SNOW SPORTS

Best Ski Gloves: From Downhill to Cross Country

Trying out new ski gloves
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

Winter is here, bringing with it snowy slopes for avid skiers and well-groomed trails for those who prefer to keep their skis flat on the ground.  To brave these icy temperatures, you need winter clothing, and one of the most important items on this list is gloves.

Varieties of ski gloves

When you’re gripping those poles or hanging onto the lift, you want to make sure you have the best ski gloves you can buy to keep your fingers warm and dry all season long.

Types of Ski Gloves

When you are out on the slopes, there are three different types of gloves you can choose from, each with its own pros and cons that may help you to decide which are best suited to your needs.

  • 5-Finger Gloves – These are normal gloves, with each finger separated from the others. They give you the dexterity you need when performing certain activities, such as zipping pockets, adjusting your boots, or sorting through your gear.  The only issue is that they don’t retain the heat as other styles will, so in colder temperatures, you may have chilly fingers.
  • 3-Finger Gloves – This type of glove has the thumb and index finger separate, but encloses the other three fingers in one space, like a mitten. You still have some dexterity, but not as much as with the 5-finger gloves.  Some feel this sacrifice is worth it, since these gloves are somewhat warmer.
  • Mittens – These aren’t gloves, of course, but can be used for skiing if one prefers them. They don’t have the dexterity of the other two styles and need to be removed in order to do most activities that require individual finger movement.  But when they are on your hands, your fingers will be toasty warm, locking in the heat generated by your combined digits.

What to Look for in Ski Gloves

To find the best gloves for skiing, there are a few features you need to look for in order to ensure your fingers will not freeze before you’re done on the slopes.

  • Fit – If your ski gloves don’t fit right, there can be issues with warmth, comfort, grip, and maneuverability. Be sure your gloves have about ¼ of an inch at the end of each straightened finger, giving you the ability to move comfortably while reducing the amount of space that your body heat will have to fill to keep your fingers warm.
  • Insulation – When out in the cold, having good insulation in your gloves will keep your hands from freezing and your fingers from getting so numb they are unable to hold your ski poles. But don’t think that just because insulation is thick that it will definitely be warmer.  Synthetic insulation materials can be woven tighter, which means it will lock in the heat better even if the insulation is thinner.  And if you are the type of person who is generally colder, you want the best insulation possible in icy temperatures.
  • Waterproofing – Many gloves have inserts in them made of a variety of materials, including Gore-Tex, Ventia, or Entrant, all of which are waterproof. These will keep any moisture on the outside of the glove from soaking into the insulation or lining and getting your hand wet.
  • Breathability – Along with waterproofing, the inserts should also be breathable, allowing any moisture from sweating to escape through the glove’s material without allowing any of the cold air from seeping in. This will help your hands stay dry on the inside all day long.
  • Lining – This is an extra layer in the glove that adds comfort, increases the warmth inside the glove, and protects the insulation. Some gloves come with removable liners, so you can take them out in warmer weather and add them again when the temperature drops.
  • Protection – Some gloves have added layers of protection on the outer glove, especially in hot spots like the palms, fingertips, and thumbs. These help to resist abrasions, add durability, and increase your grip.
  • Cuff Length – There are two to choose from. The gauntlet style extends over your coat and provides you with added protection from the cold and the snow.  The shorter cuffs can usually be tucked into your sleeves and give you more mobility in your wrists.
  • Wrist Straps – These tighten the gloves at the wrists to keep them firmly in place and reduce the amount of snow that could slip into your glove. They will also help to retain the heat inside of the glove.
  • Wrist Leashes – These are handy if you ever need to take off your gloves when on the slopes or sitting on a chair lift. The leashes wrap around your wrist, extending to the gloves so they will hang down when you let them go.
  • Soft Thumb Fabric – When your nose is running on the slopes, these areas are a great replacement for a tissue. They can also be used to wipe your goggles if they get foggy or are sprayed with wet, sticky snow.

If you’re ready to pick out your ski gloves, but aren’t sure which pair is right for your particular style or need, we’ve created a list of some of the top gloves available to help you make your choice.

List of Top Ski Gloves

Hestra Seth Morrison 3-Finger Pro Glove

Hestra Seth Morrison 3-FingerWeight: 1 lb

Dimensions: Available in size 11

Specific Features: Army Leather-goat leather palm, proofed cowhide upper material, CZone membrane, Thermolite insulation, Bemberg/polyester lining

Best Use: Skiing, snowboarding

Description: The Army leather palms and the cowhide back of the Hestra Seth Morrison 3-Finger Pro Gloves are soft to the touch, but also strong enough to withstand both the cold temperatures and the abrasions they may sustain when you take a tumble into the snow. The CZone insert keeps your gloves dry inside, and keeps the wind from cutting through the material and freezing your skin, but are breathable enough to allow for drying if the inner glove gets wet.

Thermolite insulation combined with the 3-finger design keeps your hands toasty warm.  The seams are on the outside of the glove, so you don’t have to worry about them rubbing on your hands and creating painful areas and blisters.

There are also handcuffs so if you need to remove them, you can just unzip the glove and hang it from your wrists.  This will keep it attached to you, reducing the risk of losing your gloves, while still giving you a hands-free option when needed.

Related: There is also a Hestra Morrison Pro Model Ski Glove available that comes in the 5-finger design.  These gloves are made using the same leather and cowhide exterior, CZone insert, and insulation.  Both give you the dexterity you need for skiing.  The only difference is the 5-finger design, which can still be warm, but may not keep your fingers as toasty as the 3-finger design.

Arcteryx Lithic Gloves

Arcteryx Lithic GlovesWeight: 8.8 oz

Dimensions: Available in sizes Medium and Large

Specific Features: N333p-X 3L Gore-Tex fabric with tricot technology on fingers and palm, TPU laminated reinforcements in fingers, N70P Gore-Tex on back, 3 types of PrimaLoft insulation, Tri-Dex technology (3-lobe construction in fingers)

Best Use: Downhill and cross country skiing, snowboarding

Description: Made using two types of Gore-Tex on the fingers, palm and back, these gloves are breathable and comfortable while keeping the water and snow from soaking in, as well as keeping the icy winds out.  The fully taped seams mean there is no uncomfortable rubbing on your hands or wrists.

Lamination on the fingers and palms combined with the TPU reinforcements resist abrasions and tearing, and won’t get damp in the snow the way leather would.  These reinforcements also do not hinder your dexterity in any way.  There is a sturdy wrist strap on these gloves that not only secure them to your wrist, but also keep the cold and snow from slipping inside the glove.

The Arcteryx Lithic Gloves PrimaLoft’s insulation is thicker in the back to keep you warm, as well as extending the life of the gloves, while the palm and fingers have thinner insulation so your grip is not compromised.  The Tri-Dex technology on the fingers gives you a three-lobe pattern that maps your finger’s natural grasping motion, increasing your dexterity and range of motion, so it seems as if you aren’t wearing the gloves at all.

There are a few who have used these gloves who have complained about a lack of warmth, but they are not rated to be used in extreme cold.  It is also best to order a size larger than you normally wear.

Related: Arcteryx also has a Women’s Lithic Mitten, with the same types of Gore-Tex outer materials, linings, and insulations.  It is a mitten rather than a glove, but still offers the same dexterity and durability as the Men’s Lithic model.  But if your lady prefers the gloves, she may just steal your pair.

Outdoor Research Men’s Mute Sensor Insulated Gloves

Outdoor Research Mute Sensor InsulatedWeight: 9.4 oz

Dimensions: Available in sizes Small to Extra Large

Specific Features: Goat leather outer material, polyester tricot lining, Ventia waterproofing insert, EnduraLoft insulation, touch screen compatible

Best Use: Downhill skiing

Description: The soft goat leather material on the outer parts of the Outdoor Research Men’s Mute Sensor Insulated Gloves gives you the movement and grip you need when using your poles on a challenging run, but are still durable and strong.  There is a soft nose wipe on the thumb to help keep your face clean on the slopes.

Molded EVA foam panels cover the back of the hands, protecting them in case of a fall into the snow or a close call with a tree.  These gloves are also both windproof and waterproof, and have a moisture-wicking tricot lining to keep your hands comfy and dry all day.  There is also a layer of EnduraLoft insulation inside that keeps your hands and fingers warm throughout your adventures.

The pull loop at the wrist makes it easy to get into these gloves, and they have an under-cuff design that allows them to be tucked into your sleeve for added warmth.  In this technology-based world, you will probably have a smartphone in your pocket while on the slopes.

That’s why these gloves are also touch-screen compatible, making it possible to use your device without freezing your fingers.  A removable leash allows you to attach your gloves to each other or to you, to reduce the risk of loss.

Related: Outdoor Research makes a wide variety of gloves for skiing and other outdoor snow sports, including the Warrant Insulated Gloves.  The Warrant gloves have similar goat leather palms, but use PrimaLoft One insulation and have Gore-Tex inserts.  They are waterproof and weather-resistant, give you excellent dexterity, but are not touchscreen compatible and are better for mixed routes.

Black Diamond Men’s Guide Gloves

Black Diamond Mens Guide GlovesWeight: 11 oz

Dimensions: Available in sizes Extra Small to Extra Large

Specific Features: Woven nylon shell, goat-leather palm patch, Gore-Tex insert with Plus Warm Technology, removable liner with 170 g PrimaLoft Gold and 100 g fleece palm, foam padded knuckles

Best Use: Skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling

Description: This pair of gloves is the warmest pair available from Black Diamond.  They are rated for temperatures ranging from -20 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and are perfect for wet conditions.  The removable liner is made using a combination of PrimaLoft One and boiled wool to give you extra warmth and comfort.

The Gore-Tex insert is waterproof and breathable, so your hands stay dry all day long. The Black Diamond Guide Gloves‘ nylon shell has four-way stretching capability to give you the necessary dexterity on the slopes.  The goat leather on the palms ensures these gloves will be durable enough to withstand any abrasions they may sustain during a fall, while still allowing you to have a wide range of motion.  The foam padding on the knuckles also help to protect your hands from any injuries.

Because the liner is removable, it will be quick and easy to dry these gloves if a bit of snow happens to slip into the wrist, or if you find your hands a bit sweaty at the end of the day.  Some have had issues with sizing with these gloves, so ordering a larger size than usual is necessary.  There have also been some complaints about stiffness at first, but keep in mind gloves of this kind may require a bit of breaking in to be comfortable.

Related: Black Diamond also makes Guide Finger Gloves which replace the five-finger design with a three-finger design.   You still have the same amount of dexterity and durability of the regular Guide model, but with added warmth from the thicker lining.  They are rated for temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you’ll be out in temperatures this low, the Finger Gloves may be a better choice.  But the warmer the temperature, the hotter your hands will be, so choose carefully.

Outdoor Research Men’s Olympus Sensor Gloves

OR Mens Olympus Sensor GlovesWeight: 11 oz

Dimensions: Available in sizes Small to Extra Large

Specific Features: Goat leather palm, nylon and spandex stretch twill laminated shell, Gore-Tex insert, EVA foam back panels, Sherpa wool lining, EnduraLoft Insulation, touch screen compatible

Best Use: Skiing, snowboarding

Description: Warmth, dexterity, and durability are all found in Outdoor Research’s Olympus Sensor Gloves.  The durability is due to the goat leather on the palm and the fingers, which is not only strong but also water-resistant.  The EnduraLoft insulation is thick on the palm, and thicker on the back of the hand.

When combined with the warm Sherpa wool lining, there are few other gloves available that will keep your hands as toasty as these ones.  Even the EVA foam back panels add a bit of warmth along with the protection they provide to keep your hands safe.  Despite all of that material and insulation, you still have a wide range of movement in these gloves.

Even doing small finger tasks such as unlocking your car door or zipping up your coat are doable with these gloves on.  Along with all the necessary features of a glove, the Olympus Sensors are also touchscreen-compatible, giving you the ability to answer a call or take a picture in cold temperatures without removing these gloves.

Related: Outdoor Research has a similar glove available for skiers, the Illuminator Sensor Gloves.  These have a Ventia insert instead of the Gore-Tex and polyester tricot lining to replace the Sherpa wool, but use the same water-resistant goat leather on the palm and are also touchscreen compatible.  These are lighter in weight as well, but this is due to the thinner insulation, so they may not be as warm as the Olympus gloves in below freezing temperatures.

Hestra Heli Glove

Hestra Heli GlovesWeight: 1 lb

Dimensions: Available in sizes 7 to 12

Specific Features: Hestra Triton three-layer polyamide fabric, Army Leather-goat leather palm, removable Bemberg/polyester lining, Polyester/Fiberfill insulation, carabiner, handcuffs

Best Use: Skiing, cold weather camping, snowshoeing

Description: This is Hestra’s most well-known glove, with a longer cuff to fit nicely over your coat sleeves, keeping the snow from getting between the two layers of clothing.  The outer triple layer of material on the outside is not only durable, it is also waterproof and windproof.

These layers are also breathable, so you don’t need to worry about sweaty hands soaking the inside of your glove.  The leather palm provides you with the grip you need to hold tight to your ski poles on an expert run, though you will need to grease these leather areas often to ensure they will continue to resist damage from moisture and tears.  The lining is thick and warm, though some have complained of chilly fingers in very low temperatures.

The liner of the Hestra Heli Glove is also removable, and can be taken out to dry overnight if they do happen to get wet while you’re out on the slopes.  The wrists have a strap that can be tightened with Velcro, ensuring your gloves stay on your hands where they belong.

There are handcuffs on these gloves as well, which is great if you need to remove one while on a chair lift, because there is no longer the threat of dropping it and having to ski down the hill barehanded to find it again.

Related: There are two other Heli models available that are similar to this one.  These are the Heli 3-Finger Ski glove and the Heli Ski Mitten.  All three versions of the Heli gloves are the same when it comes to material and liners.  The only difference is in the finger placement.  The 3-finger gloves will be a bit warmer than the regular glove, and the mitten will be warmer than both of them.  But with the combined fingers comes a lack of dexterity that you may require, depending on the type of activity you are involved in, so consider this carefully before choosing your gloves.

Outdoor Research Men’s Southback Gloves

Outdoor Research Mens Southback GlovesWeight: 7.9 oz

Dimensions: Available in sizes Small to Extra Large

Specific Features: Nylon outer material, goat leather palm, Gore-Tex insert, EnduraLoft insulation, polyester tricot lining

Best Use: Skiing, snowboarding

Description: The nylon outer material of these gloves is waterproof and windproof, keeping your hands warm and dry, while offering the breathability you need to have comfortable hands all day.  The leather palm is also water-resistant and provides you with a strong, stable grip on your poles or anything else you may need to hold onto.

The EnduraLoft insulation is thicker on the back of the hand for extra warmth, with a thinner layer on the front for heightened dexterity in your hands and fingers.  The thick lining is warm enough for temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but may not be rated for colder temperatures.  This could be remedied by adding a thicker liner inside the glove, but keep in mind this may require you to buy a larger size to accommodate it.

The pull-on loop of the Men’s Southback Gloves makes it easy to get into these gloves, and the long cuff size covers your sleeves comfortably, keeping the snow from slipping into your coat at the wrists.  You won’t have to worry about losing your gloves with the leash on, but if you don’t need it, it can be removed and left behind.

There are also clips on these gloves to latch them together, so you’ll always be able to keep them together.  On the thumb of each glove is a soft nose and goggle wipe to keep your face clean and your vision unimpaired throughout the day.

Related: Outdoor Research also makes a set of Women’s Southback gloves, available in smaller sizes without sacrificing on insulation and other sturdy materials, giving the ladies the same quality glove made for their smaller hands.

Final Word

Having a great pair of ski gloves will not only keep your hands warm and dry, but they will also give you the grip and dexterity you need when handling your poles, not to mention the little tasks like zipping up your coat and digging in your pockets.

Fitting ski gloves

Icy fingers can end your day before you’re ready to go home, so be sure to choose a high quality pair that will keep you loving the slopes all day long.  If you think there is a pair that should have been included in our list, please let us know in our comments section.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Samantha Brown

    I see Hestra mentioned on here a lot. What about Kinco? How do they compare? I’ve heard great things about both but I guess I’m not sure about quality. Are they similar?

  • John Jacobs

    There was a brief moment in time in which I wore mittens because my fingers were closer together and therefore warmer. Then I realized I couldn’t do anything with the darned things on. I like the warmth but I like being able to use my fingers. You listed some great gloves here! I’m not an avid skier but I did some research and they seem top quality and five fingered!

  • Jerry Mueller

    When you put it that way John, I’m also very pleased with these ski gloves! I love the ones that are touch screen compatible, meaning I can still use my phone while wearing these gloves! I don’t enjoy removing my gloves while making a call, it can be quite tedious. Not to mention freezing fingers!

  • Jerry Mueller

    Hestra is Swedish made and has been trusted by skiers for decades. Its high premium material and quality build is known worldwide, enabling the brand to command a price that skiers lap up without a whimper. Kinco on the other hand is more mainstream and has an affordable price range. They started the leather glove craze in 80s when expensive Goretex glove are the rage.

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