Our testing has taken us from Alaska to Canada, and California to Colorado. Skiing in both wet and dry climates, each of the gloves and mitts we reviewed has seen a host of weather conditions. Our testing team includes both snowboarders and skiers that like to rip it up both in the front and backcountry. We rated each of the gloves and mitts comparatively across five different metrics, including warmth (25%), water resistance (25%), dexterity (25%), durability (15%), and features (10%). In addition to field tests, we subject each glove to a bunch of objective empirical tests to gather more data and information on performance.
Warmth is the most important metric when considering a winter glove. A woman's warmth is very subjective and based on a variety of factors, including their relative body heat, moisture output, and perception of cold. A warm glove or mitt is one that offers a good amount of insulation, but not so much that fingers can't move, and are forced to stay immobile. The ability for a glove or mitt to release moisture also adds to its warmth.
To test this, we wore each in conditions where temperatures hovered around zero to the double negatives. We also wore each in wet and dry environments. Handing them out to several women, we collect feedback to provide you with information from a population of testers.
Objectively, we also look at the insulative value (R-value) of each glove. To get a relative idea of which is able to keep heat in longer, we put each into the freezer, measuring the temperature before and after to see how much heat is lost after five minutes. Those with a slower heat loss can be deemed more insulative. However, that doesn't always mean they are warmer when worn. It just gives us information about insulation.
We build snowmen, dig pits, and simply put our hands into the snow when wearing these gloves. Being out for full days, we note which products offer better water resistance than others, when treated with the proper treatment for durability reasons. In addition, we subject each glove to a water dunk test. First, we measure the dry weight, then put the glove or mitt on our hand, then squeeze 100 times.
This is supposed to try and get the material as saturated as possible. During this time, we notice if water penetrates any seams or gets inside the glove. After, we weigh each to see how much is absorbed. Those that absorb more are typically less water resistance than those that don't.
We wear each glove while ski touring and at the resort. We zip-up jackets, buckle ski boots, turn BOA knobs, and perform a series of tasks that require more dexterity. Those that can perform more tasks do better in this metric. In addition, we evaluate the craftsmanship of each glove, noting material flexibility, relative thickness, and fit.
This is probably the hardest metric to measure, especially when a new product hits the market, and we have a limited amount of time to test. We try to use each glove for at least 60 hours and note the durability issues and performance during this time. After that period, we continue testing throughout the year, updating this section for our award winners, to keep you posted on how each does. In addition, we research! While our hands-on testing is quite thorough, we also discuss the reviews that we see online and any trends within those reviews that might raise red flags in terms of durability. If we see one, we focus on it, test it out, just to see if it's an issue that we also observe.
In addition to looking at how the product does over the testing period, we also assess craftsmanship — the stitching, materials, high-wear area reinforcements, or other variables that might affect durability. We also discuss the care associated with each glove in this section.
Finally, we look at all the features of each glove. Those with more score higher! However, if we find a feature to be useless, this doesn't increase the product's score. We do know that some are minimalists at heart, so this metric scores quite low in comparison to the rest.