Gloves and mittens are essential for keeping your fingers toasty warm while you spend the day skiing or snowboarding. If you have the right pair of gloves or mittens, you’ll never have to think twice about how your hands are faring. On the other hand, if you skimp on this essential piece of winter equipment, you could easily spend most of the day in the lodge defrosting your fingers rather than enjoying fresh powder.
Whether you’re a skier or a snowboarder, there are tons of glove and mitten options to choose from. But, deciding between five-fingered gloves and compartmentalized mittens is a big decision.
In this guide, we’ll highlight everything you need to know about the differences between gloves vs. mittens for skiing and snowboarding. We’ll also touch on some of the important features you need to know about when selecting the best pair of gloves or mittens for you. On top of that, we’ll review six of the best ski and snowboard gloves and six of the best ski and snowboard mittens that you can get to prepare for the coming winter season.
Gloves vs. Mittens: What’s the Difference?
The choice between gloves and mittens is one that skiers and snowboarders have faced for decades. For better or worse, one style of finger protection isn’t necessarily better than the other – it all comes down to your preferences and what you need out of a glove or mitten. With that in mind, we’ll focus on the advantages and disadvantages that distinguish gloves and mittens.
The number one reason to opt for gloves over mittens is that they have better dexterity. Gloves give you five fingers instead of just two or three, which makes it easier to control grab your ski poles, adjust your goggles, or do anything else you need to do on the mountain.
In addition, many ski and snowboard gloves have textured fingers to give you finer control over the glove tips for delicate tasks, like opening a Ziploc bag or zipper or entering text on your phone. Mittens, in contrast, tend to have rounded finger and thumb compartments that aren’t great for fine motor control.
The main advantage to mittens is that, everything else being equal, they tend to be warmer than gloves. The reason for this is that your fingers are scrunched together in mittens, allowing them to share warmth. In gloves, each finger is surrounded 360 degrees by cold air on the other side of the fabric. Even more important, heat can circulate much more easily within the larger mitt compartment than within the individual finger pockets of gloves.
Of course, how much heat you retain with either gloves or mittens will depend quite a bit on how often you take them off and expose your hand to the frigid outside air. You’ll have to take mittens off more frequently to adjust your ski and snowboard equipment, so you’ll probably want to pair them with glove liners to retain some heat.
Should You Wear Gloves or Mittens for Skiing?
You can wear either gloves or mittens for skiing, but many skiers prefer gloves because they make it easier to grip ski poles. Many ski poles have molded handles that pair perfectly with gloves, but don’t really fit the wide compartment of mittens. In addition, skiers tend to find that unless it’s really cold outside, mittens can cause your hands to sweat while you’re heading downhill – and then that sweat can freeze as you cool down on the chairlift.
But, if you know that you are likely to ski in cold weather and have had issues with frigid fingers in the past, it may be worth opting for mittens. You’ll still be able to hold your poles, and its better to sacrifice a little bit of grip for not having to run into the lodge to defrost after every run.
Should You Wear Gloves or Mittens for Snowboarding?
In contrast, most snowboarders choose mittens over gloves. Snowboarders don’t need to grip poles, and most modern snowboard bindings are designed to be easy to tighten or release even with mittens on.
Just as for skiing, mittens can cause your hands to sweat on cold days, so they’re not ideal for every snowboarder or in every situation. It’s also important to consider whether you need dexterity for things other than your snowboard bindings, such as reaching your phone or snacks inside your jacket, when deciding on mittens vs. gloves.
Features to Look for in Skiing & Snowboarding Gloves and Mittens
Hopefully, you now have an idea of whether gloves or mittens are better suited for your needs. Once you’ve decided on which style of finger protection is right for you, it’s important to think about the specific features that go into getting a quality pair.
- Glove and Mitten Styles
You may have decided on either gloves or mittens, but there’s more to decide than just that.
For mittens, you’ll need to decide on what style you want: traditional mittens with a thumb and a four-finger pouch, or “lobster” style mittens with a thumb, forefinger, and three-finger pouch. Traditional mittens are warmer, while lobster style mittens add back some dexterity by offering a hybrid design between mittens and gloves.
In addition, you will need to choose between standard gloves and mittens, or gloves and mittens with removable liners – also known as 3-in-1 styles. 3-in-1 style gloves and mittens are great for skiing and snowboarding through the whole season, since you can take out the liner and wear just that or just the shell as the weather warms up into the spring.
Standard gloves and mittens don’t offer the same versatility, but you have the ability to create your own custom 3-in-1 system by adding your favorite pair of glove liners. Doing that is typically warmer, since you get both glove liners and the insulation system that’s part of your gloves and mittens.
- Insulation Type
The two types of insulation typically used in ski and snowboard gloves are down and synthetic insulation. Of these, most skiers and snowboarders will want to choose synthetic insulation.
That’s because down is an extremely good insulator, but it doesn’t retain any heat once it gets wet. It’s also more expensive than synthetic insulation, and its light weight isn’t all that important in gloves and mittens. Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, will stay warm even if you sweat into it or develop a hold in your glove and get snow into it.
Electric Heating – If you suffer from cold hands even in moderate winter temperatures, you can look for gloves or mittens that pair synthetic insulation with battery-powered heating modules. Heated gloves and mittens allow you to control how much heat is put out – they are like having Hot Hands that never wear out. The battery is typically rechargeable so you can use the gloves for several seasons or more.
The biggest downside to electric, heated gloves and mittens is cost – heating elements typically push the price of gloves and mittens into the hundreds of dollars.
It should come as little surprise that waterproofing is absolutely essential in both gloves and mittens if you’ll be skiing or snowboarding with them. Sooner or later, you’re going to get snow on your fingers – and when that happens, your fingers should stay dry. Otherwise, any moisture that gets inside your insulation can quickly freeze as you sit on the chairlift between runs.
Unfortunately, the bigger threat is water vapor from inside. As you sweat, that moisture needs to be able to escape through the insulation. That’s why so many gloves and mittens use Gore-Tex or another waterproof breathable membrane. Material is important here – some waterproof, breathable membranes are more or less breathable than others, and some break down with use faster than others.
Keep in mind that no waterproofing is perfect. It’s important to try to brush snow off your gloves and mittens when you get it on them, and to try to modulate your activity so that your hands and fingers are not sweating heavily while skiing and snowboarding. If you do get your gloves or mittens wet, you can try to dry them off quickly using an air blower – most ski resorts have these in their lodges.
- Touchscreen Compatibility
If you have a smartphone with a touchscreen, it’s extremely worthwhile to opt for a pair of gloves with touchscreen compatible fingertips. That way, you don’t have to pull your hand out of your glove every time you want to access your phone – which can quickly lead to losing all the heat you’ve built up inside your gloves and, soon after, frigid fingers.
Touchscreen compatibility isn’t as important for mittens since you probably won’t have the dexterity to type or enter patterns on your phone screen anyway. But, if you use glove liners inside your mittens, make sure your liner’s fingertips are touchscreen compatible so that you don’t have to pull those off to access your phone.
- Additional Features
There are lots of additional features to look for when choosing a pair of gloves or mittens. We’ll highlight just a few things to keep in mind here:
- Cuffs – The cuff of gloves or mittens can go under or over your jacket. Gauntlet style cuffs, which are designed to go over your jacket, provide warmth for your wrist but can more easily get snow on them. Cuffs that go under your jacket can be somewhat annoying to adjust every time you remove your gloves and put them on again.
- Vents – Some gloves and mittens have zippered vent pockets, which can be used to help you dump heat on warmer days. Vents are ideal if you don’t want to switch to glove liners for spring skiing and riding.
- Leashes – Having leashes that attach your gloves and mittens to your wrist is invaluable if you tend to remove them on the chairlift. That way, you don’t risk accidentally dropping your glove and losing it.
Fitting Skiing & Snowboarding Gloves and Mittens
There’s no real trick or secret to fitting skiing and snowboarding gloves and mittens. They should be snug, without feeling overly constrictive. Gloves and mittens that are too tight can cut off circulation to your fingers, which in turn makes your hands colder. On the other hand, gloves and mittens that are too loose won’t insulate effectively and you’ll lose a lot of dexterity.
The only extra thing to keep in mind here is whether or not you plan to wear glove liners inside your gloves or mittens. If you do, it’s a good idea to try your gloves and mittens on with the liners on.
The 6 Best Ski and Snowboard Gloves of 2019 – Compared and Tested
1. Velazzio Ski Gloves – Overall Best Ski and Snowboard Gloves
These ski and snowboard gloves from Velazzio are the perfect pairing for your hands in any weather. They come packed with 3M Thinsulate insulation, which is warm enough to keep your fingers toasty in the dead of winter but breathable enough to work as you move into spring conditions. We also liked the Fan-Tex membrane inside these gloves. Fan-Tex is a cheaper competitive to Gore-Tex that helps to keep water away from the insulation and efficiently moves moisture away from your hands.
The palms of these gloves are rubberized and stubbled, which really helps with gripping ski poles and all-around dexterity. Unfortunately, we would have loved to see at least the index fingers of each glove capped with a touch sensitive material, but that’s not the case. The zipper compartment is also strangely placed – it’s on the wrist, where putting anything inside the pocket is likely to cause problems with getting the gloves’ cuffs under your jacket.
- 3M Thinsulate insulation
- Fan-Tex waterproof breathable membrane
- Rubberized palms for grip
- Adjustable wrist strap
- Zipper compartment is on wrist and can cause problems with cuffs
- No touch sensitivity in glove fingertips
2. Tough Outdoors The Slugger Winter Ski & Snowboard Glove – Best Budget Ski and Snowboard Gloves
These inexpensive gloves from Tough Outdoors have a lot to offer at a bargain price. They’re extremely comfortable, with a fleecy liner on the inside to keep your hands cozy and warm. The insulation overall doesn’t stand out – these gloves are warm, but also a bit bulky – but we found that they worked well for most mid-winter conditions and it was easy to add glove liners underneath for the extra cold days.
Tough Outdoors paid attention to details with these gloves. The thumb and forefinger are touchscreen compatible, although the fingertips are wide enough that they can’t really be used for typing out messages on your phone. In addition, there’s a fleecy area on the thumb that you can use to wipe your nose and wrist straps so it’s easy to take the gloves off on the chairlift. One minor complaint: the synthetic leather palm is reinforced for durability, but it’s not rubberized for grip.
To top that all off, Tough Outdoors gives you a one-year warranty on these gloves. So, you can use them for a full season and be certain that your purchase is protected.
- Fleecy interior liner
- Warm enough for mid-winter temperature conditions
- Touchscreen compatible fingertips
- Fleecy nose wipe on thumb
- Wrist straps
- One-year warranty
- Palm is not textured for grip
- Insulation is bulky
- Touchscreen fingertips are too wide for typing on a phone
3. FREETOO Men’s Ski Gloves – Best Waterproof Breathable Ski and Snowboard Gloves
These ski and snowboard gloves from FREETOO are designed from the ground up to keep water out. The exterior of the gloves is a synthetic waterproof fabric on the back and synthetic PU leather on the palm. To provide even more protection, there’s a TPU waterproof breathable layer on the inside of the gloves between the exterior and the insulation. All of this ensures that these gloves won’t get wet, from the inside or out.
That said, these gloves aren’t necessarily the best choice for ultra-cold temperatures. They’re insulated with cotton rather than a more advanced synthetic fabric, which keeps the cost down at the expense of additional warmth. In fact, FREETOO only recommends these gloves in temperatures down to 5oF.
In addition, there are not a lot of additional features to these gloves. You won’t find touchscreen compatible fingertips, nose wipes, or wrist leashes. While you can adjust the tightness of the cuff, there’s also no zipper compartment where you can store valuables or add a hand warmer.
- Extremely waterproof
- TPU waterproof breathable layer on the inside
- Adjustable wrist strap
- Cotton insulation isn’t super warm
- No touchscreen compatibility
- No zipper compartments
- Palm isn’t textured for grip
4. LANYI Winter Gloves – Warmest Ski and Snowboard Gloves
If you suffer from cold fingers but don’t want to make the switch to mittens, try out these ski and snowboard gloves from LANYI. They’re packed with 40 grams of 3M Thinsulate and 120 grams of cotton to maximize insulation. In fact, they’re so warm that LANYI rates them for use down to -10oF.
The entire glove is also covered in a waterproof fabric so that you never have to worry about getting wet and cold. A waterproof breathable TPU membrane inside helps wick away sweat from your hands, keeping you dry and warm. Still, we would have liked to see a zipper compartment on the backs of these gloves so that you could easily add hand warmers for the coldest days of the ski and snowboard season.
Dexterity in these gloves is good, but not great. The fingertips aren’t overly thick, but none of them are touchscreen compatible. In addition, the synthetic leather palm is only slightly textured to improve grip, and we would have loved to have seen a bit more work in this area.
- Extremely warm
- 3M Thinsulate and cotton insulation
- Waterproof with TPU membrane
- Dexterity is decent
- Adjustable wrist strap
- No touchscreen compatibility in fingertips
- Palm could use more texturing for grip
- No zipper compartments for hand warmers
5. MCTi Waterproof Men’s Ski Gloves – Best Ski and Snowboard Gloves for Dexterity
These ski and snowboard gloves from MCTi are warm, but tight-fitting to provide you with the most possible dexterity. The fingertips can feel a little tight – you probably won’t want to add glove liners to these gloves – but that allows you to precisely grip your poles and reach for zipper pockets on your jacket. Better yet, the fingertips are reinforced so you won’t wear through them with use. The only big thing we would have liked to see in this regard was a touchscreen compatible forefinger. As these gloves are now, you can’t fully take advantage of the dexterity they provide.
As for insulation, these gloves are very warm. They’re packed with a combination of 3M Thinsulate and cotton, which together feel soft against your hand and trap in heat. Better yet, the gloves are completely waterproofed on the exterior and contain a TPU waterproof breathable membrane on the inside. There’s a nose wipe on the thumb and even a small compartment where you can add hand warmers to these gloves.
- Excellent dexterity with reinforced fingertips
- Warm thanks to 3M Thinsulate and cotton insulation
- TPU waterproof breathable membrane
- Nose wipe on thumb
- Compartment for hand warmers
- Tight fit makes them hard to wear with glove liners underneath
- Fingertips are not touchscreen compatible
6. Savior Heated Gloves – Best Electric Heated Ski and Snowboard Gloves
These electric heated gloves from Savior Heat are perfect for battling the coldest temperatures that winter can throw at you. Regardless of how well blood flows through your hands to keep you warm, these gloves will do the trick.
They run off a rechargeable battery and give you the option between three different heat settings when they’re turned on. The change in temperature is quick – you can feel the added heat within about 30 seconds of turning up the power. At the highest temperature setting, these gloves are able to withstand extremely cold temperatures even when you’re just sitting on the chairlift.
While the gloves are designed for both skiers and snowboarders, they offer some extra protection along the knuckles for snowboarders. However, beyond that, there aren’t a lot of add-on features like touchscreen compatibility or a nose wipe. Notably, these gloves don’t even have an adjustable wrist strap, so it’s very important to get the sizing right.
- Electric heated gloves
- Rechargeable battery easily lasts for a full ski day
- Three temperature settings with quick power changes
- Extra protection for snowboarders
- One-year warranty
- No touchscreen compatibility
- No adjustable wrist straps or leashes
The 6 Best Ski and Snowboard Mittens of 2019 – Compared and Tested
1. VBG VBIGER Winter Ski Mittens – Best Waterproof Ski and Snowboard Mittens
These impressively warm and comfortable ski and snowboard mittens from VBG are ideal for mid-winter skiing and riding conditions. They’re packed with a ton of cotton insulation and do a great job of trapping in heat thanks to the warm elastic liner that conforms around your wrist. On top of that, you can further lock in heat with the adjustable wrist strap and cinch the cuff under your jacket.
VBG didn’t really try to add back in any dexterity to these mittens, instead focusing efforts in other areas. The mittens are fully waterproof and include a waterproof breathable membrane to fully lock out moisture. In addition, there are four thin finger pockets on the inside of the glove to help keep your fingers from building up sweat. A zipper pocket near the thumb also gives you a place to add in a hand warmer for those extra frigid days on the slopes.
- Multiple mechanisms to lock in heat, including conforming elastic wrist liner
- Fully waterproof with membrane inside
- Zipper compartment for hand warmers
- Four finger pockets inside mitt work with glove liners
- Cotton rather than 3M Thinsulate insulation
- Not much effort to improve dexterity
2. Tough Outdoors Winter Snow & Ski Mittens – Best Budget Ski and Snowboard Mittens
These budget-friendly mittens from Tough Outdoors are pretty basic, but perfect for facing all-mountain conditions. They’re packed with cotton insulation that keeps your hands warm down to pretty frigid temperatures, and a waterproof outer fabric ensures that snow and water can’t penetrate to your fingers. Better yet, a waterproof breathable membrane helps to move moisture away from your fingers and out of the gloves so you stay dry and toasty.
Beyond that, there’s not much to these ski and snowboard mittens. The finger compartment is completely open and there’s not much texturing on the synthetic leather palm to provide grip. You can lock in heat with the adjustable wrist strap, and wrist leashes allow you to easily take the mitts off on the chairlift.
- Waterproof outer fabric and waterproof breathable membrane
- Wrist strap and wrist leashes
- Cotton insulation isn’t the warmest option
3. OZERO -40F Winter Gloves – Best Gauntlet Style Ski and Snowboard Mittens
These extremely warm winter mittens from OZERO offer a gauntlet style cuff, which is designed to extend over your jacket. That’s not always great since it can allow snow to get into your mittens during a fall, but we liked that OZERO designed these cuffs with an elastic band that helps seal them over your forearm. In addition, the adjustable wrist strap provides another barrier to any snow that does get into the mitten wrist cuff and helps to lock in heat.
These mittens are also packed with insulation. They contain a ton of 3M Thinsulate insulation and are lined with a thermal TR cotton lining. That makes them ideal for even the coldest mountain conditions, although they can be a bit much as you head into the spring season. Thankfully, an internal TPU waterproof breathable membrane helps to wick away any sweat that does form on your fingers.
We also liked the palms of these gloves. They’re made from synthetic leather and double-stitched for extra durability. They’re still lacking some grip, but they’ll last through any abrasion.
- Gauntlet cuff with adjustable strap to seal out snow
- Adjustable wrist strap locks in heat
- Synthetic leather palms
- 3M Thinsulate insulation with thermal cotton lining
- TPU waterproof breathable membrane
- Too warm for use during sunny winter days or spring skiing and riding
4. EXski Waterproof Ski Mittens – Warmest Ski and Snowboard Mittens
These ski and snowboard mittens from EXski are incredibly toasty inside. They’re insulated with 40 grams of 3M Thinsulate and 140 grams of warm cotton, plus offer a Fan-Tex membrane that works much better than standard TPU membranes to wick moisture away from your hands. These mittens are so warm that EXski recommends them down to temperatures at low as -4oF before you even think about adding glove liners.
We also liked that EXski put some thought into grip with these mittens. The synthetic leather palm is coated with a sticky material so that it’s easier to grab ski poles and to open zippers on your jacket. While there are no leashes, the loops of fabric at the base of the cuffs on these mittens can be easily clipped to your jacket so you don’t lose them on the chairlift.
- Extremely warm insulation from 3M Thinsulate and cotton
- Fan-Tex waterproof breathable membrane
- Sticky material coating palm for added grip
- Fabric loops can be used in place of leashes
- No zipper compartment for hand warmers
- Cuffs are sort of in between gauntlet and under-jacket styles in size
5. Black Diamond Mercury Mitts – Overall Best Ski and Snowboard Mittens
These ski and snowboard mittens from Black Diamond may be expensive, but we’d be hard-pressed to find another pair of mitts that can beat them. To start, they’re insulated with Primaloft Gold – a pricier material than 3M Thinsulate or cotton, but one that offers a far superior warmth to weight ratio. The interior of the glove is lined with fleece to keep your hands cozy and warm. Even better, we loved that the liner is removable so you can more easily dry it out between ski days.
As you’d expect, the mitten shells are fully waterproof and contain a breathable membrane so your hands don’t clog up the gloves with moisture. We really liked the goat skin palm material, which is durable and grippy without feeling fake. It also stands up to abrasion over time extremely well. We would have liked to see a zipper compartment for hand warmers or wrist leashes, but these are relatively minor complaints.
- Primaloft Gold insulation offers extreme warmth at low weight
- Fleece lining throughout interior
- Liner is removable for drying overnight
- Fully waterproof and breathable
- 100% goat skin palm is grippy and durable
- No zipper compartment or wrist leashes
6. SNOW DEER Heated Mittens – Best Electric Heated Ski and Snowboard Mittens
These electric heated mittens from SNOW DEER are perfect if no other pair of gloves or mittens has been able to keep you as warm as you’d like to be. The mittens have three different heat settings, with the most powerful setting offering nothing less than toastiness inside the insulation.
However, SNOW DEER could have used a slightly larger battery supply for these mittens. The mittens use a 2200 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery to provide heat, but they probably won’t last a full day on the slopes. On low power, the battery is rated to last just six hours, and on high power that drops to as little as 2.5 hours. Recharging takes around three hours, so it’s not something you can really do in the middle of the day.
Still, we liked the design of these mittens. The palms are made from true sheep leather rather than a synthetic, which improves their heat retention and durability. The fleece liners in the interior are also removable for quick drying or cleaning. A gauntlet style cuff offers an elastic band so that you can seal out snow in case you take a tumble into powder.
- Electric heated mittens with three heat settings
- Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries
- Gauntlet cuff with elastic cinch
- Removable fleece liners
- Genuine sheep leather palms are durable
- Battery lasts only 2.5 hours on high setting and six hours on low
Frequently Asked Questions
Having the right pair of gloves or mittens for skiing and snowboarding can dramatically improve how much you enjoy a cold day on the slopes. If frozen fingers have held you back in the past or forced you into the lodge, now is the time to upgrade to a new pair of gloves or mittens.
Thanks to our comparison of gloves vs. mittens for skiing and snowboarding, you can decide which type of hand protection is better suited for you. Plus, our reviews of the 12 best gloves and mittens for skiing and snowboarding make it easy to find your perfect pair for this coming winter season.