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Cold Hands? How To Buy Good Winter Gloves

Updated on December 8, 2010

It's important to stay warm during the cold seasons of fall and winter. One of the most important piece of clothing we buy are gloves. Aside from our head, we lose most of our body heat through our hands. Gloves help keep blood flowing through our hands and prevent them from getting frostbites. Some gloves are good for chilly evenings while others are better for the blistering cold. Some even have pouches where you can insert hand warmers to further help keep your hands warm. There are three main things to consider when buying a pair of gloves. Price, function and comfort. A general rule when buying gloves is to choose 2 out of the 3 rules. There are also different types of gloves. Let's look at them and see which is right for you.

Under Armour Liner Gloves
Under Armour Liner Gloves

Liner Gloves

Liner gloves are light and thin. They are also very cheap. While they don't offer the best protection from the cold, they do have exceptional versatility. You can easily store a pair of liner gloves in your pockets and not notice them. Bigger and bulkier gloves are noticeable and take up more room. This means you wouldn't likely carry them due to space constraints. Most men's jacket have an inside pocket. A good idea is to carry a light pair of liner gloves inside your jacket pocket and keep it there. Liners gloves are generally plain and unisex in design. When your date or significant other gets cold hands, you will earn extra points when you offer them your gloves. Make sure to get them in a snug fit. If you get a more capable gloves, you can wear your liner gloves inside them adding another layer of warmth.

Winter Gloves

Dakine Titan Gloves
Dakine Titan Gloves

Winter gloves are big and bulky. They offer better heat insulation compared to liner gloves but they are also much less comfortable. You will lose a lot of dexterity with winter gloves. Be sure to try them on. You would want to get the most comfortable pair. Winter gloves are much more expensive than liner glovers. Expect to spend over $50 for a good pair. I own a pair of Dakine winter gloves made for skiing and they are fantastic. Materials are very important for a higher quality winter gloves. Leather gloves are an excellent material. They are durable and comfortable once you break them on. Leather acts as a second skin and is highly sought after for gloves. You can have a relatively thin pair of leather gloves that will do a great job of keeping your hands warm. Despite its advantages, leather has its downsides. Leather is not breathable. This means if you start to sweat in your gloves, your hands will stay wet. If you hands start to get cold after a sweat, it can freeze resulting in very bad frostbites.

My Dakine gloves are not made of leather. Synthetic gloves may not be as comfortable as leather but they are getting close. While they lack in comfort compared to leather gloves, they make up in versatility and function. My Dakine gloves have a Gore-Tex membrane. Gore-Tex is an artificial material that is both protective from the elements and breathable. Gore-Tex is made up of microscopic pores that are big enough to let water vapor to pass through but small enough that it prevents liquid water from penetrating. This is the advantage of a synthetic, high quality glove. While leather still remains the material of choice for casual wear, synthetics like Gore-Tex will out-perform in both comfort and cold protection in active conditions where sweat is a possibility.

Hand Warmers

A nice feature with these gloves is the hand warmer compartments. Hand warmers are usually small, disposable packets that creates heat when exposed to air. They are usually used by skiers and hikers but have recently become available to the general public. Now, you can go to your local drug store and buy some. In this case, when I know conditions are going to get frigged, I pack a pair or two in my backpack just in case.

Dakine Cougar Mittens
Dakine Cougar Mittens


If you are faced with extremely cold conditions and have to go outside, then consider a different style of glove. The mitten. Mittens are not just for kids. Those who know better realize how good they are at keeping your hands warm. The mitten is used by many different people living in the arctic circle including Native Americans, Baltic people, and Vikings. The reason they are so good is they are designed to keep the fingers together. Keeping the fingers together means less heat is loss compared to traditional gloves. Mittens have less surface area compared to regular gloves. Although the mitten design is the best at keeping your hands warm, they do have a drawback. If you need to work outside, it may be difficult to do so. With mittens, you are basically handicapped to using 2 fingers including your thumb. Depending on your application, this may not be a drawback. 

Lobster Gloves

Pearl Izumi Men's Barrier Lobster Glove
Pearl Izumi Men's Barrier Lobster Glove

There is one other option when buying gloves. This is the lobster glove. Lobster gloves are relatively new. Popular among cyclists, lobster gloves fuses the advantages of mittens and the versatility of traditional gloves. Lobster gloves make it easier for cyclists to use the brake lever. With lobster gloves, you get 3 fingers. One dedicated to the thumb, one for the index and middle finger, and the last for the ring and pinky finger. Although lobster gloves are sold exclusively as cycling gloves, I can see them being used by people that want the warmth of mittens but also want the dexterity of traditional gloves.

"Different styles of gloves offer different benefits"

It is important to be prepared for the winter. Buying gloves may seem like a simple task but it's important to know and understand the different styles. Different styles of gloves offer different benefits. Some styles are more versatile while others offer more protection from the cold. Only you can decide which style is right for you. Be sure to keep this in mind next time you are buying a winter glove!

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