The Best Hiking Gloves For You – The Gloves You Need For Walking In The Cold
Whether you prefer hiking in the mild weather of early fall or you enjoy expeditions into the arctic wilderness, you will need a suitable pair of gloves to keep your hands warm. Here is my guide to choosing the best hiking gloves to keep you comfortable on the trails.
These are polyester knit unisex gloves from Mountain Made. They come at a very reasonable price and they do just what you need from a pair of hiking gloves: they keep your hands warm in cold weather. I would feel confident with these even in temperatures below freezing.
They are comfortable and well-made gloves from a company that prides itself on excellent customer service. Although they are not waterproof, they will even keep your hands warm if they get damp. Finally, one of the best things about these gloves is the extremely affordable price.
These gloves are not suitable for hiking in the most extreme conditions – so if you plan to do any trekking in snow and ice, you may wish to look for something more adapted to those conditions. For anything less, these are perfectly adequate.
There is almost nothing wrong with these gloves. They are a great option for anyone looking for a pair of hiking gloves for chilly walks and would also work well underneath a pair of shells. They are not suitable for someone who needs a pair of waterproof gloves for the most extreme conditions.
Extremely reasonable price
High-quality manufacturing, very well-made
Keep your hands warm in low temperature
Not waterproof (but you could wear them with a separate outer shell)
These Centurion gloves from Outdoor research are made from 100% nylon with a Gore-Tex insert and are waterproof, windproof and breathable. They make good skiing or snowboarding gloves but can equally be pressed into service as a pair of hiking gloves.
They do a good job of keeping your hands warm. They are marketed as being suitable for temperatures -5°F – I’m not sure how they would perform in temperatures that low but they are certainly adequate in temperatures around freezing and a few degrees below.
They offer a good balance between dexterity and warmth and also keep your hands dry. They have a certain amount of breathability but your hands will still probably end up sweating a little. If you need to use your hands, these fingered gloves are better than choosing a pair of mittens.
Overall, these are good gloves for someone who wants to go into cold conditions but still wishes to maintain more dexterity than would be offered by mittens. These are probably not the right gloves for somebody planning to hike in extremes of cold weather.
The Fast Trek gloves from Columbia are 100% polyester, are machine washable and include an anti-abrasion patch on the palm which helps improve grip. They are suitable for use in temperatures down to around the 20s Fahrenheit.
If you plan to use these gloves in fairly mild to moderate conditions, they perform well. They are soft and flexible and keep your hands warm, even when a little damp. They feature an elastic wrist to keep the wind out and dry very quickly when wet.
These gloves are not waterproof so wouldn’t be fantastic in wet or snowy conditions and they are not designed for excessively cold climates so if you need something for that, you should probably look elsewhere.
These are a great affordable pair of gloves for someone who plans to do some hiking in chilly conditions but not for arctic explorers. Their extremely reasonable price point makes them a good choice for someone hoping not to break the bank to buy a pair of hiking gloves.
These mittens feature a shell that is 92% nylon and 8% spandex with a 100% goatskin palm and a 100% polyester liner. The liner is also mitten-style but with the index finger separated for increased dexterity.
These mittens are well built and do an excellent job of keeping your hands warm, even in temperatures far below freezing. The isolated index finger gives you more control over what you are doing and the mittens are quite water repellent too.
There is a question mark over their breathability and you can expect your hands to sweat even in very cold conditions. Another point to note is that even though the separated index finger does give you increased dexterity, it can also cause that finger to get cold quicker.
Overall, a good, reliable pair of mittens for cold conditions. Being mittens, they are probably not a good choice for someone needing to use their fingers more and also these are not suitable if the weather is not cold since you will find your hands overheating.
Extremely warm hands, even in very cold conditions
These gloves from North Face are fleece gloves that work with touch-screen devices. They are rather thin and not designed for especially cold weather but they look good and the Etip works well. You have no need to take these off if you want to send messages or do anything else on your phone.
As a pair of hiking gloves, these would work fine if you don’t need them for anything other than mildly chilly conditions since that’s not what they’re designed for. They won’t keep your hands warm in extreme cold and they aren’t waterproof so for tougher conditions, you might look elsewhere.
To summarize, a good choice for someone who values the ability to use a touch-screen device without removing her gloves but not a good option for a hardcore cold-weather hiker. They could work well as an under-layer.
These gloves from Outdoor Research consist of a mitten-style shell and a mitten-style liner. The shell is made of 100% nylon and the liner 100% polyester. The shell is removable and the liners can be worn alone if the weather conditions don’t require the shell.
First of all, these gloves will keep your hands warm in temperatures well below freezing. The fact that your fingers are all together in the mitten liner helps your fingers and hands retain heat. The gloves also feature a flip-back system which is designed to increase manual dexterity.
Just a few problems with these mittens to note: the liners tend to bunch up a little at the end of the fingers, the draw strings are excessively long and are liable to snag, they are not as easy to get off as quickly as they should be and the magnet system used to hold them open is uncomfortable.
These are a reasonable choice of mittens that do the basic job of keeping your hands warm in very cold temperatures but they do have some design flaws. I feel they are reasonable for the price and wouldn’t be a bad choice for someone unwilling to pay extra for a decent pair of hiking mittens.
Keep your hands warm in very low temperatures
Removable shells give extra versatility
Fold back flaps are a good idea
Uncomfortable magnet system – perhaps Velcro would have been better?
These are quick drying, moisture wicking 95% polyester gloves with no outer shell. The index finger tip and thumb tip feature a touch-screen compatible pad which means you can use a phone or tablet without removing them.
These gloves are quite thin but still do a good job of keeping your hands warm and are suitable for anything down to around 15°F. At this price point, they represent good value and work well on their own but could also be worn as a pair of under-gloves with an external shell.
These gloves are designed with grip on the palm – my main concern would be that the grip seems as though it could peel off quite quickly and easily, making it harder to hold things. I think the touch-screen pads are not bad but also not fantastic making it a little hard to use a smartphone.
Overall, not a bad choice for someone looking for comfortable gloves for medium-cold conditions who needs to use touch-screen devices while wearing gloves. Not the best choice for someone looking to go into very cold temperatures or for someone who needs waterproof gloves.
These gloves from Dakine feature a shell that is 58% polyester, 20% polyamide, 20% PVC, 2% polyurethane. The liner and insulation are 100% polyester. They are waterproof and wind proof and feature a Rubbertec palm.
These gloves do a good job of keeping your hands warm in most conditions and one thing I like about them is the fact that they are easy to slip on and off as required, a good feature for hiking and camping. The inner liner wicks away moisture pretty well, too.
The drawback is that these are designed more for skiing and snowboarding than hiking and, as such, they are a little large and bulky. In a hike in snowy, cold weather, this might be acceptable but if you are just looking for gloves for regular hiking, these might not be so practical.
I would recommend these to someone who values warmth and waterproof capability above size and weight. If you don’t need gloves for rain and snow, you probably don’t need these. I also felt that they don’t perform in really cold weather so if that’s what you need, maybe look elsewhere.
Easy to put on and take off
Can take off the shell and keep on the inner for work requiring more dexterity
These Gore-Tex gloves from Gordini are possibly best suited to skiing or snowboarding but they make a decent pair of hiking gloves too. They are waterproof, windproof and breathable and feature a leather palm.
I like that these gloves are very warm and very waterproof. You could immerse your hand in water and it would still come out dry – yet despite this, they are still breathable. They are flexible enough to allow a certain amount of dexterity but they are still tough and durable.
I think the only problem with these gloves is that they don’t quite perform as they should in excesses of cold. They are fine for most treks or skiing trips but wouldn’t be suitable for arctic expeditions, for example.
Overall, a very decent pair of gloves that perform well for winter hiking. They will keep your hands dry and warm in all but the most extreme conditions. For hiking in milder conditions, they are a little bit too much and something smaller and more practical would be suitable.
Keep hands warm in all but coldest conditions
Tough and durable
Too bulky for more benign conditions
Don’t perform in extremes of cold
You may be forgiven for thinking that the humble glove is a piece of kit that doesn’t require a lot of thought and consideration – you wear them to keep your hands warm and that’s about it. However, there are many things to bear in mind when selecting the most suitable gloves for you.
If you are used to hiking in more temperate zones or mainly go walking in the summer months, you may treat gloves as an unnecessary luxury, something that keeps your hands snug and cozy in the early morning hours before the sun comes up.
Yet those who hike in more challenging conditions will know that gloves are no luxury item; in the coldest conditions, they are nothing less than essential. Your extremities are the most susceptible part of your body to frostbite and it is of the utmost importance you keep them warm.
Somewhere in between, there are the hikers who, while not venturing into the most extreme of conditions, still require a good pair of gloves to protect their hands from something more than a slightly inconvenient level of cold.
As for just about any item of hiking gear you buy, different people have different requirements and here are some of the things you should take into account before deciding which hiking gloves are the most adapted to your intended use.
Very obviously, the primary function of a pair of gloves is to keep your hands warm. You need to consider the type of conditions in which you plan to wear the gloves since buying a pair designed for much colder conditions than you require may not be particularly useful.
If you buy a pair of gloves designed for arctic conditions and you only need them for the relatively benign temperatures of a mild fall morning, you may find your gloves too bulky – and almost certainly too expensive.
Conversely, if you really do intend to hike in sub-zero temperatures, a light pair of gloves is not going to give you anywhere near enough protection.
Hand In Winter Glove
It is best to think of your glove system in the same way as the rest of your clothing. It is accepted that the best way to dress for walking is to wear layers. This means you are able to remove or add clothing in response to changes in the temperature – and gloves are no different.
Many gloves consist of an inner layer, often fleece, and an outer shell. If you choose a pair of gloves with a removable shell, you can wear only the fleece inner-gloves when the conditions don’t require the protection of the shell.
Gloves designed for winter hiking commonly make use of a triple-layer system, much like a waterproof jacket. The inner layer is designed to remove moisture from the skin, the second layer traps your body’s natural heat and the outer layer provides protection from wind and rain.
Waterproof And Breathable
Much like waterproof jackets, hiking gloves with an outer shell offer a degree of protection from the rain. More advanced designs also feature breathable materials which keep water out while allowing moisture from within to escape. This keeps your hands as warm and as dry as possible.
You should consider whether you really need waterproof gloves. Outer shells make the gloves considerably bulkier and less practical to carry. In very wet or snowy conditions, you may need a shell; for regular hiking, a pair of fleece gloves may suffice.
Most hiking gloves use synthetic materials for the insulation layer. While down is often used in jackets and other clothing, it loses its insulating properties when wet, and since your hands are quite likely to produce moisture, synthetic insulation is the way to go to ensure your hands stay warm.
Several styles of gloves are available and, while the design you choose is partly down to personal preference, each type has associated benefits.
Mitten-style gloves are perhaps best at keeping your hands warm but this comes at the cost of the loss of manual dexterity. Traditional five fingered gloves are more practical but don’t keep your hands as warm. Hybrid three-fingered ‘lobster’ gloves are available and may be an option.
DIY Or Complete System?
Some people may prefer to buy their own pair of fleece under-gloves and a separate shell to wear over the top. Others prefer to buy a ready-made glove ‘system’. Going DIY gives you more flexibility to tailor the gloves to your personal needs but a complete system is much simpler.
In recent years, our electronic devices have become an integral part of our lives and many people will need to use a touch-screen device while hiking. Compatible gloves allow you to do this without exposing your hands to the elements.
There are many gloves on the market that would serve well as hiking gloves and the gloves you choose depends very much on the kind of activities you enjoy, whether that be fair-weather rambles or hardcore treks into the most extreme conditions imaginable.
For me, the outstanding choice – the pair I would choose for most hiking in moderate conditions – are the Mountain Made knit gloves. Their combination of comfort, warmth, dexterity and reasonable price make them my pick and my recommendation for the best hiking gloves available.
Which gloves do you wear for hiking? Do you prefer waterproof shells or fleece gloves? Or maybe you just go gloveless! As always, please let me know your thoughts – and if you enjoyed my article, please don’t forget to share!