The Best Ski Gloves and Mittens of 2017
With so many choices, it can be difficult to find the right pair. We researched over 100 top models and selected the 17 best to test side-by-side for 120+ hours. For three months, our expert testers put them to test by skiing at resorts, touring in the backcountry, and skiing via snowmobile. Testing in a wide range of conditions, we put each competitor through the wringer to determine which offered the highest dexterity and warmth, the most features, and more. Dozens of testers provided valuable analysis for this review and helped identify a range of award winners for specific purposes. Passing our findings on to you, we'll help you figure out which pair will best suit your needs.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Best Overall Ski Gloves
Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride
The Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride glove is OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice winner. It offers amazing dexterity, has a fantastic overall feel, and is a tough glove. The inside is lined with a soft brushed fleece that warms your hands as soon as you put the glove on. Besides being one of the most dexterous gloves tested, the Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride is one of the warmer gloves, especially among cuff length models. The only category that it wasn't the best-of-the-best in was water resistance. If you truly spend most of your time going on adventures in colder temperatures with a high possibility of storms (such as storm skiing and snowboarding - Pacific Northwest skiers take note), the Vertical Cut Freeride is an excellent option. For the most extreme adventures, we'd recommend the Arc'teryx Lithic or the Outdoor Research Mute Sensor.
Leather needs to be retreated more frequently than other models
Read full review: Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride
Best Overall Ski Mittens
Black Diamond Mercury Mitt
The Black Diamond Mercury Mitt wins our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice award for best overall mitten, because it was the warmest product we tested. The Mercury was highly water resistant and offers bomber construction, with additional features, like its optional internal index finger slot and a hanging loop for quicker drying or to hang from a harness while climbing. The Mercury's complex liner is built with 340g of PrimaLoft, a fleece lining, is covered with BDry waterproof fabric, and is WARM. It's only downside is that we do feel like the Mercury Mitt packed out a little quicker after a few seasons of heavy use. The Mercury performs well in warmer closer-to-freezing temperatures, but isn't as water resistant as The North Face Montana Mitt.
Liner can pack out quickly
Read full review: Black Diamond Mercury Mitt
Top Pick for Freedom of Movement
The Arc'teryx Lithic was nearly our Editors' Choice award winner and was only barely edged out by the Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride in our overall scoring. It remains a superior glove for wet conditions and offers several advantages for specific applications. The Lithic uses only the nicest fabrics and materials and is sewn and assembled in a unique pattern not seen in any other ski/snowboard glove. This is really what makes this glove special. Instead of a loose and baggy waterproof insert, which is then sandwiched between a liner and an exterior layer, the Lithic is constructed like a typical 3-layer Gore-tex jacket; it has an extremely ergonomic patterning that mirrors a human hand, offering an amazing freedom of movement. In the end, the winner of our Editors' Choice award was nearly a toss-up and the Lithic was only barely edged out because it isn't quite as tough, nor did it offer as nice of an interior feel when compared to the Vertical Cut Freeride. The Lithic remains extremely warm and water resistant and is an excellent option for climbers and backcountry skiers, as it is light weight and packable. If mittens are more your style, check out the Lithic Mitten for the same great features.
Most water-resistant in review
Innovative design that is ultra dexterous; excellent freedom of movement
Can be too warm, depending on the activity
Read full review: Arc'teryx Lithic
Best for the Budget-Minded
Outdoor Research Revolution
The new winner of our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy Award is the Outdoor Research Revolution. At $70, the Revolution is a rad price for a solid and dexterous glove. It features a respectable amount of insulation for above-average weather resistance. It scored extremely well in dexterity, and also adds a few features for convenience, comfort, and ease-of-use that our testers appreciate, especially from a price pointed glove. If you frequent chilly climates, or your hands are cold on a regular basis, we still really like the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II ($65) which was slightly warmer, or the Burton Gore-Tex ($70) which was more feature rich, complete with touch screen sensitive fingers and included liners.
One of best options for the price
Extremely water resistant
Read full review: Outdoor Research Revolution
Best Bang for the Buck Mitten
The North Face Montana Mitt
The North Face Montana Mitt is our Best Buy winner, because it has the best blend of warmth, weather resistance, and dexterity - all for an amazing $70 price tag. We feel as though there are few mittens that are close in price that can match the Montana Mitt in these categories. In fact, the Montana Mitt was one of our top overall scorers for water resistance during our side-by-side "bucket of water" testing and we thought it was by far the most dexterous classic mitten design. Looking for a little wiggle room? Check out the Montana Glove for the same awesome fit in a glove version.
Extremely water resistant
Killer price, especially for what you get
Not as warm as other contenders
Read full review: The North Face Montana Mitt
Top Pick for Moderate Climates
Outdoor Research Mute Sensor
Scoring highly in each category, the Outdoor Research Mute Sensor was our OutdoorGearLab Top Pick for moderate temperatures. The Mute was one of the more dexterous designs we tested, with excellent freedom of movement once they were broken in (they were quite stiff at first). This contender was one of the top performers in weather resistance, with a Gore-Tex liner and a water-resistant leather that rarely needed to be retreated. The Mute is surprisingly warm, especially considering that it has a single layer construction that uses a cozy fleece lining and Primaloft for insulation.
Extremely water resistant
Touchscreen index and thumb finger capabilities are fantastic
Warm, but not overly above average
Read full review: Outdoor Research Mute Sensor
Top Pick for Colder Climates
Black Diamond Guide
The Black Diamond Guide was the warmest non-mitt 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. We think the glove is comparable in warmth to both the Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger as well as The North Face Montana Mitt. The Guide features removable liners, which makes drying them a breeze, while the molded EVA foam padding on the knuckles and fingers adds protection and warmth. They are also super tough, easily among the most durable gloves reviewed.
Above average weather resistance
Removable liners help to dry quicker
Our go-to expedition glove
Not overly dexterous
Stuff and take some time to break in
Consider sizing up if you're in between sizes
Read full review: Black Diamond Guide
Notable Runner Up for Dexterity
Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger Mitt
Read full review: Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger Mitt
Analysis and Test Results
Gloves and mittens are often the only thing that protects our hands from winter's harsh bite; we have great expectations, including those of overall performance, and we ask a lot of our gloves, whether we're heli-skiing in Alaska or touring in the Cascades. We do not want them to be too bulky or cumbersome, yet we do not want to sacrifice waterproofness or warmth. We want them to completely protect us in the various weather conditions that we face, yet we like to feel as if we aren't even wearing them.
Which contender offers the best performance while skiing or snowboarding? While touring? While skiing powder in colder weather? Over the span of three years, we compared each competitor side by side and tested them in the field. We broke the testing down into five categories to determine what product is the best choice during specific applications and evaluated the contenders to determine which pairs came out on top while testing in the Cascades, the Wasatch Range, Alaska, and the European Alps.
For information on materials, types of gloves, and additional features, check out our Buying Advice guide.
Criteria for Evaluation
Below, we describe the specific criteria by which we evaluated each contender. We rated each model in this review based on their dexterity, warmth, water resistance, durability, and features. We tested 17 models, calling on our expert testers to put them through the wringer. Narrowing down our selection from over 60 of the best models, we found contenders that are suitable for all types of adventures, from resort skiing to backcountry skiing to mountaineering.
In the dexterity category, 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, zipping a jacket, taking a photo with a point-and-shoot camera and writing our name. If we encountered a tie, gloves that allowed us to write more legibly did receive a higher score. We also compared each contender during real world use, often changing them multiple times a day. In the end, the Hestra Fall Line Glove was the most dexterous glove we tested, with the Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride and Arc'teryx Lithic trailing closely behind, also scoring perfect 10 out of 10s. Each contender was strong and allowed the wearer to be nimble.
The Outdoor Research Mute Sensor and the Black Diamond Legend weren't too far behind and are the last options that are deemed dexterous enough for easy-to-moderate ice climbing. The Outdoor Research Mute Sensor scored a 9 out of 10, while the Legend scored an 8 out of 10.
Scoring lower on the rating scale was the Outdoor Research Mute Sensor; it performed well in all of our tests and could be used to write fairly legibly. However, the Mute Sensor wasn't dexterous enough for technical climbing, primarily because it's just a little too thick in the palm and around the fingers. It also lacked the same freedom of movement as the previously mentioned models.
With gloves, it is often a case of dexterity versus warmth; as you add more insulation (i.e. bulk), you lose sensitivity and, in turn, dexterity. For example, the Hestra Fall Line is extremely dexterous but only offers average warmth. The Arc'teryx Lithic really stood out, as Arc'teryx implemented several new technologies that affected both the design and style, with the new techniques being used during construction. They managed to reduce bulk and eliminate unnecessary material in order to maximize dexterity - all while maintaining a high level of warmth. While we didn't think the Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride was quite as warm as the Lithic, it did offer above average warmth with top-notch dexterity.
We performed the same set of tasks mentioned above with all competitors - both mittens and gloves. After we concluded our side-by-side testing, we found that the most dexterous mittens were the Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger because of its obvious trigger finger advantage. For any task where having a "third" digit wasn't high priority, we found The North Face Montana Mitt to be on par. Despite not having a trigger finger or an internal index finger slot, the Montana Mitt excelled at nearly every task, as it is not only designed thoughtfully, but it fit most of our testers well and does not have too much insulation, or bulk, on the inside of the hand. The elastic band fit nicely around our wrist, increasing feel, and enabled us to do almost any basic task. The Black Diamond Mercury Mitt wasn't very dexterous at all, despite featuring an optional trigger finger. The trigger finger is optional, as the internal mitten is sewn wide enough to keep all four fingers together, should you opt to do so.
In addition to extensive use during a wet winter in the Pacific Northwest, we also performed a series of side-by-side tests. We held each of the gloves in a bucket of water for two minutes; the gloves were submerged, with the fingers pointing down, and with one inch to spare toward the top of the cuff, never fully submerged. In the end, we were left with several that performed well, but the Arc'teryx Lithic scored a bit above the competition, earning a 10 out 10, the highest score in our test.
Arc'teryx uses a Gore-Tex pro-shell in a design that is sewn more like a hard shell jacket rather than the typical oversized Gore-Tex insert (that is crammed into an outer layer of leather and nylon); this design proved to be the most water resistant. There are also fewer seams on the Lithic, thus fewer places to leak and less thread that can absorb water. Even the laminated reinforcement (laminated on instead of sewn) reduces seams and leak points. In the end, the Lithic proved to be the most water resistant of any glove we tested, even after over 40 days of hard use.
The Outdoor Research Mute Sensor, and the Black Diamond Legend finish closely behind the top competitors in the water resistance tests. Both proved to be incredibly weather resistant and performed fantastically in both the bucket of water test and in real world applications. Not far behind those two contenders are the Outdoor Research Olympus Sensor and the Black Diamond Guide, along with the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex and The North Face Montana Mitt, which all scored remarkably well.
We recommend any of these products for resort skiing or snowboarding, even during the wettest of winter storms. This is the one and only category where our Editors' Choice award winner, the Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride did not blow the other competitors out of the water, scoring an 8 out of 10. It proved to be water resistant for all but the wettest storms and its leather exterior had to be treated slightly more often than many of the previously mentioned competitors.
Testing overall warmth is not as easy as it might seem. There are many outside factors that can contribute to the comparison, including your body's core temperature, how much you've eaten, and how long ago you last snacked. Possibly the most challenging aspect is that a tester might have already been standing around in the cold. We did our best to present you the most accurate data in the warmth category and did so by having a group of skiers stand around in a ski parking lot while trading pairs for five minutes at a time. We also spent over 100 days skiing and snowboarding, always with a backpack full of contenders, changing them all day long.
In the end, the warmest glove we tested was the Black Diamond Guide, 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, while summiting in -42F. He also summited Aconcagua in them in -25F. The next warmest contender was the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex; while they weren't as warm, they were a bit more dexterous and the leather was 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 for folks whose hands get cold easily but wish to wear gloves instead of mittens. We think the average person could use them for resort skiing down to around 0F but not much colder. For those on a budget, the Dakine Titan and Burton Gore-Tex retail for an amazing $65-$70 and are both darn good options for above average warmth. While they are not quite as warm as the Black Diamond Guide or the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex they aren't far behind. In fact, the Dakine Titan and Burton Gore-Texboth earned an 8 out of 10.
It was a tough decision to determine the warmest mitt in our review. In the end, we found the Black Diamond Mercury Mitt to be a little warmer than the Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitts. The Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger Mitts were warm, but certainly a step down when compared to the two aforementioned gloves.
We measured durability 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 Hestra Vertical Cut Freeride, Hestra Fall Line, and Black Diamond Legend. All have a beefy leather exterior and stood up to whatever our testing team threw at them.
Almost as durable, the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex (10 out of 10), the Black Diamond Guide (10 out of 10), and the Outdoor Research Olympus Sensor (10 out of 10) are durable for significant abuse, as well as for the toughest users. The Black Diamond Guide was in solid shape even after 40+ days of use, though its very lofty insulation packed down quicker than other options.
The Outdoor Research Mute Sensor and Arc'teryx Lithic are tough, but not quite as tough as those listed above. The Mute Sensor scored a 9 out of 10, while the Lithic took home an 8 out of 10.
The features and ease of use category includes interesting and additional features that will help you make the most of your gloves. We compared features such as how well they kept snow out and how easy they were to tighten and loosen. We also gave higher marks for wrist leashes, or keeper leashes.
While these might seem a little dorky and old school for some, we think that once you use them, you won't want to give them up. Leashes add peace of mind while taking your gloves or mittens off on the chairlift; you'd be amazed by the number that are found every spring. We also compared features like nose wipes and the ease at which we were able to take the contenders on and off.
Three models that really stood out when it came to additional and useful features were the Outdoor Research Mute Sensor, the Outdoor Research Olympus Sensor, and Burton Gore-Tex; all three sport a touch screen sensitive thumb and index finger that worked even better than a normal finger (especially when it is cold out). This means you don't have to take your gloves off to answer your smartphone, take a photo, push play to hear your favorite playlist, update your Facebook status, or check the latest reviews on OutdoorGearLab.com.
We used the Outdoor Research Mute Sensor in frigid temps while it was dumping snow. Regardless of conditions, this contender worked unbelievably well. The Dakine Titan featured an included touch screen sensitive liner glove that we liked, but we preferred to not have to take off our exterior shell. It is also worth noting that the Burton Gore-Tex also with an included liner, albeit not a touch screen sensitive one.
All skiers can agree that keeping your eyes protected can be just as important as keeping your hands protected. We recommend products like the Oakley Airbrake and the Spy Targa 3, which offer great protection while still being extremely comfortable. Check out The Best Ski Goggles Review for a more in-depth comparison of all of the goggles that we tested.
There are many functional and solid performing gloves that fall in the $70 and under price category. Five years ago, this simply wasn't the case, and choosing our Best Bang for the Buck was very challenging. Even when selecting models for this review, there were nearly 100 models that we carefully considered. We chose the Outdoor Research Revolution for our Best Buy because we felt it offered the best balance of features, water resistance, and warmth. The Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II was in a similar price range and came in an extremely close second. We liked the warmth and the touch screen sensitivity of the Burton Gore-Tex and Dakine Titan all for a similar price.
Shopping for a pair of gloves or mittens in this category can be cumbersome. Not only do we want them to be waterproof and warm, but we want them to perform well in an array of different scenarios. It is our hope that you can use our testings in this review to find the best options available. Reference our Buying Advice Article for tips on how to purchase the best pair of ski gloves or mittens according to temperature, body type, and fit.
— Ian Nicholson
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