The Best Ski Gloves and Mittens for Women of 2017
Looking for the perfect ski mitten or glove to keep your paws warm? We compared nine of the top women's mittens and gloves in demanding environments to evaluate Warmth, Water Resistance, Dexterity, Breathability, Features, and Construction. We rode lifts and skinned uphill during extensive testing in Colorado's steep mountains. We learned which products were 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
Best Overall Women's Ski Glove
Arc'teryx Fission - Women's
Providing unmatched versatility and comfort for both resort and backcountry, the Arc'teryx Fission Glove - Women's wins our Editors' Choice Award. This unisex glove (that's right, men can wear it too) features a balance of warmth and water resistance that will have you charging on the slopes all day. Constructed with a GORE-TEX XCR waterproof insert, it proved to be one of the most waterproof and breathable gloves. 100g of PrimaLoft Gold insulation at the fingertips and palms enhances dexterity, providing you with less bulk in the areas where you need agility. Loftier (130g PrimaLoft Silver) insulation on the glove's back (where it is typically coldest) enhances warmth. The long gauntlet fits over jackets, and the one-pull adjustment system makes it easy to take the glove on and off. It comes with a simple, lightweight removable wrist leash. The only caveat we have is its price; at $179, this is the most expensive contender, but it featured the best craftsmanship and comes with a lifetime warranty. The unique balance of warmth, breathability, and water resistance make this glove a favorite and the winner of our women's winter glove Editors' Choice Award.
Best Overall Women's Ski Mitten
Hestra Heli Mitt - Women's
A true treat for any powder charger, the Hestra Heli Mitt - Women's won Editors' Choice in the mitten category for its fit, warmth, double layer design, and cute exterior. Unlike the other products reviewed, Hestra utilizes a unique sizing system that ensures the right fit. On days when temps dipped below -20F, our hands were roasty toasty. The double layer design gives you the option to use just the shell or liner and also allows space for you to add another liner if needed. In addition, you can switch the liner, and the long gauntlet design keeps snow out on deep powder days. For a reasonable $125, 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
Best Bang for the Buck
Gordini Gore-Tex Down II Women's
Surprisingly, 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 gave it our Best Buy Award. This glove has a genuine goatskin palm and a Gore-Tex, guaranteed-to-keep-you-dry, insert. It fits true to size and the dexterity is heavenly, while the interior is soft and plush. Inside, 600-fill down keeps our fingers the warmest of any glove tested. With all these features, this glove was in the running for our Editors' Choice Award. It's 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
Top Pick for Backcountry Adventures
Outdoor Research Arete - Women's
Featuring double-glove construction with a Gore-Tex outer, the Outdoor Research Arete - Women's is an award winner once again. This year, it is 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. The shell provides protection from wet, nasty conditions, while the less lofty construction makes it the most dexterous glove tested. That said, it is not a warm glove. Breathable by design, it's better suited for hiking uphill, ice climbing, or skiing on warmer 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 a lightweight, water-resistant option that performs on the hike, 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
Top Pick for Penny Pinchers
Kinco Pigskin Leather
At OutdoorGearLab we care about all ski gurus, even those with only pennies in their pockets. Many of the gloves tested are upwards of $90, which isn't the best option for those on a tight budget. That said, the Kinco Pigskin Leather - Women's are a favorite among ski guides, ski patrols, and ski bums. When taken care of regularly, this glove will last for years. Even though it doesn't perform at the same level as other gloves in this review, it 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 quality.
No frills design
Unisex and limited fit
Few to no features
Analysis and Test Results
After two months of testing in an array of conditions, we learned a few things and awarded prizes. We awarded two Editors' Choice Awards — one for gloves and another for mitts. The Arc'teryx Fission Glove - Women's (our choice for women's gloves) stands out for its performance and balance of water resistance, warmth, and breathability. The Hestra Heli Mitt - Women's (our choice for women's mitts) showed off its warmth and comfort.
Our Top Pick for Backcountry skiing goes to the Outdoor Research Arete - Women's for its thinner, water-resistant construction, while the plush Gordini Gore-Tex Down II won the 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 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 testing, we looked at nine different mitten and glove options. Each fits into one of three basic categories discussed 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 winter, turning typically fun activities into a sufferfest. 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 women who have tried both, noting the tradeoffs involved in both gloves and mitts. So which do you prefer?
Ski mittens are a perfect choice if you're looking to keep your hands warm. Mittens are effectively warmer than gloves, because air can circulate in a glove, and you can keep your fingers together in a mitt. That said, mittens do not have great dexterity, which is a deal-breaker for many. 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 good for those looking for better dexterity but not the warmest product on the market. Ski gloves can 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 for 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
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 you. Ultimately, warmth and weather protection is the key to enjoying your winter activity and wanting to do it. With cold or frozen fingers, zipping up your jacket or buckling your helmet becomes nearly impossible.
However, a product with better dexterity and good insulation will allow you to keep your gloves on, avoiding cold digits when the temps dip. We discuss the characteristics that make an excellent, high-performance glove or mitt, and how all the products compare to one another. In this review, we tested five key metrics; Warmth, Water Resistance, Dexterity, Features, and Durability to evaluate each contender.
Warmth & Breathability
Warmth and breathability go hand in hand to protect from the cold temperatures that winter brings. Warmth is not just limited to the product's ability to keep you comfortable in cold situations, but also the ability for you to regulate heat, preventing your hands from becoming sweaty when you're working hard. When considering warmth and breathability, we performed several tests.
First, we performed field tests, comparing the warmth of each glove and mitt in temperatures that dropped to -20F. We also hiked uphill in each pair to look at breathability. Second, we performed in-house warmth tests in our freezer, next to frozen elk, salmon, and ice. Using a digital temperature probe, we measured the temperature inside the glove before and after being put into the freezer.
We 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 before measuring the temperature change. This provided us with data on which gloves ensured a greater level of warmth. It wasn't surprising that the bulkiest contenders did the best here. However, when combining data from both the field and our lab, we learned that thermoregulation, rather than bulk insulation, is more important to keeping hands warm long-term.
During a cold winter when the temperatures drop and you're left sitting on a cold (and slow…) ski lift, the warmest mitts out there are probably what you're searching for. Mitts are far warmer than gloves — simply because you keep your fingers together, generating and capturing warmth. That said, finding a mitt that can breathe is the key!
Of the products tested, the Dakine Tundra Mitt is the warmest mitt by far. On 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 lightweight and warm.
They aren't the most breathable, and many of our testers' hands began to sweat if they starting jump turning 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 more breathable and provides ample warmth throughout the day.
If you're in the market for a mitten that keeps hands 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 as thick, and the polyester liner doesn't keep hands as warm.
The Legend II Mitt provides versatility with breathability. Many of our testers appreciated the zipper pocket on the shell, which allowed for quick venting. It also provided the opportunity to slide a hand warmer into the glove if it gets too cold. 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 like gloves and you're looking for warmth, the Gordini Gore-Tex Down II - Women's is the best in class. This single-liner glove is loaded with 600-pile goose-down and tested all the way down to zero degree weather. Like many of the gloves reviewed, it features a higher density fill on the back of the hand (where it's needed most), and less on the palm (for better dexterity). In addition to material warmth, this glove thermoregulates well. The polyester fleece liner wicked moisture, which helps the down retain its warmth. This is the glove to buy if you need a glove that is warm and affordable. It's a perfect fit for ski bunnies that want to keep their paws warm on cold days.
Even though the Gordini is warm, it does not have a double-glove construction where you can pull the liners out. Most of the other gloves tested (except the Kinco Pigskin Leather and Arc'teryx Fission Glove) feature this construction. This provides 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 moisture. On colder days, you can switch this thin liner out for a thicker one to insulate better.
The Outdoor Research Arete also features this construction, but it doesn't have nearly as much insulation as the Burton Glove. In fact, the OR Arete was the least warm glove tested. We would not recommend the OR Arete Glove for the resort simply because it isn't warm. It was better for backcountry skiing, because its insulation is a simple fleece liner with a thin inner glove. It does an excellent job thermoregulating on the uphill and provides just enough warmth on the downhill. The Burton Gore Tex is a better fit for the resort, featuring ThermoCore Insulation (which is much warmer). It kept hands warm on the lifts and on the downhill.
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 gloves and features a versatile double glove construction. On the inside, this glove has a liner with five finger, that fits into a three-finger shell. It's a good option for both the resort and backcountry. In the backcountry, we removed the liners and hiked with just the shells. At the resort, we wore them all day long through varying temperatures. The FiberFill insulation does a great job keeping hands warm and wicking moisture.
The warmest mitt is the Dakine Tundra Mitt, while the 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 bridges the glove-mitt gap, check out the high quality Hestra Heli Three Finger 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 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 different field and home tests. Each competitor was tested in temperatures from -20F to 40F and were thrown in the freezer and even dunked under water to determine performance differences.
During our field tests, we dug pits, built snowmen, and skied during warm and wet weather. At home, we dunk tested each product. Here, we took every model, recorded its dry weight, dunked it in a sink of water, squished the glove 100 times, seeing how much water it would absorb, then reweighed it. These tests are telling of whether or not a glove/mitt will keep water out all day or for just a few hours. Products featuring a Gore-Tex liner (and outer) did the best in these 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 were sub-par.
If you buy a pair of gloves or 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 all day. Overall, we found the best options for wet climates feature a Gore-Tex insert or Gore-Tex construction. Our favorites were the Arc'teryx Fission Glove, the Outdoor Research Arete and the Dakine Tundra Mitt.
Inserts a keep hands dry while maintaining a 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 home tests. Additionally, these products didn't leak. The OR Arete features a stiff Gore-Tex shell while the Arc'teryx Fission Glove is more flexible, with a Gore-Tex XCR textile that is more comfortable and dexterous. They differ in palm material. The Arete features a less durable Alpen Grip Synthetic material, whereas the Fission features a bomber leather palm (that should be treated). If you're looking for a water-resistant mitten, the Dakine Tundra Mitt is our top choice. It held the least amount of water and kept us toasty warm during long, cold, wet days at the resort. The water-resistant properties come from its Gore-Tex outer and a leather palm. All are a great choice if you plan on skiing in wet climates or weather.
Recommendations for Dry Climates
We recommend leather gloves for dry climates. Even with full leather treatment, gloves like the Swany Legend II Mitt leaked at the zipper seam after just five squeezes. On wet days, the leather began to absorb water after three to four hours. 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, soaking the glove after the test. With all of these tests in mind, we left these gloves at home until 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 equates to skill in using the hands and body. Whether you're in the backcountry or tackling the resort slopes, dexterity is a bonus. In some cases (depending on what you're doing), it's of the utmost importance. Ideally, a glove or mitt with good dexterity will keep you warmer if you don't have to expose your hands to the cold. In this sense, a glove or mitt will continue to serve its purpose — even in the face of performing simple tasks like zipping your coat, ripping off skins, and buckling boots.
When deciding between gloves or mittens, make sure to determine if dexterity is important to you. If it is, go with a thinner glove. If it isn't, check out the many different mitten options!
In order to test the products' dexterities, we ran each through a gamut of simple tasks, like clipping buckles, pulling skins, and tying bows with our shoe laces. A few key characteristics resulted in better dexterity. First, is the obvious - is the model a mitten or a glove? Gloves provide better dexterity because you can use your fingers. In mitts, dexterity is hindered because your fingers can't move independently. Second, is the thickness of the glove. A thicker construction results in less dexterity and vice versa. Lastly is fit. A glove that is too large or small will impede the ability to move your fingers effectively. For women, a slimmer, women's-specific fit typically provides 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. Even though it's warm, the insulation in the fingers and on the palm is not very bulky. As a result, we can feel objects intimately and perform fine tasks. It should be noted that this glove is a unisex glove. Check the size chart on their website to see what will fit you best for great dexterity. In comparison, we thought the Outdoor Research Arete glove offered great dexterity by having next to no finger insulation. The outer Gore-Tex shell is thicker than the Fission glove, making it a touch less dexterous.
If you're looking for a 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. If you want to achieve more dexterity but don't want to take your glove off, simply unzip the side to expose gloved fingers. This feature was unique, making it a great mitten-glove hybrid for backcountry missions and warm resort days. The Hestra Heli Three Finger is similar in that it's a mitt-glove hybrid. Inside of the lobster claw shell it has a five-finger insert that provides more dexterity than the Hestra Heli Mitt and 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 them more versatile and comfortable. Look at all the features below that you might be interested in while finding in your new pair of gloves or mittens.
Removable liners make gloves versatile for different conditions. Typically skiers find this feature helpful in the backcountry, or if you plan on being more aerobic with your ski. Removable liners can be changed out for thicker or thinner options. 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 that some skiers might find helpful to wipe thier 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 prevents that dreaded moment when you drop your glove off the lift. Most are removable. All gloves in this review featured this option except the Kinco Pigskin Leather Gloves, Swany Legend II Mitt, Gordini Gore-Tex Down II.
This is a small pouch or zippered pocket to place a hand-warmer for 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 with gloves on. Products include all except the Kinco Pigskin Gloves and **Dakine Tundra Mitt*.
These are located on the finger so climbers can attach gloves to 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 without taking your gloves off. 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 had 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. If you want to see a full list of features, be sure to check out the comparison chart above.
Durability and Construction
It's a bummer to go out and spend money on an expensive 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.
We also washed each liner to see which bounced back and which didn't — reflecting which would lose warmth after just a few big days out.
One thing that's important to note with leather 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.
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 was the Arc'teryx Fission Glove, followed by the Hestra gloves and mitts — showing little to no wear.
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. 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 a product like the Hestra Heli Mitt that has a liner that will retain its warmth through multiple uses (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. In particular, after just two days of use, the Outdoor Research Arete insulation packed out.
Of all the products tested, the Hestra Heli Mitt, Hestra Heli Three Finger and Arc'teryx Fission Glove stood above the test, withstanding multiple resort and backcountry days, shoveling driveways, and constant wrenching on skis, snowboards, and splitboards. In all, buy a glove or ski mitten with a goatskin leather palm and a liner that will not pack out.
When you're set on spending a day on snow, it's important to find a pair of ski gloves or mittens that work for you. A good product will provide you with protection from the elements so all you have to worry about is having fun. With a plethora of choices 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. If you've read this 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. Happy hunting!
— Amber King
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