Gloves vs. Mittens

When you head out for a day of skiing, staying warm is one of the things that should rank high in importance. Gloves vs. mittens is really an age-old question that has plagued skiers and snowboarders for years. Protection for your hands is a requirement for staying warm, but which one will keep you the warmest? Are gloves better than mittens? Or, are mittens better than gloves? The answer really comes down to you and your needs.

Both gloves and mittens will keep you warm and protected for a cold long day on the slopes (or even just outside). A good pair of gloves or mittens from top brands like Gordini or Hestra will work well for any outdoor enthusiast. Mainly what this choice comes down to is what you’re looking for in a glove or mitten, and we’re here to help you make that decision.

First, if you don’t know the basics of gloves, or just want a quick refresher course, check out this video on the fundamentals of gloves.

Okay, now that you know the groundwork, here are a few more in-depth aspects to consider when deciding whether a glove or mitten will be best for you.

1. Mobility – Are Gloves or Mittens Easier to Move in?

Leki Challenge S Gloves

We can wiggle our fingers fairly easily sitting here at our desks. Go ahead, try it. Good ski gloves are well insulated to help keep heat in and offer waterproof features to help keep your hands dry, but with these great features often comes at least some bulk. Moving your fingers while wearing ski gloves may not be as easy as you would think. From grabbing ski poles, to the side of chairlifts and more; all should be taken into account.

This doesn’t mean ski mittens are any easier, in fact mittens tend to allow for less mobility and movement than gloves do. In a mitten your fingers are in one “compartment” instead of individually separated like in a glove. This allows you to use four fingers at once to wrap the mitten around ski poles and the thumb and fingers combo when zipping up tighter on the windy chairlift rides up the mountain may actually be easier. But, for other tasks a mitten may not be as well suited.

2. Warmth – Are Mittens Warmer than Gloves?

Hestra Czone Pointer Mitt

Keeping all those fingers together adds to the warmth of ski mittens over ski gloves, right? It’s utilizing heat to keep it all compartmentalized into one central location.

Not so fast.

Insulation is key when it comes to ski gloves and mittens. Insulated ski gloves wrap your fingers individually providing excellent coverage and plenty of warmth. But what about the insulation in ski mittens? Ski mittens also have adequate insulation, but the mitten relies on your fingers being close together to generate more heat. It’s also important to note that not all ski mittens are the same. Some actually have individual spots for your fingers once inside the mitten. Others are just one compartment in which your fingers will actually touch. So if you decide to purchase a mitten, it is best to read descriptions carefully or try them on to make sure it is the type of mitten you are looking for.

3. Breathability and Waterproofing

Just like jackets and pants for skiing or snowboarding, mittens and gloves both have weatherproofing features to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable while out on the slopes. Breathability is what lets your skin breathe and release any pent-up heat from your activity, allowing you to cool down and not build up a sweat that will make your hands wet and cold. Not all ski hand-wear incorporates breathability, so if you tend to get hot while skiing or snowboarding, make sure to check if your mittens or gloves have this feature before purchasing. Waterproofing is a feature that most ski or snowboard specific hand-wear does have, and this keeps water from penetrating the gloves’ surface, keeping your hands dry even in a blizzard.

4. Other Tech Features

Burton GORE-TEX Touchscreen Gloves

Now that we’ve covered some of the main technologies of gloves vs. mittens, let’s take a look at some other options for tech. First, there’s moisture wicking capabilities. This allows for any pent-up moisture or sweat to move through the membrane of your glove to the outside, so you don’t stay wet all day. Next, let’s talk about touch-screen tech. This amazing technology let’s you use your smartphone while your gloves are still on. Most gloves that use this are only in a couple fingers or a finger and thumb, but it’s still a lifesaver when you’re freezing on the chairlift and trying to answer a call.

A couple other features to look out for are:

  • Wrist cuffs to cinch or Velcro shut and keep snow out
  • Nose wipe which is a soft area on the thumb to wipe your nose with
  • Zippered pockets that can hold hand warmers
  • Wrist cords that attach to your wrist in case your glove falls off
  • Leather palms to protect the areas of your glove that gets the most use
  • Glove or Mitten liners which come with some gloves and can be used separately as well

Heated Gloves – The End All Answer to if Mittens are Warmer than Gloves or Vice Versa

The quick version of this is that nothing beats a heated glove or mitten if you’re looking for heat in the cold. Heated gloves are exactly what they sound like, battery-powered gloves that heat your hands from the inside for hours on end. These heated beauties come in glove and mitten form, and have varying settings and battery length for your needs. If you’re the person who’s hands always go numb from a day on the slopes, these are a must! For more information on heated gloves and mittens, check out this article that will give you the full rundown.

Is there a Glove/Mitten Hybrid?

Hestra Heli 3 Finger Gloves

Some people like keeping their fingers close together inside a mitten. It certainly allows for greater flexibility of the fingers. Others prefer the gloves where each finger is separated by insulation and shell material. For those really conflicted or just interested in trying a new style of glove/mitten, the 3 finger gloves are a cool way to keep your hands warm. The 3-finger gloves have a spot for the thumb, a spot for the index finger, and a mitten type area for the remaining 3 fingers. This combines the warmth of insulation in gloves and the dexterity of mittens to give you a great new kind of style and performance for your hands.

Gloves vs. Mittens for Skiing?

We’ve given you all the general information around gloves vs. mittens, now let’s take a quick look at whether you want gloves or mittens for skiing specifically. When it comes to outerwear (ski clothing), snowboarders and skiers are actually created equal, as in any winter made outdoor apparel will work fine for either sport. The common perception is that skiers wear gloves and snowboarders wear mittens. This is true sometimes, and other times it really isn’t. The only piece to consider here is that sometimes (not always) it can be a little easier to grip poles better with gloves than mittens.

Mittens vs. Gloves for Snowboarding?

Yes, this is indeed the same question as above but in reverse. Just in case you’re a snowboarder who skipped the above explanation, the real answer here is either is fine. Gloves or mittens aren’t better for snowboarding overall, it more so depends on your comfort and warmth needs. Again, the only exception here is the often snowboarders need to take their mittens or gloves off to strap in and out of their bindings, and mittens can be easier to take on and off in a rush.

Gloves, mittens, 3-finger gloves – whatever your preference, make sure to find hand-wear suitable for the conditions you’re in. Gloves and mittens come many different styles shapes and uses. And be sure that you don’t choose a spring glove for a January snow day and a fully insulated glove for a March slush session. The spring glove in January will not provide you with enough insulation and your hands will get cold really fast, where as choosing a fully insulated glove for a spring day may lead to sweating hands which will keep your hands wet and that moisture build up on the inside of the glove will also lead to cold hands. Choose your hand wear appropriately for the conditions and time of year.

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