For most people new to the sport, buying the right hand protection for the slopes might seem like a cinch: it will be cold, so get warm gloves. For those with a bit more experience, however, it’s known that there is a wide variety of different factors and options that go into ensuring that you get the best possible pair for you and your needs. Different parts of the world produce different types of snow, weather conditions can vary wildly, and it’s important to have protection that both keeps you warm when you’re sitting still on a chairlift ride to the top of a mountain AND prevents sweat from building up when you’re working hard skiing back down. After all, that same sweat might turn bitterly cold on your next lift ride up.Different materials, styles, fits and features all come into play when choosing the absolute must-have gloves for you, so read on and choose wisely.
Best Ski Gloves
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Ski Gloves Reviews
So, you want to try hitting the slopes but want to make sure your hands stay nice and warm? First of all, good choices on both counts—skiing is tons of fun (at least once you get the hang of it), but anyone from a novice to a world-class expert will tell you that good hand protection is crucially important. More than being just a stylish accessory, or even something to keep yourself comfortable, intense mountain conditions can pose a real danger of frostbite or worse.Of course, the well-prepared mountaineer won’t have much to worry about, and this guide is here to help point out some great models for men and women. With proper gear, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the mountain!
OUTDOOR RESEARCH “ALTI”
While the price tag may initially seem daunting, those serious about outdoor winter sports will recognize the clear strengths inherent in the Alti model as justifying the expense. Designed to stand up to such intense activities as cold-weather climbing and hiking, we’re talking about heavy-duty gear for those who demand excellence—as anyone should when it comes to safety and comfort for their fingers. One look and you can tell that you’re dealing with quality, as the solid GORETEX® and leather fourchette hybrid construction of these sizeable “gauntlet”-style gloves is immediately evident. AlpenGrip® material covering the palms resist damage and provide firm traction on ski poles or other surfaces, while innovative stretch panels built into the knuckles help ensure that no dexterity is lost. Less immediately obvious is the fact that you could think of yourself as getting two pairs for the price of one—everything just described, along with 100 grams of highly-advanced PrimaLoft® insulation, belongs to the outer shell. And inside that shell you’ll find removable liners that nearly triple the quantity of PrimaLoft® inside a second layer of GORETEX®, making for a double-dose of protection. These items run light on extraneous bonus features, focusing instead on pure build quality and hardcore insulation. Believe me, when you’ve got the warmest hands on the mountain, you won’t miss the frills.
SWIX MEN’S “AVANT-GARDE”
Announcing themselves as the “advance guard” of the industry, manufacturer Swix clearly has a great deal of confidence in this model, and rightly so. Combining the powers of weatherproofed DuraLast leather and ripstop nylon to make up the exterior, along with an interior membrane of GORETEX® and a layer of tightly-woven MicroLoft synthetic fabric to seal warmth in while wicking sweat away, these gloves hit all the angles one would traditionally expect in a well-designed pair for serious winter sport enthusiasts. But before I give you the impression that the Avant-Gardes are somehow ordinary, let’s take a closer look into the masterfully-engineered features of these Swix items. Not limiting themselves to industry conventions, the designers at Swix developed a model that falls in between traditional short and long cuffs. Utilizing a kind of dual cuff, with one inside and one outside the sleeve of your jacket, you can enjoy the protective advantages of both styles, along with a cinched wrist-strap to help keep wintery air out. Add raised knuckle padding and durable pockets for additional hand-warmers, and you’ve got the means to stop discomfort cold.
URBAN BOUNDARIES “TASLON”
For a casual skier—someone who wants to ensure that they’re well-protected, but won’t necessarily be riding the mountains too often, or tackling the most intimidating slopes, extremely advanced models like those profiled above (and their price tags) may seem daunting. If so, the Thinsulate-lined “Taslon” gloves may just be right for you. Not necessarily the gear you’d bring while hiking in Tibet, the Taslons should stand most users in good stead at your average ski resort, and are roomy enough to accommodate extra liners or hand warmers for especially chilly days. Thinsulate protection is among the most widely-used and trusted in the winter gear marketplace, found in hats, boots and everything in between, so you know your hands will be well covered in all but the roughest conditions. Skiing can, unfortunately, mean a hefty investment, so if budgetary issues are standing between you and your dream vacation, the Taslons are here to help bring you one closer to your trip.
URBAN BOUNDARIES WATERPROOF SKI GLOVE
While it may not have the fanciest name or features to offer, these highly-durable and affordable models are akin to the pair of Taslons described above by the same manufacturer, Urban Boundaries, in terms of protectiveness, comfort and affordability. So thick and warm that some users even complain that they’re too warm outside of true mountain conditions, these solidly-built gloves should suit any but the most highly-discriminating skiers. Note that the solidity of their construction does require some tradeoffs—despite the Rubber-tech additions for grip, some manual dexterity may be lost. However, they also offer great features like a micro-suede thumb patch for wiping runny noses and both a wrist drawstring and wrist strap for double-layer protection against snow and cold air.
GRAND SIERRA WATERPROOF “TASLON” SKI GLOVE
Another offering with a solid 40 grams apiece of top-grade Thinsulate lining, these Grand Sierra models combine simplicity, effectiveness, and a price point that no one could beat. Features unique to these fantastic offerings include heavy-duty waterproofing and an acrylic knit cuff for a perfect combination of protection and comfort. Emphatically utilitarian, the Grand Sierra design rejects the bells and whistles of some more elaborate styles in favor of pure protection at a great price. Combined with the knit cuff, the heavy Velcro wrist-strap will keep just about anything unwanted out while helping to seal warmth in, while the Rubber-tech palm patch aids in gripping. Some users report that they arrive somewhat smaller than expected, so be sure to look into a larger size, just in case you’d like to supplement with an additional layer underneath.
MOUNTAIN WAREHOUSE WOMEN’S SKI GLOVES
Tasteful and highly effective, these Mountain Warehouse models offer among the finest waterproofing on the market in their Durable Water Repellant, along with ample insulation and gloriously soft fleece lining, adjustable cuffs, and bright, stylish colors. The end result is a product that any entry-level enthusiast would be lucky to learn with. Comfort and fashion are rarely so conveniently combined as in these wonderful pieces of gear, and while they may not boast of many extra frills, it’s doubtful you’ll miss them when whizzing down the slopes in your new gloves. Remember that fleece can require some extra time to dry as compared to synthetic materials, but when you experience the degree of coziness only found in non-engineered textiles, you’ll appreciate the difference.
ON YOUR WAY
There are innumerable different makes and styles similar to products we’ve discussed here, but it’s our hope that this guide will be a great start for you in ensuring that your extremities are well-protected out in the cold. Remember, the wise adventurer never underestimates Mother Nature, and quality gear can make all the difference between a fun trip you’ll remember for a lifetime, and a miserable experience you’d wish you could forget. Good luck, and have fun!
WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN SHOPPING
In a word: options. Because there are so many factors—wide variations in temperature, weather and other conditions, people’s different comfort zones with cold temperatures, and so on—gear is manufactured to meet a wide variety of needs. Moreover, the explosion of precision-engineered synthetic textiles has given many manufacturers the opportunity to experiment and emphasize different qualities in their proprietary materials. All will generally seek to perform the same key functions: keeping the hands warm by locking cold air out and sealing your natural warmth in, and keeping them dry by sealing outside water out and wicking sweat away. However, the degree to which a certain fabric may emphasize insulation over wicking, or how tightly it can be woven and condensed, can change between different textiles.Remember, the first step in your shopping experience should be to closely consider your needs. Do you expect to ski in the depths of winter or in relatively-warm spring conditions? How cold does it get where you ski? Do you have a natural resistance to cold, or are you generally looking for a sweater when other people are in t-shirts? Your specific requirements will be the best possible indicator of what you should look for.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR
Here are the basics: Waterproofing, windproofing, warmth, wicking, breathability and quick-drying. Easy to remember, right?For a slightly more thorough examination, let’s start with the broadest possible styles you’ll find in the marketplace.For one thing, you’ll have to consider the different advantages between fingered models and mittens. Unquestionably mittens tend to be warmer, as they allow your fingers to share body heat and have less surface area for heat to escape from. However, some skiers will prefer the better manual dexterity of fingered designs.Another immediately obvious difference between two pairs will be their cuff length. There are two main cuff styles—short and long . Long (or “gauntlet”) cuffs are generally worn out over the jacket sleeve, whereas short cuffs are tucked in underneath. Longer cuffs are easier to pull on and off, since you don’t have to worry about tucking them in, and can sometimes succeed better at keeping snow out (since falling down can easily pull a short cuff out from a sleeve), but tend to sacrifice mobility in the wrist.Ultimately cuff length is a matter of personal preference first and foremost, but you should consider the sleeves of the jacket in question before committing one way or another. Bulky sleeves may be hard to pull a “gauntlet” over, whereas a narrower sleeve (or one without adjustable wrist-straps) may be difficult to tuck a shorter model into.
As far as the construction of a specific pair, the outer shell will be the first line of protection for your hands against the elements. There are a wide variety of materials, some synthetic and others not, but first a quick note on non-synthetics: while leather gloves are durable and provide great insulation, it’s important to remember to treat them regularly with waterproofing wax or other treatments or water will damage and destroy the leather. Wool, fleece and other natural fabrics are very warm, but without the support of waterproof outer shells you’ll quickly find yourself with wet, chilly hands ruining your day at the slopes.
Apart from leather, synthetics come in a wide variety, with common types including nylon near the lower-quality end, and advanced textiles like Teflon and Gore-Tex on the higher end. In general you should expect any high-end material to be successful at water- and windproofing, so consider your budget and the glove’s other qualities first and foremost.There’s a comparable amount of variation among interior insulating materials, including some non-engineered textiles, like wool, that make for poor outer shells. Natural insulation can also sometimes include down feathers, which are exceptionally warm but will rapidly lose all insulating power when wet. Don’t settle for anything less than the best waterproofing with non-synthetic insulation, and remember that they’ll generally excel in drier conditions. Skiing near a coast, where the snow is wetter and heavier, can be harder on these materials, and they are usually slower to dry.
Many models these days take advantage of ever-evolving techniques in artificial textiles to deliver superior performance at heat-retention, removal of sweat and moisture from the hands, and quick-drying. As with shell materials, the differences between brands is often minimal in practical terms. The two more significant factors are how tightly the fabric is woven, as a tighter fabric will be thinner– remaining effective while reducing bulkiness— and the overall quantity of insulation. Even if there were a single, unquestioned “best” insulating material, a larger quantity of another material would likely amount to warmer, toastier hands in practice.When it comes to a proper fit, we’ve already discussed the cuffs, but not how to make sure your gloves will fit your hands. Luckily, there are two very simple tests: one that will ensure the ideal fit in the fingers, and another for the palm. Note that it’s important to have a good fit throughout: snug enough to stay in place, loose enough for a free range of motion, and with a bit of extra space inside for extra liners or hand-warming pads.Now for the tests—with the glove on your hand, see if your fingertips lightly touch or come very close to the inside of the fingers. If so, you should be alright there. Once you’ve done that, hold your hand out and press down into the palm in various places, especially the space between the thumb and index finger. If you can push down without feeling the material pulling on your fingers, you should have a spacious enough palm.
Finally, we ought to discuss bonus features. While these are less significant than the more crucial functions of warmth, breathability, and so on, they might just break a tie between two otherwise equally-matched pairs. These features can include tiny pockets for hand warmers, built-in wipers to keep your goggles clean, a loop or hook to attach the gloves to your jacket when you’re not wearing them, and even fingertips that will allow you to interact with a phone’s touch-screen without ever taking your protection off.
We hope this guide has been helpful to you in making your shopping choices. The importance of warm, dry hands when skiing can’t be overstated, so take the time to make sure you choose the right pair, and remember that it’s always worth investing in quality.
A few final pointers: remember that sizing may be very different not only between different manufacturers, but even between different models from the same company, so be sure to try lots of pairs on. On the other hand (no pun intended) you’ll find that some have temperature ratings to suggest what types of conditions they’re ideal for. While these indicators are useful for comparing designs by the same makers, they provide a rough guideline at best when comparing models from different companies.It’s a big market with many variables to consider, but keep this guide in mind and you should be well on your way to a comfortable day of fun in the mountains.