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 designs 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 and mittens for the 2018-2019 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.
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 See the Women's Hestra Heli
A Close Second
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. It’s near the top in terms of hand protection on this list, and unlike the Hestra Heli’s above, the design is completely waterproof with a Gore-Tex insert. Inside its very tough exterior, Black Diamond uses both PrimaLoft synthetic and thick boiled wool in the removable liner for insulation. If your hands are consistently cold or you ski in frigid conditions, the Guide is hard to beat.
The downside of all this material is that the glove can take some time to break in. And even after a few years of consistent use, ours still lacks the flexibility that you get right out of the box with the Hestra Heli’s 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 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 See the Women's Black Diamond Guide
Best Budget Ski Glove
Insulation: Megaloft synthetic
What we like: Great comfort and warmth for the price.
What we don’t: Liner isn’t removable.
If you only get out a handful of times each year or don’t want to blow your ski gear budget on gloves, the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II is a winner. You don’t get the supple liners or premium shell fabrics of our top two picks above, but this glove is durable, waterproof, and just plain works. In addition, warmth is surprising good considering its $65 price—it’s a step down from the Hestra Heli, but the difference isn’t substantial and should be plenty for most days on the hill.
Both the Storm Trooper II and Burton Gore-Tex below are solid options at around $70 (and both often are on sale for less). The Gordini is a little warmer overall, although the removable lining gives the Burton more flexibility for warmer ski days. But the Storm Trooper is much softer on the interior and the best budget ski glove we’ve used to date. Its combination of comfort, good dexterity, and protection make it a standout in the sub-$100 price range.
See the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II See the Women's Gordini Storm Trooper
Best Mitten for Skiing
Insulation: PrimaLoft synthetic
What we like: Warm and reasonably affordable mitten.
What we don’t: Harder to grip a ski pole.
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 Mitten See the Women's BD Mercury Mitten
Best of the Rest
Insulation: High-loft synthetic
What we like: Warm, fully featured, and a great price.
What we don’t: Not as tough or dexterous as the Gordini above.
Year after year, Dakine’s Titan and women’s-specific Sequoia are top sellers among the resort crowd. The logic is simple: they offer no-nonsense warmth, the right mix of features for season-long use, and a great price point. With substantial synthetic fill in the shell and a surprisingly thick removable liner, they’re about as insulated as gloves get in the sub-$100 price range. And Dakine nailed the details with an easy-to-adjust gauntlet closure, zippered pocket on the back of the hand for adding a heat pack, and touchscreen compatibility on the liner.
What’s not to like about the Dakine Titan and Sequoia? They’re priced the same as the Gordini Storm Trooper above and deliver comparable warmth, yet fall a bit short in terms of material quality and dexterity. Their polyester shell is a little more prone to absorbing moisture than Gordini’s burly fabric, and we prefer the grippier palm on the Storm Trooper. In addition, the Titan and Sequoia’s thick liner makes it difficult to hold onto small items like a zipper, although it’s still easy to maintain a solid grip on a ski pole. For even more warmth (but even less dexterity), check out the mitten versions of the Titan and Sequoia.
See the Dakine Titan Glove See the Women's Dakine Sequoia
What we like: Super waterproof, great dexterity, and price.
What we don’t: Step down in warmth.
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 feel. We have a couple seasons of resort and backcountry use under our belt with the glove, and have found it's a versatile option that does a nice job balancing protection and comfort.
For the price, the Arete is a strong competitor to the Marmot Randonnee below. 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. For the ski touring crowd, the Arete's liner makes it the preferred option.
See the Outdoor Research Arete See the Women's Outdoor Research Arete
What we like: Work glove feel and fantastic look.
What we don’t: Not as warm or waterproof.
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 fair amount 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 along with the Give'r below is useable for far more than just days on the ski hill.
See the Hestra Fall Line See the Women's Hestra Fall Line
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.
It’s the little things that make a ski glove great. The Marmot Randonnee is case in point and one of our favorite gloves 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 and Arc’teryx Rush SV below. The nylon shell covering the back of the hand isn’t as durable as our top-rated Heli, but its thin construction breathes decently well and gives you excellent mobility.
For the price and intended use, you get the expected levels of warmth, which translates to a step down from our top four picks. 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 like the Arete above. But back to those little things—details like a plush interior, easy to use gauntlet closure, and comfy nose wipe make it a strong option in a crowded field.
See the Marmot Randonnee Glove
Shell: 3-layer Gore-Tex/leather
Insulation: Polartec fleece
What we like: Bombproof and highly dexterous.
What we don’t: Overkill for most skiers.
Built like a premium hardshell jacket, the Arc'teryx Rush SV is the only glove on the list to use 3-layer Gore-Tex (others only have a waterproof insert). This provides phenomenal weather protection and keeps bulk to a minimum. Add in premium tailoring and a leather overlay on the fingers and palm, and you get best-in-class dexterity, grip, and comfort. The Rush SV isn’t the warmest glove on our list, but the removable Polartec Hi Loft fleece liner and burly construction make it ideal for serious backcountry exploration.
We love the beautiful design and functionality of Arc’teryx gear, but in the world of ski gloves, the Rush SV is overkill for most people. At $399, the glove is $220 more than the Black Diamond Guide above without enough extra to show for the average cold-weather skier. But if you prioritize dexterity for using backcountry tools and or want the toughest glove around, the Rush SV may be worth the investment.
See the Arc'teryx Rush SV
Insulation: Thinsulate synthetic
What we like: Classic looks and tough, fully-waterproof build.
What we don’t: Not warm enough for extreme cold.
The unique Give’r 4-Season packs work glove looks into an impressive performance design. What stands out is its versatility: the glove’s leather construction is super tough, an internal membrane provides full waterproofing, and the soft-touch interior is cozy and comfortable. It does take a little time to break in, but the glove eventually conforms nicely to your hand and offers a custom feel with good freedom of movement. In use, we’ve found the Give’r to be one of the few ski-ready models that has real appeal for daily use—it’s just as functional keeping you protected on the slopes as it is shoveling snow or working outside.
Where the 4-Season falls short is warmth. With only 40-gram Thinsulate fill, it’s a noticeable step down from the more heavily-insulated options above. This shouldn’t be an issue for mild-weather days at the resort and some backcountry trips, but the Give’r will run cold on those frigid chairlift rides. Further, the leather build doesn’t excel in wet snow and requires some maintenance to keep moisture from soaking into the outer layer (you can add a wax coating for an additional $15 if you purchase from Give’r directly). But if you want the look and feel of an all-leather ski glove, the Give’r 4-Season is a top choice.
See the Give'r 4-Season 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
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.
The Montana Mittens from The North Face are a great way to stay warm in moderate temperatures on a budget. These extremely popular Gore-Tex mittens are surprisingly dexterous as the shell is quite flexible and grips objects like zipper pulls or boot buckles pretty well (better than the Black Diamond Mercury above). Further, the Montana's individual finger slots make it easier to keep a consistent hold on a ski pole.
The downside of The North Face Montana's dexterity is warmth. 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 Mitten See the Women's North Face Montana Mitten
Insulation: PrimaLoft synthetic
What we like: Functional all-leather build, great dexterity.
What we don’t: Leather absorbs moisture and becomes cold.
Following a similar formula to the Hestra Morrison Pro above, the Black Diamond Legend is an insulated, waterproof, and primarily leather glove designed to fit under the cuffs of a ski jacket. The Legend gloves have high quality PrimaLoft insulation and a Pertex shell along the back of the hand for a good mix of protection and weight. The fit and finish also is a step up from our previous Legend gloves, which were overly stiff and fell short of the premium Hestras above.
Despite the panel of nylon along the back of the hand and a Gore-Tex liner, we've found the Legend's do not excel in wet snow. Through a season of backcountry and resort skiing in British Columbia and Washington State, the leather sections of the glove have wetted out on a number of occasions and become noticeably cold (they do much better on dry snow days). On the plus side, the Legend has a great closure system, which stretches and is easy to secure.
See the Black Diamond Legend See the Women's Black Diamond Legend
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.
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, many of the options above are warmer and the Burton Gore-Tex can’t compete in freedom of movement. 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. Finally, what pushes the Burton towards the bottom of our list is its build quality: the gauntlet closure is prone to loosening and the palm material feels cheap and doesn't grip as well as leather.
See the Burton Gore-Tex See the Women's Burton Gore-Tex
What we like: The right mix of features for resort use.
What we don’t: Not as beautifully made or warm as the Hestra Heli.
Swany’s X-Cell is not a new glove by any stretch, but its classic design has been lauded over the years for its resort skiing prowess. Made with tough leather covering the back of the hand and a reinforced palm, the dexterous Swany makes it easy grip a zipper pull on a jacket or keep hold of your ski poles at full tilt. The gauntlet on the X-Cell isn’t as simple to operate as the Black Diamond Guide above, but it’s functional and does a fine job sealing out snow and cold gusts of wind.
What pushes the popular Swany X-Cell down our list? For the price, we give the clear edge to the Hestra Heli’s above in warmth and material quality. The Swany will do the trick for most ski days, but it’s been around long enough that the price should be dropped to remain competitive. If you can find it on sale, however, the X-Cell is a fully featured glove for downhill fun.
See the Swany X-Cell Glove
Insulation: EnduraLoft synthetic and ALTIHeat system
What we like: Effective battery-powered heater for maximum warmth.
What we don’t: Very expensive.
For sub-zero conditions or skiers who can never keep their hands warm, a heated mitten may do the trick. The ALTIHeat line from Outdoor Research is the most diverse on the market, and we like their Lucent Mitten best. To start, the mitten design gives you an edge in overall warmth by keeping your fingers together, and the built-in battery and heating element give you a rush of warmth that a heat pack just can’t match. Pushing the button on the gauntlet switches between three heat settings (low, medium, and high), but it’s important to note that the higher settings drain the battery much faster.
The largest impediment to a battery-powered design like the Outdoor Research Lucent Mitten is price. We understand that there’s a lot of technology incorporated to keep the battery performing in frigid temperatures and reduce bulk, but $359 is a lot for a pair of mittens. If you need maximum warmth at all costs, however, the Lucent may be worth a try. For a similar heated option in a glove design, the OR Lucent gloves are the same price.
See the Outdoor Research Lucent Heated Mitten
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.
The Flylow Ridge are great resort and backcountry gloves for anyone on a budget, and they tend to be quite durable and breathable, all things considered. As for downsides, they're not the warmest available, and the simple finger design doesn't offer much precision for fine motor movements like digging through a pack. But these are minor complaints considering the price. 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 than the Kinco's, and this system works surprisingly well if the conditions aren't too cold or wet. It's best to step up to a more waterproof design in the wet snow of the Pacific Northwest, but the gloves are a great match for areas with dry snow like Colorado and Utah. 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||$145||Gauntlet||Polyamide/leather||Polyester fill||Yes|
|Black Diamond Guide Glove||$170||Gauntlet||Nylon/leather||PrimaLoft synthetic/wool||Yes|
|Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II||$65||Gauntlet||Synthetic/leather||Megaloft synthetic||No|
|Black Diamond Mercury Mitten||$110||Gauntlet||Nylon/leather||PrimaLoft synthetic||Yes|
|Dakine Titan||$65||Gauntlet||Polyester||High-loft synthetic||Yes|
|Outdoor Research Arete||$98||Gauntlet||Nylon||Fleece||Yes|
|Hestra Fall Line||$155||Undercuff||Leather||Foam||No|
|Marmot Randonnee Glove||$100||Gauntlet||Nylon/leather||Thermal R synthetic||No|
|Arc'teryx Rush SV||$399||Gauntlet||Nylon/leather||Polartec fleece||Yes|
|Give'r 4-Season||$99||Undercuff||Leather||Thinsulate synthetic||No|
|Hestra Morrison Pro||$200||Undercuff||Leather||Thermolite synthetic||No|
|The North Face Montana Mitten||$70||Gauntlet||Nylon||Heatseeker synthetic||Yes|
|Black Diamond Legend||$150||Undercuff||Nylon/Leather||PrimaLoft synthetic||No|
|Burton Gore-Tex||$70||Gauntlet||Nylon/leather||Thermacore synthetic||Yes|
|Outdoor Research Lucent Mitten||$359||Gauntlet||Nylon/leather||Synthetic/ALTIheat system||No|
|Flylow Gear Ridge||$50||Undercuff||Leather||Fleece||No|
|Kinco Pigskin Glove||$15||Undercuff||Canvas/leather||None||No|
- Glove Materials: Leather vs. Synthetic
- Caring For Leather Gloves
- Cuff Length
- Should I Get Gloves with Removable Liners?
- Additional 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 mid-range, including the Outdoor Research Arete, 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 exterior and insulation. Leather has its advantages, but synthetic gloves offer the highest levels of waterproofing. 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 10-15°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 Burton Gore-Tex.
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 in a fully waterproof design is a 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 likely notice the difference (although even Gore-Tex can run hot). 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 gloves forego the Gore-Tex insert and are merely water resistant, which can work in dry climates like Colorado and Utah or if breathability is a priority. Usually the shell has a DWR finish and is treated with a water-resistant coating to shed snow. A non-waterproof design like the Hestra Fall Line can work just fine on clear days, and a well-maintained leather glove can definitely do the trick all season long (for more on this topic, see the care section below). But a fully waterproof design is the safer bet for most weekend warriors.
A good number of our favorite ski gloves above include leather in the construction. The natural material is supple and offers excellent dexterity, but it also requires occasional maintenance to avoid absorbing moisture. Most leather gloves come pre-treated, so it’s not something you’ll need to do right away (the Kinco’s above are one exception). But if you start noticing the material soaking up moisture—also known as “wetting out”—it’s a good indicator that the leather needs some work. Sno-Seal is a beeswax-based solution that is a long-time favorite among skiers. It does require some effort—including baking the glove in an oven—and will darken the leather, but it’s a proven formula that effectively repels moisture. Less involved treatments that still provide good protection include Nikwax’s Waterproofing Wax and Hestra’s Leather Balm. Finally, for gloves with a combination of leather and nylon, we recommend Nikwax’s Glove Proof, which adds a solid water-resistant coating to the outer materials.
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 Rush SV.
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 Dakine Titan), you can use them for activities like cold weather running or driving.
It's 2018, 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, plus the thinner liners are more precise when typing. On some models, only pointer fingers and thumbs are touch-screen compatible. Overall, we consider this a nice feature if a glove you like has it, but not one that we would alter our purchase for.
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.
Wrist leashes—also known as keeper cords or retention straps—are a fairly common feature among resort models as a way to keep you and your gloves together should you take a serious fall. The design is simple: you slide your wrists through the adjustable cuffs (they can be as minimalist as a piece of string), and a strap connects you to the gloves. The main advantage is not leaving them behind if you take a tumble, but the straps also provide security if you remove your gloves while riding the chairlift. It’s certainly not a necessary feature, and some don’t like the extra bulk, but most skiers find the tradeoff worth it for the added piece of mind on the slopes. From our picks above, wrist leashes are included on gauntlet-length designs like the Hestra Heli, Black Diamond Guide, and Gordini Storm Trooper II.
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.
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 we've found that 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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