Best Hiking Gloves (Buying Guide)
As the summer sun starts to fall and the temperatures too, it’s easy to bundle up and hibernate for a few months. Much like the brown bear with whom we share the grounds of several of our national parks, why putz about in the snowy terrain when we could just lay about with a good book and a cup of tea? But hey, of course, humans have been bestowed with two great advantages versus our mammalian compatriots: opposable thumbs and a taste for adventure. So don’t let those dwindling temperatures be any excuse for a reason not to frolic around the campsite in the freezing winter months, only to arrive when you’re physically ready but still hazy from the few months of inactivity. All you need are some reliable layers, hats, and a good pair of hiking gloves.
When it comes to hiking gloves, you have to know that these days there’s so much added technological improvements in a pair that it’s hard to know all the terms and to rank their given importance in this field. With so many different materials being used, 21st-century tech additions with old-school practicality as well, it’s a great time to buy a good pair of hiking gloves. So to save you some time and headache, we’ve created a thoughtful list, breaking down the best products on the market and a guide of the top technological terms these handy hand socks provide.
Having a reliable pair of gloves can be the difference between a good winter and a bad winter. As we’ve all heard there’s a famous saying, popular in the Nordic countries and with your snarky uncle, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” So let’s review what your activities are and what’s your range of winter sports you prefer, so we can consider what kind of gloves you should be looking for.
Glove shape and usage
If you’re looking for something to wear while walking around a winter campsite, it seems you’ll want to invest in something heavier and with more insulation, coming at the cost of your fingers’ dexterity and utility. If you’re staying out for something like weekends, full-weeks or even months in the outdoors when the sun’s not shining so much, you are definitely going to need a mitten or lobster claw style glove to protect your fingers.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re looking to engage in activities requiring a lighter and more breathable material once your hands warm up, that will mean less insulation around your fingers. If you partake in winter sports like mountaineering, cross country skiing, even a game of tennis when the temperatures are cool but the courts are still dry, look into a glove that has an individual pocket for each finger.
And so thus, the first you’ll want to decide which type of shape you are in the market for. A finger (a single compartment for each finger), lobster (individual compartments for your thumb and index, with the final three in a single shack), or mitten design (thumbs in one compartment, the other four fingers encased in an ensemble). Mittens make sense when keeping warm and insulation are your highest priory, finger gloves when dexterity is the top concern, and lobster design tries to bridge the two concerns evenly.
Now that we’ve talked about glove size and shape, let’s consider how you will be using these gloves. If it’s just to keep your fingers warm while completing day hikes, feel free to find finger gloves with maximum dexterity. As we mentioned earlier, if you’re climbing in the winter or gripping a walking pole or even scrambling past some rocks, you’ll need some added durability on the palm. This is the part of the glove that experiences the most wear, so ideally search out gloves with a reinforced palm area.
Also, it’s important to look up the weather before. Will it be raining, or are you planning your nature destination in a rainy area? Best to invest in some waterproof gloves or at least some with a waterproof shell that you can slip on. The only way to have 100% waterproof gloves is with a rubber or vinyl material, which unfortunately comes at the cost of zero breathability. So if you really need that water protection, be prepared for some sweaty hands.
And then, of course, the weather. The colder, the more bulk you are going to need in your gloves in the form of added insulation, and with that tradeoff, less mobility you’ll be able to have. If you’re in a potentially dangerous environment when it comes to dwindling temperatures, of course, this is an easy decision to make. Always stay safe in the outdoors, and stay warm, even if it means your fingers are bundled together in a mitten glove. And now, onto the product reviews.
Best Hiking gloves – Overview
1. Black Diamond Soloist Gloves
We wanted to start the list with these gloves from Black Diamond because they are a great combination of all the features we’ve previously addressed. With assured insulation as well as superior dexterity, these soloist gloves are right at the nexus of form meets function. We believe they make a great pair because they don’t restrain the fingers when moving around on the trails, and with their 92% Nylon, 8% Spandex outer shell combination, the product is both breathable and dry with an intact outer shell.
Additionally, the fingertips and palms have been doubled over with a goat leather palm grip, meaning they’ll last throughout the season and stay comfortable and effective. Their durability, breathability, and dexterity make these a great option, no matter your outdoorsmen’s activity.
- Great mobility
- Lightweight and durable
- Compared to other gloves, limited insulation
2. Marmot Evolution Glove
- Durable cross country skiing gloves do an excellent job of protecting your hands from the elements while also allowing them to breathe
When we think of the winter months, it’s hard not to think of the snow, ice, and slush that clutter up our paths and streets. It can be overwhelming, even devastating, to the amateur outdoorsmen. But we who have grown up with this weather know that you cannot let it defeat you, and instead, you must continue to go out there and explore as we do throughout the other three seasons. Life is too beautiful to skip out on when there are some cold breezes and snowy treetops.
This is why I love cross-country skiing, and specifically why I love the Marmot evolution glove. These lightweight warm gloves have some fantastic capabilities, including a Gore-Tex Windstopper lining to keep the heat in and the cold out. The two-part operation is a welcome addition. The soft-shell is made up of polyester with leather reinforcements on the palm, index finger, and all the tips of the other fingers. They’ll keep you warm, they’re not too bulky, and they offer some helpful dexterity. We like what these guys have been working on over at Marmot.
- Gore-Tex Windstopper lining
- Simple design
- Could offer more insulation
- One of the more expensive five finger gloves
3. Outdoor Research Alti Gloves
In 2019, all fabrics and wearable technologies need to consider one thing: smartphone access and accessibility. Especially when you’re out on the trails, the necessity of being able to look up your maps and GPS location, a compass for direction, a camera to take great photos, and countless other needs. And when the weather drops down below zero, the last thing you want to do is take off your fingers and expose those little wiggly things at the end of your hands to the cold winter air.
Fortunately, these are both watercress and come with touch screen capability, so you can upload selfies comfortable without exposing your hands to the cold weather. Hikers love these water-resistant gloves, especially those who need something a little more durable.
The gloves also have some great features, including a removable liner so you can wash them when you get home from a sweaty hike. Plus a removable leash means you’ll never have to lose your gloves or find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance when you can’t find the right glove or the left. Speaking of keeping them locked on a leash, they also come with a carabiner loop and glove clip, if you can imagine yourself repelling down the backside of some windy mountain ranges in the near future. If that’s the case, you’ll probably have a runny nose as well, and fortunately, these come with a nose-wipe area on the thumb. This polyester, nylon and spandex blend comes together for a pretty heavy 10.9 ounces, but know that you’re getting tons of protection for that price point.
- Lots of padding and insulation
- Loads of features, including smartphone touch screen access
- Heavy at a bulky 10.9 ounces
- A bit more expensive than other features products
4. The North Face Unisex Etip Glove
These are a sweet option as well because they offer all the amenities of a fast winter glove without bogging you down. This 1.58-ounce polyester blend is not waterproof but is windproof, meaning your hands will stay warm as long as you keep them dry. If you’re trekking up a trail on a brisk winter morning, and want to keep warm but without something so burdensome, then these are a great pair of winter hiking gloves. Especially for those who just want some lightweight gloves in their hiking gear stash, something simple made of effective synthetic materials. Arguably the best gloves in their weight class, you’ll keep your fingers toasty with these tip gloves. They’re also quite stylish, with a simple minimalist design that looks great on any person. With their touchscreen compatibility and unisex range, consider The North Face etip gloves for anyone in your family.
- They’re lightweight
- Easy on the wallet
- Don’t offer much insulation
- Beyond touchscreen capability, they don’t offer many other features
5. Outdoor Research Versaliner
- Fabric Performance: Highly Water-Resistant, Durable, Breathable, Lightweight, Wicking, Quick Drying
These 100% Nylon gloves are a great find when the weather turns cold. With a 100-weight fleece insulating liner gloves plus a removable waterproof and breathable Pertex Shield DS stretch ripstop fabric shell, your hands will never have to worry about numbness or discomfort. The wicking verbalizers installed within fight off weather so you can kick back and enjoy the views. Plus the zipper on the backhand self-storage area doubles as a heat pack pocket, so if you need that extra boost of heat, the clever design keeps you okay and the cold out. We’re seriously impressed with how much helpful stuff they’ve packed into this product.
These durable gloves are also machine washable, so toss them in the laundry at the end of a long weekend away and wake up with a practically brand new pair. Plus the wicking components mean you’ll stay safe and dry thanks to these fleece gloves when the sun drops down. They’re ingenious for having a fleece liner as well, providing necessary layering you don’t often see when discussing these kinds of gloves.
- Durable and reliable comfort
- Machine washable with removable liners
- Limited insulation and full-weather protection
- No smart touch connection
6. Gordini Gore-Tex Gauntlet Gloves
- Shell: 100% nylon Ergotek mini ripstop with Blastex
When discussing the best winter gloves, it really depends on what outdoor activities you like to do. If you prefer backpacking across mountain ridges caked in snowfall, these moisture-wicking gloves are a great idea. They have abrasion-resistant palms so they’ll stay sturdy throughout the season, with a double reinforced palm patch as well. The high-quality stitching on these gauntlets is evident as soon as you put them on.
When you put them on, you’ll also notice that these guys tend to run a bit large, so if you’re not sure, we suggest bumping down a size if you’re between two options. The inner Gore-Tex insert was great wicking abilities, and if you’re on a budget it’s the perfect autumn and winter weather gloves to buy.
- Affordably priced for amenities provided
- Lightweight at 8 ounces
- May not offer enough insulation, depending on your needs
- A bit of a clunky feel
7. SealSkinz Scafell Gloves
- Weather Protection - The gloves commit to remaining totally waterproof and windproof.
These sealskinz are a really cool glove with top performance to deter inclement conditions. They’re totally waterproof and also have great windproofing advantages. And yet they are still super breathable, generating a comfortable and dry environment for your fingers and palms. Your thumbs will notice the excellent grip and dexterity, thanks to the pre-curved outlet of the hand’s natural shape.
Though what’s really cool is that, like the other gloves we’ve listed, this one also has touchscreen capabilities, meaning you can touch your phone without having to take off your gloves. Not only can these guys handle your phone with care, but the Scafell can also handle pressure, wear, and damage so you never need to worry about having to look for a second pair in the midst of winter. A pretty good option at a pretty good price, it’s definitely something you’d want to mull over and look into.
- Touchscreen capability makes them a practical option
- Beautiful streamlined finish
- Again, not much insulation for those really cold nights
- Missing other technological additions that other gloves provide at the same price
With so many good gloves on the market, it’s tough to crystallise our thoughts into a single item. With so many factors to consider, especially the activities you hope to do with your gloves and the length of the winter season ranging across climates, we don’t have an obvious favourite applicable to each person. If you need something that has a lot of strength, technology and innovation, the Outdoor Research Alti gloves are a fantastic choice. They are durable, they have a leash and zipper to keep them stored and together, and they have loads of insulation. Throw into that equation the fact that they also have the touchscreen capability of other gloves listed, and they become a pretty heavy favourite in their market.
However, some hikers only need a lean, clean simple glove to get them through the trails when the snowfalls. If you need something a bit more simple and elegant, we recommend the North Face Etip glove. The minimal design is a perfect pairing for their technological developments, and the price tag makes them a good entry-level choice.
All in all, we recommend any glove that won’t prevent you to go out and enjoy the natural wonders of your area when the temperatures drop. As long as you feel comfortable out and about on the trails, climbing the mountains, hopping past frozen streams or stepping over the frosted granite stones of the back trail, we wish you the best of luck.
Bonus tip: If you want to try your hand at making your own gloves this winter, check out this neat DIY tutorial on homemade fleece gloves. It definitely gives you an appreciation for the difficulty of crafting these products!