Best hiking gloves to keep your hands warm and protected this fall and winterIn fall and summer, being prepared for cold weather hikes means carrying extra clothing like hiking jackets and gear. A good set of gloves is an important part of that preparation. They keep hands warm and dry, provide protection against wetness and cold winds, and allow dexterity when needed. Hikers who carry a second set of gloves also know how quickly a storm can change the landscape and how quickly they could get soaked if they aren’t ready.
You should get yourself some good gloves if you’re planning to go climbing in the mountains during the cold months. Sharp rock and hard snow aren’t really friends to your hands, which means they could cut them up pretty badly if you don’t take care of them properly. Good gloves, though, protect your hands from these dangers.
We’ve selected the most appropriate outdoor equipment for cold-winter activities, including skiing and snowboarding; hiking and backpacking; and trail running and lightweight adventure clothing. You’ll be able to choose between pairs that look like down coats for your fingers, to high-end garments designed for climbing on ice.
How to Choose Gloves for Hiking?
Hiking gloves need to keep your hands warm and protected. What makes a good pair different is that they need to do this in a harsher environment and under more extreme conditions, you will also need a good pair of hiking boots to keep your feet warm and protected.
There’s also a trade-off between how warm they are and how much dexterity they allow for. Broadly your choice will be determined by the following criteria:
If you’re going to be wearing your gloves while walking or at night around the camp then higher insulation at the cost of reduced dexterity is a decent option.
If you’re picking up the pace then a lighter weight, breathable material will be more comfortable when your hands warm up. Activities that need a fair degree of dexterity will inevitably need a compromise in the amount of insulation.
Best hiking gloves
Best hiking Gloves for Very Cold Conditions: Outdoor Research Men’s Alti Gloves
- Super warm
- Good waterproof breathable performance
- High grip palm
- Excellent construction and durable materials
- Liners bunch up a little when taking hands in and out
- A little stiff at first – takes some breaking in
These hiking gloves are perfect for keeping your fingers warm when temperatures drop below freezing.
The gloves are made from two parts: an inner lining inside a waterproof outer shell. The inner lining contains PrimaLoft insulation for excellent warmth and breathability.
The gauntlet sleeves are long and wide enough for a jacket sleeve and close with a drawstring that can be operated with the glove on.
It’s nice that the inside lining has a pocket for a heating pad so it won’t move or fall out when you raise your arms.
For most people, there’ll be a tradeoff between dexterity and comfort when choosing which glove to wear.
- Lightweight stretch fabric fits well
- Good moisture wicking and fast drying
- Mesh panels offer venting
- Excellent dexterity
- Wrist cuff is a little short
These light weight hiking gloves are ideal for high intensity activities in cool spring and autumn weather.
They’re designed for running, so they have a snug fitting and offer great breathability. If you’re hiking in weather that calls for a pair of gloves at times, you may end up having to take them off and put them back on again because your hands get hot and sweaty.
We really enjoyed how well these socks wick away sweat and the mesh panels allow air to circulate through the sock. So we kept wearing them even after our workout was done.
They won’t be warm enough for winter hikes, but they’re perfect for spring/summer hikes and work well as linings in heavier, warmer gloves.
- Microfleece has soft feel and is very warm
- Elasticated wrist seals in warmth
- Machine washable
- Not water resistant
These soft microfiber hiking gloves are super comfy and surprisingly warm for their low price tag.
Even when the temperature drops below freezing, these Columbia winter mittens stay warm enough for most people. They’re made from quality materials and are designed to be comfortable.
They’re not waterproof at all, so they won’t perform very well when it rains. And because they don’t provide any wind resistance, they won’t be able to keep you warm even if there’s a strong breeze blowing.
They run slightly smaller than usual and are intended to be worn snugly. If you prefer a looser fitting pair, consider ordering a size up.
Best Gloves for Sensitive Skin: SmartWool Liner Gloves
- Merino wool blend feels soft against skin
- Excellent breathability
- Touchscreen compatible
- Fabric pills if it comes into contact with velcro/rough surfaces
For people who have sensitive skin, they may need hiking gloves for breathing well, having a snug fit, and offering protection from scratches and bruises.
You should definitely choose a merino wool blend inner layer because it’s a lot less likely to cause irritation than some other natural fibers might be.
These hiking gloves are good for cold weather, but they’re especially useful in warmer climates because they keep your hands warm without feeling too hot. And the SmartWool material feels nice against your skin.
They’re breathable, which means they keep you cool when you exercise; however, they don’t have a waterproof membrane, which means you shouldn’t wear them during rainy days.
Avoid putting these near any items with Velcro because they pill easily.
Hiking Glove Tips
If you’ve bought a great set of hiking shoes, but haven’t taken care of them properly, they won’t be able to perform well for long.
Don’t worry if your hands start sweating when wearing these mittens. If they’re becoming too warm, just change into a lighter pair of fleecelined mittens. Wearing damp liners will hinder their performance and are a hassle to get dry in cold temperatures.
If you ended up with wet inner liners, remove them and put them between your base layers and your skin when you go to bed. They’ll be a whole lot drier the next morning.
If you’re going to be doing an activity for a long time in cold weather, it’s best to wear two pairs of lightweight fleece liner gloves. Change out one pair when they become wet.
Your hand size, conditions, and temperature tolerances differ; what I thought were warm mitts turned out to be too small for me. I got myself a good layering system of inner and outer gloves and didn’t freeze even though I climbed Kalapattar in the snow.
What’s the difference between mittens and gloves?Gloves, or finger gloves – will have a single compartment for each finger. Mittens– have a compartment for your thumb with another single compartment for the rest of your fingers.Lobster– Has individual compartments for your thumb and index finger with your other three fingers in a single compartment.
When might you use mittens?
Your mittens may feel different than regular gloves, but because they keep your hands warmer due to their design, you don’t mind wearing them.
The problem is that lobster claw gloves come at the cost of the dexterity you get when wearing regular mitten gloves. Lobster design provides you with better dexterity by allowing you to grip objects between your fingers.
What Else Should I Look Out For In A Hiking Glove?
There are some additional things you might want to consider besides the key performance areas.
Nose Wiper Patch – Yes it’s gross, but in cold winter months, you’re going to have to clean your nose. Now you won’t have to reach into your pocket for a Kleenex. Some gloves have a “nose wiper” patch on the back of the hand or thumb. That’s still better than reaching into your pocket for a piece of paper towel.
Attachments – such as loop, carabiner clips, or hooks – are good for attaching to the outside your backpack, or even to save yourself from needing to put the gloves back on after taking them off for a second.
Zippers – these are great for keeping them easy to put on and take off but they’re also a good way to vent without having too remove the gloves.
Grip pattern on palm– Worth considering if you plan on using an ax or holding walking poles.
What level of protection do I need?
This depends on how often you hike, where you hike, the type of hiking you are doing, and the other gear you have. Many hikers choose to use waterproof over-mitts so that they don’t have to bother with waterproof gloves, which tend to be bulky or over-warm. Some outdoor performance fabrics excel at wind protection but are not waterproof, and so are best used in cold but dry climates.
So the best way to answer this question is to do some thinking about your use-cases, and then find a glove with the specifications that match your needs.
How can I wash my hiking gloves?
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Some of the cloth liner gloves in this guide are fully washable, while gloves made of leather or technical materials need to be spot cleaned.