What are the Best Warm Gloves?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The best warm gloves vary, depending on the person wearing the gloves and what he or she will be doing while wearing them. Heavy ski gloves, for example, are quite warm and perfect for skiers and snowboarders, but they may be less suitable for horseback riders or people who are working outside. There are a few things to consider when evaluating gloves which will help people choose the best gloves for their needs.

Gloves with water resistant outer shells keep hands dry.
Gloves with water resistant outer shells keep hands dry.

A few traits are common to all warm gloves. The first is the presence of waterproofing, so that the gloves do not get wet from ice, snow, and liquids. If the gloves get wet, they can get cold, and their insulating properties will be greatly reduced. Good gloves should also have a wicking liner that pulls moisture away from the hand, keeping it dry.

Wool is a good insulator that keeps hands warm when wet.
Wool is a good insulator that keeps hands warm when wet.

In addition to waterproofing, a solid pair of gloves should also have some form of insulation, either synthetic or natural. Natural fibers like down and wool make great insulators, as do some synthetics. Many gloves designed for warmth are bulky, as air makes a great insulator when combined with another insulating material.

Synthetics tend to be preferable for the outer layer of the glove. The best warm gloves are often made with proprietary synthetic materials Kevlar® or GORE-TEX® and the liners may be synthetic as well with materials like Thinsulate™ or they may be made with natural materials like Thermasilk®, made from specially handled and treated silk. The gloves should have at least three layers: an outer layer, and insulating layer, and a liner.

For people engaging in tasks that need some coordination, like riding a horse or chopping wood, the best gloves will allow a free range of motion for the hand. Some may have fingertips that slip off for fine tasks. For situations in which the hands need to be warm, but not particularly adept, warm mittens or bulky gloves will work perfectly well, keeping the hands snug and warm so that the fingers do not experience extreme cold.

Many reviews of individual products can be found online, and people can certainly reference them when looking for warm gloves. Visiting an outdoor store to try on gloves in person and get advice from staff is highly recommended, so that people can see how gloves feel and determine whether or not they will work for their purposes.

People engaged in activities like horseback riding often need warm gloves that offer a certain degree of mobility.
People engaged in activities like horseback riding often need warm gloves that offer a certain degree of mobility.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I'm a professional skier, and in addition to my gloves I also bought the Senses hand warmer from my local Rite Aid store and have been using it for the second year. I absolutely love it. It's safe and effective at the same time.


@OeKc05 – I don't usually have to deal with snow, either. I prefer gloves that are woven like a sweater to the waterproof kind.

I like for my hands and fingers to be wrapped in something cozy and fuzzy. Soft material seems to keep them warmest of all.

I tried wearing some mittens once, but I missed having access to all my fingers! I don't mind wearing thick gloves, as long as the fingers are separated.


I got some ladies warm gloves for my birthday that allow my fingers some flexibility yet keep them warm at the same time. They have spandex in them, but they are covered in black leather in certain spots.

They are great for driving. I can still change the radio station with these gloves on, because they aren't awkwardly bulky.


I have warm waterproof gloves that I use for building snowmen and making snowballs. As anyone who has ever done this with an inadequate pair of gloves knows, a little bit of moisture from snow can turn your fingers to icicles in seconds!

They are both thick and waterproof. They are insulated with air and some other material, and the outside is made of the same stuff as windbreakers.

I don't leave the house without them when there's snow on the ground. I would hate to be caught in a snowball fight without my waterproof gloves!


I hardly ever get snow where I live, so my warm winter gloves don't have to be waterproof. I have a pair made of a thick fuzzy material all the way through, and they keep my fingers from getting cold.

They must be half an inch thick! The material will allow a few drops of water to bead up on it, but it will get soaked if you actually dip your hand in water.


I got a pair of thinsulate fleece lined leather gloves for driving, (15 below temps) and they are not warm at all. Nothing is warmer than wool I find, and I am going out to find some. I suspect a substantial tight knit wool liner inside a leather glove is ideal for driving.


Living in Vermont means dealing with cold five-month long winters. There is nothing worse than waking up an hour early to brush off and warm up your car than hopping in a cold car and turning your fingers to icicles on the steering wheel. Since I choose not to wake up early, driving gloves have become an absolute necessity.

I drive a standard so bulky gloves just won't cut it. I need to be able to feel the shifter and steering wheel while I am driving in six inches of snow on ice. My best warm driving gloves are made with thinsulate lining and soft deer skin leather exterior. The gloves are low profile, but warm and breathable. I still feel like I can feel the car, and they are also useful when scraping ice off my windshield.


As far as warm ski gloves are concerned, nothing beats a pair of Gore-Tex Mittens. They are indestructible, and they will keep you warm at even in the coldest temperatures.

I ski and snowmobile and when you have powder constantly flying off your goggles and gloves, your hands will get cold real fast. My vote lies with mittens.


Crocheted gloves or knitted gloves are very warm. However, they are not great if you are going to be playing in the snow or getting wet because they will soak up the moisture and your hands will get very cold!

If you are just trying to keep your hands warm on a cold day, they are great.

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