Depending on where you live winters can either be bearable (cough* Florida) or freezing (hello New York). Unfortunately we can’t hibernate like bears when the cold hits, we have to fight through it and keep working and playing! 

To work and play effectively and comfortably outside, we need to have warm hands, and the easiest way to accomplish this is by having a nice pair of winter gloves. This blog article is meant to give you insights into what to look for when buying the best cold weather gloves. So let’s get you out hiking, riding your motorbike, fishing, or whatever activity you desire with the most comfortable and durable gloves possible.

For our hands to stay warm they need to avoid exposure to water, cold infiltration, and losing body heat. For gloves to be able to reduce the likelihood of any of these things happening you’ll need a glove that has one of the following features:

  • Moisture-wicking glove liner: If you are in a cold and dry climate, then you may not need waterproof or water-repellent winter gloves. But if you need water-wicking gloves, then a wicking glove liner is what you should be on the lookout for. 
  • Waterproof or water-repellent glove with insulated lining: If you will using gloves in a wet and slushy environment then you’ll want a waterproof or water-repellent glove (discussed below)

Glove lining/liners can be made of materials such as: Powerstretch, Merino wool, Silk, Polypropylene, Spandex, Twill, or Polyester. Each has its own unique benefits.

2. Waterproofing/Water-repellency

Finding a completely waterproof glove can be difficult when choosing a glove. Look for gloves that have waterproof ratings that will suit your needs. Here is a table to help guide you in understanding waterproof ratings:

Waterproof rating (mm) Resistance level provided Conditions
0 – 1,500mm Water-resistant/snowproof Very light rain, dry snow, no pressure
1,500 – 5,000mm Water-resistant/snowproof (minimal) Light rain, dry snow, minimal pressure
6,000 – 10,000mm Waterproof/rainproof under light pressure Light rain, average snow, light pressure
11,000 – 15,000mm Waterproof/rainproof except under higher pressures Moderate rain, snow, moderate pressure
16,000 – 20,000mm  Waterproof/rainproof under high levels of pressure Heavy rain, wet snow, moderate pressure (Pacific Northwest climate ideal)
20,000mm+  Waterproof/rainproof under very high levels of pressure Heavy rain, wet snow, high pressure (extreme climates)

Make sure you buy with waterproof and water-resistant levels (mm) in mind, to avoid any unexpected surprises (not the good kind).

3. Glove heating

Heated winter gear is beginning to become all the rage. This includes heated gloves. People are discovering that heated gloves can minimize the size of winter gear, and heat products up to temperatures much higher than unheated winter gear. The choice will come down to what you desire, if it’s more heat than there is no real downside to purchasing a pair of heated gloves.

Heated gloves are powered by rechargeable batteries, which heat electric heating elements built into the gloves. Heated gloves come in the same materials and waterproof materials as regular gloves, so they can be used as a regular glove or a heated glove, which is great if you need the option of heating up your hands in very cold temperatures. Typically heated gloves will heat your hands up to temperatures up to 150ºF with multiple settings leading up to this heat setting. Battery life will depend on the heating temperature you use on the glove, with they typically can last for up to 7 hours on a low setting.

4. Range of motion (dexterity)

The last consideration is finding a glove that doesn’t seriously disrupt your range of motion.  You want a glove that is nice and warm, waterproof, and not too bulky that it causes your dexterity to be hindered. Typically you will want a glove with more quality material and is made from thin insulation. Buying a heated glove is a nice workaround for this issue, as they provide maximum heat with minimal bulky materials.

Check out our complete guide to gloves that help you select a pair of winter gloves, which will keep your hands warm, dry, heated, and dextrous!