The Best Gloves For Winter 2021

By Michael Lanza

Looking for winter gloves that keep your hands warm and dry and are made to last for years? As a professional gear reviewer who gets cold hands easily and spends many days outside in winter, from downhill, backcountry, and Nordic skiing to bike commuting, trail running, and working outside, I’ve used many types of gloves and learned a lot over the years about how to select the right gloves for specific uses.

This review covers the best gloves for a wide range of temperatures, from the 40s and 30s Fahrenheit to below zero. I’ve tested them in snowstorms, cold rain, graupel, and every kind of frozen precipitation, on numerous days of backcountry, Nordic, and resort skiing, on multi-day backcountry yurt trips, trail running, and climbing the mountains from frozen Eastern peaks in winter to higher elevations of the American West—as well as, of course, shoveling snow and doing yard work in winter.

I bring to this review my perspective and experience of field-testing and reviewing a huge variety of outdoor gear as the former lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine for 10 years and now even longer running this blog. I’ve learned to identify the minute differences between excellent, mediocre, and poor gear.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside, which has made several top outdoors blog lists. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Please follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.


Besides coming in a range of prices and styles, the gloves reviewed below have different strengths and weaknesses, making each better for varying activities and circumstances, which I specify in each review. I’m confident you’ll find a pair here that meet your needs—and you’ll find the best prices at the affiliate links in each review below. And you can support my work by making purchases through those links. Thanks for that.

See also my picks for “The Best Mittens for Winter.”

If you have a question for me or a comment on this review or any gloves in it, or other gloves to recommend, please make it in the comments section at the bottom of this story; I try to respond to all comments. I’ve been testing outdoor apparel and gear for about 25 years, so I can probably answer your question.

Scroll down past the tips on how to choose gloves if you want to jump directly into the glove reviews.

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Two Types of Gloves

I’ve divided the reviews below into two categories:

1.    Under-the-cuff gloves, which have shorter, closer-fitting gauntlets designed to be worn under a jacket cuff. They vary in degree of warmth and dexterity, but (with just a couple of exceptions among those reviewed here) are usually less warm and expensive and more dexterous than over-the-cuff gloves. They are typically used for high-intensity activities like running and classic Nordic or skate skiing on groomed trails, but depending on your needs and typical temperatures encountered, can be used for winter and three-season hiking, climbing, ski touring gentler terrain in the woods, and snowshoeing in moderate temperatures from the 20s to 40s Fahrenheit.

2.    Over-the-cuff gloves, which have longer, adjustable gauntlets designed to be worn over a jacket cuff. They have more insulation and often better water resistance than under-the-cuff gloves—or are fully waterproof—making them appropriate for temps in the 20s Fahrenheit and lower, and they usually cost more. Two-piece “system” gloves, with removable liners, are more versatile for activities like backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, ski touring, climbing, or winter hiking and backpacking, where temperatures and your exertion level often vary greatly; whereas over-the-cuff gloves that lack removable liners are designed for activities where your exertion level remains fairly constant, like resort skiing and working outside.

Skiers above the Baldy Knoll yurt in Wyoming's Teton Range.
Skiers above the Baldy Knoll yurt in Wyoming’s Teton Range.

How to Choose Winter Gloves

How do you choose between under- and over-the-cuff gloves? While either style can be worn for most of the activities I’ve mentioned, consider these factors:

•    Your activity.
•    Your usual range of weather conditions and temperatures.
•    How easily your fingers get cold.
•    Thicker, warmer gloves are overkill for high-intensity activities like skate skiing and winter running.
•    Under-the-cuff gloves are usually best for outings of a few hours or less.
•    Over-the-cuff gloves are usually best for multi-hour, all-day, or multi-day activities, especially when your hands are repeatedly in snow (such as when backcountry skiing or snowshoeing).

I’ve listed the products below in ascending order by price within the two categories, and pointed out the pros and cons of each and what they’re best for.

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Under-the-Cuff Gloves

Black Diamond Mont Blanc Gloves.
Black Diamond Mont Blanc Gloves.

Black Diamond Mont Blanc Gloves
$25, 2 oz. (medium)
Sizes: unisex XS-XL
backcountry.com

Pros: Lightweight, very breathable, excellent dexterity, touchscreen fingertips.
Cons: Minimal weather resistance, unisex sizing.
Best For: Being active in temps from around freezing into the 40s.

No matter how easily your hands get cold, you will encounter conditions at any time of year (not just winter) when you need a light glove. Whether for high-exertion activities like running or Nordic skiing in temps around freezing to well above, hiking in cool weather, or long ultra-runs and hikes—BD designed this model with the ultra-race of the Tour du Mont Blanc in mind—these featherweight gloves are a good pick. With my typically cold fingers, I found them perfect for hiking and trail running in temps in the 30s and 40s, but not warm enough for high-speed skate-skiing in temps in the 30s, because you create your own wind; but my wife, whose fingers don’t get cold easily, found them ideal for skate-skiing in those temps.

A weather-resistant shell fabric on the back of the hand and digits sheds light precipitation and blocks some wind, while the stretch palm and cuff release perspiration and dry quickly; and the cuff seals snugly around the wrist. A silicone grip pattern covers the entire palm and grabbing side of the digits, for easily holding onto poles and bottles. And the thumb and forefinger tips have excellent touchscreen sensitivity. Sizing is average, with a skin-tight fit that doesn’t feel too tight because of the stretch, which also helps accommodate different hand types.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the Black Diamond Mont Blanc Gloves at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com or ems.com.

Enjoy your cold-season activities more. Read my “12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter.”

Outdoor Research Vigor Heavyweight Sensor Gloves.
Outdoor Research Vigor Heavyweight Sensor Gloves.

Outdoor Research Vigor Heavyweight Sensor Gloves
$40, 2.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s S-L
backcountry.com

Pros: Lightweight, warm liner, excellent dexterity, breathable, touchscreen fingertips, men’s and women’s sizes.
Cons: Not weatherproof, too warm for milder temps.
Best For: Moderate- to high-exertion activities when dexterity is needed in temperatures from well below to around freezing.

From cold-weather hiking and trail running to ski touring and Nordic skiing, I have worn these lightweight but remarkably warm gloves repeatedly. OR’s toastiest fleece liner glove, the Vigor sport ActiveTemp thermo-regulating technology, which OR says adjusts to your body’s release of heat to keep hands comfortable during high-exertion activities. Plus, the Vigor Gloves have a double-layer fleece construction, with 265g weight exterior fleece and 100g weight on the interior. They extend slightly beyond the wrist to insulate blood vessels in the wrist that help keep fingers warm.

My hands, which get cold very easily, remained comfortable in temps down into the 20s when ski touring, trail running, or hiking in little to no wind and did not overheat until temps rose into the upper 30s in warm sunshine—partly because these gloves are highly breathable, wick moisture, and dry quickly. Still, people whose hands do not get cold easily may find them too warm for temps around or above freezing, especially for high-exertion activities, and ideal for somewhat colder conditions than I used the gloves.

They have excellent dexterity, with a very close fit and abundant stretch—they’re a little difficult to pull the cuff over my somewhat thick hands, but comfortable when wearing them. With silicone dot grip on the two middle fingers and upper palm and thumb, touchscreen sensitivity in forefinger and thumb tips, and a clip to keep them together when stored, the Outdoor Research Vigor Heavyweight Sensor Gloves are the warmest gloves for their weight and ideal for moderate to high exertion in cold temperatures.

One caveat: These gloves don’t block wind, which can make hands much colder (absent a shell glove or mitten over them)—as happened to my chronically cold hands when skate-skiing, which creates its own wind, in temps in the upper 20s; and on a January hike with temps just above freezing but a steady wind on an exposed ridgeline that made it feel much colder.

OR’s lighter options are the men’s and women’s Vigor Midweight Sensor Gloves ($30) and Vigor Lightweight Sensor Gloves ($26).

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the men’s or women’s Outdoor Research Vigor Heavyweight Sensor Gloves, Vigor Midweight Sensor Gloves, or Vigor Lightweight Sensor Gloves at backcountry.com or outdoorresearch.com.

Get the right synthetic or down puffy to keep you warm. See “The 10 Best Down Jackets.”

Black Diamond HeavyWeight Wooltech Gloves.
Black Diamond HeavyWeight Wooltech Gloves.

Black Diamond HeavyWeight Wooltech Gloves
$50, 2.5 oz. (unisex medium)
Sizes: unisex XS-XL
moosejaw.com

Pros: Lightweight, warm for their weight and when wet, excellent dexterity, touchscreen fingertips, and great value.
Cons: No women’s sizes.
Best For: High-intensity activities in temps below freezing or moderate activity in temperatures above freezing.

On December hikes with the sun low and sending little warmth and temps ranging from the low 40s into the low 30s Fahrenheit, my hands stayed surprisingly warm, considering the minimal weight and bulk of these gloves—even after the sun went down and the temperature plunged.

BD rates the gloves for 25° to 40° F, but that’s entirely relative to your hands: As someone whose hands get cold very easily, I find these gloves ideal for moderate- to high-exertion levels in temps from the mid-30s to the 40s. I did find that, with the temp stuck in the low 30s, these gloves were fine for the strenuous uphill, but I had to swap them out for warmer gloves on the descent, when the wind turned icy and the sun neared the horizon.

They are impressively warm for their weight and the dexterity they deliver. Combining a lightweight, 302g Nuyarn Merino wool—engineered for more durability while weighing less and drying faster—on the back of hand with goat leather palms and fingers and a soft fleece lining, these lightweight gloves naturally eliminate odors and trap warmth even when wet. The index fingers and thumbs have touchscreen functionality.

If you don’t need that warm a glove—whether for winter or three-season activities—lighter options are the MidWeight Wooltech Gloves ($40, 1.9 oz.) with 210g NuYarm Merino wool and the LightWeight Wooltech Gloves ($35, 0.9 oz.) with 160g NuYarm Merino wool.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the Black Diamond HeavyWeight Wooltech Gloves at moosejaw.com or blackdiamondequipment.com, the MidWeight Wooltech Gloves at moosejaw.com or blackdiamondequipment.com, or the LightWeight Wooltech Gloves at moosejaw.com or blackdiamondequipment.com.

Active in the cold? Build a perfect layering system with “The Best Clothing Layers for Winter in the Backcountry.”

Active in the cold? Build a perfect layering system with “The Best Clothing Layers for Winter in the Backcountry.”

 

Seirus Soundtouch Xtreme All Weather Gloves.
Seirus Soundtouch Xtreme All Weather Gloves.

Seirus Soundtouch Xtreme All Weather Gloves
$60, 3.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s and women’s S-XXL
ems.com

Pros: Lightweight, waterproof-breathable, warm, excellent dexterity, touchscreen fingertips, and great value.
Cons: Too warm for some users for high-intensity activities in temps above freezing.
Best For: High-intensity activities in temps below freezing or moderate activity in temperatures above freezing.

Through waves of heavy rain and thunderstorms in chilly temperatures on a mid-September backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, these lightweight gloves kept my hands warm and absolutely dry. They also proved plenty warm enough for a morning near freezing while backpacking in May in Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness, as well as chilly mornings of spring backcountry skiing and on frosty days cycling and hiking at home.

With a light fleece lining and a stretchy cuff that extends about two inches behind the wrist bones, these gloves felt quite warm in temps in the low 40s Fahrenheit; even with my cold fingers, I could wear them in temps down into the 20s, so they’re as warm as some bulkier fleece gloves. But unless you get cold fingers easily, they’re too warm for hiking in temps in the 40s or running in temps much above freezing. A waterproof-breathable Pro-Fit insert kept my hands dry through heavy rain during thunderstorms in the Winds, and even when I ran tap water over them; they’ll certainly repel snow. The soft-shell outer fabric’s four-way stretch affords a close fit with excellent dexterity. Soundtouch sensitivity in the thumb and forefinger allowed me to easily tap out text messages and select icons on a phone screen, and PVC in the palm adds durability.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking either of these affiliate links to purchase the men’s or women’s Seirus Soundtouch Xtreme All Weather Gloves at ems.com or rei.com.

Be smart about your winter adventures. See my story “How to Dress in Layers for Winter in the Backcountry.”

Marmot XT Glove
Marmot XT Glove

Marmot XT Glove
$75, 4 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL
moosejaw.com

Pros: Water-resistant, lightweight, good fit and dexterity, palm pad.
Cons: No women’s sizes or touchscreen sensor.
Best For: High-intensity activities in any weather, or any activity in moderate temperatures.

I wore the XT Gloves for numerous one- and two-hour, skate-skiing workouts from the Harriman Trail in Idaho’s Wood River Valley to my local Nordic trails above Boise, and for cold-weather biking around town. Even in temps in the low 20s and some wind on a sunny, two-hour ski tour in the Boise Mountains, and a four-mile dayhike in the Boise Foothills on a 15° F morning, my chronically cold fingers stayed warm.

The proprietary, water-resistant, breathable MemBrain stretch fabric on the backs of the hands repels snow and light rain, while the DriClime lining wicks sweat. Falcon Grip articulation and Pittards leather in the palms and undersides of the fingers deliver good dexterity, fit, and easy gripping for manipulating pack buckles and zipper pulls; that leather makes the palms more durable than nylon, too. A small palm pad cushions the ulnar nerve, especially useful when using poles. The hoop-and-loop wrist closure seals out cold air. There is a quick clip for mating the gloves, but no touchscreen sensor.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking this affiliate link to purchase the Marmot XT Glove at moosejaw.com.

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Outdoor Research Extravert Gloves
$79, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

Pros: Versatile balance of warmth, weather resistance, and dexterity and a good value.
Cons: Not warm enough for deep cold, no women’s sizes or touchscreen sensitivity.
Best For: Moderate cold while hiking, backcountry skiing or snowboarding, snowshoeing, climbing, bike commuting, or working outside.

The Extravert has become a go-to glove for me on days of backcountry skiing both uphill and downhill in temps in the 20s, at times in heavily falling, wet snow, or just for the up track in deeper cold.

Snow slides off the tough, wind- and water-resistant, stretch nylon shell and the durable goat leather palms, which also lend good grip to the hands and textured fingers. The wool blend lining strikes a good balance of warmth for the snow pit avalanche-hazard assessment, skinning exposed ridges in cold wind, and skiing downhill in moderate temps while wicking moisture and keeping hands from overheating when cranking up the skin track.

The pre-curved fingers are comfortable without feeling at all stiff. The fit runs true to size and is just right: snug enough for good dexterity without choking off circulation to the fingers. A big loop makes pulling them on easy and the hook-and-loop closure and beyond-the-wrist gauntlet lock snow out and fit over the cuff of an insulated jacket or under the adjustable cuff of a shell. They have a carabiner loop on the middle fingers for hanging to dry and a buckle to clip them together.

The Outdoor Research Extravert Gloves hit a sweet spot for warmth, weather protection, and dexterity that makes them useful for everything from backcountry skiing, hiking, and climbing in moderate winter temps to bike commuting and clearing snow—at a good price for this level of performance.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the Outdoor Research Extravert Gloves at backcountry.com , outdoorresearch.com, or moosejaw.com.

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Smartwool Ridgeway Glove.
Smartwool Ridgeway Glove.

Smartwool Ridgeway Glove
$80, 5.5 oz. (medium)
Sizes: Unisex XS-XL
backcountry.com

Pros: Very durable, water-resistant, lightweight, good dexterity.
Cons: No women’s sizes or touchscreen sensor.
Best For: Everything from high- and moderate-intensity activities in temps below and above freezing to all-around, everyday use, including working outside.

For high-speed Nordic skate-skiing in temps down to the mid-20s as well as biking around town, these gloves kept my chronically cold fingers happy, thanks to the warm and soft, Merino wool and nylon lining. And yet they’re low bulk, fitting easily in pole straps and offering good dexterity. With goat leather everywhere but on the back of the hand (to make that area more breathable and the glove more flexible), and a double layer of leather reinforcing the thumb and forefinger, the Ridgeway is an excellent all-around winter glove for everything from cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to bike commuting and working in the yard and elsewhere.

The cuff lacks a closure strap or elasticity, leaving it slightly open, but fits easily under any jacket cuff to keep snow and cold out. They’re not warm enough for downhill skiing, except on sunny, warm early-spring days. Sizing runs slightly small, probably to accommodate women’s hands (since these are unisex); men on the cusp between sizes will probably need to size up. But I almost always wear men’s medium, and the medium Ridgeway fit my hands well.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the Smartwool Ridgeway Glove at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com.

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Outdoor Research Inception Aerogel Gloves
$99, 5.5 oz. (medium)
Sizes: unisex XS-XL
backcountry.com

Pros: Water-resistant, windproof, stretchy, good warmth, grip, touchscreen sensitivity, and durability.
Cons: Moderate dexterity for under-the-cuff gloves, gauntlet is overkill for aerobic activities.
Best For: Moderate cold while backcountry or Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and mountaineering, or working outside.

Sporting technology used by NASA, OR’s Inception Aerogel Gloves find a middle-ground balance of warmth, dexterity, and durability among under-the-cuff gloves. I found myself frequently slipping them on for ski touring and Nordic skate-skiing in temps ranging from the low 30s to the teens.

The key ingredient is PrimaLoft Aerogel, originally used to insulate NASA space suits, in the palms and fingers. Composed of more than 98 percent air, Aerogel may have the lowest thermal conductivity of any known substance. Unlike down, synthetics, and fleece, it also won’t compress, making it particularly ideal for gloves, and Outdoor Research is unique in integrating Aerogel into the fingers.

OR says the gloves are comfortable from 0° F (-17 C) to 30° F (-1 C), but I think many users would find their warmth limit in the mid-teens Fahrenheit. On three-hour ski tour in blowing snow, cold wind, and temps in the low 20s, my fingers stayed warm while skiing uphill and along an up-and-down ridge; but as my exertion level dropped, my hands eventually got cold and I switched to mittens. The soft-shell construction with four-way stretch repelled snow and blocked wind, and the grid fleece lining added warmth and wicked sweat; the gloves breathe well enough that my hands never overheated.

The medium—the size I always wear in gloves—fit my moderately thick fingers and hands well, with good dexterity. The silicone dot print in the palms delivers good grip, while the touchscreen compatibility in the synthetic-leather forefinger and thumb tips is excellent. The unusually long gauntlet excels for backcountry and resort skiing and riding or snowshoeing, but may seem like overkill for Nordic skiing (although I liked its warmth). The large pull-on loop is easy to grab with a gloved hand, and the hook-and-loop closure snugs tightly to keep snow and wind out.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the Outdoor Research Inception Aerogel Gloves at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or outdoorresearch.com.

Need serious warmth? Check out “The Best Mittens for Winter.”

The North Face Steep Patrol Futurelight Gloves
$140, 7 oz. (medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

Pros: Waterproof, good breathability, dexterity, and durability.
Cons: Short gauntlet and moderate warmth—not ideal for extreme cold.
Best For: Backcountry and resort skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice climbing, and mountaineering, or working outside.

Hitting a sweet spot for warmth, waterproofing, breathability, dexterity, and durability, The North Face Steep Patrol Futurelight Gloves will appeal to skiers, riders, and other users who want warmth without compromising the use of their fingers.

From backcountry to resort skiing in warm sunshine, falling snow, wind, and temps from the 20s to 40s Fahrenheit, the 200g of PrimaLoft Silver insulation, concentrated on the back of the hand to help maintain blood flow, delivered good warmth for gloves with moderate weight and bulk. Only when the sun was low and the temp dropping fast while riding lifts did I find the need to swap to bigger, warmer, and less dexterous gloves (my hands get cold easily). I happily swapped out of a lighter pair of gloves to these for the descent on a December hike in temps in the low 30s with a light but cold wind and weak sun.

The short gauntlet’s hook-and-loop closure seals in warmth and keeps snow out, but makes them less suitable for really cold days, when it’s more important to keep wrists and forearms warm to encourage blood flow. That short gauntlet and wrist closure, plus a large loop for pulling them on, make it both an over-the-cuff glove (for wearing over an insulated jacket) and under-the-cuff glove (for wearing under the adjustable cuff of a shell jacket).

The waterproof-breathable FutureLight membrane, backstopped by a DWR (durable, water-resistant finish), kept my hands dry in snowstorms and wet snow, and its superior breathability meant my hands still didn’t get sweaty when resort skiing in warm sun and temps into the low 40s.

TNF’s “five-dimensional fit” offers very good dexterity—better than bigger, warmer gloves, though, of course, not as good as thinner gloves—for handling snow gear or turning ice screws, while the articulated design allows hands to rest in a natural position. Water-resistant goat leather blended with polyester ripstop promises super durability—also making them an excellent outdoor-work glove that’s much warmer than many cheaper work gloves. An elasticized leash protects against dropping the glove on a ski lift. The medium—the size I always wear in gloves—fit my moderately thick fingers and hands well, without squeezing my fingers (which can inhibit circulation).

In all but the coldest conditions, The North Face Steep Patrol Futurelight Gloves excel for backcountry or resort skiing or snowboarding, snowshoeing, winter hiking, and three-season mountaineering.

The North Face Steep Patrol Futurelight Mitts ($140) have a lobster-claw design for better warmth.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking this affiliate link to purchase The North Face Steep Patrol Futurelight Gloves at backcountry.com.

Want to hike the Teton Crest Trail, John Muir Trail, or another trip? Click here for expert advice you won’t get elsewhere.

 

Black Diamond Legend Gloves
Black Diamond Legend Gloves

Black Diamond Legend Gloves
$150, 8 oz. (medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-L
backcountry.com

Pros: Waterproof, all leather, padded, very warm.
Cons: Too warm for moderate temps, minimal dexterity for under-the-cuff gloves.
Best For: Deep cold while backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, ice climbing, and mountaineering, or working outside.

BD’s Legend Glove achieves a successful marriage of the warmth of a three-in-one, over-the-cuff glove with the fit of an under-the-cuff glove. With 170g of PrimaLoft Gold insulation on the backs of the hands and 133g of PrimaLoft Gold Eco in the palms, these are among the warmest under-the-cuff gloves I’ve ever used—and they come loaded with high-end features.

Shoveling out our tent after a night of wet, heavy snowfall, and taking the tent down later—with my hands repeatedly in heavy, sloppy snow—I found the Gore-Tex-lined Legend Gloves lived up to their fully waterproof claim. Ditto when I shoveled about a half ton of wet snow off the deck of a backcountry yurt in Idaho’s Boise Mountains. They’re built for hard use, with goat leather construction, Kevlar stitching, and compression-molded EVA padding on the backs of the hands. The soft suede nose wipe on the thumbs and a neoprene cuff with hook-and-loop closure close out a rich feature set.

Not surprisingly, I also found these gloves too warm for highly aerobic skate skiing in temps around freezing. They’re best for moderate-exertion, cold-temperature activities like ice climbing, resort skiing, skiing downhill in the backcountry (or skinning uphill in very cold temperatures), or hiking, snowshoeing and ski touring in temperatures well below freezing.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking either of these affiliate links to purchase the men’s or women’s Black Diamond Legend Gloves at backcountry.com, blackdiamondequipment.com, or moosejaw.com.

Plan your next great backpacking adventure in Yosemite and other flagship parks using my expert e-guides.

Over-the-Cuff Gloves

Black Diamond Recon Gloves
$100, 7.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s XS-L
backcountry.com

Pros: Very warm, waterproof-breathable, fully featured, durable, relatively lightweight.
Cons: Too warm for relatively mild temps or spring skiing, no removable inner glove.
Best For: Resort and backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, ice and alpine climbing, winter hiking and backpacking in deep cold.

On a sunny but cold day skiing north-facing backcountry slopes that remained shaded, I wore these gloves for our first three deeply refrigerated downhill runs (skinning uphill in lighter gloves because these are too warm for that level of exertion). With fingers that numb very easily, I was shocked at how quickly my digits warmed as soon as I slid them inside the fat Recon.

Part of BD’s Freeride Series, the Recon Gloves draw their abundant warmth—they’re warmer than heavier models in this category—from 340 grams of PrimaLoft Gold insulation on the back and 170 grams on the palm. BD rates the temperature range of the Recon Gloves as -11° F to 10° F, but that will vary based on how easily your hands get cold and weather conditions like wind and sunshine versus overcast. I find them comfortable from single digits to around 20° F.

The waterproof-breathable, BD.dry insert, Pertex Shield shell fabric, and soft, moisture-wicking lining keep all environmental moisture on the outside while helping prevent sweat from building up inside. The adjustable gauntlet extends almost halfway down your forearm and slides easily over a shell jacket sleeve. Padding on the back of the hand and tough fabric throughout protects against the abuses of climbing and there’s a fat nose wipe on each thumb.

Fit runs true to size: My slightly thick hands and fingers slide easily in and out and the gloves are neither too loose or too snug—just right. While dexterity is not the strong suit of such well-insulated gloves, the leather palm aids grip as well as durability. BD also offers the even-warmer Recon Mitts ($90, 7 oz.) in men’s and women’s sizes. See my review of those and others in “The Best Mittens for Winter.”

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the men’s or women’s Black Diamond Recon Gloves at backcountry.com or blackdiamondequipment.com.

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Outdoor Research Luminary Sensor Gloves
Outdoor Research Luminary Sensor Gloves

Outdoor Research Luminary Sensor Gloves
$135, 8 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s S-L
backcountry.com

Pros: Warm, versatile, fully featured, excellent touchscreen compatibility.
Cons: Not the best choice for relatively mild temps or spring skiing.
Best For: Backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, ice and alpine climbing, winter hiking and backpacking.

In temperatures ranging from the single digits and sub-zero wind chills to around freezing, and skies from bluebird to snowing, these three-in-one system gloves became my go-to hand wear for backcountry skiing. My hands typically get cold during the first 30 minutes of skiing—even when I’m skinning uphill the entire time—but that didn’t happen in these gloves, which seem warmer than many in this category. That’s due to the combination of the removable, wool-blend inner glove, which delivers significant warmth, and the water-resistant Gore-Tex Windstopper soft-shell outer glove, which blocks the chilling effects of wind.

This system places its insulation in the liner rather than in the shell glove, which translates to a specific strategy for hand-temperature management: You wear the outer glove when you’re working hard (e.g., skinning uphill), and add the liner when you need more warmth, such as when digging a snow pit or skiing downhill. That means you still have wind and weather protection without making your hands sweaty, and it also makes this glove better for cold temps, or for people who get cold hands easily, than a system glove with a thin, removable liner (which is better for milder temps, like spring skiing)—although you could always supplement this system with inexpensive liner gloves for spring.

The Luminary also sports high-end features like water-resistant, tricot-bonded, goat leather palms for grip, plus leather overlays on the palm for added durability, and tricot lining in the shell glove. The touchscreen compatibility in the thumb and index finger works well even while wearing the full system (inner and outer glove). A one-hand drawcord closure on the extended gauntlet keeps out snow and it has a removable and adjustable leash. And I like the big nylon loop for pulling the glove on, and the loop on the shell glove’s middle finger for clipping them to a harness fingers-up (to keep snow out).

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the men’s or women’s Outdoor Research Luminary Sensor Gloves at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or outdoorresearch.com.

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Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II gloves.
Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II gloves.

Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II
$68, 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL
backcountry.com

Pros: Very warm, waterproof-breathable, fully featured, durable.
Cons: Too warm for relatively mild temps or spring skiing, no removable inner glove.
Best For: Resort and backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, ice and alpine climbing, winter hiking and backpacking in deep cold.

You want warm, highly weather-resistant, durable gloves for downhill skiing and snowboarding—but the prices of some models are even steeper than the slopes you ski? The Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II perform like competitors that cost two or three times more.

I have worn these gloves resort skiing in heavily falling snow, with wind chills in the teens Fahrenheit—and my hands never got cold or wet, thanks to the Megaloft synthetic insulation. And that was even without using chemical heat packs that slide into the low-profile, zippered pockets on the backs of the hands—a feature that makes these gloves suited to frigid temps. The Gore-Tex waterproof-breathable membrane repels moisture, the stretch-woven shell fabric enhances breathability, and the moisture-wicking lining soaks up any sweat.

Textured goatskin leather with cowhide accents in the palm, thumb, fingertips, and back of the hand provide durability and good grip. The gauntlet cuff extends over a jacket sleeve and snugs tightly with a drawcord closure, while a stretch wrist strap prevents you from losing the glove. I consistently fit medium gloves, and the Storm Trooper fit was ideal: Not overly tight on my thick fingers and just the right length.

What’s the tradeoff for this price? A bit less dexterity than some high-end gloves in this category—which may not matter to a lot of skiers and riders as long as their hands stay warm and dry. With no removable insulated inner glove, these gloves are too warm for skinning uphill in the backcountry (except in extreme cold). Also, there aren’t women’s sizes, but the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II Mitt ($68) comes in men’s and women’s sizes.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking either of these affiliate links to purchase the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II gloves at backcountry.com or Moosejaw.com.

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40 thoughts on “The Best Gloves For Winter 2021”

  1. Hi there! Very glad to find your webpage with a lot of useful tips. I am not a mountaineering person, but an avid cyclist 365 days a year. Suffering from the same problem as you (cold fingers) and needing total waterproofness ( under the cuffs glove) I’ve found Black Diamonds to suit best for my needs. Are there any similar quality gloves that can compete them ( price is not important)? Some that I consider are made byNorrona and Canada Goose. Your advise would be highly appreciated.
    Regards
    Petar

    Reply
    • Hi Petar,

      Good question. I’ve struggled with keeping fingers warm when cycling in cold temps, too. Because my fingers get cold so easily, I tend to wear gloves that are warm, definitely windproof for cycling, at least water-resistant if not waterproof, and have adequate dexterity. Among the gloves in this review that I’d recommend are the Outdoor Research Extravert Gloves, The North Face Steep Patrol Futurelight Gloves, and the Black Diamond Legend Gloves.

      You might also consider mittens for deep cold. See my review of “The Best Mittens for Winter.”

      I hope that’s helpful. Thanks for the question and keep in touch.

      Reply
  2. Thank you for the comprehensive and detailed reviews. My primary goal is for a warm/waterproof glove that I can wear on the coldest days when walking my dog or hiking on my own for up to 60-80 minutes in temps between 0-20 degrees F (I am in good shape glove-wise for warmer temps). As a glove expert, what do you think?

    Reply
    • Hi Bill,

      For temps that cold, you don’t technically need a waterproof glove because you won’t encounter water in liquid form; water-resistant is adequate. But the top model I’d recommend for warmth is the Black Diamond Legend Gloves. The more affordable and best value, though not quite as warm, is the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II.

      I hope that helps.

      Reply
  3. Great information about winter gloves, many times you need good flexibility also. Your post about gloves will help anyone make a good choice, thanks.

    Reply
  4. I was searching trekking gloves advice on the internet and arrived here, Black Diamond HeavyWeight Wooltech Gloves look great value trekking around alpine terrain in the Himalayas.

    Reply
  5. Hi,
    Thank you for your suggestions. I decided to purchase the Black Diamond women’s gloves. When I clicked on the link to be directed to moosejaw, I noticed the gloves they advertise do not look the same as the gloves in the picture on your webiste.
    Are they the same? thank you

    Reply
    • Thanks for the question. Your comment doesn’t mention which Black Diamond gloves you wanted to purchase, but I have three BD gloves reviewed in this article: the Mont Blanc and HeavyWeight Wooltech Gloves are available in unisex sizes and the BD Legend Glove comes in men’s and women’s sizes. All of the affiliate links, including the Moosejaw links, open to the correct gloves for sale at those retail websites. Sometimes the photos may look slightly different, but my reviews all link to the same gloves for sale at those sites. I appreciate you asking and wanting to purchase through my affiliate links.

      Reply
  6. Hey Michael, great review for outdoor activities. What I really need is a review of winter gloves for photographers. Any chance you could look into that?
    Keep up the great reviews.
    John

    Reply
    • Hi John, thanks, and good suggestion. As someone who gets cold fingers easily, I find it challenging to shoot in cold temps, for sure, obviously in part because the camera itself gets very cold. But I would answer by saying that I still think a high priority when choosing gloves for winter photography is the temps you expect to encounter, the length of time you’ll be fully outside (i.e., not warming up in the car periodically), and the activity you will engage in to get your photos (skiing, hiking, etc.). Choose gloves for the circumstances, and then with an eye to the best dexterity you can find for the level of warmth you need.

      Of the models reviewed above, for photography, I would recommend the Outdoor Research Luminary Sensor Gloves, Black Diamond Legend Gloves, Seirus Soundtouch Xtreme All Weather Gloves, and Outdoor Research PL 400 Sensor Gloves—again, dependent on how much warmth you need, along with dexterity.

      Good luck. Nice to hear from you. Keep in touch.

      Reply
  7. Mike, I just came upon your site, and am thrilled I did. Your tips and reviews are fantastic. Taking care of a farm in Michigan winters, x-country skiing, and walking dogs for miles each day makes for a cold winter without the right gear. It’s a battle to find outerwear that not only lasts more than a few months, but performs and keeps me warm. Your in-depth reviews are just what I needed.
    A heartfelt thank you from me!
    Phyllis

    Reply
    • Thanks, Phyllis, I appreciate that. I hope you share in this comments section any recommendations you have for favorite gloves or outerwear that work for you in your winters. Stay warm.

      Reply
  8. Hi, Michael,

    Thank you very much for your review. I am wondering if you have any suggestions as to the best women’s glove for outdoor photography in extremely cold weather. I am looking for the warmest glove that will allow me the dexterity to operate a camera. My hands are FREEZING. and hurt even after I go back inside. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.
    Deborah

    Reply
    • Hi Deborah, I’ve struggled with the same problem, because I’m frequently shooting in very cold temps. The simple truth is that thicker gloves are warmer and offer less dexterity. That said, and without knowing how warm a glove you need, I suggest you look at a few options.

      First, two of the under-the-cuff models come to mind. The OR PL 400 Sensor Glove gives the most warmth relative to its excellent dexterity; the question for you is whether they’re warm enough. Much warmer, though less dexterous, but possibly allowing you to manipulate camera controls, is the Black Diamond Legend Glove.

      Alternatively, you might try the OR Luminary Sensor Glove, because it would allow you to remove the shell and wear just the liner for maximum dexterity, and pull the shell on again when you need warmth while shooting. Ideally, you would try on each model with your camera to assess dexterity. And lastly, I would also consider getting the OR PL 400 Sensor Glove and some warm mittens to layer over them when needed, employing the same strategy as I suggested with the Luminary gloves.

      I think those are your best options, and only you can figure out which is best for your specific needs.

      You’ve probably tried using chemical hand warmers, inserting them into your gloves and/or jacket pockets to warm your hands when needed. My other trick is to bring two pairs of gloves: I keep one pair in the pockets of the jacket closest to my torso (ideally inside pockets), where my body heat keeps them warm. When my hands get cold in the gloves I’m wearing, I swap pairs. It’s one of my tips in my “12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter” (https://thebigoutside.com/12-pro-tips-for-staying-warm-outdoors-in-winter/).

      Good luck. Let us know if you find some gloves that work really well for you. Thanks for the good question.

      Reply
  9. I like to wear mittens, rather than gloves, when it’s really cold. I hope you will review mittens one day. Thanks! I love your site.

    Reply
      • Hi Mike,
        Joe and I are heading to Banff in March for some backcountry skiing. I find I wear a light glove while climbing. At the top I throw the sweaty gloves in my pack and switch to the warmest system I own for the descent. I’ve got old, cold fingers, too.

        I’m ready to buy the warmest system I can find. Is there general consensus that an insulated glove under a waterproof mitten-style shell works best for warmth? Should I give that OR Baker a try? I’m willing to sacrifice dexterity for warmth for the downhill.

        Sue

        Reply
        • Hi Sue, I’m envious of your plans, especially given how bad this winter has been for skiing.

          I regularly wear the OR Luminary Sensor Gloves for backcountry skiing, taking off the shells and wearing only the inner gloves for the uphill. They keep my cold fingers pretty warm.

          But I’ll also tip you off that I’ve been using OR’s Phosphor Mitts this winter–they’re super warm (very little dexterity), actually too warm for me when skiing downhill in the 20s F. And I can layer a light liner under them for when it’s really cold; the OR PL 400 Sensor Gloves feel a little snug but work inside those mittens, so most lighter liners would layer inside them just fine. I plan to add the Phosphor Mittens to this review once I’ve tested them a little more. But I see that backcountry.com has a really good sale price on them right now (see http://bit.ly/2nU8Dhv).

          I also stick my damp liners or any spare gloves in zippered pockets in my middle/insulation jacket layer, to keep them warm and help them dry out for when I put them back on.

          Hope that helps. Have a great trip.

          Reply
          • Hi Mike! I got my new OR Phosphors today. Can’t wait to test drive them this weekend! Thanks for the help.
            Sue

    • Doing any kind of work outdoors in the winter require good warm gloves. Many times you need good flexablity also. Your review on gloves will help anyone make a good choice. Great info, thanks.

      Reply
  10. Mike – Fantastic and thorough article on gloves for Raynaud’s. It is a debilitating disorder if you don’t know the resources available to continue a full outdoor life. Well-written. THANK YOU!

    Reply
  11. Mike, you did an awesome job. Really enjoyed reading all of your reviews. Please keep up the good work. And wish you good health so you keep getting out there. Just reading thru your reviews brought back vivid memories of Yellowstone, Montana, Idaho and Canada. I enjoy hiking, horseback riding and backcountry skiing. I’m somewhat disabled now but still enjoying hiking. I own a Scottish highlander beef farm. Love winter months—so quiet, no bugs, and just downright beautiful. Thanks for helping me decide what’s the right glove. God bless man!

    Reply
  12. Nice glove review. As a cold hands person, I have found that ragg wool gloves, with thinsulate and fleece liner, are the warmest option for dry, cold days (or light snow) in the single digits and teens (or anything below 25 degrees). Make sure the fit is not tight. I use them for running, hiking, snowshoeing.

    Reply

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