Are Gloves or Mittens Better for Snowboarding?

Snowboard Expert André Santos gets into the age-old debate between gloves and mittens, shares his recommendations, and tells you how to keep your hands warm!

Someone carries the Jones women's Stratos while wearing white mittens.

The Jones Women's Stratos. Photo courtesy of Jones

Published on

You’ve probably ended up here for one or more than a few reasons—maybe you're looking to upgrade your mitt or glove set up, maybe you’re researching what setup would be best for you, or possibly you’re getting a gift for someone who loves the outdoors in all seasons.

Whatever the motivation is, I’ll provide you with valuable insights to help you settle the glove vs. mitten conundrum!

Whether or not you’re new to the outdoor scene, there's a good chance you may have heard an opinion for why either the glove is better than the mitten or the mitten is better than the glove—behind each vote of support, there is usually a pretty endearing recollection of when that rider first met their beloved mitten or glove.

Personally, I LOVE the mitts, but it's more about the performance and less about the actual product itself. For example, these Outdoor Research Lucents are no less than luxury and are packed with all the features: ALTIHeat Technology with customizable heat settings is powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries; a locking zippered compartment holds the batteries; GORE-TEX inserts for waterproof, windproof, and breathable protection; and lightweight, synthetic EnduraLoft insulation to hold in heat. Plus, they are touch-screen-compatible with leather thumb tips. With the Lucents, there isn’t much more you could ask for that these don't offer.

If all those tech terms and product specs make your head spin….well then, you’ve found the perfect place to help you decode all that outdoor jargon.

When searching for gloves and mittens, make sure you ask yourself what you’ll be using them for and what features will matter most to you—then reach out to a Snowboard Expert to bounce your ideas off of and collaborate with to get you the best match for your needs.

Gloves vs. Mittens

A pair of mittens sit on a rock in the snow.

Photo by Curated Expert Kael Van Buskirk

So how can you arrive at the same love for a glove or a mitten? Maybe you’re just looking for what will be the absolute warmest selection? Perhaps you think skiers wear gloves and snowboarders wear mittens? Isn't it just all personal preference?

There’s a myriad of reasons that snowboarders may choose a glove over a mitten and vice versa, what it really comes down to is user preference and what matters most to you when you’re out on the mountain.

Yes, you’ll lose a bit of dexterity with a full mitten. However, this can be easily mitigated with a liner glove. Yes, you’ll lose some warmth with a traditional glove but maybe you only want to keep track of one pair and don’t want to fuss with a liner. Perhaps, no matter what, you’ll be slapping together Hot Hands and tossing them in your hands all day!

At the end of the day, we are looking for something that will provide all-day warmth and keep our hands dry, something that won’t break the bank and last at least a few seasons, something we would be proud to wear and recommend to our friends and family!

For me personally, all I need is a quality Outdoor Research mitten with a fleece liner. Fleece wicks away moisture and keeps its insulating properties even when wet, performing better than other blends of liners (trust me I’ve tried em all).

In Pursuit of Warmth

If it's warmth that you're looking for, let's highlight some styles for what is rated the absolute warmest, we can take a look at a small data set here that includes seven different styles of gloves, ones with batteries and some without—gotta love technology.

Graph comparing the warmth of gloves and mittens.

Graph by André Santos with data from Iserson 2016

We can gather insights from this data to help us with our quest for the perfect mitt (or glove). We can see how all of these stack up against each other when it comes to getting warm and staying warm during a cold weather temperature test. You can see here that gloves have a tendency to have higher heat loss overall—this is mainly because there is more surface area on a glove due to the independent finger slots, therefore, there's more opportunity for heat to escape.

So if you’re looking for absolute warmth, mittens are the way to go! As I mentioned, I highly suggest Outdoor Research as I’ve personally got my fingers warm on mountain tops with neg temps and sideways hail, but the study shows that the Marmot 8000s will also do the job very well.

If you’re not so much concerned with warmth and prefer the bit of extra dexterity a glove gives you, I would still go ahead and suggest Outdoor Research for gloves. These are for my Mid-Atlantic East Coasters who don't deal with super cold temps as often—or if you just naturally have hot hands.

My Recommendations for Snowboarding

If you’re one that needs A HOT glove and likes that vintage feel, I’d check out these Flylow Tough Guy Gloves. I love the feel of fleece inside leather palms!

Maybe the Tough Guy Gloves are not actually your style? Well, these Hestra Helis are definitely not representative of “tough” but they sure do look super soft and cozy! Hestra has tons of women’s glove options, and I'd recommend them any day. I'd put these Fall Line Gloves from Hestra in the tough category for sure.

Now that I’ve thrown a bunch of gloves and mittens at you, you’ll now start to have an opinion on which style you might like best based on the comparisons, without really having to get much into the technical specifications. Not to say the full specs are not important but the truth is, for most snowboarding glove/mitten options, they are ALL going to do a pretty good job (so long as it's an established manufacturer). It really just comes down to what you want your hand to live in during those sunny pow days and sideways hail storms!

Feel free to reach out to a Snowboard Expert to talk more about gloves and mittens, to come say hello, or to chat about all things outdoors!

Like this article?
Share it with your network

Written By
I've been in the Outdoor Industry for the past decade. From ski clubs, to outdoor education courses, to helping friends get sweet setups and good deals on lift tickets. I also have spent a good amount of time in gear shops and resorts working and talking with other gear experts. I'd love to help you...

Curated experts can help

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!

Read Next

New and Noteworthy