We raked through 100 of the best ski gloves of 2020 and tested the top 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 of 2020
|Price||$399.95 at Backcountry|
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|$110.93 at REI|
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|$103.00 at Amazon|
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|$159.95 at Backcountry|
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|$45.33 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Heated gloves!, 6 hrs on low, very well fitting on hand||WARM, lifetime warranty, basically two gloves in one, super water resistant||Warmest mitt in our review, bomber shell, nice extra features, nice loop to facilitate drying, good thumb ergonomics||Top-notch dexterity and durability, great for technical descents and rope handling, fantastic feel||Good weather resistance, warm enough, bombproof, killer price|
|Cons||Wrist enclosure gets in the way of jacket, not as warm after batteries die, heavy, pricey||Not super dexterous, inner glove not as durable||Poor dexterity, liner packs out a little quicker than other options||Not as warm as other models, weather resistance requires more maintenance than other models||Slightly tighter fit around the knuckle, dexterity|
|Bottom Line||Black Diamond's offering in the heated glove market is a high quality leather glove with an on-demand three mode heating system.||You'll love this glove if you do multi day tours and spend a lot of time in the backcountry.||This contender offers the highest level of warmth, yet still allows you to reasonably perform basic tasks required of resort skiing.||The Fall Line is tough and offers optimal dexterity for almost any application.||Our go-to gloves in this price range. It should be considered for folks looking for a slightly warmer glove among budget-friendly models..|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Solano Heated||Outdoor Research Alti||Black Diamond Mercury Mitt||Hestra Leather Fall Line||Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II|
|Water Resistance (25%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond...||Outdoor Research...||Black Diamond...||Hestra Leather...||Gordini GTX Storm...|
|Double or Single Glove||Single||Double||Double||Single||Single|
|Gaunlet or Cuff?||Cuff||Gauntlet||Gauntlet||Cuff||Gauntlet|
|Palm Material||Goat leather||Alpengrip||Goatskin Leather||Impregnated cowhide aniline||Goatskin leather palm|
|Waterproof Material||Gore-Tex insert||Gore-Tex insert||Shell: Pertex Shield, Liner: BDry||Leather||Gore-Tex insert|
|Insulation Type||Back of hand: 170g PrimaLoft Gold; Palm: 100g fleece||PrimaLoft® HiLoft Silver 100% polyester||Primaloft Gold and high-loft fleece||Foam||Megaloft insulation|
Best Overall Ski Gloves
Arc'teryx Fission SV
The Arc'teryx Fission SV is 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, this model would be it. Time and time again, the Fission SV would be our 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. The Fission SV was also impenetrable to water during our submersion test, letting no moisture in at all. This is a crucial factor in the overall performance of this glove, and another reason it received our highest accolade.
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. The lack of a wrist cinch became an inconvenience for snow and cold air entering the glove. 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 SV
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. We loved that this mitt comes with an insulated liner, which is much more dexterous than the shell.
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. Among the mitts we tested, these have some of the least durability when worn in its warmest configuration (both liner and shell). Overall, folks who want mittens tend to run cold, and these mitts will do darn near everything to keep that from being an issue.
Read review: Black Diamond Mercury Mitt
Best Bang for your Buck
Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II
Ski gloves come and go, but the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II has been around for a long time, and we hope it stays that way. Our testers are continually impressed by how well this glove hangs with the big dogs while costing half the price (or even less!). It will absolutely serve the needs of the average resort skier, and for a better price than any other we've found, earning it our Best Buy Award. It has a lot of leather for the price, boosting its longevity into multiple ski seasons. It's also very waterproof — we never experienced cold and wet hands in these gloves.
While our hearty testers found these gloves warm enough for most days on the ski hill, they are a significant step away from the warmest of the gloves we tested. They also aren't as dexterous as high-end models, but still sufficient for most resort tasks (zipping zippers, adjusting goggles, buckling ski boots). Also, if you have wide knuckles/fingers, this glove tends to fit tight, so you might want to size up or find another pair. Really, these are minor quips for most folks. If you would rather spend your cash on the apres scene than a top-shelf pair of gloves, these are the budget-friendly gloves we recommend most.
Read review: Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II
Top Pick for Warmth
Black Diamond Guide
The Black Diamond Guide is 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 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.
While they can still perform many tasks, it's obvious that these gloves simply aren't as dexterous as most gloves out there. There's just too much thick leather and insulation (the things that make it super warm and water-resistant) that get in the way of fine motor skills. Also, the inner liner isn't all that refined — it's nothing special, although we appreciate the versatility that this double glove provides. Other than that, there's little to bark about here. These gloves are mega popular, as they should be, for being beasts in cold weather.
Read review: Black Diamond Guide
Top Pick for Touring
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, heated 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 won't be wearing the glove the entire time — it's not suited for backcountry skiing. 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
Why You Should Trust Us
OutdoorGearLab Review Editors Ian Nicholson and Jeff Rogers combined their extensive collective experience in skiing, mountaineering, and cold weather travel to bring you a solid study of the best ski gloves and mittens out there. Ian works primarily as a mountain guide and was the youngest person on record to pass his American Mountain Guides Association rock and alpine guide exams. He also holds AIARE Level 3 certification and Level 1 avalanche instructor certification. Ski mountaineer Jeff Rogers brings added ski-specific experience to the team. He's got several 6000-meter ski descents on his resume, including Denali and peaks in Bolivia. In progress is his effort to tag the high points of all 50 states. Lastly, Travis Poulin also contributed to the testing of these gloves. He resides in Steamboat Springs, CO, making bamboo ski poles by hand. He is an avid backcountry skier, mountaineer, and climber bagging high peaks throughout the west.
Finding the best ski gloves and mitts available started with digging deep into the market - we looked at over 100 different models before deciding to purchase and test the ones discussed here. It all came down to a handful of factors that we decided before doing any testing were the most important things gloves and mitts need to do. Of course, we tested warmth, riding chairlifts, and skiing in the Cascades, Alps, Wasatch range, the Rockies, and Northeast US, as well as working in the field with the Northwest Avalanche Center. We tested water resistance, dunking the gloves in a bucket of water for two minutes, and comparing the results. We also tested dexterity, peeling and sticking lift tickets to our jackets and pants with the gloves on, as well as writing, buckling boots, and unlocking car doors. Finally, we kept a close eye on the durability of each model over the seasons of use we put them through.
Related: How We Tested Ski Gloves
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. We want our top-rated gloves to perform in all conditions and be versatile across many disciplines of skiing and other outdoor sports. We expect an award winner to be able to go for a light tour but also have the warmth, dexterity, and durability to summit a 14er in Colorado's high country on a subzero day.
Related: Buying Advice for Ski Gloves
To find out which ones truly perform a cut above the rest, we have been buying and testing a lot of ski gloves. Throughout several winters, we compared 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. Note that all scores are relative to the other products reviewed and that each scored performance metric is weighted relative to its general importance.
There are certainly functional and solid performing gloves that fall below the price of several of our award winners. Several years ago, this wasn't the case, and choosing our favorite budget-friendly was very challenging. Since then, budget gloves have been produced that are much warmer, dexterous, and waterproof than their inexpensive predecessors. Rejoice! Even when selecting models for this review, there were scores of affordable models considered. We bought several, and in the end, the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II proved to provide the greatest bang per buck. It covers the bases better than any model in its price range.
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. Similarly, more expensive gloves tend to be warmer than their less expensive counterparts. There is a limit though to how warm a glove can be (given current technologies available) — even in a triple-digit-priced glove, you can still get cold digits in severe cold!
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. Though it is a subjective category, we did our best to rate warmth with all of these factors taken into consideration.
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, cycling through them all day. 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 weren't. 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 is 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. He still has his fingers.
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 an option 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 low price 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.
This one was pretty easy to determine. We found the Black Diamond Mercury Mitt to be the top dog by a large margin. The Montana Mitt from The North Face is still warmer than pretty much all gloves (although it's very close with the BD Guide) and extremely waterproof, but not as toasty as the Mercury Mitts.Heated Glove Warmth
The gloves we tested that are capable of producing heat, instead of just retaining it from your hands, are the Outdoor Research Capstone, Black Diamond Solano, and the Outdoor Research StormTracker. There are three heat modes on each (low, medium, and high). These gloves were able to take our testers' hands from numb to warm in a matter of minutes at the press of a button. For the Capstone and the Solano, some of our testers preferred to blast them on high for a few minutes and then turn them off to save battery power. The thin StormTracker gloves were usually left on low heat for the duration of the recreation.
Unfortunately, the eternal battery hasn't been discovered, and these batteries certainly do run out. Most can only be run on high for an hour or two, and we didn't find any that could run on low for eight hours of skiing. Therefore, the heated gloves were also scored on when their batteries are dead. 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 power source when it no longer can heat the fingers after the battery dies (the battery pack becomes cold when it loses power).
Our testers agreed that the Capstone is the warmest of the heated models without battery power, having more insulation. It also has a wrist cinch that helps seal heat inside the glove. The Solano is a touch thinner and less warm without the electricity turned on, but this also made them less bulky and more dexterous. The StormTracker comes in at a lower price but lacks in durability and insulation, and is especially cold with dead batteries. The thin softshell construction makes them lightweight and dexterous but does not make up for the lack of warmth.
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 keys (with a clicker/fob and manually), tying shoelaces, attaching a lift ticket to a zippered pocket, zipping a jacket, taking a photo with a point-and-shoot camera, and writing our name with a pencil. If we encountered a tie, gloves that allowed us to write more legibly received 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 is the most dexterous glove we tested along with Arc'teryx Fission SV, which essentially performs the same. Each contender allowed the wearer to be nimble. Tieing a figure 8 knot or setting up a rappel? Not an issue while wearing these gloves.
The Black Diamond Legend isn't too far behind, either. These gloves are dexterous enough for easy-to-moderate ice climbing, mountaineering, or other technical applications where a relatively high level of dexterity is required. The heated OR StormTrooper gloves are by far the most mobile and flexible of the heated gloves. While we couldn't fully get behind them for resort use, we think they could be great for winter bike commuting and single-pitch ice climbs.
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 SV, however, provides above-average warmth with top-notch dexterity, bucking the trend. This is a huge reason why it's our favorite overall — with sufficient warmth and a great deal of dexterity, these gloves have a huge range of applications. If you're venturing into an extremely cold region, the Black Diamond Guide allows you to have the dexterity of individual fingers with the warmth that surpasses some mittens.
The Black Diamond Mercury Mitt isn'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. Among the mitts, The North Face Montana is the most dextrous.
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 ice 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 all scored in the top half of the competition overall. They were also among the more expensive gloves. Since this is a critical performance area for ski gloves, all our award winner nominations provide excellent water resistance.
The Outdoor Research 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 SV uses a stretchy, almost softshell-like material, it surprisingly proved to be among the most water resistant outer-layers we tested. The Mercury and Montana mitts survived our testing well regarding water resistance, keeping the water out completely.
Other top-performers in water resistance are the Black Diamond Guide, Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex, and Marmot Ultimate, along with the nearly-equally performing but much less expensive Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II. These are best for wetter, stormier climates like the Pacific Northwest, Western Canada, Japan, Alaska, etc.
Some models were knocked out immediately by the submersion test including the Flylow Ridge Glove, REI Guide Insulated, Black Diamond Legend, and the Outdoor Research Stormtracker. These gloves all readily absorbed water in our submersion tests, wetting out and becoming heavy. These are not our top recommendations for climates with wet and heavy snow.
We measured durability not only during our own use, punishing these products over hundreds of days during the past several winter 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. 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 Gordini GTX Storm Trooper II.
Almost as durable is the Arc'teryx Fission SV. 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 design allowed the operation of various features 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 liners of the Outdoor Research Highcamp and Dakine Titan are touchscreen compatible. New to the tech-friendly game are The North Face Montana Etip Mitts. The touchscreen-compatible thumb allowed for flawless smartphone use, which is rare for a mitten. 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 choose 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.
— Ian Nicholson, Jeff Rogers, and Travis Poulin