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 across the western U.S.—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 outdoors 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.
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.
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’d be happy to respond. 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.
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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Black Diamond Mont Blanc Gloves
$25, 2 oz. (medium)
Sizes: unisex XS-XL
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.
Enjoy your cold-season activities more. Read my “12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter.”
Outdoor Research PL 400 Sensor Gloves
$40, 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s S-L
Pros: Lightweight, warm liner, excellent dexterity, touchscreen fingertips, men’s and women’s sizes.
Cons: Not weatherproof, dry slower than other light gloves.
Best For: When dexterity is needed in cold temperatures, or when active in temps from just below to just above freezing.
For the dexterity and warmth they offer, these double-layer gloves stayed on my hands much of the time on a four-day, April climb of the Mountaineers Route on California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney—at times alone, often under a shell glove. Made of stretchy, 300-weight fleece with a 100-weight fleece liner, they strike a balance between more warmth than most liner gloves—which are lighter—and optimal dexterity for delicate tasks like firing up a stove.
They extend slightly beyond the wrist for better warmth. The fabric breathes really well, wicks sweat, and dries quickly, and fingertips and palms have an no-slip, silicone print. The forefinger and thumb tips are reliably touchscreen compatible, though you have to tap a little more deliberately than with bare hands. There is a quick clip for mating the gloves. They’re ideal as a single glove in temperatures from the 20s to the 30s Fahrenheit (depending on your activity and how easily your fingers get cold), or as a liner under a shell glove or mitten in colder temps. One the downside, once wet, do not dry as quickly as lighter gloves.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase the men’s or women’s Outdoor Research PL 400 Sensor Gloves at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or outdoorresearch.com.
Get the right synthetic or down puffy to keep you warm. See my review of “The 10 Best Down Jackets.”
Seirus Soundtouch Xtreme All Weather Gloves
$60, 3.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s and women’s S-XXL
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 cold temps, 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.
Be smart about your winter adventures. See my story “How to Dress in Layers for Winter in the Backcountry.”
Marmot XT Glove
$75, 4 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL
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 by clicking this link to purchase the Marmot XT Glove at moosejaw.com.
Smartwool Ridgeway Glove
$80, 5.5 oz. (medium)
Sizes: Unisex XS-XL
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.
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Outdoor Research Inception Aerogel Gloves
$99, 5.5 oz. (medium)
Sizes: unisex XS-XL
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.
Black Diamond Legend Gloves
$150, 8 oz. (medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-L
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 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.
Plan your next great backpacking adventure in Yosemite and other flagship parks using my expert e-guides.
Over-the-Cuff Gloves and Mittens
Outdoor Research Phosphor Gore-Tex Infinium Mitts
$90, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s and women’s XS-XL
Pros: Very warm, windproof and water-resistant, good price for the quality.
Cons: Too warm for moderate temps, very minimal dexterity.
Best For: Backcountry and resort skiing, snowshoeing, ice and alpine climbing, winter hiking and backpacking.
For bone-chilling days of skiing, climbing, snowshoeing, fitness walking, or other outdoor activities, few models match the deep warmth of the Phosphor Mitts. They kept my chronically cold digits warm on windy, frosty days of resort skiing, even when the temp started dropping fast toward sunset and other gloves weren’t warm enough. (They’ve become a favorite of my teenage son for skiing because he prefers the warmth of mittens.)
Stuffed with 650-fill power goose down, these mitts keep digits toasty in wind and temps from the low 20s to below zero Fahrenheit—they’re actually too warm for temps in the mid-20s or higher. The Gore Windstopper membrane and water-resistant and tough, synthetic suede palm shed snow and other forms of frozen water—and you don’t need waterproof mitts in the temps you’ll wear these. The polyester tricot lining feels soft enough and doesn’t cling to damp skin. The big pull loop on the gauntlet helps you easily yank them on, even when gripping it with the other mitt, and they clip together.
The fit is true to size—and while they come in men’s and women’s sizes, with bulky mitts like these, there’s little difference in fit between genders (because they don’t have fingers); women could use men’s mitts in their size. The downside of super warm mittens, of course, is very minimal dexterity.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase the Outdoor Research Phosphor Gore-Tex Infinium Mitts at outdoorresearch.com, or the similar, previous version of the Phosphor Mitts at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com,
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Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II
$68, 9 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL
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—which may not matter to a lot of skiers and riders as long as their hands stay warm and dry. Also, there aren’t women’s sizes, but the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II Mitt ($68) comes in men’s and women’s sizes.
Score a popular permit using my “10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit.”
Outdoor Research Luminary Sensor Gloves
$135, 8 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s S-L
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 by clicking either of these links to purchase the men’s or women’s Outdoor Research Luminary Sensor Gloves at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or outdoorresearch.com.
Outdoor Research Mt. Baker Modular Mitts
$145, 9.5 oz. (medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
Pros: Super warm and waterproof, two-piece system, glove dexterity with mitten warmth.
Cons: Too warm except in temps well below freezing, no women’s sizes.
Best For: Deep cold and expeditions.
Skiing in a wind chill around zero at times during a four-day, January trip to a backcountry yurt in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, my fingers—which get cold very easily—stayed toasty in this two-piece system of removable, insulated gloves inside a Gore-Tex shell mitten.
The warmth comes from 170g PrimaLoft One synthetic insulation in the glove insert, which has a soft, fleece lining. The Gore-Tex mitten shell kept moisture out and is made with the same 70-denier taslan ripstop polyester used in OR’s tough gaiters. Dexterity in the gloves is good enough to fuss with pack straps, boot buckles, and the like.
The mitts have smart details, like the one-hand gauntlet cinch on the shell mitten that’s manipulated easily with a gloved hand; adjustable straps at the wrist on both the mittens and gloves; and the carabiner loop on the mittens for clipping them to a harness or pack wrist-down, to prevent precipitation from getting inside them. AlpenGrip pads on the thumb and fingertips help you hold onto things. Note: With so much insulation, they’re made for temps in the teens and colder Fahrenheit. However, because the mittens have no insulation, they can double as three-season rain shells.