
What we don’t: Step down in warmth.
Women's: Outdoor Research Arete
The snow in the Pacific Northwest can be wet and heavy, so it’s no surprise that Seattle-based Outdoor Research makes burly and waterproof ski gloves. Their popular Arete model is a great choice in the $100 price range with a durable nylon shell, Gore-Tex insert, and lightweight comfort. And the glove is a long gauntlet style that seals out moisture and provides more coverage than the Marmot Randonnee above.
For the price, the Arete is a strong competitor to the aforementioned Marmot Randonee. Both offer decent warmth, good dexterity (the Marmot gets the slight edge), and are well built. We prefer the flexible construction of the Randonnee, but its leather palm will soak up more moisture and the shell isn’t as durable overall. The deciding factor between the two may come down to the interior. The Randonnee’s lining is plusher but fixed in place, while the Arete has a thin, removable liner glove. Also, some have issues with the fit of the Arete, as it is snug around the wrist (and non-adjustable). This didn’t end up being a problem for us, but the Randonnee is a little more accommodating to a range of wrist sizes.
See the Outdoor Research Arete
Insulation: PrimaLoft synthetic
What we like: Hardshell design and waterproofing in a glove.
What we don’t: Too expensive for most skiers.
As with Outdoor Research above, Arc’teryx products are built for wet and harsh mountain conditions. And in making their premium glove, the Lithic, Arc’teryx created a wholly unique design: a ski glove that’s built and feels like a premium hardshell jacket. In contrast to the waterproof inserts added to most ski gloves, the Lithic has a full 3-layer waterproof construction that breathes well, repels moisture far better than anything made with leather, and is thin enough to be highly dexterous. More, its tailored cut makes it among the most proficient at tasks like unzipping a pocket or adjusting your boots, despite above average warmth.
We have a full season under our belt with the Lithic and have overall been very impressed, but we simply can’t get past the $249 price tag. We understand that building the glove in this way is expensive (just check the price of a quality Gore-Tex hardshell), but it’s simply too expensive to place any higher on our list. For backcountry skiers than need the best in terms of performance, dexterity, efficient warmth, and waterproofing, it may be worth it, but there are plenty of products that get you nearly there at a significant savings.
See the Arc'teryx Lithic Glove
What we like: Work glove feel and fantastic look.
What we don’t: Not as warm or waterproof.
Women's: Hestra Fall Line
You won’t find a more beautiful ski glove than the Hestra Fall Line. This all leather, undercuff glove with exposed stitching is a work of art. It’s a great tribute to Hestra’s long history of glove making, and in addition to skiing, the Fall Line is good option for everyday wear and work in the winter. However, the Fall Line isn’t for everyone as warmth falls short of what’d we like for the price (it’s best for mild days or those working up some heat), but you won’t find a better made glove. Period.
One small design oversight we’ve noticed is that when we cinch the cuff, there is a lot of excess strap hanging off the end. If you don’t have small wrists this shouldn’t be an issue, but the loose strap did occasionally catch on our jacket sleeve and was a minor annoyance. But that did little to dampen our enthusiasm for the Fall Line, which more than any other glove to make our list, is useable for far more than just a day on the slopes.
See the Hestra Fall Line
Insulation: PrimaLoft synthetic
What we like: Functional all-leather build, great dexterity.
What we don’t: Stiffer and slightly lower quality than the Hestras.
Women's: Black Diamond Legend
Much like the Hestra Morrison Pro, the Black Diamond Legend is an insulated, waterproof, and all-leather glove designed to fit under the cuffs of a ski shell. The Legend gloves have high quality PrimaLoft insulation and nice padding along the back of the hand for a good mix of protection and warmth. The fit and finish aren’t up to the high standard of the more expensive Hestra, but the loose threads we had on our Legend are easily clipped and the Kevlar stitching in high wear areas should hold up to plenty of abuse.
Where the Legend’s fall short is overall feel. In contrast to the supple and very pliable Hestra leather, the Legend comes across as stiff and takes some time to really break in. Part of the reason is the Gore-Tex liner, but we found ourselves preferring the Hestra models to the Legend in most instances. On the plus side, the Legend has a great closure system, which stretches and is easy to secure.
See the Black Diamond Legend
Shell: Nylon/synthetic leather
Insulation: Heatseeker synthetic
What we like: Easy to use and flexible mittens.
What we don’t: Not as warm as the Mercury Mitts.
Women's: The North Face Montana Mittens
As with the Black Diamond Mercury above, the Montana Mittens from The North Face are a great way to stay warm on a budget. These extremely popular mittens are surprisingly dexterous as the shell is quite flexible and grips objects like zipper pulls or boot buckles really well (far better than the Mercury). Part of the reason they’re easier to handle is that the gloves have light 100-gram insulation along the palm, and despite using much heavier 200-gram synthetic along the back of the hand, they fall short of the Mercury in total warmth. They still should be plenty comfortable for most folks as long as the temperatures don’t dip too low, but those looking for maximum warmth should upgrade to the BD’s. The North Face also makes the Montana in a slightly less warm, but even more popular, standard glove style.
See the North Face Montana Mittens
Insulation: Megaloft synthetic
What we like: Good price and decent quality.
What we don’t: Average warmth, no removable liner.
Women's: Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II
If you only ski a handful of times each year or want an inexpensive glove for getting started, the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II is a winner. It won’t blow you away with supple liners or premium shell fabric, but the glove is durable, repels water, and just plain works. The fit isn’t as precise as a high-end glove, but it should do just fine for skiing and other winter activities like snowshoeing or shoveling your driveway.
The Storm Trooper II and Burton Gore-Tex above are both excellent options at around $70 (and both are often on sale for less). They’re about equal in warmth, although the removable lining gives the Burton’s an edge in overall value and flexibility for warmer ski days. If you don’t need the extra liner, however, the Gordini’s are a little less bulky and slightly easier to take on and off.
See the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II
What we like: Warmer than Kincos and are ready to go out of the box.
What we don’t: Still need treatment after some use.
We hate to say it, but unless you are a true DIYer, these FlyLow leather gloves make more sense than the classic Kincos below. Instead of an intense regimen of waxing treatment, FlyLow takes that pain away by doing it for you, three times, which helps make up for the added price difference of their glove. The Ridge glove also features insulation materials that are warmer and won’t pack out as fast as the Kincos. These are great resort and backcountry gloves for anyone on a budget, and they tend to be quite durable and breathable, all things considered. For all the leather work glove skeptics out there: don't knock it until you try it.
See the FlyLow Gear Ridge Glove
What we like: Trusted performance, ultra-low price.
What we don’t: Limited warmth (think hand warmers or liner gloves)
Kinco started the leather ski glove craze in the 1980s, and it wouldn't be a proper list without including them here. To follow in a long line of ski bums and resort employees, simply plunk down the $15 or so bucks these gloves were selling for at press time, buy some Sno-Seal to condition the leather and make it more water resistant (finish the job with a hair dryer if possible), and ski to your heart's content. You won't find a more economical glove option, and this system works surprisingly well if the conditions aren't too cold or wet. Don't forget to grab a PBR at the lodge to complete your get-up, and per tradition, retire them at the end of the season and repeat.
See the Kinco Pigskin Leather Glove
|Hestra Heli Glove||$140||Gauntlet||Polyamide/leather||Polyester fill||Yes|
|Black Diamond Guide Glove||$170||Gauntlet||Nylon/leather||PrimaLoft One synthetic/wool||Yes|
|Hestra Morrison Pro||$200||Undercuff||Leather||Thermolite synthetic||No|
|Black Diamond Mercury Mitts||$110||Gauntlet||Nylon/leather||PrimaLoft synthetic||Yes|
|Marmot Randonnee||$100||Gauntlet||Nylon/leather||Thermal R synthetic||No|
|Burton Gore-Tex||$70||Gauntlet||Nylon/leather||Thermacore synthetic||Yes|
|Outdoor Research Arete||$95||Gauntlet||Nylon||Fleece||Yes|
|Arc’teryx Lithic||$249||Gauntlet||Nylon||PrimaLoft synthetic||No|
|Hestra Fall Line||$150||Undercuff||Leather||Foam||No|
|Black Diamond Legend||$130||Undercuff||Leather||PrimaLoft synthetic||No|
|The North Face Montana Mittens||$70||Gauntlet||Nylon||Heatseeker synthetic||Yes|
|Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II||$65||Gauntlet||Synthetic/leather||Megaloft synthetic||No|
|FlyLow Gear Ridge||$45||Undercuff||Leather||Fleece||No|
|Kinco Pigskin Gloves||$15||Undercuff||Canvas/leather||None||No|
- Glove Materials: Leather vs. Synthetic
- Cuff Length
- Should I Get Gloves with Removable Liners?
- Ski Glove Features
- Gloves vs. Mittens
Ski gloves are constructed with two general material types: synthetic and leather. From a glance at the table above, you’ll notice that many gloves utilize both materials, playing to their respective strengths, so this isn’t always a question of exclusivity. But knowing what each material is best for goes a long way in finding the ideal glove.
Leather ski gloves are durable, extremely comfortable, and on occasion cheaper than synthetics. From premium Hestras to budget options like the FlyLow Gear Ridge, they have a much more natural feel and are usually more flexible and dexterous than a comparable synthetic. The biggest downside is moisture protection. Leather—and particularly treated leather—is water resistant and can withstand light to moderate wetness. But eventually they will soak through in wet conditions. To stay dry and extend the lifespan of your leather ski gloves, try Sno-Seal or another wax waterproofing treatment.
Synthetic (Nylon and Polyester)
Leather has had a resurgence, but the majority of ski gloves still use a synthetic shell. At the high end, including the Arc'teryx Lithic, you’ll find tough but pliant nylon shells that fend off snow, wind, and cold conditions. Cheaper synthetic gloves often use a less flexible polyester shell that doesn’t hold up as well to moisture and can feel bulky. With either type of shell, a waterproof insert often is incorporated between the shell and insulation. Leather has its advantages, but synthetic gloves offer the highest levels of waterproofing and breathability. To get the best of both worlds, many synthetic gloves add leather or synthetic leather on the palm and fingers for grip and dexterity.
If you’re prone to cold fingers like myself, or live in an area with frigid temperatures like the Northeast, you’ve probably found ski glove shopping to be a bit challenging. Most ski gloves under $100 just aren’t warm enough to be comfortable on the chairlift when the temperature dips below about 15°F. In the end, I’ve found that more expensive gloves like the Black Diamond Guide and Hestra Heli offer the warmth I need. Conversely, if you run warm or ski in mild bluebird conditions, you can save some money with a less insulated glove like the Marmot Randonnee or Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II.
Gloves are insulated in a wide range of ways, from fleece to synthetic fill, so it’s hard to establish exactly how warm a glove will be without trying it on first. Some indications include the weight of the synthetic (listed in grams) as well as the quality. PrimaLoft is the leader for lofty warmth and is popular on many high-end gloves. Some of the warmest designs use a mix of insulation: the Black Diamond Guide has 170-gram PrimaLoft fill as well as plush boiled wool in the lining. For absolute warmth, we turn to mittens, which heat more efficiently by pressing your fingers against one another. Some skiers may miss the control that you get with each finger gripping the ski pole, but it may be worth the tradeoff.
Aside from warmth, waterproofness is the second major factor that can make or break your days on the slopes. And not only does your glove need to keep snow from entering, it needs to let perspiration out from the inside.
Located between the shell material and insulation is a waterproof membrane or insert. Gore-Tex offers the best combination of waterproofing and breathability on the market. Cheaper gloves often use a non-Gore-Tex insert of varying names (BDry, C-Zone, Dryride, MemBrain, etc.) and degrees of efficiency. Keep in mind that if you choose a cheaper ski glove in the $50 range, you can expect decent waterproofing but breathability is where you'll really notice the difference. When your hand gets sweaty, moisture gets trapped and doesn't have a good way to exit the glove. Entry-level gloves can be fine for those who ski occasional sessions at the resort, but serious skiers will want a serious glove to stay comfortable throughout the day.
Some leather gloves forego the Gore-Tex insert and are merely water resistant, which can work in dry climates like Colorado and Utah. Usually the leather has a DWR finish and is treated with a wax like Sno-Seal. For experienced skiers who are staying in-bounds, leather can work just fine on clear days, and a well-maintained leather glove can definitely do the trick all season long. But a synthetic or fully waterproof leather glove is the safer bet.
In general, warmth and dexterity go hand in hand. A heavily insulated glove like the Black Diamond Guide is bulkier and harder to use for tasks like unbuckling a ski boot or grabbing your phone. Gloves that put together warmth and dexterity, like the Hestra Morrison Pro, are pretty rare and almost always come with a high price tag. Another element is the level of R&D—high-end gloves are better tailored to fit a hand and have a pre-curved shape for a natural feel.
Individual needs will vary, but dexterity shouldn’t be the top consideration for most resort skiers. Even a very thick glove or mitten is serviceable for gripping a ski pole for downhill use. We look for a good mix of freedom of movement without compromising in warmth and protection, which is why we find a glove like the Hestra Heli just about perfect. It’s when you ski big mountains or venture off trail that’s it becomes worth it to upgrade to the Morrison Pro or Arc’teryx Lithic.
Different skiers prefer different cuff lengths, but there are some concrete concepts that can help make your decision easier. Longer gauntlet-style gloves extend well beyond your wrist covering the cuff of your ski jacket. Generally, they are warmer because they have more insulation and seal out the cold very effectively with a draw cord. They also offer slightly less range of movement in your wrist with more material in the way. Shorter gauntlet-style gloves that barely cover the cuffs on a jacket leave a pathway for moisture to enter in really wet conditions (more on wrist cinches in our features section), but this style is also the easiest to get on and off.
Shorter undercuff gloves tuck into your ski jacket, which requires more work than simply sliding on a gauntlet glove, and they don’t offer quite as much warmth. Also, if your sleeves ride up when you’re reaching forward, say to plant a ski pole, you can expose some skin. On the other hand, they offer more agility with less bulk getting in your way of wrist movement and are easier to ventilate. Many of Hestra's freeride gloves are undercuff, and some backcountry skiers prefer the freedom you get with this style. Gauntlets are popular for maximum protection in deep powder and cold weather (or wet) resort days.
Across all price ranges, you’ll have the choice between gloves that are made with or without removable liners. In general, gloves with removable liners will be slightly warmer but are a little bulkier and less dexterous. For us, the most compelling reason to choose a glove with a liner is that it’s more adaptable to different temperatures. You can wear the shell on a warm spring day and use both (or swap out other liners you may own) for the rest of the season. Another benefit is that it’s easier to dry out the gloves if they happen to get wet by separating the two pieces. And as a bonus, if you get a glove with thin liners (like the Burton Gore-Tex), you can use them for activities like cold weather running or driving.
Gauntlet-style gloves in particular often have a cinch or draw cord to tighten the opening where snow can enter (this differs from a wrist strap, which tightens the glove over the hand and wrist). By pulling the cinch or draw cord, you can effectively prevent moisture from entering your glove in all but the wettest of conditions. Much like a powder skirt on a ski jacket, this can be very effective at tightening down your gear before skiing through the deep stuff.
It's not easy to grab a tissue with your gloves on, so many models feature a soft patch of fabric on the thumb or pointer finger to help with your runny nose. Nose wipes are good in a pinch and the fabric helps to avoid irritation that you might get from doing the same thing with tough shell fabric. Of course, they lose their effectiveness when overused or when the temperature really drops, but they are a nice touch nevertheless.
It's 2016, so why wouldn't you want touch-screen sensitivity on your ski gloves? A number of manufacturers now offer exactly that (including the Burton Gore-Tex and The North Face Montana), so that you can snap photos or videos without taking your gloves off. You'll most often find the technology, however, on thin gloves and liners where it's easier to incorporate (the fabric has to retain some energy and warmth for it to work). On some models, only pointer fingers and thumbs are touch-screen compatible. Again, this is a nice feature if a glove you like has it, but not one that we would alter our purchase for.
Ski gloves are the classic choice for resort and backcountry skiing and remain the most popular, but mittens can be a viable alternative. In comparing the two, gloves win by a wide margin in dexterity. If you need to grab a lift pass out of your zippered pocket, good luck pulling that off without removing your mittens. It’s also easier and feels far more natural to retain a good grip on a ski pole or adjust your boots or bindings with gloves. But as we touched on in the “warmth” section above, there’s simply no replacement for a heavily insulated mitten. They offer unbeatable levels of warmth.
A final alternative is the 3-finger glove, which attempts to bring together the attributes of glove and mitten designs. In these gloves, the pointer finger and thumb have their own slots while your remaining fingers huddle together for warmth. We don’t often recommend this style because freeing up your pointer finger isn’t a huge difference maker for dexterity, and that finger ends up just as cold as it would be in a standard glove. In this case, it doesn’t amount to the best of both worlds.
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