We raked through 100+ ski gloves and tested the best 18 side-by-side. Our testers have been assessing gloves at the resort, nordic skiing, backcountry skiing, snowmobiling, and high altitude ski mountaineering for several years, logging over 200 hours in these gloves. Through a variety of in lab and real-world testing, we use metrics to decide which has the highest finger dexterity, warmth on bitter days, 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.
The Best Ski Gloves and Mittens
|Price||$189 List||$399.99 at Backcountry|
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|$118.97 at Backcountry|
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|$121.93 at REI|
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|$127.16 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Versatility, durable palm, lightweight and packable, dexterous, ergonomic shape, freedom of movement||Very protective, 6hr battery life on low, durable, super warm when powered||Super warm, extremely tough, great weather resistance, removable liners help them dry quicker, our go-to expedition glove||Well designed features, tough as nails, dexterous||WARM, lifetime warranty, basically two gloves in one, super water resistant|
|Cons||Long gauntlet tricky to get under jacket, gauntlet can slowly open, expensive||Pricey, heavy||Not very dexterous, take time to break in, if in between sizes you should consider sizing up||Not as warm as other high-end ski gloves||Not super dexterous, inner glove not as durable|
|Bottom Line||Easily the most versatile model for conditions, climates, and activities with top-tier performance across the board make this glove our favorite overall.||The warmest glove in the test when the batteries are charged, a great protective and warm glove.||For really cold activities, where giving up some dexterity for some serious warmth is a must, these gloves are hard to beat.||This is an excellent day in day out resort glove for skiing in milder climates.||You'll love this glove if you do multi day tours and spend a lot of time in the backcountry.|
|Rating Categories||Arc'teryx Fission||Capstone Heated||Guide||Marmot Ultimate||Alti|
|Water Resistance (25%)|
|Specs||Arc'teryx Fission||Capstone Heated||Guide||Marmot Ultimate||Alti|
|Waterproof Material||Gore-Tex||Gor-Tex insert||Gore-Tex insert||Gor-Tex insert||Gor-Tex insert|
|Palm Material||Leather||Goat leather||Goat leather||Cow-hide leather||Alpengrip|
|Gaunlet or Cuff?||Gauntlet||Gauntlet||Gauntlet||Gauntlet||Gauntlet|
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 be my go-to glove no matter what the day entailed. Whether we were spending a warm early season day at the resort or expecting to be above treeline all day while ski mountaineering, this glove answered the call admirably. The big benefits of this glove are the packability and dexterity in such a tough package.
If we had to give this glove a few disadvantages, we would mention that the cuff could be larger and the sizing chart tends to be on the larger side, so sizing down would be our recommendation unless you plan to wear a thin liner inside the glove as well. This glove is ideal for the skier who values the ability to pack gloves away in their pack, as well as have a dexterous enough glove to use in multi-sports, such as ice climbing or mountaineering.
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 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
Best Bang for your Buck
Outdoor Research Revolution
The winner of our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy Award is the Outdoor Research Revolution. At $69 MSRP, this glove 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 well in dexterity, a combination many priced pointed gloves lack. It's not a bulky mess; it has finesse. We're also glad the OR supplied this glove with just the right amount of useful, easy-to-operate features.
Two areas where this model doesn't excel are warmth and durability. If you'd be happy to trade slightly better performance in those areas for the positives that the Revolution provides, check out the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II. For most folks hitting the resorts, though, we think the Revolution hits the sweet spot of performance and price.
Read review: Outdoor Research Revolution
Top Pick for Warmth
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.
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
Top Pick for Backcountry Riding
Outdoor Research Alti
The Outdoor Research Alti Glove wins our Top Pick Award for touring in the backcountry, either with skis or a splitboard. We found that this double glove excelled in a wide variety of temperatures and was warm enough for when the weather deteriorates. The interior liner proved to be a usable standalone glove and when combined with the outer it creates an impenetrable fortress of digit protection in any weather. We also found that when doing avalanche assessments and building different snow structures, the outer alone could be worn and provide a nice Goretex barrier between yourself and the elements. This also allows the glove to dry very quickly, doubling the surface area of the glove when separating the inner and outer.
The main drawback of these gloves is dexterity. While many of our testers had no problem using these gloves during a full day of touring, we would be hesitant to bring this glove alone if there was a lot of rope work involved, which would easily shred the inner. If you tour more than you ride the gondola, these gloves will suit you best.
Read review: Outdoor Research Alti Glove
Top Pick For Heated Gloves
Outdoor Research Capstone Heated
The Outdoor Research Capstone Heated Glove is our choice for a battery powered hand layer. We found that the glove heats up quickly and evenly when turned on to high from a cold start, and also will last most of a resort day on the low setting. Testers most often found themselves "spot heating" with the glove only turning it on high for a few minutes when one of their hands got cold after taking the glove off for an extended period of time. This is all with easily swappable batteries that allow for even more hand heating. We chose this glove over the Black Diamond Solano because it is warmer when the battery dies and offers a bit more protection for alpine skiing.
The Capstone is one large and heavy glove, so it is really not suited for any sort of skiing where you wont be wearing the glove the entire time. The glove is also quite stiff when you first pull it out of the box. This glove is ideal for people who spend most of their time at the resort or on a snowmobile, and need the advantage of heat produced by electronics rather than just their own circulation.
Read Review: Outdoor Research Capstone Heated Glove
Notable Runner Up For Mitten Lovers
Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski 3-Finger Mitt
The Hestra Army Leather 3-Finger Mitt earns a notable mention because of its unique "trigger finger" design. Hestra isn't the only manufacturer to offer this kind of glove and mitten hybrid, but they nail it. 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 in a Double Glove
Outdoor Research Highcamp
Outdoor Research makes a ton of excellent gloves at more price-points than many high-end manufacturers, and the Highcamp is another example of that. It's really rare to find a double layered glove, consisting of a removable liner and a waterproof, insulated shell, that comes in under a hundred bucks, but this glove is just that. This is a great glove for many folks who want a relatively inexpensive quiver of one that nails performance in multiple areas. It's warm enough for the vast majority of resort skiers, and the removable liner satisfies backcountry skiers on the ups, then switching to the shell for the downs.
The Highcamp doesn't have any major flaws, although it's only average in dexterity, water resistance, and durability. We love this glove for the versatility it presents for $95, a value we rarely see on the market.
Read review: Outdoor Research Highcamp
Analysis and Test Results
Gloves and mittens create a haven for our hands, protecting them from the harsh winter bite. We expect a whole lot from them too; whether we are spending a day skiing glades at the resort or touring above treeline, we rely on them to provide that barrier to the elements. We do not want them to be too bulky or cumbersome, yet we do not want to sacrifice the weather resistance or warmth. We expect them to disappear under normal tasks yet still be totally bomber in any condition we face.
To find out which ones truly perform a cut above the rest, we have been buying and testing a lot of ski gloves. Over the course of several winters, we compare each competitor side by side and tested them in the field, from resorts to backcountry mountaintops. We broke the testing down into five categories to determine what product is the best choice during specific applications as well as overall while testing in the Cascades, the Wasatch Range, Alaska, New England, and the European Alps. 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.
There are many functional and solid performing gloves that fall in the $100 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, dexterity, 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 Dakine Titan for its feature set (like a removable liner!) at a similar price.
One important trade-off in the lower-priced gloves is their durability. A full leather glove's materials cost is higher than synthetic models, but with 1-2 treatments of leather balm a year, you should expect natural leather models to last longer. In this sense, some of the higher-priced gloves are investments that will pay dividends in the future, along with having a superior glove from the get-go. Use our assessments to find the best ski gloves or mittens within your price range.
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. There is also the element of person to person differences, and our testers ranged from women who have cold hands while sitting inside to skiers who hardly wear more than liners on cold ski days.
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. While skiing testers also wore different gloves on each hand to do a true side by side test comparison in regards to warmth, giving the gloves an identical test human who produces the same heat through both hands helped us narrow down which gloves were retaining more heat and which gloves werent. We also tested palm insulation through holding ice axes and cold cans apres ski.
Excluding the heated gloves when they are powered on (more on that below), the warmest glove we tested was the Black Diamond Guide. 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 Outdoor Research Alti Glove while only slightly less warm, they have been worn by Tester Jeff Rogers on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire with an ambient temperature of -38F and 70mph winds resulting in a -80F windchill.
These are the two best options for New England or Upper Mountain West skiers and snowboarders or for people who wish to have the dexterity of a glove with as much warmth as they can possibly get before going to a mitten design. These are also good options for people with Raynaud's syndrome. 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 Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II retails for an astounding $70 and is a good option for above-average warmth. While they are not quite as warm as the Black Diamond Guide or the Outdoor Research Alti Glove, it isn't terribly far behind.
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 3-Finger Mitts, which were warm, but indeed a step down when compared to the Mercury Mitt. The Montana Mitt from the North Face is warm, but not as toasty as those two models.Heated Glove Warmth
The two gloves in the test that are capable of producing heat, instead of just retaining it from your hands, were the Outdoor Research Capstone and the Black Diamond Solano. These two gloves were able to take testers hands from numb to warm in a matter of minutes, all at the press of a button. The gloves were also scored on when their batteries are dead, and how they insulated with a heating element along your hands. It was quite fascinating to see how the gloves were designed to conduct heat to your hands via a heating element, but also insulate them away from the element when it no longer can heat their fingers when the battery dies.
Our testers agreed that the Capstone was the warmest of the heated models without battery power, having more insulation. The Solano is thinner and less warm without the electricity turned on, but this also made them less bulky and more dexterous.
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 along with Arc'teryx Fission essentially performing the same. 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. And if you're venturing into an extremely cold region, the Black Diamond Guide Glove allows you to have the dexterity of a glove with the warmth that surpasses most mittens.
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 intricate task and only came with a pretty minimal warmth penalty. The Black Diamond Guide and the Outdoor Research Alti are excellent cold weather alternatives to mittens and offer more dexterity.
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 and an extremely snowy early ski season in New England, 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 Outdoor Research Alti. All used slightly different materials and designs although the Fission and Alti both use a Gore-Tex insert.
The Alti achieves its remarkable weather resistance by using a combination of synthetic materials throughout and a gore-tex insert. The lack of any leather on the glove results in an extremely water resistant glove that does not need any leather treatment over its life. There is also an absence of seams on the palm. While the Fission uses a stretchy almost softshell-like material that surprisingly 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.
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 continually from Hestra. The craftmanship and high-quality materials and design continue to impress us, model after model. Other impressive models include the Black Diamond Guide and Marmot Ultimate Ski Glove. Both 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 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 and Outdoor Research Alti Glove).
One key factor to consider here is the manufacturer's warranty. Outdoor Research has a lifetime warranty on all their gloves. Essentially, you're getting two pairs for every one you order from them.
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. We also made a note when a glove manufacturer allowed operation of various features to be easy with a gloved hand. For instance the one-handed cinch and release on the Outdoor Research Alti gauntlet.
The importance of wrist leashes is huge. The capability of taking off your gloves and mittens while on the chair to do a more dexterous task is quite valuable, and we find these to be quite convenient in backcountry settings as well. We also compared features like nose wipes and the ease at which we were able to take the contenders on and off.
And of course, today's phones require touchscreen-capable gloves if you intend to keep your hand in them. The Outdoor Research Capstone Heated Glove, the Illuminator Sensor, and the inner glove of the Outdoor Research Highcamp and Dakine Titan are all touchscreen compatible. All of these 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 market is saturated with a variety of different options to chose from when searching for gloves or mittens. They must be warm, weatherproof, and all but disappear on our hands while doing complex tasks. We feel that this review captures the best gloves on the market and does not discount the vast majority of cheaper options while also focusing on higher-end offerings. 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 and Jeff Rogers