We spent over 40 hours researching and testing over a dozen different styles and types of gloves and mittens and found that warmth, dexterity, and style were the most important factors with consumers who were shopping for gloves and mittens. Hot Shot Igloos Men’s the Sentry Mittens scored high marks in all categories and is our overall top pick. These unique double-use gloves are both gloves and mittens thanks to the convenient mitten portion of the gloves that is held out of the way by Velcro. The mitt part of the glove is lined with super soft knit for ultimate warmth and comfort.
Winter Gloves & Mittens Buying Guide
Winter gloves and mittens are a staple for wintertime to keep your fingers and hands warm, even in super cold weather. There is a difference between gloves and mittens which we have explained below.
Gloves Versus Mittens
Gloves – Gloves have fingers and offer much better grip and dexterity than you will have with mittens. They are perfect for activities where you need to have that dexterity such as zipping zippers, adjusting things, and handling gear. If you engage in aerobic winter activities, look at the lighter weight winter gloves to compensate for the extra heat your body is generating.
Mittens – Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves do because your fingers are all in the same place and generate more heat than they would if they are separated by the glove fabric. If you’re hiking, skiing or snowboarding, mittens will be just fine for those activities because a lot of finger dexterity is not needed.
Lobster – You may notice some other styles of gloves and mittens on the market that don’t fit into the regular categories above. The lobster style is an example of one of those variations. The lobster style is a combination of a mitten and a glove that pairs 2-3 fingers together such as the pinky and ring finger together and the index and middle fingers together. This is a good selection for people that don’t get enough warmth from regular gloves but don’t like the fingers all together the way mittens require.
3-in-1 – Another variation of traditional gloves and mittens is the 3-in-1 variation. This style features a shell and removable liner of a glove or mitten. This system is very flexible and allows you to wear both the shell and liner at the same time or wear either of them individually when the weather is not as cold. Gloves that have liners offer plenty of dexterity for handling tasks you need to without exposing your hands and fingers to the cold temperatures. 3-in-1 systems can be purchased as a set or you can create your own by purchasing shells and liners separately.
Things to Consider when Purchasing Gloves and Mittens
Before you purchase a pair of winter gloves or mittens there are some things you want to think about. We have listed these important things below so you will be prepared once you are ready to buy.
Insulation – There are two different types of insulation that is used when in the manufacturing of gloves and mittens. Learn more about each below.
- Synthetic – This type of insulation is less expensive than down insulation. It will insulate even when it is wet and dries much faster than down insulation. If you spend time snowboarding, playing out in the snow, and skiing, especially when it is damp snow, synthetic is a good choice for you. The drawbacks to gloves and mittens that have synthetic insulation is that is bulkier and each time it gets compressed the insulating power goes down.
- Down – Down insulation is known for its longevity, breathability, and light weight. It compresses easily as well. Although down is more expensive than synthetic insulation it keeps its loft a lot longer which makes it a good value. Unfortunately, down loses its insulating ability once it gets wet so it is not used often in mittens and gloves as much as synthetic insulation is. When down insulation is used, it will often have a waterproof shell that will keep it dry. If you live in a cold, dry climate and participate in skiing, down-insulated gloves and mittens may be just the choice for you.
- A word about Dexterity – Dexterity is an important thing to consider when it comes to choosing the right insulation type. Heavily insulated gloves and mittens are going to automatically be bulkier and your hand movements will be restricted. If you are working with tools outdoors or need to be able to feel what you are doing, this will not be a very good choice. There are plenty of gloves out there that will provide the warmth you need without the bulk. If you are just interested in keeping your hands as warm as possible and dexterity is not an issue, mittens are a good choice and will keep your hands warmer than gloves will.
If you choose gloves or mittens that are designed for activities like snowboarding or skiing they will more than likely include a waterproof barrier of some kind to prevent snow and rain from getting inside and making your hands miserably cold and wet. The type of waterproof barrier will vary depending on the manufacturer and style of the gloves or mittens. Sometimes it is an insert that is located between the insulation and the outer shell and sometimes it may be a coating that is applied to the fabric itself. If you are looking for waterproof gloves or mittens be sure to check out the customer comments to see how waterproof they are once they are being used. A frequently see technology used to waterproof gloves and mittens is Gore-Tex. This technology offers a high level of waterproof protection that is breathable as well. Nowadays, many manufacturers make their own waterproof technology that is proprietary to their line of gloves and mittens. Another benefit to waterproof gloves and mittens is that they are usually windproof as well.
Heated gloves and mittens are not hugely popular but for those who are looking for a way to REALLY keep their hands warm, this is a definite option. These heated mittens and gloves are run by lithium-ion batteries and put out different heat levels depending on what you need. These gloves are heavier, bulkier, and much more expensive than other kinds of gloves and mittens but if you don’t mind paying $200 or more for a pair, they will definitely get the job done.
A widely popular feature that many companies are integrating into some of their gloves and mittens is touchscreen compatibility. What this technology does is allow you to operate your tablet or smartphone without having to take your gloves or mittens off. You will usually find touchscreen compatibility in gloves that are light to mid-weight and that offers the amount of dexterity you will need to use your phone properly. If you use your phone a lot when you are outdoors in cold weather, look for gloves that offer full palm and finger compatibility.
Fit and Size
One of the most important things you need to look for in a pair of gloves and mittens is fit. The right fit is crucial to keeping your hands comfortable and warm in cold temperatures while maintaining the dexterity you want. If they are too big it can be difficult to hold onto things and your hands won’t stay warm either.
If they are too small your movement will be restricted and can even leave your hands exposed at your wrists as well. To tell if your gloves and mittens fit properly look for about ¼” of extra material at the end of the fingertips. Making a fist should be easy without pulling or restricted movement. If you are ordering your gloves and mittens online look for a sizing chart from the manufacturer that will help you choose the right size.
There are some additional features that you may find when you start shopping for your gloves and mittens. We’ve listed these extra features so you can decide ahead of time what features are important to you.
- Leather palms and fingers – Some gloves and mittens offer leather on the palms (and fingers if you’re looking for gloves). This leather panel increases grip and can handle abrasions much better than palms that have synthetic panels.
- Long cuffs – long cuffs, sometimes called gauntlet cuffs extend over your coat or jacket sleeves and can be cinched to keep cold air and snow from getting inside your gloves or sleeves.
- Cinching wrists – This feature does exactly what it sounds like; provides snugness at the wrist to keep out cold air and to provide a secure fit as well.
- Zipper pockets – Many styles of gloves offer zippered pockets on the back of the hand and can double as air vents on the warmer days as well as be a place to stick hand warmer packets on exceptional cold days.
- Wrist cords – Wrist cords are a great way to prevent gloves or mittens from getting lost. They are especially useful for younger wearers.
What is most important when it comes to purchasing gloves and mittens is to know what types of activities you will be engaging in the most in cold outdoor weather so you choose the right type of gloves or mittens. If you are into sports that are done outdoors in cold weather like ice climbing you would want to look for gloves that offer warmth, waterproofness, and dexterity.
Matching the gloves and mittens you choose with the activities you will be engaging in will ensure that your hands stay warm and you are able to use your hands the way you need and want to. Having the right pair of gloves or mittens will make a big difference in your enjoyment level as well.
The three top-rated gloves and mittens that we have reviewed above are excellent examples of quality gloves and mittens that will work for all kinds of cold weather. All three selections are designed to look great while being fully functional.
If none of these three selections work for your activities and preferences, you can use the information we have provided in the buying guide so you can easily sort through the large number of gloves and mittens on the market.
This information will be very helpful when it comes to choosing the right type of gloves or mittens for your needs including material, colors and style, and functionality.