Ski & Snowboard Gloves and Mittens: How to Choose the Right Pair for You

Published on 05/01/2023 · 10 min readKeeping your hands warm is key to making your ski or snowboard experience more fun and safe! Skiing Expert Adam St. Ours explains how to choose the right pair!
By Ski Expert Adam St. Ours

Photo by Adam St. Ours

TL;DR: When buying ski gloves or mittens, consider the level of warmth you need, dexterity, insulation, waterproofing, and breathability. The choice between gloves and mittens is mostly a personal preference, but there are practical differences. For example, gloves provide better dexterity for things like adjusting bindings, zippers, etc., while mittens offer increased warmth.

As an avid skier for over 35 years, I’ve worn many different styles of gloves/mittens and have seen the technology advance by leaps and bounds. Over the past few years, I’ve been increasing my time on the mountain outside the resort through backcountry skiing, ice climbing, and mountaineering. Subsequently, I’ve had to drastically re-evaluate how to keep my hands dry and warm while factoring in dexterity and the importance of using my hands for more than just holding ski poles. These experiences have given me a great appreciation for the nuances that different gloves provide. I’m passionate about helping people find the right glove/mitten solution for their unique situation, so they can enjoy their time in the mountains as much as I do.

What Are Ski Gloves and Mittens?

Photo by Adam St. Ours

Ski gloves and mittens are designed to keep hands warm, dry, and protected during winter sports. Gloves offer better dexterity with individual finger compartments, while mittens provide increased warmth by keeping fingers together in a single compartment. Both types feature insulation, waterproofing, and breathability for optimal comfort and protection.

What to Consider When Buying Gloves and Mittens

What Is My Budget for Ski Gloves or Mittens?

Ski gloves and mittens run a wide range of pricing, from basic models for $50 up to fully wind and waterproof and heated gloves with battery power and heat settings for over $300. Therefore, it’s vital first to determine a budget that balances cost with quality, considering that investing in well-made gloves or mittens can provide better protection, comfort, and durability. At the same time, more affordable options may suffice for occasional use or milder conditions.

Do I Prioritize Warmth or Dexterity?

Be honest with yourself about your level of warmth. If you commonly deal with cold hands at ski resorts, consider mittens, which keep fingers together for better heat retention. If dexterity is crucial for tasks requiring fine motor skills, opt for gloves with individual finger compartments.

What Type of Insulation and Waterproofing Do I Need?

Consider gloves or mittens with appropriate insulation (down or synthetic) and waterproofing (GORE-TEX membrane or coatings) based on weather conditions you might encounter and your personal preferences for warmth and breathability. It’s important to factor in the conditions you typically ski/board when considering which glove/mitten to purchase.

Suppose you’re in a wet climate or occasionally ski milder temps where rain is possible. In that case, you should consider a strong water-resistant option with GORE-TEX or a similar DWR (Durable Water Repellent). On the other hand, if you often go in subzero temps, you will want a highly insulated ski glove, either with a fleece lining and/or Primaloft insulation around the hand.

What Additional Features and Fit Do I Prefer?

Many gloves/mittens now come with many other features that come in handy when riding in a resort. Wrist leashes to prevent them from dropping while on a lift, adjustable cuffs to seal out moisture, and touchscreen compatibility are some of the common options available.

By asking and answering these questions, you can make an informed decision when purchasing ski gloves or mittens that suit your needs, preferences, and budget.

What’s the Difference Between Gloves and Mittens?

Photo by Adam St. Ours

Gloves and mittens are both handwear designed to provide warmth and protection in cold weather, but they differ in design and functionality:


Gloves have individual compartments for each finger, including the thumb, allowing for more precise movements and grip. Benefits:

  • Greater dexterity for tasks requiring fine motor skills
  • Easier handling of equipment like ski poles or adjusting bindings or jacket zippers

Keep in Mind:

  • Less warmth compared to mittens due to separated fingers, which can be a disadvantage in extremely cold conditions

Another style that is becoming more popular in recent years is a 3-finger, or “lobster,” glove with the index finger and thumb free like a glove and the remaining three fingers together like a mitten. This style of glove is a great choice as a compromise. It is warmer than a traditional 5-finger glove but provides more dexterity than a mitten.


Mittens have a single compartment for all fingers except for the thumb, which is separated. This design helps trap heat more effectively. Benefits:

  • Generally warmer than gloves due to fingers being together.
  • Better heat retention in colder conditions

Keep in Mind:

  • Less dexterity compared to gloves, making it more challenging to perform tasks requiring fine motor skills or precise grip.

Choosing between gloves and mittens largely depends on personal preference, the level of warmth needed, and the importance of dexterity for the activities you engage in while outdoors in cold weather.

Features to Look for When Buying Gloves and Mittens

Photo by Adam St. Ours

When looking for ski gloves or mittens, consider the following specific features and technologies to find the right option for you to enjoy your time on the slopes:


The most common insulation for resort gloves is synthetic insulation, which provides insulating properties even when wet. The level of warmth can vary depending on the price point and intended use. Some gloves use down insulation, which is lighter and warmer, but generally more expensive and doesn’t stay warm when wet.


Consider the level of moisture you typically deal with on the slopes, and think about the level of waterproofing you’ll need to keep your hands dry in wet conditions. Features like a GORE-TEX membrane or other waterproof inserts offer a good balance of waterproofing and breathability.


Factor in your activity level and opt for gloves and mittens with breathable materials and technologies to allow moisture and perspiration to escape, preventing clamminess and maintaining comfort during physical activity.


For gloves, prioritize designs that offer a good balance between warmth and dexterity, allowing you to perform tasks requiring fine motor skills without removing your gloves. Many higher-end models feature pre-molded or articulated fingers for ease of use and comfort.

Fit and Adjustability

The two main cuff styles of gloves/mittens are "over the cuff" and "under the cuff." Over the cuff, sometimes called “gauntlet” style, is designed to slide past your wrist and sit over the cuff of your ski jacket. It is generally regarded as the most effective way to keep out powder snow and cold air because of the wrist cinch feature, but your jacket cuff can get bunched up easily under the gauntlet cuff. Under the cuff usually features a snug neoprene gaiter on your wrist and slides under the cuff of your jacket.


Many gloves feature leather in the most common abrasion areas of the palm and fingers to provide durable protection and resist wear and tear. Other common features include reinforced stitching and four-way stretch polyester or nylon fabric in non-traffic areas for a more comfortable fit.

Additional Features

A common feature in higher-end models is removable liner gloves that can be worn independently or doubled up with the shell for ultimate weather protection. It is a great way to increase your purchase's versatility and value. Other features to look for are touchscreen compatibility on the fingertips, nose wipes, goggle squeegees, zippered pockets for hand warmers, and/or wrist leashes, which can add convenience and comfort to your skiing or snowboarding experience.

Focusing on these specific features and technologies allows you to find ski and snowboard gloves or mittens that meet your needs, ensuring optimal warmth, protection, and comfort during winter sports.

Features to Avoid in Gloves and Mittens

While selecting gloves or mittens for skiing or snowboarding, I recommend avoiding poor quality products to ensure the best possible experience:

Poor Quality

Make sure to purchase gloves/mittens appropriate for the amount and intensity you plan on using them for. Discount and entry-level gloves sold on Amazon may be an inexpensive solution that works well at first. Still, after repeated use, they may not hold up as well as a high-quality option intended for hundreds of days on the mountain.

When selecting gloves or mittens for skiing or snowboarding, It’s important to first prioritize the features that are most important to you. Then find the right balance of warmth, dexterity, waterproofing, breathability, and high-quality materials while avoiding features that could compromise your comfort, safety, or performance.

How to Choose the Right Gloves or Mittens for You

Photo by Adam St. Ours

Now that I’ve gone over the differences and some of the various features of ski gloves and mittens, it’s time to consider what you’re looking for and choose the right one for you. Below I’ve described three skiers who I’ve helped on Curated who fall into three broad categories when it comes to what they’re looking for in a glove solution. I’ve highlighted what they should look for based on their situation and goals.


Needs: Resort skiing in the Pacific Northwest. Generally runs warm and often experiences clammy hands inside his current gloves.

Feature to look for:

  • High level of waterproofing

Products to consider:

  • Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor: Available in either a glove or mitten, the Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor has a GORE-TEX outer shell to seal out moisture and keep your hands dry in the wettest environments. The fingers are touchscreen compatible, so you can still post to Insta while on the chairlift.
  • Burton Men’s GORE-TEX Gloves: GORE plus warm technology, guaranteed waterproof, windproof, and breathable, can be worn on its own or doubled up with the removable liner for increased warmth.
  • 686 Men’s GORE-TEX Apex: Everything you want, nothing you don’t—waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX insert combined with articulated fingers, touchscreen capability, and a wrist leash.


Needs: Resort skiing in the Northern Rockies of Montana and Idaho. She either has to take breaks to warm her hands or has to use hand warmers.

Features to look for:

  • Warmth, first and foremost
  • Waterproofing is less necessary, but windproofing is important.

Products to consider:

  • Black Diamond Mercury Mitt: Four-way stretch fabric and long gauntlet keeps snow out. The removable liner insulates, even when wet. The reinforced leather palm provides extra durability.
  • Flylow Oven Insulated Mittens: Extreme warmth in a basic package. The Flylow Oven Mitt is a full leather exterior treated with beeswax for increased durability and waterproofing. The long cuff rides up the wrist and stays secure, keeping out wind and snow.
  • Hestra Women’s Heli Ski Mitt: This is one of the top-rated ski mitts with extra insulation for deep cold days. The durable goat leather palm provides an excellent feel and will stand up to years of use.


Needs: Mixed mountain use in the Northeast. Mostly resort skiing, but occasional alpine touring, winter hiking, and climbing.

Features to look for:

  • High levels of wind and waterproofing
  • Flexibility in use and options, with an emphasis on dexterity

Products to consider:

  • Dakine Sequoia: Available in either a glove or mitten, the Dakine Sequoia (or Titan for men) offers GORE-TEX protection from moisture and a liner that you can remove on warm days and maintain its excellent waterproofing. You can wear the shell and liner separately or together for increased versatility. It has additional features like a wrist strap and goggle scraper.
  • 686 Women’s GORE-TEX Smarty 3-in-1: Similar to the Sequoia above, the 686 Smarty features a tough waterproof outer shell and a removable liner that can each be worn individually or together for ultimate weather protection.
  • Black Diamond Guide: Black Diamond’s warmest glove, designed for ski guides and patrol who need to use their hands and can’t take breaks in the lodge.


With the myriad glove and mitten selections available today, finding the best ski gloves for you can be hard. However, by focusing on the important factors of insulation, waterproofing, and durability and being honest with the conditions you typically find yourself in, you can easily narrow the selection to just the suitable options for your situation. If you have any questions or want to receive a curated list of gear hand-picked by a Skiing Expert like me, click on my profile to chat.

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Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!
Written by:
Adam St. Ours, Ski Expert
Adam St. Ours
Ski Expert
Skiing is the most fun you can do on two feet. No matter where or how you ski, I can help match you up with the best gear up for your preferences and style..Consider me your personal shopper, shoot me a message to get started!
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