Our fingers are almost always the first to go numb when the temperatures drop. Whether we’re pulling our glove off to send a text message, clean our sunglasses, zip up a jacket, or to help the kiddos, it’s always a relief to pull back on a well-made glove or mitten that warms us up fast. For everyday travel and work, outdoor play time, and recreation, these gloves and mittens have withstood the test.
Not only do we thrive on exploring the wildest corners of the planet, but we also recoup energy outdoors in our own backyards and local backcountry. We also need solid, dependable pairs of gloves and mittens for everyday work and errands whether we’re shoveling out a roof avalanche in the hamlet of Crested Butte, Colorado, cycling to grab groceries in Minneapolis, Minnesota, or commuting to the Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. Here are our favorite pairs that keep our hands happy.
Best For: Extremely cold conditions where tactility is needed, from photography to backcountry skiing
Three decades ago, the Heat Company Heat 3 Smart gloves were originally designed to help military units in Germany and Austria navigate terrain in the coldest temperatures imaginable — and they’re perfect for outdoor recreation, too.
Both the thumb and mitten covers fold down to expose the interior liner, which gives the wearer more dexterity for tasks from operating a camera to fixing a snowboard binding. When peeled back, the mitten cover magnetically attaches to the back of the glove and the thumb cover keeps out of the way via Velcro.
The glove’s interior microfiber is breathable and the exterior leather resists wind, water, and snow. (For polar use, note that leather is one of those materials that feel colder than many other materials in extreme cold.) The synthetic insulation retains warmth when damp, and the materials dry fast.
A pocket on the back of the hand can stash a hand warmer or other small items like a key. The cuffs have an attachment point for small carabiners, if you want to add what are called idiot strings to the mitts to keep them from getting lost.
See the The Heat Company Heat 3 Smart
Best For: Arctic conditions, ascending peaks, and expeditions
If insulation and protection from the elements are your main priorities, grab this tenacious, voluminous pair. Stretchy and durable, the Outdoor Research Alti Mittens keep your hands toasty despite plummeted temps.
The leather palms provide great grip whether you’re handling tools or ski poles. Kevlar is a super tenacious synthetic fiber, and it takes a lot of abuse to wear out its stitching. While digging in snow or braving a storm, the waterproof Gore-Tex exterior and sealed seams completely block moisture from seeping in.
Long gauntlets bar moisture and biting wind from reaching the wrists, and pull easily over jacket cuffs. A wide pull tab helps with getting the mittens back on, and they tighten closed with a drawstring. To help dry, the liner is removable, too.
See the Outdoor Research Alti Gore-Tex Mittens
Best For: Provides warmth and more dexterity than a mitten in cold weather
The gauntlet-fashioned Canada Goose Northern Utility Glove pulls on easily and stays on just as easily. Thanks to a ventilation feature, if you start to get too toasty, you can dump heat via a zipper on the back of the hand. This is one of our favorite features in a super warm glove. The opening also doubles as a small pocket.
The outermost glove’s goat skin palm is durable and grippy, which is mixed with nylon that’s treated for waterproofness, yet the material is fairly breathable. Inside, the removable and water-resistant fleece five-finger liner is backed with pockets of down insulation along the backside of the hand and fingers.
Although it’s bulkier than a streamlined glove liner, these beefy gloves are functional with touchscreen compatibility along the index finger. We also appreciate the soft nose wipe on the thumb.
If you’re in the market for more finger control than a mitten can offer, this fully functional glove is one of the most comfortable to choose.
See the Canada Goose Northern Utility Gloves
Best For: Practical everyday streamlined liner that’s super warm
If you don’t need extreme waterproofness but want to protect your hands from the steering wheel or a cold breeze while walking the dog, these lean liners are a solid option. The Canada Goose Northern Glove Liner is loaded with pockets of down insulation along the backside of the hand and fingers: the ultimate down jacket for your hands. It is also excellent glove for active travel in extremely cold weather, if you cherish dexterity and don’t want to reach for mittens until you absolutely have to.
The index fingers can operate a touchscreen, so you don’t need to remove the gloves to check your navigation app. Comfortable, long fleece cuffs fit tightly around the wrists and block wind.
The liner itself is Arctic Tech fabric, a strong blend of polyester and cotton that’s treated for water resistance. These are one of our favorite warm options for running around town, everyday winter travel, and for ski touring, manhauling or other active use in serious cold.
See the Canada Goose Northern Glove Liner
Best For: Waterproof, bulk-free glove made for dexterity
This Hestra CZone Contact Glove 5-finger design prioritizes an athletic fit while remaining waterproof. Though these gloves are foam insulated — foam is suprisingly warm — they aren’t the warmest on our list. They certainly don’t equal the cold protection of a mitten or the Canada Goose Northern Utility Gloves.
That said, sometimes dexterity is more necessary than warmth, especially if the temperatures aren’t extremely low, you aren’t bike commuting against harsh wind, or you’re not standing outside in freezing conditions for too long.
Hestra is known for creating products with extreme durability. We like that this design is breathable despite being waterproof. The soft brushed polyester liner sits inside a softshell polyester exterior that’s stretchy. As a practical everyday glove, the design is usable with a touchscreen.
Note, however, the elastic snow-and-wind crimp near the mouth of the glove. In extreme cold, this slight elastic tightening can impede circulation noticeably. Some folks on our team snip all of these elastics on our arctic gloves — even if we need to cut open the gloves, snip from inside, then resew. Not the most convenient, but the modification works.
See the Hestra CZone Contact Glove 5-finger
Best For: Expeditions, extremely cold temperatures at home or work
Hands down, the Rab Expedition 8000 Mitt is an excellent construction and shields our dexterities against the elements. It probably goes without saying, that what you lose in dexterity with this pair you gain in warmth.
To brave the cold, this design pairs 850-fill goose down in the back of the hand and thumb coupled with a PFC-free hydrophobic down that repels water in the rest of the glove.
The palm features a double-layer of synthetic PrimaLoft Gold Insulation, a lightweight, packable down alternative that’s water resistant and provides the warmth equivalent of 500- or 550-fill down. Through and through, the insulation of this mitten is among the most thoughtful and burly on our list.
Constructed for cold and damp environments, the Pertex Quantum Pro exterior is water resistant yet lightweight, pliable, and breathable. Preventing wear and tear, 70-denier nylon reinforcement is used in select spots and a texturized leather adds some grip along the palm. Inside the mitten, the removable fleece liner is comfortable and treated with DWR for water resistance.
See the Rab Expedition 8000 Mitt
Best For: Cross-country ski days and work environments with potential flames, heat, or electric arc
Auclair is a Canadian company and they’ve always made reliably warm winter gloves. We’ve never been cold in Auclairs, even in the Arctic, and their nordic stuff fits pretty well, too.
These Blaze Gloves hug the hands well for great finger control — an Auclair trademark. At the same time, they protect against colder temperatures, as long as you’re on the move and building heat.
A windproof shell exterior helps block the breeze while the foam padding in the palm provides comfort against ski poles, heavy grocery bags, or grips on the fat bike. The soft brushed polyester liner has a nice hand feel.
The 3M Insulation is a lightweight blend of very fine microfibers, which are a down alternative that trap body heat. The insulation is water resistant and flame-resistant, meaning its designed for fieldwork in the electrical, oil, or gas industries. Note, however, that this doesn’t mean the material or glove is flame-proof.
See the Auclair Blaze Gloves
Best For: Premium dexterity and grip while working with tools, equipment, or gear
If you need to shuffle tools around in the back of your truck in piercing ambient temperatures, tuck your snowmobile onto the trailer, or are working on an engine in the driveway, grab these gloves. Excellent dexterity pushes this lightweight model — and its price tag — high on the list: The North Face Summit Advanced Mountain Kit Softshell Glove. Again, you give up insulation value when you opt for finger control, so the choice really comes down to your glove’s purpose.
Despite a sleek silhouette, the liner is loaded with PrimaLoft Silver Insulation, which is super breathable for high output yet retains heat. The malleable material is water-resistant and stuffs easily into a glove compartment or pack. A texturized fabric fills the entire palm and under the fingers for great traction.
The Durable Water Repellent (DWR) shell withstands water. Pull tabs on the cuff help snug-up the glove. To prevent wear and offer better handhold, goat leather patches sit between the thumb and forefinger. For tinkering on equipment on cold days outside, this is our go-to choice.
See the The North Face Summit Advanced Mountain Kit Softshell Glove
Best For: Simple protection with adequate warmth for moderately cold days
This simple model, the North Face Denali Etip Glove, is most excellent. This is our mid-arctic-cold glove set — not best on the coldest days up north but on an active arctic expedition, it’s the model we turn to most often. It’s a great glove to wear for camp chores and everyday tasks. When the wind blows or the mercury drops too low, its svelte profile allows it to fit well under overmitts.
Not to mention, this model has the highest amount of recycled material of any on our list. The model features 93% recycled-polyester (and the fit is women’s specific). Recycled nylon is used for the back-of-hand, the shell is 100% recycled polyester-knit fleece, and the palm is 100% recycled polyester.
In a unique take, all five fingers are touchscreen capable compared to the typical forefinger connectivity. The palm’s silicone grip also provides a nice hold on a shovel, ski pole, ski, or whatever you’re grabbing at the moment. We also like the articulation of the glove, and the loops help pull it on.
See the The North Face Denali Etip Glove
North Face Denali gloves: surprisingly warm.
Best For: Nimble yet warm gloves for alpine skiing and snowboarding in windy places
The Leki Xplore XT S Glove provides top-notch protection against polar-grade wind on a ski lift, which is why this tight-fitting glove is one of our favorites for a cold day carving the slopes. Though the glove is compatible with Leki ski poles, with a small loop between the thumb and forefinger that clicks into the ski pole, we also like this dexterous model for snowboarding.
The 100% premium goatskin leather outer and palm is very durable with no sign of wearing out after a few seasons. The comfortable liner is not removable, but a boot dryer doubles as a glove dryer most days, regardless.
They’re fully waterproof and we’ve never noticed them soak up any moisture from snow. To cozy up the fit, a velcro strap stretches across the top of the glove. The gauntlets feature cinch cord closures. We also love the heat pocket, which we’ve actually only used for ventilation versus stashing hand warmers.
One complaint: the elastic safety leash is attached to the glove via a really long band. We wish that it was shorter. It’s annoying to walk without the gloves pulled onto our hands.
See the Leki Xplore XT S Glove
Best For: A must-pack to recover cold hands in the backcountry from snowmobile to ski or splitboard adventures
After getting advice from countless professional ski patrolers who work around high-altitude lifts, we took note of the soft-feeling Swany X-Change Glove. It hasn’t disappointed.
Insulation is the key ingredient here. The waterproof glove’s Tri-plex Alpha insulation features various weights of PrimaLoft Gold mixed with Aerogel, which retains heat. We always keep this pair as an emergency set when we’re deep in the backcountry, snowmobiling through powder in high peak basins or traversing ridgelines on our splitboard or skis. These are also the pair we wear when handling the snowmobile at 80kph on groomed access roads in -23°C at dark-thirty.
We love the full leather palms and hand warmer pockets, which we’ve also used as ventilation. Those pre-curved fingers provide a comfortable fit. The gloves are even rather breathable despite being so bulletproof against water.
The drawback is that these gloves are not as streamlined and nimble to use as lighter, less protective gloves. But there are ample times when we simply need to prevent frostbite. We’ve had our pair for more than six years with hardly a rough patch on the exterior to show.
See the Swany X-Change Glove
Best For: Skimo races and cardio-intense uphill or nordic workouts, especially when the ambient temperature is low or the windchill factor is high
It’s ideal to be wearing a liner while producing so much body heat, but as soon as you hit a crest and get a blast of freezing wind or mellow out in a flat zone, the hands get cold fast. Our solution is the Dynafit Borax PrimaLoft Mittens.
There’s no other glove like this one, and we regret not adding to our kit sooner. How it works: Pull on the mittens. There’s an opening in the palm’s fabric where you can quickly slide your hands out for ventilation, while the mitten’s cuff remains intact around the wrist. As soon as you get cold, pull the mitten’s body back over your fingers and palm. Easy.
Water repellent and windproof, this insulated glove also has a grip zone for a comfortable connect to your ski poles.
The Borax is a great, simple addition to use in variable weather, conditions, and workouts–when you’re uphilling at the resort, skating along the groomed nordic trails, or skimo racing and get smacked with an icy gust.
See the Dynafit Borax PrimaLoft Mittens
Best For: During chilly climbs while backcountry skiing or splitboarding or uphilling in-bounds
This is a nice active pair of gloves to wear while making an ascent when it’s too cold to wear liners or go bare handed. The Outdoor Research Fortress Sensor Gloves simply fit well: the fingers are not to bulky or long. The wide pull-on loops help us quickly transition. And the soft thumb wipe is really long, which we appreciate.
The synthetic leather palm is paired with insulation along the back of the hand and a polyester fleece liner. Synthetic touchscreen leather means we can use our devices without removing the glove.
Overall, the design is waterproof, windproof, breathable and wicks sweat well. The soft pair is durable, and we see no sign of degrade after many trips in the backcountry.
See the Outdoor Research Fortress Sensor Gloves
When in doubt about whether a pair is truly among the warmest gloves or mittens on the planet, look for these features:
Opt for a waterproof design if you plan on having your hands in the snow — say, digging out a snowmobile again and again on a backcountry shred day–or if the snowfall has particular high water content. The same goes if you’ll be in extremely cold conditions and cannot risk getting wet and cold, especially if you have hindered blood circulation for any reason.
When you’re considering gloves or mittens that are waterproof versus water resistant, usually you’ll see the price tag on the waterproof models is a bit higher, because creating a completely water-blocking design is a more technical process.
Keep in mind that the more waterproof apparel is, the less breathable it will be. If you plan to be doing aerobic activity in a waterproof glove, you will sweat more.
The cuff will at least cover your wrist or reach an inch or so past it toward your forearm.
Gauntlet-style gloves can pretty much swallow the outer cuff of your jacket and prevent snow or wind from sneaking inside. Streamlined, shorter cuffs, on the other hand, easily slide inside your jacket arm, which can be easier and quicker to manage while skiing and snowboarding in-bounds and taking glove breaks on the lift.
The amount and type of insulation varies across each of these gloves and mittens. One of the most common and field tested options is PrimaLoft synthetic insulation.
At the lower end of insulation, you’ll see the Auclair Blaze Gloves, $46, with foam and 3M Thinsulate, or foam in the Hestra CZone Contact Glove 5-finger, $70. Another option is the The North Face Summit Advanced Mountain Kit Softshell Glove, $300, with 80 grams of PrimaLoft Silver Insulation.
Other gloves on our list here have down fill that is hydrophobic, meaning it likewise resists water. With fierce protection against cold, the Rab Expedition 8000 Mitt, $200, features several types of insulation in a single design: 850 goose down, hydrophobic down, PrimaLoft Gold Insulation.
The best choice hinges on the use of your gloves and mittens and where you’ll be adventuring with them on.
Although there are some extremely warm, oven-style gloves — like the stalwart Swany X-Change Glove — if you are in doubt about severely cold weather, mittens reign in arctic conditions to warm up your digits. But bear in mind, fine functionality will be lost when you don’t have five-finger gloves on.
Handwear is a tug-of-war between warmth and dexterity. You can put mini-sleeping bags on your hands, and they’ll never be cold, but you’ll never be able to do anything, even unzip a jacket. Same with gloves.
Our key thing with gloves is how well the fingers fit our fingers. Impossible to tell without trying them on, but if the index finger is even 1 cm too long, you’ll never be able to take a photo — not just with your phone but with a full-sized DSLR.
For instance, one of our editors wear men’s size large gloves. Some designs fit, well, like a glove, whereas other size-large gloves have fingers that are so hopelessly long that they flop over whenever he tries to grip anything.
The overall fit depends not only on the size dimensions of the brand but also the particular size and shape of your own hand. Wide hands need a larger size, but if you also have short fingers, you have to shop around for gloves that balance these contrasting elements.
The price tag of our top-tier warm gloves and mittens ranges from $35 to $300, with a very diverse range of application across that selection. Not every pair is meant for handling tools, a skating workout on nordic trails, a winter hunt, pulling a sled in the Arctic, or standing at the skating rink in freezing temperatures. Each design is unique, and you’ll need to pick the best ones for your intended application. Yes, you’ll probably need more than one pair — we certainly do.
The more economic options — like the Auclair Blaze Gloves, $46 and The North Face Denali Etip Glove, $35 — are leaner and offer more finger control. As you climb the price ladder, the gloves become more protective and robust from an insulation standpoint, with the materials used, and a hike of durability for encountering rugged conditions. For instance, the Rab Expedition 8000 Mitt, $200, Canada Goose Northern Utility Gloves, $295, and Outdoor Research Alti Gore-Tex Mittens, $199, are among the most heat-holding and burliest builds.
Many of these gloves and mittens have components of sustainable design while others have none. For the longevity of the planet and human exploration, it’s essential for brands worldwide to prioritize high-level product design that also pushes the needle forward on environmentally-friendly materials, fabric treatments, sourcing, and manufacturing solutions that are less toxic for people and the earth.
A few sustainable design features in these gloves and mittens include certifications from the Fair Wear Foundation, a nonprofit based in the Netherlands with a mission to improve the working conditions in the clothing industry, and Climate Neutral Certified, when a company measures and offsets their entire annual footprint in order to reduce emissions and decarbonize the planet. Another certification is Responsible Down Standard (RDS), which ensures that the down and feathers are sourced from ducks and geese that have not been subjected to harm including live-plucking or force-feeding.
All three of these certifications are found in the Rab Expedition 8000 Mitts. The mittens also feature PFC-free hydrophobic down, meaning the down fill was treated to be water resistant with an agent free of fluorocarbons, which have harmful effects on human health and the environment.
Likewise, here are the product details that may or may not serve you on a frigid commute or outdoor adventure. It depends on the specific conditions and your personal needs.
We are skeptical of squared-off fingers. Those are a danger signal of a bad fit. How many square-tipped fingers do you see on people?
A short cuff may be easier to manage with tight-fitting, svelte jackets, like the ones worn for Nordic skiing and winter runs, and fit nicely beneath a ski or snowboard jacket. But, there will be more opportunity for cold wind and snow to reach the wrists and upper hands. Just be aware and manage your short cuffs.
The more insulation inside a glove, generally the bulkier the pair gets. As you lose finesse in a glove’s shape, it gets much harder or impossible to manage the fine-tuning of devices like, say, adjusting a snowboard or ski binding.
Weigh out if your priority is dexterity or insulation and find a pair that strikes a happy medium between the two.
Morgan Tilton Adventure Journalist Morgan Tilton specializes in travel and outdoor industry news. She’s received multiple North American Travel Journalists Association awards including multi-accolades for “Wild & Broken: A First SUP Descent of Utah’s Escalante River,” an essay about her 100-mile SUP trip down the country’s most remote whitewater with four friends. When not typing, she’s splitboarding, running, paddling, or throttling in Southwest Colorado’s mountains, where she grew up and lives.
Some good gloves covered. There’s a lot of buzz amongst climbers around various cheap work gloves from Japanese industry that’s worth a look. Cheap, colorful and rated for serious cold.
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To be honest, I think that this “test” is not overwhelmingly helpful. So many imprtant criteria are missing: weight tactility waterproofness water absorption drying time a proper description of materials: what is “Tri-plex Alpha” Which material is used where? robustness How much insulation is actually being used (and are you sure that the The North Face Summit Advanced Mountain Kit Softshell glove or the Dynafit Borax are filled with 80 grams of PrimaLoft Silver Insulation? I assume it is fille with a 80 g/sqm of PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Besides, does it make much sense to throw gloves, mitts and liners into… Read more »