Freezing hands and numb fingers can completely ruin any skiing day. It is very important that you pick the right pair of gloves for your skiing adventures in order to improve your safety and warmth. The decision making process can be challenging as you try to find the right combination of warmth of comfort for your hands. There are a few things to consider before purchasing ski gloves, and this guide is here to help you in the decision making process.
Waterproof and Breathability
Remember that being on the slopes for several hours may bring about very cold temperatures and changing weather conditions, so waterproofing and breathability are two key features to look for in ski gloves. Waterproofing is essential, especially on the coasts where the snow isn't as dry. Once your ski gloves are wet your hands will get cold and damp and you certainly don't want that to happen! Fortunately, there are many good waterproofing materials used in ski gloves these days such as Gore-Tex, Entrant and Omni-Tech. Many waterproof and breathable ski gloves now feature state-of-the-art engineered textiles which repel cold and feature tight weaves to keep the wind out. Breathability in ski gloves is also great because it allows any sweat or moisture that condenses inside your glove or mitten to escape keeping your hands warm, dry, and comfortable. The breathability of a glove allows for much-needed airflow.
It is very important to find a glove with the proper insulation for you, catered to your specific type of skiing. For skiers who get cold very quickly or tend to ski in colder conditions, thicker insulation is a good choice. But just because the insulation in a pair of ski gloves is thicker, that does not necessarily mean that it is going to be warmer. Good insulation will also allow vapor to pass through and out to the outer fabric to keep your hands dry and therefore warmer. High tech insulators, mainly synthetics, can be woven tighter making them thinner while providing better warmth and allowing for maximum mobility. This type of glove can be a bit pricey but when you look at how it can positively affect your comfort level, the extra expense will be worth it. Down Insulation is also a viable option, especially in dry climates. It is extremely important to keep down dry, when it gets wet down looses its insulating properties. If you purchase a down glove or mitten make sure it is waterproof.
Lining is an extra layer of material built into ski gloves in order to created a comfortable feel as well as increase warmth and protect the insulation. Typically the lining uses one of a few synthetic materials that have moisture wicking qualities to help keep your hands dry.
If your ski gloves do not fit properly, they will not provide the proper warmth, nor will they give you the comfort you expect. Ski gloves that are too big will require more body energy to heat up the air space inside the glove and also make it much more difficult to maintain a good grip on your poles. Ski gloves that are too small will limit movement and comfort and most likely leave more of your wrists exposed. A proper fitting glove should allow enough room at the end of outstretched fingers for you to pinch about a quarter of an inch of fabric. This allows for a comfortable fit when you grasp your poles and the correct amount of air space to keep you toasty warm.
There are two basic cuff lengths when it comes to ski gloves: a short length that will end at the base of your wrist, or with a longer cuff that extends past the sleeve on your jacket. While, longer ski gloves will offer more protection for times you may find yourself in the snow. The shorter cuff lengths available offer greater mobility especially in the wrist area. This decision is mainly personal preference as the longer cuffs (gauntlet style cuffs) are typically worn over the sleeve of the coat while short cuffs are typically tucked inside.
There are many different styles of ski gloves. The most common are traditional ski gloves with a synthetic outer shell and warm lining. This style of glove is the best for most skiing conditions. There are also leather ski gloves which are very durable and warm but tend not to be very waterproof unless treated with a chemical treatment for extra waterproofing abilities. Pipe gloves are more park and freeride skiers and tend to be made from waterproof synthetics and typically have a grippy material on the palm. While these gloves increase dexterity and grip they sacrifice on insulation and are definitely not as warm. There are also non-treated leather, wool and fleece gloves. These styles are not recommended for skiing but are good for apres ski activities.
Many ski gloves come with extra features for your convenience and comfort. Some ski gloves have zippered pockets for disposable hand warmers that you can take out when the weather calls for it. Many ski gloves and mittens have grips and reinforcements located on the areas that get the most use like your palms and thumbs. Grips are included on ski gloves for durability and a better grip on your poles. There are ski gloves with soft nose wipe areas on the thumb for those drippy nose days, or a mini squeegee to help wipe your goggles clear. Another helpful feature that is available on some ski gloves and mittens is a wrist loop attached to the cuff so you can let your ski gloves dangle when helping the kids with those pesky zippers or hanging out in the lodge. This is a handy way to keep track of your ski gloves when you need to take a coffee or cocoa break.
An alternative to wearing ski gloves is a quality pair of mittens. Mittens will provide more warmth because your fingers will share one compartment inside the mitten and can generate more heat that way, as opposed to being separated like in a glove. On the other hand, mittens limit mobility in certain circumstances. Unless you have wicked skills, mittens will have to be removed so that you can access your pockets or adjust your goggle strap while on the slopes. However, mittens offer a fun and classic look that many will look great sporting.
Glove liners are made to provide extra warmth and they fit snug inside of your ski gloves as an extra layer of protection against those chillier days. One good thing about layering with liner gloves is that you can buy an exterior shell glove, and then switch up your liners depending on the weather conditions - a thin wool, silk or synthetic liner for some additional insulation, or a thicker liner, polyester for example, will give you better insulating properties but won't be a good in terms of moisture wicking incase all of the extra warmth gets a little too toasty. They are also convenient for after skiing so you can take off your big cumbersome ski gloves and use your liners for warmth while driving home or for a night out on the town. But keep in mind, most higher performance ski gloves do not need liners for warmth as they will hold up in any conditions with the same amount of warmth.