With so many choices, it can be challenging to find the right pair. We researched over 100 top models and selected the 16 best to test side-by-side for 120+ hours. Over the course of two years, 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.
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Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Updated March 2018
Updated just in time for the nuking weather across the country, our experts put 16 of the best models to the test. In addition to evaluating all of our favorite models, and ensuring that they're still the cream of the crop, we've added a slew of new contenders. The Arc'teryx Fission is the brand spanking new winner of our Editors' Choice award, thanks to their fantastic scores, never earning below a 9 out of 10 in any one during testing. We've also included the Outdoor Research Riot, a new winner of a Best Buy award, along with the Outdoor Research Illuminator Sensor, a favorite of skiers everywhere. Whether you're looking for the best of the best, you're on a budget, or you want to take selfies galore, we have something for you.
Best Overall Ski Gloves
The Arc'teryx Fission was the all-around highest performing glove in our review. Other gloves are better at specific tasks, but nothing performs as highly across the board. The bottom line is if we could have only one glove for skiing and snowboarding then this model would be it. Time and time again the Fission would prove itself the best option for the situation. Whether that be keeping us dry during stormy, wet resort days in the Pacific Northwest, staying warm on cold crisp days in Colorado, or simply outperforming any option that was even near as warm during our dexterity tests.
Fantastic weather resistance
Cozy internal fabric
Excellent freedom of movement
Lightweight and very compressible
Not as dexterous as some other models
On the more expensive side
Besides proving itself as a great all-around option for downhill skiing and snowboarding it was the most versatile glove in our review. Its versatility was not only for a wide range of climates and conditions in which it worked well for but also for its use in various actives like mountaineering, use as a cold weather nordic ski glove, and ice climbing belay glove.
Read review: Arc'teryx Fission
Best Overall Ski Mittens
Black Diamond Mercury Mitt
The Black Diamond Mercury Mitt wins our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice award for the best overall mitten because it proved to be the most weather resistant mitten, coupled with respectable dexterity and it was the straight-up warmest product we tested. The Mercury performed very well for its weather resistance both in real-world use and in our side-by-side testings, offered bomber construction, and some additional features, like its optional internal index finger slot for improved dexterity and a hanging loop for quicker drying or to hang from a harness while climbing.
The liner can pack out quickly
The Mercury's elaborate liner is built with 340g of PrimaLoft, a fleece lining, is covered with BDry waterproof fabric, and is WARM. Its 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.
Read review: Black Diamond Mercury Mitt
Top Pick for Best Touchscreen Capable Glove
Outdoor Research Illuminator Sensor
The Outdoor Research Illuminator Sensor wins our Top Pick Award for being our review teams favorite all-around model to feature touchscreen capability. The Illuminator Sensor sports a touchscreen sensitive index finger and thumb that would occasionally work better than our bare-hands under normal conditions and notably better if our hands or the screen was a little damp or our fingers were cold. Even touchscreen sensitive fingers aside the Illuminator Sensor is a solid ski and snowboard glove that our testing team liked it so much this model would have won a Top Pick Award even if it didn't feature the screen capable fingers.
Excellent weather resistance
Stretchy external fabric allows for excellent freedom of movement
Best touchscreen capable model we tested
We wonder about the long-term durability of the external fabric
Not as easy as other models to pull jacket cuff over.
We loved its stretchy exterior fabric, cozy interior feel, and pleasantly articulated design that gave it top-tier dexterity and meant they needed no break-in time and offered excellent freedom of movement. The Illuminator proved to be one of the more weather resistant models and among the most versatile with our review staff using this glove on snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, Backcountry skiing, and mountaineering adventures in-addition to resort, chairlift based adventures. The only thing it is it only offers so-so warmth, though works fine for most users down to around 10F.
Read review: Outdoor Research Illuminator 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 and has since used this glove on ten Denali Trips. We think the glove is close in warmth to the Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger and warmer than several price-pointed mittens on the market.
Above average weather resistance
Removable liners help to dry quicker
Our go-to expedition glove
Not overly dexterous
Stiff and take some time to break in
Consider sizing up if you're in between sizes
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 sturdy, easily among the most durable gloves reviewed. With all that said Black Diamond didn't lose track of that fact that the Guides are Gloves and recognized if people didn't care about dexterity they'd buy mittens and that folks buying the Guide would want some reasonable level of dexterity. The Guide fully meets this expectation, while hardy offering standout dexterity, they can accomplish a pretty fair amount of detail-oriented tasks especially after they've been broken in and soften up.
Read review: Black Diamond Guide
Best All-Arounder 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 storm worthy and dexterous glove. It features a respectable amount of insulation and above-average weather resistance but still scored extremely well in dexterity, a combination many priced pointed gloves lack.
One of best options for the price
Extremely water resistant
The Revolution also adds a few convenience-oriented feature, 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 touchscreen sensitive fingers and included liners.
Read review: Outdoor Research Revolution
Best Budget Under-the-Cuff Model
Outdoor Research Riot
The Outdoor Research Riot is likely the best under-the-cuff style ski glove you can buy for its price. At $55 the Riot packs in a ton of value and provides a higher level of weather resistance, dexterity, and durability than nearly any other model at a similar price. The only thing that some similarly priced models do slightly better is warmth. Generally speaking, the Riot isn't far behind, and most of our testing team found it fine down to around 15F, but if you frequently ski or snow below that, it might be better to look elsewhere.
One of best options for the price
Extremely water resistant
Read review: Outdoor Research Riot
Notable Runner Up For Mitten Lovers
Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger Mitt
The Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger Mitt was our OutdoorGearLab Notable Runner Up because of its unique "trigger finger" design. The 3-Finger Mitt is best for colder climates, like Montana, Alberta, or New England, that need the warmth of mittens and the dexterity of a glove. The 3-Finger is warm enough for most of those frigid climates but certainly feels less clumsy and more glove-like.
Read review: Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger Mitt
Notable for All-Around Value
Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II
The Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II was very nearly our Best Buy for being the best all-around ski and snowboard glove for the price. While it was ever-so-slightly beaten out by the Outdoor Research Revolution, it was just barely. Even though it missed our award, it remains a rad glove that offers above average warmth and fantastic weather resistance at a very respectable price. We found that during our direct comparisons with the Revolution that the Storm Trooper II was slightly warmer and more durable, however, it wasn't quite as dexterous as the Revolution and was stiffer overall and required a slightly longer break-in time.
Read review: Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II
Analysis and Test Results
Gloves and mittens are often the only protection 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 decide 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.
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 16 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, mostly attempting to replicate real-world activities that people may likely need to accomplish without removing their gloves.
These tasks include buckling ski boots, unlocking a car door with an average sized pair of car keys: both with a clicker/fab and manually, tying running shoes, attaching a lift ticket to a zippered pocket, 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 Outdoor Research Illuminator and the Arc'teryx Fission both trailing closely behind, also scoring either 9 or 10 out of 10s. Each contender was strong and allowed the wearer to be nimble.
The Black Diamond Legend wasn't too far behind and are the last options that are deemed dexterous enough for easy-to-moderate ice climbing, mountaineering or other applications where a relatively high level of dexterity is required.
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 Fission provides 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. This extra digit truly made a large difference for any type of intricate task and only came with a pretty minimal warmth penalty.
If you want maximum warmth and can sacrifice a little dexterity, the Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitt was the best. While not featuring an external trigger finger it does feature fingered slots in its internal liner helping to increase the gloves overall feel and dexterity. The Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitt performed far better than many mittens we tested and considered for this review. Its soft leather, once broken in, had a fantastic feel, fit well and had solid ergonomics. The Heli Ski Mitt's wrist strap fits snugly around the wrist; increasing feeling and enabled us to do almost any essential task you'd expect from a mitten. The Black Diamond Mercury Mitt wasn't very dexterous at all, despite featuring an "optional" internal trigger finger on its liner. The trigger finger is optional, as the inner mitten is sewn wide enough to keep all four fingers together, should you opt to do so. While this design was nice in theory, it did add a fair amount of bulk to the mitten.
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 immersed.
The models that kept us the driest the longest where the Arc'teryx Fission, the Outdoor Research Illuminator, and the Black Diamond Legend. All used slightly different materials and designs although the Fission and Legend both use a Gore-Tex insert.
The Legend achieves its weather resiliency coupling its Gore-tex liner with an outer that is more-or-less covered with extremely water-resistant leather. While the Fission uses a stretchy almost softshell like material that proved to be among the most water resistant outer-layers we tested. The Illuminator also sports a "softshell-like outer that despite its appearance proved to keep our hands dry the longest along with the two previously mentioned models.
Not far behind those three contenders was the Black Diamond Guide and the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex along with the equally performing but much less expensive Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II and Outdoor Research Revolution. These are best for wetter, stormier climates like the Pacific Northwest, Western Canada, Japan, Alaska, etc.
Testing overall warmth is not as easy as it might seem. Many outside factors 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 toasty, 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 astounding $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 indeed a step down when compared to the two gloves mentioned above.
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 Black Diamond Guide, Hestra Fall Line, and Black Diamond Legend. All have a beefy leather exterior and stood up to whatever our testing team threw at them. Among the more price-pointed options, we were quite impressed with the longevity of the $65 Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II.
Almost as durable were the Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex and the Arc'teryx Fission. The Fission was in solid shape even after 40+ days of use, though its very lofty insulation packed down slightly quicker than other options (a quality that was shared by the Black Diamond Guide Glove).
The features and ease of use categories include 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 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.
The Burton Gore-Tex and the Outdoor Research Illuminator had what is easily one of the most useful extra features. Both these two models have a touchscreen 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.
The Dakine Titan featured an included touchscreen sensitive liner glove that we liked, but we preferred not to 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 touchscreen sensitive one.
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 and we continually debate which of these two very solid gloves should win our award. We also liked the warmth and the touchscreen sensitivity of the Burton Gore-Tex and Dakine Titan for its warmth all for a similar price. The OR Riot, at only $55, is our Best Buy for the best under-the-cuff style glove. It provides exceptional dexterity and weather resistant, but only ok durability and warmth. However, the lower score in warmth is for frigid temps; above 10-15 degrees F, they will perform well.
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. We 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
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.