After combing through the market for the best ski gloves out there, we purchase the best contenders for head-to-head testing. Then, over several seasons, we put these gloves through the wringer, using them day-in and day-out. Our testers are ski patrollers, ski guides, and hardcore ski bums who span the continent looking for the deepest snow. After countless days of testing, we compare the gloves in both real-world performance and also in controlled tests to determine which gloves are best for different uses.
While wearing these gloves, we skied all over the world, from the glaciers of the Alps to the deep powder haunts of British Columbia and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We took them spring skiing in Lake Tahoe and then down to South America in the fall. We rode chairlifts and skied in the backcountry of the Cascades, Wasatch, and the Chugach. We skied in the pouring rain (yes, pouring), on 30-inch powder days, and under sunny skies, all to help you choose the best product for your particular needs.
Testing for warmth included some of the coldest days we have ever experienced on snow, with temps dropping to -20 degrees Fahrenheit in British Columbia and Jackson Hole. On these days, we wore one pair of gloves each run, taking a warm-up break in between runs to make sure our hands recovered. We also had multiple testers wear each glove on the same day, to cross-check our warmth ratings. Once we had our warmth rankings in order, we wore different gloves on each hand to compare relative warmth and to make sure we were on the mark.
Testing dexterity was pretty easy. We used each glove extensively over the season to get a feel for how well each glove could handle normal tasks required during a day of skiing, like opening and closing zippers, buckling boots, removing a phone from a pocket, and opening a candy bar. We also added in some objective tests including writing with a pen on paper while wearing the gloves, unlocking a car, and tying the laces of our snow boots.
We used both objective and subjective tests to check for water resistance. First, each glove was worn while dunked in a bucket of water for two minutes. We noted how well the exterior shell fabric repelled or absorbed water, and also how well the waterproof membrane prevented water from reaching the interior chamber of the glove.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) our testing period also included days of wet snow and heavy rain. On these days, we threw all of the gloves in a pack, went skiing, and noted how long each glove lasted before soaking through and becoming unusable. We also used our gloved hands to wipe off wet chairlift seats and to clear wet snow off our cars at the end of the day.
This key metric was also easy to test. Over the course of a season, or sometimes more, we made notes of how many days we had skied in each glove, and how much wear and tear we noticed each day. We looked at the palm material, elastic drawcords, and fabric seams on the fingers and thumb. As the season progressed, some gloves showed signs of quickly deteriorating, while others seemed to chug along without much wear. To check our ratings, we used these gloves on technical ski mountaineering objectives involving a lot of rope work and rappelling. This activity chews through glove palms, separating the gloves with good dexterity from those that would fall apart after one or two rappels.
High-end ski gloves are packed with features that make your day on the slopes more convenient. We made a list of each glove's features, including straps and drawstrings, heating elements, nose wipe fabrics, leashes, clipping mechanisms, pockets, and anything else we could find. In some cases, gloves with too many features seemed too bulky to be worn comfortably. There is a balance between what features a glove can provide, and what features we really need out there. We inspected and used each feature to make sure it was well-designed and didn't give gloves points just because they had a lot of features.