Reviews You Can Rely On

10 Best Gloves of 2024

We've tested the best gloves for every outdoor activity, from hiking to skiing to biking to yard work, from brands like Carhartt, Arc'teryx, Black Diamond, Burton and more
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Best gloves Review (From wintertime mechanical work to summer climbs, we've put hundreds of pairs to the test over more than a decade.)
From wintertime mechanical work to summer climbs, we've put hundreds of pairs to the test over more than a decade.
Credit: Clark Tate

Our Top Picks

Tuesday January 23, 2024

Need new gloves for the season? After testing over 200 pairs over the past 11 years, we've discovered the best gloves on the market for adventures of all kinds. From winter hikes and chores in the Northeast to digging snow pits and shoveling driveways, and from ski tours to mountain bike rides and backyard gardening, we tried each of these options in real-world conditions. We took them to the lab to note how they stand up to abrasion, what types of tasks we can complete while wearing them, and how well the winter and ski gloves handle cold and wet weather. No matter what your hands have ahead of them, we've got the best gloves to keep them covered.

This review is a roundup of our many wide-ranging glove reviews. Here, we focus mainly on the best winter gloves — including top ski and snowboarding gloves and mittens. However, we've also added some sport-specific options, including our favorite mountain bike options and the best belay and crack climbing gloves for rock climbers. Whether you're here for inclement weather or for a specific sport, we've got you covered.

Editor's Note: On January 23, 2024, we updated the award sections with new alternatives.

Best Men's Winter Gloves

Carhartt Waterproof Insulated

Waterproof and insulated
Flexible movement
Comfortable with fleece cuff
Thick, awkward fingers
Less breathable
Slippery fabric

If you're looking for classic, reliable, and easy-to-wear winter options, we recommend the Carhartt Waterproof Insulated. Their functional construction and flexible polyester material make them dexterous despite their bulk. All that insulation keeps your hands toasty. One of our testers wore them in temperatures as low as -20° F while collecting glacial data in the Yukon. After that, it's easy to recommend them for shoveling the walk or walking the dog. It doesn't hurt that they block wind, and the main body is waterproof.

While the outer shell does repel water effectively, its cozy fleece cuff does not. When it gets wet, moisture creeps up the liner and inside. You can protect the cuff with the sleeve of a jacket, but that doesn't work in a snowball fight. Sweat can build up in them as well. Once wet, they often take more than a day to dry. While they move well, their slippery fabric and bulky insulation make it difficult to complete detailed tasks, like tying your shoelaces. Though imperfect, these are the best winter gloves we've tested for daily use. If you don't mind sacrificing some warmth for added dexterity while working, the Mechanix Wear Coldwork Original is a solid alternative. Great range of movement and comfortable material help these gloves excel for everyday use in the elements.

A waterproof shell, soft fleece liner, and generous insulation keep your hands protected in frigid weather.
Credit: Clark Tate

Best Women's Winter Gloves

Carhartt Quilts Insulated

Warm and blocks wind
Somewhat waterproof
Less dexterous and durable
Slow to dry

The Carhartt Quilts Insulated women's winter gloves are almost as warm and water-resistant as the men's, making them a good option for anyone with smaller hands. They're soft against the skin and well insulated, with quilted polyester insulation and fleece lining. Though not technically waterproof, they repel water and block wind completely. Straps that tighten at the wrists hold them in place, and a tab that extends from the thick synthetic palms makes them easy to pull on.

While Carhartt doesn't claim these are waterproof, they hold their own in wet weather. During a submersion test, water only snuck through one seam just before the two-minute mark. The cozy fleece lining is a weak point, though. It holds onto moisture, which can sneak in from the cuff. They take up to two days to dry. The fingers are short and bulky, and the fabric is slick, making it hard to perform detailed tasks. And a few loose stitches from the start have us questioning their durability. Still, they're reasonably priced for hands looking to shovel, pull sleds, and make snowballs. If you find yourself needing a glove that is also suitable for days on the hill, the Dakine Camino is a solid crossover between everyday use and a reasonably priced ski glove.

Impressively water-resistant, the warm Quilted Carhartt gloves are a good option for those with smaller hands looking to spend time in the cold.
Credit: Clark Tate

Best Ski Glove for Men

Arc'teryx Fission SV

Excellent storm protection
Great durability and dexterity
High price tag
Lacks a wrist adjustment

Since they're meant to be worn for days at a time, the best skiing and snowboarding gloves are warmer, more technical, and pricier than most winter-generic options. The Arc'teryx Fission SVs are the best we've tested. The tough, synthetic shell is reinforced with a double layer of goat leather, while a Gore-Tex membrane insert keeps your hands dry. The combination shuts out cold, wet, or windy weather. We're also impressed with how well they hold up. It took 150 days of use to see wear on the leather palms and fingers, which is far better than the competition. They're also warm and breathable, keeping your hands toasty and dry. Despite the generous layer of insulation, they're very dexterous and keep our hands useful in the snow.

The Fission SVs do run large. They're wide and lack an adjustable wrist strap to tighten and hold them in place. They're also expensive. Since they work well for a range of outdoor pursuits, you're likely to get your money's worth. If you'll be out for hours or days in brutal winter conditions, these are the best gloves we recommend. While there's not a lot to complain about with the Fissions, they are one of the most expensive gloves on the market. If you don't mind sacrificing in areas such as dexterity and durability, you can opt for friendlier priced options such as the Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor. Offering similar warmth and waterproof characteristics, the Carbide Sensor is an adequate option if warmth and weather resistance are your main concern.

Read more: Arc'teryx Fission SV review

best gloves - putting the arc'teryx fission sv to work on a cold january day.
Putting the Arc'teryx Fission SV to work on a cold January day.
Credit: Jed Porter

Best Ski Glove for Women

Arc'teryx Fission SV Glove

Superb protection in inclement weather
Maintain mobility
Built to last
No adjustment at the wrist

These technical snowboarding and skiing pair are the favorite of both our men's and our women's testing teams. The Arc'teryx Fission SV is a unisex option with a synthetic shell reinforced with two layers of goat leather. They're tough and durable, barely showing any wear after months of intensive use. The Gore-Tex membrane kept our hands dry in even the most trying conditions, day after day while remaining breathable and avoiding sweaty hand moisture build-up. Though they're not touchscreen compatible, these warmly insulated gloves are still surprisingly dextrous.

However, these genderless handwear run a bit large and are best on wider hands. They also don't have an adjustable wrist strap, which can be a dealbreaker for some women. They're also some of the most expensive ones we've tested, though their functionality ensures we wore them through pretty much every winter endeavor, getting the full range of use out of this investment. Ultimately, we're big fans of these and recommend them to anyone looking to get outside without getting cold hands. For folks who are on a tighter budget and are looking for excellent value, check out the Burton Gore-Tex Mittens.

Read more: Arc'teryx Fission SV - Women's review

best gloves - the award-winning fission gloves are durable, warm, and dexterous...
The award-winning Fission gloves are durable, warm, and dexterous, and a favorite of both our men's and women's ski glove testing teams.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Best Overall Women's Ski Mittens

Black Diamond Mercury Mitt - Women's

Incredibly warm
Double mitt with liner
Water-resistant liner drys fast
Not great for dexterity
Lacks leashes

If you have trouble keeping your hands warm, mittens may be for you. The Black Diamond Mercury Mitts are our favorites. They're double layered, with an insulated, fleece-lined insert (the warm and quick drying Primaloft Gold if you're interested) and a durable shell. The outer layer features a water-repellant shell, waterproof insert, and large gauntlet cuff that overlaps your jacket sleeve to form a weatherproof seal. These mittens breathe well, and the removal liners dry quickly if your hands go clammy at the top of a steep drop. They're also durable. Some of our testers have worn them for years. Despite braving some seriously frigid climates, we haven't found a cold they couldn't handle.

Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves by letting your fingers huddle together, but they sacrifice dexterity. We have to remove these mitts to do much of anything with our hands, and it would be nice if they had leashes so they weren't so easy to drop in the snow. When it's really cold, we like to pair a thinner liner underneath and then pull these mittens on for serious weather protection. We love them for frozen days and any time we're worried about keeping our hands warm. If you'd prefer gloves over mittens and are looking for adequate warmth, the Outdoor Research Women's Arete II Gore-Tex Gloves might be better suited. The Arete II offers an EnduraLoft insulation liner, Gore-Tex insert, and goat leather for the palms. While they may not be as warm compared to some mittens, the trade-off is they provide excellent dexterity and are packed with features such as touchscreen-compatible liners and a nose wipe patch for cold days.

Read more: Black Diamond Mercury Mitt - Women's review

best gloves - incredibly warm and durable, the mercury mitt is an excellent option...
Incredibly warm and durable, the Mercury Mitt is an excellent option for the coldest days on the ski hill.
Credit: Amber King

Best Men's Ski Mitten

Black Diamond Mercury Mitt

Exceptionally warm
Incredibly durable
Waterproof shell and warm liner
Hard to use your hands
No leashes

Black Diamond also makes a men's version of the Mercury Mitt. The only difference between them is that the men's version runs larger. Our men's and women's test teams can't say enough about the warmth and weatherproofing of this two-layer mitten. The puffy, fleece-lined inner mitt holds warmth, while the waterproof shell keeps the weather out with a large gauntlet cuff. They're also well-built, featuring a goat leather palm, overlapping layers, and a handy patch for wiping your nose. They proved durable for long, cold winter days.

The downside to mittens is that they make it hard to use your hands. The Mercury Mitt proved to be one of the least maneuverable ski or snowboard gloves or mittens in the lineup. It's often hard to complete basic tasks like zipping a jacket or working small buckles while wearing them. As a result, we often take them off and wish they had a leash to help us keep track of them. As long as you can deal with having to expose your hands to the elements from time to time, these mittens can't be beaten when it comes to warmth. If warmth is what you're after but you want to keep the budget in check, a great alternative is The North Face Montana Ski Mitts. At a fraction of the price, these mitts still provide high levels of warmth, ideal for cold days on the hill.

Read more: Black Diamond Mercury Mitt review

best gloves - the men's version of the mercury mitt offers the same excellent...
The men's version of the Mercury Mitt offers the same excellent performance in larger sizes.
Credit: Jackie Kearney

Best Value Men's Ski Glove

Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II

Decent warmth
Inexpensive and durable
Tight at the knuckles
Less dexterity

Gordini has been making a version of the GTX Storm Trooper IIs for a long time, and they've consistently offered exceptional value. They never fail to impress our testers with how much warmth and weather protection they offer at a significantly lower price than the competition. Our hands consistently stay dry and content in these. Solid construction also means that they're durable enough to last multiple seasons for even our most dedicated ski testers — industry pros who are on the hill well over 100 days a season.

These aren't the warmest option we've tested, though. They aren't our top recommendation for bitterly cold days when only the die-hard folks brave the elements. They're also unwieldy, with insulation stacked at the fingertips, making it hard to complete simple tasks like handling a zipper or buckle. Note: We tested these just before the company simplified the name to Gordini GTX Storm Glove. The changes are largely cosmetic, and we'll direct you to the newer version. They're the option we recommend to anyone looking for excellent performance on a budget. If you're willing to sacrifice durability for added dexterity, the Black Diamond Legend is a viable alternative. Providing some of the best warmth to dexterity tested, the Legend is worth considering if you find yourself needing to use your fingers often while on the mountain.

Read more: Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II review

best gloves - the gordini gtx storm gloves offer incredible performance at a...
The Gordini GTX Storm gloves offer incredible performance at a reasonable price.
Credit: Sam Willits

Best Value Ski Mitten for Women

Burton Gore-Tex Mitten - Women's

Touchscreen-compatible liners
Surprisingly nimble
Least warm mitt tested
Material eventually saturates

The affordable women's Burton Gore-Tex Mittens are impressively warm and easy to wear. Combining a lightweight liner and a waterproof mitten shell, they give you the best of both worlds. The liners (like actual gloves with separate fingers) are touchscreen compatible, making it easy to use your phone without exposing your hands to wind and weather. The outer mitten shell is surprisingly nimble as well. It's also well-insulated and decently warm. The durable palm stands up to a fair bit of abuse, and the price is hard to beat.

These mittens aren't the warmest we've tested. The shell material feels less durable than some of the higher-priced options, and the fabric does eventually saturate when exposed to wet weather. The inner waterproof liner keeps your hands protected, but you do end up with a soggy outer layer. Still, if you're looking for a bargain, these mittens are an excellent option. If you're not into mitts and want a good deal on a women's glove, check out the Dakine Camino.

Read more: Burton Gore-Tex Mitten - Women's review

best gloves - these mitten shells protect liner gloves with touchscreen...
These mitten shells protect liner gloves with touchscreen capability. It's a great combination at a great price.
Credit: Amber King

Best Liner Glove

Achiou Touch Screen Thermal

Dries quickly
Blocks wind
Shorter cuff
Handwash only

Liners are great on their own in mild weather and do a lot to improve the warmth rating of a winter pair when layered underneath. Lightweight, soft, and impressively warm, the Achiou Touch Screen Thermals are an excellent example. They balance insulating your hand, blocking wind surprisingly well, and letting moisture and sweat escape. If the Achious do get wet, they dry quickly. Touchscreen-compatible patches on the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers let you use your devices without exposing your fingers to the cold.

On the downside, you have to wash these by hand. And we don't love their fit. The cuffs are short and often disappear beneath your outer mitt when worn as a liner. The thumbs are long, making their touchscreen patches less effective than those on your fingers, which work wonderfully. All told, if you're looking for durable, affordable liners, these are our picks. If superior fit and comfort are top of the list, check out the Smartwool Liner as an alternative.

best gloves - well-priced and durable, the achiou liner is the best we've tested.
Well-priced and durable, the Achiou liner is the best we've tested.
Credit: Clark Tate

Best Unisex Work Glove

Mechanix Wear Coldwork Original

Comfortable and durable
Lightly insulated and deft
Machine washable
Slow to dry

The Mechanix Coldwork Originals are the best work options we tested. Meant for cool to cold weather, they have a lightweight fleece lining with a durable softshell and rubber exterior. They breathe well, which is great for warmer days, and our lead tester found them comfortable for small engine repair down into the teens and twenties. They're machine washable and work well for a range of activities, from raking leaves to shoveling. All five fingers are touchscreen compatible, making it exceptionally easy to check the instructions on your phone for whatever YouTube project you have going. They also moved so well that we rarely needed to pull them off to complete a detailed task.

Since they're insulated, these aren't the best for warm fall days. They're also not waterproof, are slow to dry, and aren't warm enough for extremely low temperatures. Though the size small Mechanix fits our women testers with size small hands, the fingers are a touch long. If they are too big for you, we'd recommend checking out the Wells Lamont Hydrahide women's option. If they do fit you, though, we highly recommend the Mechanix for detailed tasks in mild to chilly weather.

best gloves - durable with excellent movement, the mechanix protect your hands...
Durable with excellent movement, the Mechanix protect your hands while never getting in the way of your work.
Credit: Clark Tate

Best Mountain Bike Gloves for Men

Troy Lee Designs Air Glove

Material: Polyester, rubber, polyethylene | Touchscreen Compatible: Yes
Precise fit and protection
Breathable palm and back
Reasonable price tag
Not much protection or backside

Super light and breathable with a dialed fit and precise padding, the Troy Lee Designs Air Glove is a top-notch choice for biking. Mesh panels keep your hands from overheating, and supple palm fabric provides excellent feedback from the handlebars and the trail. The touchscreen-compatible fingers keep you connected, and there is extra silicone on the index and middle fingers for lever precision. There is extra blister protection on the inside of the thumb.

We feel this gloves threads the needs between too light and too heavy and protective. That said, for hot rides, there are better options like the 100% Celium. If you want maximum protection, there are burly padded gloves like the 100% Cognito D30. But if you are like most people, you will appreciate how the TLD Air threads the needle between too bulky and too light and is the ideal glove for most rides.

best gloves - the air glove has classic tld flair and comes in a range of colors...
The Air glove has classic TLD flair and comes in a range of colors to match your kit or suit your taste.
Credit: Zach Wick

Best Climbing Glove

Petzl Cordex

Excellent for belaying
Durable and dexterous
Breathes well
Only protects your palms
Not the best grip
Less precise fit

The Petzl Cordex are the best climbing gloves we've tested for a day of belaying. Combining a sturdy leather palm with a breathable synthetic backing, they manage to maximize palm protection, durability, and comfort simultaneously. Well-placed leather reinforcements increase durability and provide additional padding. We especially appreciate the extra leather on the thumbs and index fingers, taking the edge off a day of rope wrangling, belaying, and rappelling. The nylon baking keeps them lightweight and makes them our favorite option for hot days when a full leather day would mean sweating hands and potential blisters.

The leather surface doesn't grip as well as we'd like, and this isn't our favorite for long belays. The fit isn't precise either, making it harder to handle carabiners and perform other detailed tasks than we'd like. We still consider them dexterous, just not the best we've seen. We love this option for its cooling comfort on hot days and the extra padding in its tough and supple leather palms. It's our favorite option for causal craig belays.

best gloves - the petzl cordex is both breathable and durable.
The Petzl Cordex is both breathable and durable.
Credit: Steven Tata

Why You Should Trust Us

We've tested close to 200 pairs of the best gloves over the past 11 years to bring you this review and carefully researched even more before deciding which ones we should buy and test. We sent our winter test teams out into the cold and up into the mountains, handed our garden and work testers shovels, banished our mountain bike test team to the single track, and climbed and belayed our way to glove guru status. We took detailed notes and photos along the way, documenting each model's performance in the real world before taking them back to the lab for repeatable tests.

We assess each product's performance in key metrics like:
  • Fit and Dexterity
  • Warmth
  • Water Resistance
  • Durability and Protection
  • Breathability
  • Features

We tested winter and work gloves in Maine, Canada, and Alaska, tackling daily chores, winter runs, small engine repair, and glacial research. Lead tester Clark Tate has lived in every major mountain range in the US. She loves winter, but she also likes warm hands. So does Amber King, who moved from Canada to Colorado's San Juan Mountains. She is a dedicated endurance runner, and on her “rest days,” she is either packrafting in the summer or splitboarding in the backcountry during the winter months. Amber leads testing for our review of women's ski gloves. IMGA Mountain and Exum Ski Guide, Jeff Dobronyi, heads the men's ski glove review. He spends over 120 days a year on his skis and needs handwear that can keep up.

We put work gloves through their paces in a range of weather...
We put work gloves through their paces in a range of weather conditions.
There are times when you need a really good grip on your handlebars...
There are times when you need a really good grip on your handlebars. We made sure the mountain biking options can step up to the task.
Running laps on El Cap is a pretty solid test protocol for climbing...
Running laps on El Cap is a pretty solid test protocol for climbing gloves.
We've tested all kinds of protective handwear in the most trying conditions we can find.

Tahoe-based bike racer, Jeremy Benson, heads the mountain bike glove review. He has spent the better part of the past three decades on two wheels and has raced professionally in gravel and mountain bike events. He is also the author of Mountain Bike Tahoe. Chris McNamara tackled the climbing glove review. Chris has climbed El Cap over 70 times and holds nine big wall speed climbing records. Need we say more? We tend to trust his judgment on all things climbing.

best gloves - we tested these gloves in real-world conditions, even wearing one on...
We tested these gloves in real-world conditions, even wearing one on each hand to compare their performance directly.
Credit: Erin Towns

Decide When and Where You'll Wear Them

We've established that you need a pair of gloves, but what do you need them for? Make sure you consider all the tasks you'd like to tackle while wearing them, and think about what type of weather and conditions you're likely to encounter. Then we'll walk you through how to find the right pair for your unique needs.

Decide How Much You Can Spend

Another important factor to consider is your budget. It's important to decide how much you can afford upfront so you won't be wooed by the flashiest options available. There's often a sweet spot where you get nearly top-of-the-line performance without spending top dollar. We make it our mission to find those options and steer you to them.

best gloves - gloves like the achiou touch screen thermal liner offer exceptional...
Gloves like the Achiou Touch Screen Thermal liner offer exceptional value with excellent performance at a below average price.
Credit: Clark Tate

How to Choose the Best Gloves for You?

There are three general glove types – 1) cold weather or winter versions that are meant to keep your hands warm, 2) garden or work pairs that protect your hands from dirt, abrasions, and blisters, and 3) sport options that are built to protect your mitts during a specific activity like skiing, rock climbing, or mountain biking.

These categories overlap, but the boom in outdoor recreation has led to more specialized options over the years. This is great for your hands but can be hard on your wallet. Wherever possible, we point out where any given pair can pull double or triple duty.

best gloves - ski-specific gloves like the arc'teryx fission sv include thick...
Ski-specific gloves like the Arc'teryx Fission SV include thick layers of insulation to keep you warm while sitting on the lift.
Credit: Amber King

Winter Gloves

The most basic purpose of these is to protect your hands; often, this means keeping them warm. Since winter temperatures vary widely across the globe and winter activities vary widely across individuals, this is a broad category, varying from classic waterproof snow gloves to mittens to light liners. We'll break these down below.

Single vs. Double Gloves — Single gloves have only one layer. Double versions have two; an outer shell and an inner liner. You can pull off the shell to reveal the thinner, more flexible liner when you need to perform detailed tasks without completely exposing your hands to the elements. This gives you the benefit of a weather-protective layer without having to deal with the bulk of one when you need to check your phone or tie a shoe. Double gloves are nearly essential in seriously cold climates where frostbite is a frequent concern.

best gloves - double-layered options like the mercury mitten included a removable...
Double-layered options like the Mercury Mitten included a removable liner. This makes for a warmer glove that's easier to dry out after a soggy day on the hill.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Liners — If you do opt for an unlined or single winter glove, you can always buy a separate liner and layer the two. Just make sure that the combination isn't tight enough to restrict blood flow since blood brings warmth to your extremities. Liners are also a great stand-alone option for shoulder seasons. Often lightweight and stretchy, they can work wonderfully for high-output activities like running or cross-country skiing.

Gloves vs. Mittens vs. Lobster Claws — The great thing about mittens is that they keep all your fingers in the same compartment, allowing them to share heat. The downside is that then your fingers aren't available to use. You can solve this problem by adding a liner in super cold weather. Keep your digits cozy in the mitten when you don't need to use them, and deploy your liner-gloved hand when you do.

Another option is to buy a lobster claw, which divides the mittens into two sections, one for your pointer finger or pointer and middle fingers, and one for the rest. These really shine while biking in the winter months, when you need to keep a few fingers on the break but can use all the warmth you can get.

best gloves - the burton gortex gore-tex mitten has a liner glove that makes it...
The Burton Gortex Gore-Tex Mitten has a liner glove that makes it easy to keep your hands warm while completing detail tasks.
Credit: Amber King

Garden and Work Gloves

Garden and work options protect your hands from detritus and damage. Rough surfaces, rocks, and wood can abrade your hands or splinter. Tools can quickly cause blisters. A well-fitting pair can protect you from this pain and keep you working longer. Whether or not these are also insulated depends on the time of year they're meant to be used.

Winter versions of work and garden gloves will have some level of insulation; a few are also waterproof. The tradeoff is that insulation is bulky, making it harder to get work done. Those meant for warmer weather will be lighter, thinner, and more dextrous. They will also provide protection from the sun and will, hopefully, breathe well. You can layer liners underneath these to extend their use into the colder months.

best gloves - durable and articulate, models designed for work have to be built to...
Durable and articulate, models designed for work have to be built to last.
Credit: Clark Tate

Sport Gloves

These are built specifically for the task at hand. In this review, we cover skiing/snowboarding, climbing, and mountain biking gloves. Ski options are waterproof and insulated, as a matter of course. Climbing and mountain biking versions can be used in a wider range of temperatures and thus vary in warmth and breathability. What they all have in common is that they're meant to keep your hands healthy when you head out to the wild. Here are some things to keep in mind while searching for your perfect pair.

Ski Gloves

Winter gloves can be used to keep your hands warm while walking from the car to the office. Ski gloves are tasked with keeping your hands dry and warm for a full day, often while spending half of it sitting very still on a chair lift. That's why they are almost always heavily insulated and waterproof. They also often include additional features like nose wipe patches and large gauntlet cuffs meant to extend over your jacket sleeve to help keep the snow out.

best gloves - ski days can be committing, you want to keep your hands protected no...
Ski days can be committing, you want to keep your hands protected no matter how long you're out there.
Credit: Chris McNamara

If you are using yours in the backcountry, hiking your way up the mountain before skiing back down, it's a good idea to take two pairs with you for safety. One can be lighter weight and more breathable for the climb. Or you can wear a pair of liners for the sweatier part of your day.

Climbing Gloves

Few climbers wear gloves while they're climbing a rock face. Instead, the best climbing gloves give your hands a break when you're handling rope while belaying and repelling. As such, they have to be flexible enough to function just as well as your bare hands, and they have to grip the rope well. Leather palms often last longer, but synthetic options are more breathable, which is great for hot weather. Our favorite options combine the best of both worlds.

best gloves - climbing gloves have to grip well enough to easily control rope...
Climbing gloves have to grip well enough to easily control rope systems and be dexterous enough to sort and operate gear effectively.
Credit: Steven Tata

Crack climbing is a different story. Traditional climbers have long taped the backs of their hands before wedging them into rock clefts to heft their bodies up a mountainside. Dedicated crack climbing gloves have since become popular.

Some die-hards still swear by the feel and function of tape or by the flawless technique that makes them unnecessary. Others enjoy that modern crack gloves are made of tacky rubber and work a lot like climbing shoes to improve friction while saving you from paying for every mistake in blood. The best crack climbing gloves are tough enough to be durable and protective without being so bulky that they make it hard to fit your hand in smaller spaces.

best gloves - crack climbing gloves cover just the back of your hand, leaving your...
Crack climbing gloves cover just the back of your hand, leaving your palms and fingers free.
Credit: Steven Tata

Mountain Biking Gloves

Mountain bike gloves protect your hands if you crash or glance a tree branch or rock while riding. More conservative or confident riders may opt for a lightweight model with only fabric and a bit of leather between them and the dirt. Aggressive or crash-prone riding styles and dedicated downhill trails demand more protective elements with integrated gel, foam, or rubber padding.

You'll also want an excellent grip to make sure you have solid contact with the handlebars and breaks. If you are riding in cold, wet weather, you may want waterproof versions with light insulation. If you ride in the summer, look for options that breathe well.

best gloves - mountain bike options protect your hand if you crash and should be...
Mountain bike options protect your hand if you crash and should be able to control the handlebars and the breaks.
Credit: Zach Wick

How Will You Need to Use Your Hands?

You'll also need to consider what you'll need to use your hands for and whether the pair you're interested in is capable of the task. For example, winter mittens are warm but make it difficult to complete complex tasks like transitioning from skinning uphill to skiing down in the backcountry. A well-fitted, highly dexterous model will let your hands move more naturally, and you'll have to remove it less frequently throughout the day. Other aspects to consider are grip, durability, and features like touchscreen compatibility or a leash.

Dexterity and Fit

One of the first things you'll notice after pulling on a pair is whether or not it's easy to use your hands while wearing them. How well they fit will be a factor, but how well it moves is often this is a function of its purpose.

best gloves - work gloves like the mechanix have to be articulate with good grip.
Work gloves like the Mechanix have to be articulate with good grip.
Credit: Clark Tate

Insulated winter options are bulky by nature and must balance the need for warmth with the need for flexibility. As we mentioned above, mittens are warmer but less dextrous still. That's probably fine if you'll be skiing at a resort, riding the lift all day, and have easy access to a lodge for any major tasks or adjustments. If you're heading into the backcountry, though, you'll need a more dexterous option.

That's also true if you work with your hands outside during winter months. Insulated versions that prioritize dexterity won't be as warm, so you'll have to plan accordingly. Hopefully, you're working hard enough to generate warmth. We pay close attention to the flexibility and articulation of each pair we test.


A solid grip is always important, but perhaps most important for working, mountain biking, and climbing. To work, you have to be able to hold tools; to bike, you must hold onto bars and breaks; and if you're belaying or rappelling, you really need to hold onto that rope. Some offer lather palms to improve grip. Others implore tacky rubber or gripping patterns. We note these features where we find them. Since basic winter mitts can be slippery, we look for those with enough grip to complete simple tasks.

best gloves - leather palms, like those on the wells lamont hydrahide, tend to...
Leather palms, like those on the Wells Lamont Hydrahide, tend to grip well.
Credit: Clark Tate

Common Important Features

Touchscreen Compatability — Capacitive touchscreens like your smartphone are covered by a thin, transparent layer of conductive material. When you touch them with your bare finger, you interrupt the current. The device recognizes that as touch. For gloves to work the same way, they must include a conductive material, often in the form of a thread pattern or patch of fabric on several of the fingertips and the thumb.

This technology is increasingly common, especially since people often navigate trails and off-piste slopes using mapping features on their phones, not to mention documenting their epic adventures. Touchscreen compatibility is especially important in liners, which may be all that's left standing between you and a bitter winter breeze while you figure out where you are on the mountain.

best gloves - the small, almost purple patches on the tips of the thumb and the...
The small, almost purple patches on the tips of the thumb and the pointer finger of these liners contain conductive threads touchscreens register.
Credit: Clark Tate

Cuff type — The cuffs can also affect how well it fits and how effectively it blocks the wind and weather. For winter and ski versions, it matters whether the cuff is designed to extend over the sleeve of your jacket. The style is known as a gauntlet cuff and creates a double layer that's an effective seal against wicked winter weather.

Also, pay attention to whether or not there is a velcro or buckled strap to hold it in place or to adjust the fit. Small tweaks can really improve the fit and function of any handwear.

best gloves - gaunlet cuffs like those on the arc'teryx fission sv keep snow from...
Gaunlet cuffs like those on the Arc'teryx Fission SV keep snow from working its way in.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Winter-Specific Features — Winter and ski options often have more bells and whistles than the rest, probably because they stand between you and frostbite. A leash, for example, can help you keep track of them if you have to pull them off on the mountain. Keeping them dry and out of the snow is a safety concern. A nose wipe patch certainly improves your comfort, and fun additions like a Tuskegee to clear the fog from your goggles can come in handy in a pitch.

best gloves - protect your hands from cold and scrapes with the right pair of...
Protect your hands from cold and scrapes with the right pair of gloves.
Credit: Clark Tate


Taking good care of your hands can keep you out on the ski hill, on the singletrack, or on the job longer. But with all the options on the market, it can be overwhelming to find your perfect fit. We hope we've helped you find the perfect glove for your goals.

Clark Tate, Amber King, Jeff Dobronyi, Zach Wick, Chris McNamara