The Best Ski Gloves and Mittens for Women
Looking for the perfect ski mitten or glove to keep your paws warm this winter? We compared nine of the top women's mittens and gloves in demanding environments to evaluate for Warmth, Water Resistance, Dexterity, Breathability, Features, and Construction. Via extensive testing in Colorado's steep mountain environments, we tested each product, riding lifts at the resorts and skinning uphill in the backcountry. We learned which products proved to be the best and which we'd leave on the shelf. Read on to see which contenders will keep your hands warm and happy this winter!
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Providing unmatched versatility and comfort for both the resort and backcountry adventures, the Arc'teryx Fission Glove - Women's wins our Editors' Choice Award in the ski glove category. This unisex glove (that's right, men can wear it too) features a wonderful balance of warm and water resistance that will have you charging on the slopes all day long. Constructed with a GORE-TEX XCR waterproof insert, this glove proved to be one of the most waterproof and breathable. Its dexterity is enhanced with only 100g of PrimaLoft Gold insulation at the fingertips and palms, providing you with a little less bulk where you need it the most. Warmth is enhanced with loftier (130g of PrimaLoft Silver) insulation on the back of the glove (where it is typically the coldest). The long gauntlet fits easily over jackets and the quick one-pull tightening and loosening system makes it easy to take the glove on and off. It comes with a simple, lightweight removable wrist leash. The only major caveat we have is the price; at $179, this is the most expensive contender tested. It did feature the best craftsmanship and does come with a lifetime warranty. In summation, the unique balance of warmth, breathability, and water resistance makes this glove a favorite among our testers and the winner of our women's winter glove Editors' Choice Award.
A true treat for any deep powder charger, the Hestra Heli Mitt - Women's won its place as our Editors' Choice in the winter mitten category for its unique fit, warmth, double layer design, and cute exterior. Unlike the other products in this review, Hestra utilizes a unique sizing system that ensures the right fit. When taking it out on days where temps dipped below -20F, our hands were roasty toasty. The double layer design doesn't only give you the option to use just the shell or liner, but it allows enough space for you to add another if needed. In addition, you can switch the liner, or add a thin glove if you need. The long gauntlet design keeps snow out on really deep powder days. For a reasonable price of just $125, we think this is quite a deal. If you're not a fan of mitts, Hestra also has these available in glove form; check out the Heli 3-Finger Glove - Women's and the Heli - Women's glove.
Super Soft and Articulate Liner
Interchangeable Liner System
Stand Out Fit
Not Best for Wet Climates
We were surprised to learn that the Gordini Gore-Tex Down II - Women's was one of the more inexpensive gloves tested at just $85. With its stellar warmth, great water resistance, and fantastic performance, we are so happy to give this product our Best Buy Award. On the outside, this glove features a genuine goatskin palm and a Gore-Tex, guaranteed-to-keep-you-dry, insert. The fit is true to size and the dexterity is heavenly, while the interior is soft and plush. Inside the glove, we see 600-fill down that keep our fingers the warmest of any glove tested. With all these performance features, this glove was actually in the running for our Editors' Choice Award. This Gore-Tex Down glove is perfect for skiing all day at the resort or walking the dog around town. Enjoy this high-value glove anywhere your winter adventures take you.
Less Breathable Construction
Featuring a double-glove construction with a Gore-Tex outer, the Outdoor Research Arete - Women's once again makes the award-winners list. This year, we chose this as our Top Pick for Backcountry Adventures due to its lightweight and ultra-water resistant construction. The glove features a Gore-Tex shell and a simple liner glove and the shell provides great protection from wet, nasty conditions, while the less lofty construct makes it the most dexterous glove tested this year. That said it is not a warm glove. Breathable by design, it's better suited for hiking uphill, ice climbing, or skiing on moderately warm days. Don't buy this glove if you live in sub-zero temperatures because it will not keep your hands warm. But if you're looking for lightweight and water resistant option that performs well on the hike uphill, this is what you've been looking for.
Handwarmer Pocket in Liner
Double Glove Construction
Could be Warmer
No Wrist Adjustment
Not Recommended for the Resort
At OutdoorGearLab we care about all ski gurus, even those with only pennies in their pocket. Many of the gloves we tested are upwards of $90, which isn't the best option for those on a seriously tight budget. That said, the Kinco Pigskin Leather - Women's are a huge favorite among ski guides, ski patrols, and ski bums alike. When taken care of on a regular basis, this glove will last for years. Even though it doesn't perform at the same level as other gloves in this review, it still gets the job done. So, if you're looking to spend between $14 - $28 on a pair of gloves instead of $90, check out the all-leather pigskin Kinco brand gloves. Best for the penny pincher interested in great quality.
No Frills Design
Unisex and Limited Fit
Few to No Features
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Analysis and Test Results
After two months of testing in an array of harsh conditions, we learned a few things and awarded some prizes. This year we awarded two Editors' Choice Awards one pick for gloves and another for mitts. The Arc'teryx Fission Glove - Women's (our choice for women's gloves) stands out for its quality performance and a wonderful balance of water resistance, warmth, and breathability. The Hestra Heli Mitt - Women's (our choice for women's mitts) showed off its enduring warmth and comfort.
Our Top Pick for Backcountry skiing goes to the Outdoor Research Arete - Women's for its thinner, water resistant construct, while the super plush Gordini Gore-Tex Down II proved to be the best choice for our Best Buy Award. In addition to our award winners, we give a shout-out to the Kinco Pigskin Leather Gloves as a great choice for the penny pinchers. Even though it wasn't a top performer, this glove has a long legacy of keeping backcountry bums warm and dry for just a sliver of the price.
Types of Ski Gloves and Ski Mittens
During our testing period, we looked at nine different mitten and glove options. Each fits into one of three basic categories that we discuss below. Before making a choice about the gloves or mitts that you need, take a gander at these categories and consider which type of glove or mitt is best for you.
Ski Gloves vs. Mitts
Many women suffer from what we deem "Cold Hand Syndrome" during the winter season, turning typically fun winter activities into a suffer fest. As a result, women tend to waffle between ski mittens and gloves, trying to seek out the best option to prevent their fingers from going numb. Our testers are these women who have tried both options, noting the tradeoffs involved in both gloves and mitts. So which do you prefer?
Ski mittens are a perfect choice if you're simply just looking to keep your hands warm. Because air can circulate in the glove, and you can keep your fingers together, the mitten is effectively warmer than the glove. That said, mittens do not allow great dexterity, which is a deal-breaker for many women. Mittens in this review include the; Hestra Heli-Mitt (Our Editors' Choice for Mittens), Dakine Tundra Mitt - Women's, and the Swany Legend II Mitt - Women's. We also tested a 'lobster claw' the Hestra Heli 3 Finger - Women's glove that is a cross between a mitt and a glove.
Ski Gloves are a perfect choice for those looking for better dexterity, but don't need the warmest product on the market. Ski gloves can either be highly insulative or not. Those that have less insulation are typically more dexterous, while gloves stuffed with insulation have less dexterity. To learn more, keep reading to get a great comparison between products. The gloves included in our review include the Arc'teryx Fission Glove (Editors' Choice for Gloves), Outdoor Research Arete (Top Pick for Backcountry Adventures), Burton Gore-Tex Glove - Women's, Kinco Pigskin Leather Gloves, and the Gordini Gore-Tex Down II (Our Best Buy Award winner).
Criteria for Evaluation
In the winter months of our testing period, our testers spent weekends and evenings resort and backcountry skiing in the high mountains of Colorado. A ski mitten or glove is an integral piece of gear, even though it may seem like an afterthought to the correct women's hardshell or women's ski pant for your outing. Ultimately, warmth and weather protection is the key to both enjoy your winter activity and actually participate in it. With cold or frozen fingers, basic functions such as zipping up your jacket or buckling your helmet becomes nearly impossible.
However, a product with better dexterity and good insulation will ultimately allow you to keep your gloves on and avoid getting your digits cold when the temps dip below zero. Here, we discuss the characteristics that make an excellent, high-performance glove or mitt, and how all the products we tested compare to one another. In this review, we tested five key metrics; Warmth, Water Resistance, Dexterity, Features, and Durability to evaluate the performance of each contender.
Warmth & Breathability
Warmth and breathability go hand in hand to protect hands from the cold temperatures that winter brings. The idea of warmth is not limited to the product's ability to keep you comfortable in incredibly cold situations, but also the ability for you to regulate heat and prevent your hands from becoming sweaty when you are working hard. When considering warmth and breathability, we performed a couple of tests.
First, we performed in-field tests where we tested the comparative warmth of each glove and mitt in temperatures that dropped to -20F. We also hiked uphill in each pair of mitts and gloves to look at breathability. Second, we performed an in-house warmth tests in our freezer, next to frozen elk, salmon, and other freezer foods. Using a digital temperature probe, we measured the temperature inside the glove before and after being put into the freezer.
We also stuffed a sock into the wrist of the glove/mitt to ensure that cold didn't seep out the opening. We left the glove in the freezer for five minutes then took it out and measured the temperature change. This provided us with data on which gloves ensured a greater level of warmth via their insulation. It wasn't surprising that the bulkiest contenders did the best in these tests. However, when combining data from both the field and in our lab, we learned that thermoregulation is actually more important to keeping hands warm long-term, than just bulk insulation.
On a cold winter when the temperatures drop below zero and you're left sitting on an ice cold (and slow ) ski lift, the warmest mitts out there are probably what you're searching for. Through our tests we learned that mitts are far warmer than gloves simply because you keep your fingers together, generating and capturing additional warmth. That said, finding a mitt that can breathe is the key!
Of the products tested, we discovered that the Dakine Tundra Mitt is the warmest mitt by far. On the really cold days on the ski slopes, we were happy to be wearing them. Outfitted with a combination of PrimaLoft and down throughout the body of the glove, this contender was incredibly lightweight and warm.
They aren't the most breathable, and many of our testers learned that their hands began to sweat if they starting pulling out jumping turns on double black diamonds. If you're interested in a mitt that is warm and breathable, our Editors' Choice, the Hestra Heli-Mitt - Women's is the way to go. Even though this mitt isn't as stacked with insulation, it is far more breathable and provides ample warmth throughout the day.
If you're in the market for a mitten that still keeps hands reasonably warm and has a zipper pocket to slide in a hand warmer, the Swany Legend II Mitt is a great choice. When comparing the insulation to the Hestra Heli-Mitt and Dakine Tundra Mitt, it doesn't stand up. The insulation is not nearly as thick, and the polyester liner simply just doesn't keep hands as warm.
The Legend II Mitt provides a reasonable amount of versatility with its breathability. Many of our testers appreciated the zipper pocket feature on the shell which allowed for quick venting of additional heat and moisture. It provided the user with the opportunity to slide in a hand warmer into the ski glove if it gets too cold outside. Unlike the other mitten contenders, you can't use this glove with other liners as it features a thin built-in liner that isn't removable.
If you have a preference for gloves and you're looking for the best in warmth, the Gordini Gore-Tex Down II - Women's is our best in the fleet. This single-liner glove is loaded with 600-pile goose-down, and tested well all the way down to the zero degree weather. Like many of the gloves in this review, it features a higher density of fill on the back of the hand (where it's needed most), and less on the palm (for better dexterity). In addition to warmth in its materials, this glove also thermoregulates well. The polyester fleece liner wicked away moisture which helps the down retain its warmth. This is the glove to buy if you're in the market a glove that is warm and affordable. A perfect fit for ski bunnies that want to keep their paws warm on cold days.
Even though the Gordini is nice and warm, it does not have a double-glove construct where you can pull the liners in and out. Most of the other gloves tested in this review (except the Kinco Pigskin Leather and Arc'teryx Fission Glove) feature this construction. This provides great versatility, especially if you want to switch the liner out for something warmer. For example, the Burton Gore-Tex - Women's glove has a thin liner that helps to wick away moisture. On colder days, you can switch this thin glove liner out for a thicker one to help insulate hands better.
The Outdoor Research Arete also features this construct, but it doesn't have nearly as much insulation as the Burton Glove. In fact, the OR Arete was the least warmest glove tested in this review. We would not recommend the OR Arete Glove for the resort simply because it isn't warm. It has a better niche for backcountry skiing simply because its insulation is a simple fleece liner with a thin inner glove. It does an excellent job thermoregulating while hiking uphill and provides just enough warmth on the downhill. The Burton Gore Tex is a much better fit for the resort, featuring ThermoCore Insulation (which is much warmer). It kept our hands warm on the ski lifts and on the downhill black diamonds.
The Lobster Claw
If you prefer a glove that is warm like a mitten but gives you the dexterity of a glove, the Hestra Heli Three Finger - Women's is where it's at. Even though this contender is not as warm as the Hestra Heli-Mitt, it is warmer than most of the glove contenders and features a double glove construct that is highly versatile. On the inside, this glove has a liner with five finger that fits into a three-finger shell. We really love this glove option for both the resort and the backcountry. In the backcountry, we removed the liners and hiked with just the shells. On the resort, we wore them all day long through cold and warm temperatures. The FiberFill insulation does a great job keeping hands warm and wicking away moisture.
Our warmest mitt is the Dakine Tundra Mitt while our warmest glove is the Gordini Gore-Tex Down II (also our Best Buy Award winner). Both are best suited for resort skiing in cold temps. If you want a glove that is between a glove and mitt, check out the super high quality Hestra Heli Three Finger option that provides both warmth and dexterity, best for either the resort or the backcountry.
Water resistance goes hand-in-hand with warmth. A product that gets wet after just a few hours of fun in the snow will eventually lead to cold hands. It's important to find a product that wicks water and stays dry all day. When testing water resistance, we performed a few different tests, in the field and at home. Each competitor was tested in temperatures ranging from -20F to 40F and were thrown in the freezer and even dunked underwater to determine performance differences.
During our in field tests, we dug snow pits, built snowmen, and skied during warm and wet weather in the resort and backcountry. At home, we exposed each product to a dunk test. Here, we took every model, recorded its dry weight, dunked it in a sink full of water, squished the glove 100 times to see how much water it would absorb, then reweighed it. These tests are truly telling of whether a not a glove/mitt will actually keep water out all day or for just a few hours (if that). We learned that products featuring a Gore-Tex liner (and outer) did the best in this tests, whereas all other gloves with either a zipper or cloth outer did the worst. Leathers performed fairly well (not as well as Gore-Tex) and nylon textiles performed sub-par.
If you buy a pair of gloves of mittens featuring a leather outer, make sure to treat the leather before use and continually throughout the life of the glove.
Products Recommended for Wet Climates
A product that is best for wet weather is one that wicks water well and doesn't absorb water over the course of a day. Overall, we found the best options for these climates feature a Gore-Tex insert or Gore-Tex construct. Our favorites were the Arc'teryx Fission Glove, the Outdoor Research Arete and the Dakine Tundra Mitt.
Inserts are a great way to keep hands dry while maintaining a great balance of breathability. Inserts have a porous semi-permeable membrane that allows water vapor out (because the molecules are smaller in size), but doesn't allow water droplets in (because the molecules are larger in size). Products with a Gore-Tex insert include the Arc'teryx Fission Glove (Our Editors' Choice for Gloves) and the Outdoor Research Arete(Our Top Pick for Backcountry Adventures).
Both products were able to wick water well throughout the day and didn't absorb a lot of water in our at-home tests. In addition, these products didn't leak. The OR Arete features a stiffer outer Gore-Tex shell while the Arc'teryx Fission Glove is a little more flexible with a Gore-Tex XCR textile that is a little more comfortable and dexterous. Where they differ is the palm material. The Arete features a less durable Alpen Grip Synthetic material whereas the Fission features a bomber leather palm material (that should be treated). If you're looking for a water-resistant mitten option, the Dakine Tundra Mitt is our top choice. We were surprised to learn that it held the least amount of water and kept us toasty warm during long, cold, wet days at the resort. The water-resistant properties result from its Gore-Tex outer and a leather palm. All are a great choice if you plan on skiing in wet climates or wet weather.
Recommendations for Dry Climates
We would also recommend leather gloves for dry cold climates instead of wet climates. Even with full leather treatments, gloves like the Swany Legend II Mitt leaked at the zipper seam after just five squeezes. On wet blustery days in the mountains, we found the leather began to absorb water after three to four hours on the slopes. The same pattern was true for the Kinco Pigskin Leather Gloves. In our squeeze tests, water instantly absorbed through the breathable nylon fabric at the back of the glove, completely soaking the glove after the test was over. With all of these tests in mind, we left these gloves at home until we encountered nice, dry weather. If you're looking for a ski glove/mitt that offers full water resistance in both wet and dry climates, check out the ski glove Editors' Choice winner, the Arc'teryx Fission Glove or the Dakine Tundra Mitt for the best performance in this metric.
Dexterity - skill in using the hands and body. Whether you're in the backcountry or tackling the slopes at the result, dexterity is a huge bonus. In some cases (depending on what you're doing), it's of the utmost importance. Ideally, a glove or mitt that allows good dexterity will effectively keep you warmer if you don't have to expose your hands to the cold weather. In this sense, a glove or mitt will continue to serve its purpose even in the face of performing simple tasks like zipping up your coat, ripping off your skins, and buckling your boots.
When deciding between gloves or mittens, make sure to determine if dexterity is important to you or not. If it is, go with a thinner glove option. If it isn't, check out the many different mitten options!
In order to fully test the dexterity of the products in our review, we ran each through a gamut of simple tasks like clipping buckles, pulling skins apart, and tying some bows with our shoe laces. Through these tests, we learned about a few key characteristics that resulted in better dexterity. First, is the obvious - is it a mitten or a glove? Gloves provide better dexterity because you can actually use your fingers. In mitts, dexterity is hindered by the fact your fingers can't move independently. Second, is the thickness of the glove. A thicker construction will result in less dexterity and vice versa. Lastly is fit. A glove that is a little too large or small will impede the ability to move your fingers effectively. For women, a slimmer fit (women's specific fit) typically provides a little more dexterity than a glove/mitt with a floppier, wider fit.
Of all the gloves and mittens tested, the Arc'teryx Fission Glove is the most dexterous ski glove. Even though it's is warm, the amount of insulation in the fingers and on the palm side of the glove is not very bulky. As a result, we can feel objects more intimately and perform finer tasks. It should be noted that this glove is a unisex glove. Make sure you check the size chart on their website to see which size will fit you best for great dexterity. In comparison, we thought the Outdoor Research Arete glove also offered great dexterity by having next to no insulation in the fingers. The outer Gore-Tex shell is a lot thicker than the Fission glove, making it a touch less dexterous.
If you're looking for blend of both a mitten and a glove, the Swany Legend II Mitt and the Hestra Heli Three-Finger should not be missed. Both models offer more dexterity than a mitten and more warmth than a glove. The Swany features a leather outer that zips up on the side. So, if you want to achieve more dexterity, but don't want to take your glove off, simply unzip the side to expose the gloved fingers. We thought this feature was unique, making it a great mitten-glove hybrid for backcountry ski missions and the warm days at the resort. The Hestra Heli Three Finger is similar in that it's a hybrid between a mitt and a glove. Inside of the lobster claw shell is a five-finger insert that provides way more dexterity than the Hestra Heli Mitt or the Dakine Tundra Mitt. However, it wasn't as dexterous as the unzipped Swany Legend II Mitt.
Many of these products have bells and whistles that make the product more versatile and comfortable. Take a look at all the potential features below that you might be interested in finding in your brand new pair of gloves or mittens.
Removable liners make gloves more versatile for different weather conditions. Typically skiers find this feature helpful in the backcountry, or if you plan on being more aerobic with your ski workout. Removable liners can be changed out for a thicker or thinner option to accommodate your warmth levels. The products featuring a removable liner in this review include the Hestra Heli Mitt, Hestra Three Finger, Burton Gore-Tex, Outdoor Research Arete.
Nose and Goggle Wipe
This is a softer material on the thumb of the glove that some skier might find helpful to wipe nose or goggles. Products with a nose wipe include the Burton Gore-Tex, Outdoor Research Arete, Gordini Gore-Tex Down II.
Leashes attach to your wrist, which prevent that dreaded moment of dropping your glove off the lift. Most are removable. All the gloves in this review featured this option except the Kinco Pigskin Leather Gloves, Swany Legend II Mitt, Gordini Gore-Tex Down II.
A small pouch or zippered pocket to place a hand-warmer for those extra cold days. Products include the Swany Legend II Mitt and Burton Gore-Tex Down II.
Cinch and Release Cuff
A cinch and release cuff with a large enough mechanism that can be used when gloves are on. Products include all except the Kinco Pigskin Gloves and **Dakine Tundra Mitt*.
These are located on the finger so climbers could attach and hang gloves on the harness without snow or ice getting inside. Products include Arc'teryx Fission Glove and Outdoor Research Arete.
Touch Screen Compatibility
When hanging out on the chairlift, it sure is nice to be able to text and call friends without taking off your gloves. Products include Swany Legend II Mitt and Burton Gore-Tex (just the liners for both).
Of all the products tested, the Burton Gore-Tex glove proved to have the most features! Stacked with touchscreen compatibility, hand warmer pockets, a double-glove construction and more, it's meant to keep you warm and happy on the slopes! The Outdoor Research Arete comes second, lacking touch-screen compatibility and the hand warmer pockets. On the other end of the spectrum is the Kinco Pigskin Leather Gloves that have little to no features at all. If you want to see a full list of features, be sure to check out the comparison chart above for more details.
Durability and Construction
It's a bummer to go out and spend money on an expensive new pair of gloves that disintegrates after one season. Each model we tested endured 60-plus hours of intense use in warm and dry climates to ensure that our scoring was not only fair but reflected what a glove would look like after a full season of use.
We also washed each liner to see which ones bounced back and which ones didn't reflecting which ones would lose warmth after just a few big days out.
One thing that's it is important to note with leather and durability is that it NEEDS to be treated one to two times a season. If you buy a pair of leather gloves, treat them with a leather sealant as directed before using them, and one to three times per season depending on use. This will ensure the leather won't dry out, crack, and will maintain its waterproofing.
After much testing, we found that the models with goatskin leather outers were far more durable than those with Nubuck or hair sheep leather. The reinforced synthetics used in the Outdoor Research Arete were by far the least durable; we noted scratches and wear after just one or two times of use. The most durable outer that we recognized was the Arc'teryx Fission Glove, followed by the Hestra gloves and mitts showing little to no wear and tear.
We took note of the stitching patterns and construction of the gloves. The Arc'teryx Fission once again proved its close-stitch patterns prevented leaks during our tests. The Hestras are also well constructed, but some minor leakage occurred at some of the seams. The Burton Gore Tex Gloves are better constructed than we originally thought, but the stitching pattern isn't as tight as the Hestra or Arc'teryx gloves.
Liners are also important when considering durability. You want to look for a product like the Hestra Heli Mitt that has a liner that will retain its warmth through multiple uses (it doesn't pack out) and after washing. When the liner becomes packed out, the loft is reduced, as well as the glove's ability to keep your fingers as warm. We were disappointed with a few products we tested. In particular, after just two days of use, the Outdoor Research Arete insulation packed out.
Of all the products tested, the Hestra Heli Mitt and Hestra Heli Three Finger and Arc'teryx Fission Glove stood above the rest, withstanding multiple resort and backcountry days, shoveling driveways, and constant wrenching on skis, snowboards, and split boards. In all, buy a glove or ski mitten with a goatskin leather palm and a liner that will not pack out for the ultimate in durability.
When you're set on spending a day in the snow, it's important to find a pair of ski gloves or mittens that work for you. A good product will provide you with great protection from the elements so all you have to worry about is having fun on the slopes. With a plethora of choices and options on the shelves and online, the search for the perfect glove can seem daunting. Here at OutdoorGearLab, we want you to find the best ski gloves or mittens for you, and we hope our ratings help you along the way. If you've read this our Best in Class article, and you're still unsure about which contender to purchase, check out our Buying Advice article for more information on what to consider when purchasing a pair of gloves or mittens. Happy ski glove hunting!
— Amber King
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