The Best Ski Gloves Review

Click to enlarge
Ian Nicholson freezing and side-by-side testing in Mt Rainier National park.
Credit: Dallas Glass
What are the best choice for skiing and snowboarding? We tested 14 of our favorites over the past two seasons, doing everything from riding chairs all over the Western U.S. to backcountry touring in the Cascades, the Wasatch and Alaska. We also pushed these competitors to their limits backcountry, heli and snowmobile skiing while working as part of the Snow Safety Team for Tailgate Alaska in Alaska's Chugach Range. We helped identify the best all-around product, the best model for more moderate climates (above 15F), the best cold weather option (below 15F), the best for wet conditions and the best value. Dozens of testers provided valuable input and analysis for this review.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Ski Gloves - Men's Displaying 1 - 5 of 14 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Arc'teryx Alpha SV Glove
Arc'teryx Alpha SV Glove
Read the Review
Black Diamond Guide
Black Diamond Guide
Read the Review
Outdoor Research Magnate
Outdoor Research Magnate
Read the Review
Outdoor Research Southback
Outdoor Research Southback
Read the Review
Outdoor Research Northback Sensor
Outdoor Research Northback Sensor
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award   
Street Price Varies $240 - $275
Compare at 6 sellers
Varies $127 - $170
Compare at 7 sellers
$97
Compare at 1 sellers
Varies $59 - $68
Compare at 4 sellers
Varies $97 - $139
Compare at 5 sellers
Overall Score 
100
0
96
100
0
92
100
0
91
100
0
88
100
0
87
Editors' Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating Be the first to rate it
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
1 rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
1 rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
1 rating
Be the first to rate it
Pros Waterproof, Extremely dexterous, Very breathable, Quick to dry,Super Warm, Very toughOne of the Warmer single Gloves, Dexterous, Very durable, highly water resistantAwesome fit, very dexterious, Nice featuresTouch Screen Sensitive, Very Water proof, Warm, Pretty dexterous
Cons Very expensiveNot very dexterous, Super stiff and take a while to break inVelcro wrist strap could be betterDWR doesn't hold up as longRun smaller and narrower than most other gloves we tested
Best Uses Alpine climbing, ice climbing, back country and resort Skiing or Snowboarding,Cold weather climbing and skiing, works well for ice climbing belay, High altitude mountaineeringResort Skiing and Snowboarding, Backcountry skiing and Snowboarding, Alpine climbing and Mountaineeringresort oriented skiers and snowboarders who ride in temps down to around 10-15F, wet conditionsResort Skiing and snowboarding, Backcountry skiing and snowboarding, cold weather anything when you want touch screen sensitivty
Date Reviewed Oct 25, 2013Oct 26, 2013Oct 23, 2014Sep 25, 2013Oct 25, 2013
Weighted Scores Arc'teryx Alpha SV Glove Black Diamond Guide Outdoor Research Magnate Outdoor Research Southback Outdoor Research Northback Sensor
Dexterity - 20%
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Warmth - 25%
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Water Resistance - 25%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Durability - 10%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
Features - 20%
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
Product Specs Arc'teryx Alpha SV Glove Black Diamond Guide Outdoor Research Magnate Outdoor Research Southback Outdoor Research Northback Sensor
Waterproof Material Gore-tex Pro Shell Gore-Tex XCR Gore-Tex Gore-Tex Gore-tex
Insulation Type Polartec Wind Pro Primaloft 1, Wool & 100g Fleece Primaloft EnduraLoft Enduraloft
Palm Material Lezanova leather (Goatskin leather) Goatskin Leather Goatskin Leather Goatskin Leather Goatskin Leather
Double or Single Glove Double Double Single Single Single
OGL Weight (pair) 10.5 oz 17 oz 10 oz 9 oz 11 oz
Gaunlet or Cuff Length Gauntlet Gauntlet Cuff Length Gauntlet Gauntlet
Nose Wipe? No Yes Yes yes Yes

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Outdoor Research Southback
$85.00
100
0
88
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Outdoor Research Magnate
$140
100
0
91
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Black Diamond Guide
$170
100
0
92
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Black Diamond Rebel
$140
100
0
87
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rab Guide Gloves
$115
100
0
81
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Black Diamond Squad
$90
100
0
84
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Outdoor Research Northback Sensor
$140
100
0
87
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Black Diamond Legend
$120
100
0
85
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Mountain Hardwear Jalapeno
$125
100
0
82
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Hestra Heli
$145
100
0
86
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
DaKine Scout
$45
100
0
76
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
FlyLow Gear Tough Guy
$30
100
0
63
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Columbia Air Chamber
$47
100
0
70
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Click to enlarge
Glove testing
Credit: Ian Nicholson
The Best Ski and Snowboard Glove Review
They are often the only thing that protects our hands from winter's bite and we ask a lot of them. We want them to be totally waterproof and warm but without being too bulky or cumbersome. Really we want them to completely protect us without feeling like we are even wearing them. So what is the best option for skiing and snowboarding? Or for backcountry touring? Colder weather? For over two years we compared these challengers head-to-head and tested them in the field. We broke the testing down into five categories to help determine which is the best product for which applications.

See our Buying Advice Article for information on materials, types of gloves, features, and other things to look for.

Click to enlarge
Eric Dalzell rips the Odessey in evening light, Thompson Pass, AK.
Credit: Ian Nicholson
Criteria for Evaluation
Below we describe the specific criteria by which we evaluated each contender.

Dexterity
In the dexterity category of our test we performed a series of side-by-side tasks, including buckling ski boots, unlocking a car door with average-sized car keys, tying running shoes, attaching a lift ticket to a jacket, taking a photo with a point-and-shoot camera and writing our name. To help as a tie breaker, those gloves with which we could write more legibly scored higher. We also compared each during real world use, often changing them multiple times a day. In the end the Arc'teryx Alpha SV along with the Rab Guide Gloves were both strong favorites. The Mountain Hardwear Jalapeno wasn't too far behind and was the last option that we would consider dexterous enough to recommend for ice climbing. Scoring a little behind the Jalapeno was our the Outdoor Research Magnate, which performed well in all of our tasks and could be used to write fairly legibly but wasn't quite dexterous enough for technical climbing.

With gloves it is often a case of dexterity versus warmth, because as you add more insulation (i.e. bulk) you loose sensitivity and in turn dexterity. This is where the Arc'teryx Alpha SV really stood out. Arc'teryx implemented several new technologies both in the design and also in the style and techniques used during construction. They managed to reduce bulk and eliminate unnecessary material in order to maximize dexterity but maintain a high level of warmth.
Click to enlarge
Ian Nicholson tested glove dexterity in freezing cold tempetures while recording snow pit data while working as part of the snow safety team for Talkgate Alaska at Thompson Pass, AK.
Credit: Ryan O'Connell

Waterproofness
For our waterproof tests, besides extensively use over a wet winter in the Pacific Northwest, we also did series of side-by-side tests. For one minute we held all of the gloves in a bucket of water, all the way in, fingers down, with one inch before the cuff sticking out to compare water resistance. In the end we had several that performed well, but the Arc'teryx Alpha SV still proved to be a little above the rest. Arc'teryx, using a Gore-Tex pro-shell, chose a design that is sewn more like a hard shell jacket rather than the typical over-sized Gore-Tex insert crammed into an outer layer of leather and nylon. There are also fewer seams on the Alpha SV and thus fewer places to leak and less thread that can absorb water. Even the leather reinforcement, which is laminated on instead of sewn, reduces seams and leak points. In the end the Alpha SV proved to be the most water resistant of any glove we tested, even after over 40 days of hard use.

The Outdoor Research Magnate and the Black Diamond Rebel are a close second in water resistance tests. Both proved incredibly weather resistant and performed fantastically in both our bucket of water test and in real world applications. Just behind those two contenders were the Outdoor Research Northback Sensor and Outdoor Research Southback along with the Black Diamond Legend and Black Diamond Squad, which also did remarkably well. We would easily recommend any of these products for resort skiing or snowboarding, even during the wettest of winter storms.
Click to enlarge
Ryan O'Connell Ripping the School near Thompson Pass, AK.
Credit: Eric Dalzell

Warmth
Testing overall warmth is not as easy as it might seem. There are many outside factors contributing to the comparison, like your body's core temperature, how much you've eaten and how long ago. Possibly most challenging: a tester might have already been standing around in the cold. We did our very best to give you the most accurate data on the warmth by a group of us standing around a ski area parking lot, trading pairs for five minutes at a time. We also spent over 100 days skiing and snowboarding, always skiing with a backpack full of contenders, changing them all day long.

In the end, the straight-up warmest glove we tested was the Black Diamond Guide, which helped make it our OutdoorGearLab Top Pick for colder climates. Tester Ian Nicholson used them to summit Denali, never changing into his mittens on a day with a high of -38F and summiting in -42F. He also summited Aconcagua in them in -25F. The next warmest contender was the Hestra Heli and while it wasn't as warm, it was a little bit more dexterous and the leather much softer, allowing more freedom of movement for our hands. These are the two best options for New England or Upper Mountain West skiers and snowboarders or simply for folks whose hands get cold easily but don't want to wear mittens. We think most average people could use these them for resort skiing down to around 0F but not much below. For those on a budget the DaKine Scout for an amazing $50 is a darn good option for above average warmth, though it is still nowhere near as warm as the Guide or the Heli.

Click to enlarge
Ian Nicholson freezing and side-by-side testing in Mt Rainier National park.
Credit: Dallas Glass

Durability
We measured this not only during our own use, punishing these products over hundreds of days during the past two seasons, but also from valuable input from dozens of other users and OutdoorGearLab friends. We think the toughest contestants are the Mountain Hardwear Jalapeno, Black Diamond Legend, Black Diamond Rebel and the Outdoor Research Magnate, all with their beefy leather outers. Being very near as durable are the Black Diamond Guide and the Arc'teryx Alpha SV; both of were in solid shape even after 40+ days of use. The Rab Guide and the Black Diamond Squad are also tough, but not quite as tough as the contenders listed above.

Features and Ease of Use
The features and ease of use category includes interesting and different features that would help you to use your gloves. We compared features like how they kept snow out and how easy they were to tighten and loosen. We also gave higher marks for wrist leashes (a.k.a. idiot/keeper leashes). While these might seem a little dorky and old school for some, once others use them they won't give them up. Leashes add peace of mind while taking them off on the chair lift. You would be amazed at how many gloves are found every spring under chair lifts. We also compared features like nose wipes and how easy they were to take on and off.
Click to enlarge
The touch screen sensitive thumb and index finger on the Outdoor Research Northback Sensor Glove.
Credit: Ian Nicholson
The model that that really stood out for features was the OR Northback Sensor, which sports a touch screen sensitive thumb and index finger that worked even better than a normal finger. This means you don't have to take them off to answer your smart phone, take a photo, update your Facebook status or check the latest reviews on OutdoorGearLab.com. We used the Northback Sensor in pretty cold temps as well as dumping snow and regardless of conditions it worked unbelievable well.

Other Accessories
All skiers can agree that keeping your eye protected can be just as important as keeping your hands protected. We recommend products like the Oakley Airbrake and the Spy Targa 3 which offered great protection while still being extremely comfortable. Check out The Best Ski Goggles Review for a more in-depth look of all the google we tested.

And the Overall Winners Are…
Editors' Choice Award: Arc'teryx Alpha SV
The Arc&#039;teryx Alpha SV Gloves
The Arc'teryx Alpha SV Gloves
Credit: Arc'teryx
The Arc'teryx Alpha SV Glove was our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice because it scored near or at the top in every category and was far better than most of the products we tested in dexterity and waterproofness. When it comes to the dexterity of the Alpha SV, no other glove is even close when you consider its level of warmth and that it features a removable liner. The articulation and the feel that these gloves provide is amazing; you can easily ice climb in them. Arc'teryx achieved this incredible level of dexterity by constructing them more like a traditional hard shell jacket rather than your typical design with a Gore-Tex insert. Arc'teryx also implemented a three-lobe pattern to better mimic the shape of your fingers instead of the traditional box pattern design. On the shell, the Alpha SV uses a Gore-Tex Proshell material and revolutionary thin seam tape while the liner is a removable Gore fleece material that features a similar pattern and extremely low bulk stitching. It's really this construction that gives it the level of water resistance, sensitivity and dexterity that it has. The fingers and palm are covered entirely in a durable goatskin leather that has very little break-in time. Even after a full winter of skiing and a summer of mountaineering they are still going strong. While the Alpha SV is likely the most awesome design we tested, it is also by far and away the most expensive. At $300 these gloves are over $125 more expensive than the next closest competitor. Lastly, don't buy them because you think you are getting a really, really warm glove. While the Alpha SV's are above average in warmth, there are other less expensive products that are a fair amount warmer, such as the BD Guide. With the Alpha SV you are paying for an extremely dexterous and sensitive product that is pretty warm with fantastic water resistance and durability.

Best Buy Award: Outdoor Research Southback
Outdoor Research Southback Glove
Outdoor Research Southback Glove
Credit: Outdoor Research
The Outdoor Research Southback is our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy award winner because it is one of the best options for under $100. The Southback is durable, dexterous, very waterproof and a great all-around ski and snowboard glove. The Black Diamond Squad was a close second. For skiers and snowboarders with wider hands, that could be the difference between the two because the Squad runs noticeably wider. We picked the Southback because it is a little warmer (though not by much) and a little more dexterous. It had a few nicer features like a pull strap (again not a huge deal) and was $5 less (though the $5 wasn't much either), so you could see how it was a close call.

Top Pick Award for more moderate climates: Outdoor Research Magnate
Click to enlarge
Outdoor Research Magnate Gloves
Credit: Outdoor Research
The Outdoor Research Magnate was our OutdoorGearLab Top Pick for more moderate temperatures because it scored high in every category. Though it was a tough call between the Magnate and the Black Diamond Rebel, in the end the Magnate edged out the Rebel because it was a little warmer and had a few nicer features. Over all the Magnate was one of the more dexterous designs we tested with excellent freedom of movement and "feel" due to its green flex zones. There is also far less break-in time with the Magnate; it feels far less stiff right of the shelf. The Magnate was one of the top performers in waterproofness with a Gore-Tex liner and very water-resistant leather. The Magnate was surprisingly warm, especially considering its a single layer design construction using a cozy fleece lining and Primaloft for insulation. The Black Diamond Legend was also in the running but didn't perform quite as well as either the Rebel or the Magnate.

Top pick for colder climates: Black Diamond Guide
Black Diamond Guide Glove
Black Diamond Guide Glove
Credit: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Guide was the straight-up warmest product we tested, making it a perfect option for cold weather skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering. Tester Ian Nicholson wore them to the summit of Denali on a day with a daytime high of -38F and he summited in -42F. The Guide features removable liners, making drying them a breeze. The molded EVA foam padding on the knuckles and fingers adds protection and warmth. They are also super tough; easily among the the most durable gloves in our review. The Hestra Heli was a not-too-distant second in the battle for the best model for colder climates. Although the Heli wasn't nearly as warm, it was a touch more dexterous than the BD Guide. The Guide was a little tougher and a lot more waterproof than the Heli.

Also check out our Ski and Snowboard Gear Dream List.

Ian Nicholson
Buying Advice
How we Test
Helpful Buying Tips
How to Choose Ski Gloves - Click for details
 How to Choose Ski Gloves

by Ian Nicholson
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter