A decent pair of ski gloves is mandatory if you want to enjoy your time on the snow. Walk into any ski shop, though, and you’ll be presented with a mind-boggling array of different brands and styles. How do you choose the right ones?


Snowboard and ski gloves are designed to keep your hands warm and dry and to provide a measure of protection against contact with ice and snow. They are generally made using a three-layer design:

• An outer shell of nylon, Gor-tex, Kevlar or some similar flexible, hard-wearing material.
• A layer of insulation that traps air and provides warmth.
• An inner lining.

What to Look For

To ensure the ski gloves you choose perform adequately, you should look for certain features.

• Are they waterproof? Don’t settle for half measures like “water resistant” or “weather protective”. Even in a budget price range it isn’t difficult to find a properly waterproof glove.

• Are they windproof? If they aren’t, not matter what claims they make for their insulation your fingers will freeze.

• Is the material used in their construction breathable? Breathable, waterproof gloves might sound like a contradiction, but with modern fabric technology it’s possible. In fact, breathable fabric is the norm in ski and snowboard gear as it allows the moisture you produce by sweating to escape.

• Does the inner lining wick water? Wicking is another standard feature of performance fabrics. It is the quality the material has of drawing moisture away from the skin. Ever had a wet cotton t-shirt cling to you? Cotton doesn’t wick.

• Are the seams double-stitched and sealed? Unsealed seams will allow wind and water to enter the glove. Single-stitch construction is fine if you only need the gloves to last a season or two. If you’re looking for longer life, though, double- or triple-stitching will prove more durable.

Optional Features

In addition to the basic features that make a glove effective in the snow, there are a number of other options available that can be useful in certain conditions.

A lens squeegee. This is a small rubber blade attached to the outside of the glove’s forefinger. It is used as a mini windscreen-wiper to clear snow and rain from goggle lenses. Far from being gimmicky, lens squeegees are a very useful feature if you intend to ski in bad weather.

A nose-wipe. Sounds a little disgusting, but this patch of absorbent material on the thumb (which can be cleaned with a damp cloth) can save untold embarrassment when standing in lift lines on a cold day.

Reinforced palm and fingertips. Tougher material in these areas can extend the life of your gloves and provide better protection against sharp ski or board edges when carrying your gear.

Fit and Functionality

When buying ski gloves pay attention to how well they fit. They should be snug but comfortable and allow the range of movement necessary for the sport. If you’re a skier you’ll need to be able to grip your poles comfortably (try this in the shop) and get things out of your pockets. If you’re a boarder, take into account how easy or difficult adjusting your bindings will be.

Gloves that are too large will be difficult to get through ski pole loops and the excess room at the fingertips will contribute to heat loss. Gloves that are too tight will restrict circulation and prevent the insulating material from lofting properly – both features that will leave you with cold hands.

You want to keep snow and rain on the outside. To this end, gloves with cuffs long enough to overlap your jacket sleeves are desirable. Also, look for elasticated bands or Velcro straps designed to keep the glove snug against your wrist and prevent cold air from entering.

Some ski gloves have safety loops that fit over the wrist – useful to prevent the loss of a glove when removing them on the chairlift.

A final feature, which really helps prevent glove-loss on journeys to and from the ski slopes, is a small catch on the cuffs, allowing them to be clipped together. This makes it much less likely you’ll drop one without noticing.

Ski vs. Snowboard

If you’re a skier try to avoid snowboard gloves, they are generally less flexible and have more reinforcing on the palm which can make gripping ski poles difficult. If you’re a snowboarder the reverse applies – ski gloves may not provide the protection you need when grabbing those edges.

Leather Gloves

Leather ski gloves look great in the shop and are very warm and durable, but they require a lot of maintenance. Most leather isn’t fully waterproof and has to be regularly coated with Nikwax or some similar waterproofing agent. You might find this part of the fun of looking after your equipment, or you might find it a messy hassle. One thing’s for sure, if your gloves have a nubuck finish, that soft suede look will be forever gone after the first application of Nikwax.


As mittens do not have fingers, they provide greater warmth than gloves. If you plan to ski in very cold climates, or you really feel the cold, they might be for you. The lack of fingers, however, makes them extremely inconvenient when you want to get something out of your pocket or adjust your bindings.

Choose Carefully

A good pair of ski gloves doesn’t have to be expensive. Compare brands, ask for advice from the ski shop staff, identify what features each glove offers and take your time choosing. A little effort in the store will pay handsome dividends when the temperature drops below -10˚ and cold, wet slush falls from the skies.

Ski Gloves – Choosing the Right Pair, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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