Snow gloves and mittens are essential for your mountain adventures. But should you choose gloves or mitts? What material should they be made out of? When is it best to wear pipe gloves? We've put together a handy guide to keep your hands warm and dry whether you're riding piste, park or powder.
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Everyone knows that snow gloves and mittens are an essential item for when you're heading out onto the mountain. Yet, it can actually be a tricky task choosing such a simple necessity. Do you choose gloves or mitts? How thick do they need to be? Should you be wearing glove liners? Luckily, we're here with this handy guide (literally) to keep those hands warm and dry from first tracks to last lift.
It's a general rule with ski/ snowboarding gloves and mitts that the bulkier they are, the warmer they'll be. However, their different insulation names and features can be off-putting. Besides, there's the all-important question before you've even headed out the door: do you go for gloves or mittens?
##How to Choose Snow Gloves
##Gloves or Mittens?
Generally speaking, mittens tend to be warmer than gloves, due to the fact that your fingers are all in the same compartment and so generate more heat. Yet, the major con to mittens is that they lack as much mobility than gloves; you may have to remove them when getting something out of your pocket or answering your phone. Even though you may still have to do this when wearing gloves, they tend to be more popular because they allow more dexterity than mittens.
- There's also the 3-finger hybrids, or 'lobster mitts' that are kind of a mix between gloves and mitts, if you really can't decide.
- These were originally designed for simple insulation and protection when hiking the pipe. They're most popular with freestylers, but are also a good alternative to bulky, warm gloves on those slushy spring days.
They're usually designed with unparalleled dexterity for grabs and tricks. However, they're not particularly warm nor waterproof, so not advised when you're heading into colder temperatures.
Whether you've gone for gloves or mittens, it's important that it fits, well like a glove (sorry). It should fit cosily, with enough room at the end of outspread fingers for you to gather about a quarter of an inch of material. Your wrist should also remain completely covered.
To make sure that it's not too tight, you should be able to make a full fist without the fabric restricting you.
Although different brands have different size guides, it's worth measuring the circumference around the widest part of the hand (normally around the knuckles) in inches or centimetres and then referencing the size chart.
Of course it's difficult to guide how warm your gloves or mittens should be - it's entirely dependent on the conditions, and even then some people have colder hands than others. Glove warmth is normally defined by the type of shell material, type and amount of insulation, along with how waterproof/ breathable the membrane is.
: The majority of ski and snowboarding mitts and gloves tend to have a synthetic body, most commonly nylon. The more expensive high-quality models tend to use waterproof/ breathable fabrics and use a membrane or coating of ePTFE (expanded Polytetrafluoroethylene/ Teflon) or PU (Polyurethane).
There's also the option to pick a model that uses a GORE-TEX construction. These feature a separate ePTFE insert between the outer fabric and the insulation layer. The waterproof breathable fabrics are available as both soft and hardshell gloves and mittens. For high abrasion areas such as the palms and fingers, the synthetic shell material is normally paired with leather to keep hands protected.
: Durable, pliable and naturally water-resistant, leather gloves and mittens are normally crafted with cowhide or goatskin. A leather glove or mitten can be waterproof, windproof and warm with added treated leather that either has a wax or resin added to it.
Gloves and mittens can become damp due to your own perspiration and lack of breathability from the interior..and, wet hands can rapidly become cold. To avoid this, most models place a membrane between the exterior shell and the insulation.
The membrane will typically have microscopic pore too tiny to allow liquid water to enter, but big enough to let water vapour, or sweat, escape. It is the membrane that determines how waterproof and breathable the glove/ mitt is.
The most common membranes are -
- This construction generally provides the highest level of waterproofing and breathability. Windproof, waterproof and breathable, this construction ensure that your hands stay warmer when it's cold, and drier when you perspire.
- Gore WINDSTOPPER® fabric is crafted with an ePTFE membrane that guarantees a windproof and highly breathable performance, but is not waterproof. Thus, this is a soft shell fabric that is perfect for providing warmth and comfort.
Typically, WINDSTOPPER models are coated with a Durable Water Repellent finish (DWR) for some water resistance. However, these will get damp if you fall in the snow. In that case, they're best used for those who won't have much contact with snow, such as advanced riders.
- Gloves and mittens crafted with Hipora fabrics normally have a polyurethane (PU coating) to prevent liquid penetration and allow water to escape out. If you select a model that has Hipora fabrics, your glove/ mitten will be waterproof, windproof and breathable.
Of course, the main reason that people wear gloves and mittens is to keep their hands warm. So, insulation is pretty important right, (particularly if you're riding in freezing temperatures)?
- This insulation is ideal for drier conditions and freezing temperatures as it traps air in order to keep your hands warm. The higher the number of fill power, the higher the insulating properties and the warmer you will be. However, down insulation is not fast-drying, nor is it particularly waterproof. So, it loses its effect when damp.
- This uses patented synthetic microfiber insulation material to keep warmth trapped. It's incredibly lightweight and low-profile. Even though it's generally not as warm as down, (even though it mimics it), it is able to work in wet conditions and is breathable, compressible and water resistant.
- High loft synthetic fibre insulation with a silky feel
- 3M™ Thinsulate™ insulation is 'warm without bulk', offering fantastic insulating properties. It's made up of unique ultra thin microfibers that make it the perfect addition for gloves and mittens, where freedom of movement is a main concern.
Of course, lining provides that extra warmth. For gloves and mittens, lining tends to either be fleece, wool or a synthetic material. In order to keep your hands dry, the lining will be quick-drying and have moisture-wicking abilities to keep moisture (sweat) away from skin and allow it to pass through the membrane.
If you need extra warmth, it's always worth getting glove liners. Sold separately, these fit inside your glove or mitten for an extra layer of heat. However, some gloves come with their own detachable liners.
For durability and grip, many gloves and mittens will have reinforcements to areas such as the palm, thumbs and fingertips. The palms tend to be made with hardier materials, such as leather, for extra protection.
Most cuffs offer an adjustable fit to stop any snow from entering - they will either have a Velcro strap or a drawstring. They also offer different styles, with some designs going under your jacket sleeve and others sitting on top for no sacrifices when it comes to powder protection. Some models come with an extended length storm cuff for better protection for your wrists.
- Some gloves have pre-curved fingers. These make it easier to grip poles for example and deliver maximum dexterity.
- These are strings that attach to your wrists or coat so that you don't lose them!
- Some gloves and mitts feature a zipper or detail (often to the back of the palm) for extra ventilation and total comfort.
- This is normally an ultra suede or other absorbent, soft material to the outer surface of the thumb to wipe your nose with.
- Commonly a rubberised piece of plastic that acts as a squeegee to clean your goggles from snow and water.
- Some gloves and mittens have touchscreen technology. This means that you can use your smartphone while still wearing the gloves/ mittens, due to technology on the fingertips. These gloves may be in the form of touchscreen liner gloves.