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Winter hiking offers a unique and serene experience, transforming familiar trails into snowy wonderlands. However, the beauty of a winter landscape comes with its own set of challenges, not least of which is keeping your hands warm and dry. Choosing the best hiking gloves for your winter hikes is not just a matter of comfort; it’s a necessity for safety and enjoyment.
Gloves are more than just an accessory; they are an essential part of your winter hiking gear. The types of gloves available on the market are as varied as the conditions you might encounter. From light rain to extreme cold, there’s a pair designed to meet your specific needs. But with so many options, how do you make the best choice?
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the key features to look for when choosing winter hiking gloves. We’ll also provide our top picks for the season, ensuring you find the right size, material, and additional features that suit your needs. Whether you’re planning a short day hike or a more extended expedition, we’ve got you covered.
Why Do You Need Specialised Gloves for Winter Hiking?
Winter hiking is not just a colder version of your summer expeditions; it’s a different beast altogether. The challenges posed by cold weather, wet conditions, and even cold winds make it imperative to gear up appropriately. One of the most critical pieces of equipment you’ll need is a good pair of gloves.
The Challenges of Cold Weather
When the temperature drops, your body works harder to maintain its core temperature, often at the expense of your extremities. Cold hands are not just uncomfortable; they can lead to conditions like frostbite if not adequately protected. Specialised warm gloves designed for cold conditions offer thermal protection, keeping your hands warm for a long time.
The Importance of Waterproofing
Winter hikes often involve traversing snowy landscapes or crossing streams, making your hands susceptible to getting wet. Wet hands are not only uncomfortable but can also lead to a rapid loss of body heat. Therefore, waterproof gloves or at least water-resistant gloves are a must. Some gloves even come with a waterproof membrane for added protection.
Extra Warmth and Dexterity
Winter hiking often involves more than just walking. Whether you’re using hiking poles, accessing your water bottle, or operating a phone, you’ll need gloves that offer better dexterity without compromising on warmth. Look for gloves with removable liners or liner gloves that provide extra warmth while allowing for less dexterity when needed.
In extreme conditions, the right gloves can be a lifesaver. Features like gauntlet cuffs and wrist straps can prevent snow and cold air from entering the gloves, ensuring that you remain warm and safe throughout your hike.
Key Features to Look for in Hiking Gloves
Choosing the right pair of gloves for winter hiking involves more than just picking the warmest option on the shelf. Various factors contribute to the effectiveness and comfort of your gloves. Here’s what you should consider:
- Gloves made from synthetic materials like polyester and nylon offer good insulation and are generally more affordable. They are often treated for water resistance and can be a good value for your money.
- Merino wool is known for its natural insulating properties and breathability. Merino wool gloves are an excellent choice for those who prefer natural fibres and need breathable gloves.
- Leather offers excellent durability and a comfortable fit. Leather palm gloves provide better grip and are ideal for activities that require a firm hold on equipment.
Fit and Size
- A glove that fits well will offer better insulation. Look for options that provide a snug fit without restricting movement.
- Choosing the right size is crucial for both comfort and functionality. Many brands offer sizing guides to help you find the best fit.
- Whether you’re using hiking poles or operating a touch screen, you’ll need gloves that offer functionality for your index finger and middle finger.
- Some gloves come with pull-on loops, making it easier to put them on or take them off, especially in cold conditions.
- For extra warmth, consider gloves that come with removable liners or buy separate glove liners. These can be made from fleece lining or other insulating materials.
- For extreme weather conditions, look for gloves with gauntlet cuffs that can be tightened to prevent snow and cold air from entering.
Top Picks for Best Winter Hiking Gloves
Rab Men’s Power Stretch Contact Grip Glove
These gloves are perfect for those who need excellent grip and flexibility. Designed with a special contact grip, they are ideal for activities that require a firm hold on equipment, such as scrambling or using hiking poles.
- Excellent grip
- Good insulation
Berghaus Men’s Hillmaster Infinium Gloves
Built for durability and comfort, these gloves are a reliable choice for long hikes. They come equipped with a waterproof membrane, providing an extra layer of protection against wet conditions.
- Waterproof membrane
- Comfortable fit
Sealskinz Waterproof All-Weather Ultra Grip Glove
These gloves are a standout for their waterproof capabilities. Designed with a special waterproof membrane, they also offer excellent grip, making them versatile for various outdoor activities.
- Excellent grip
- Versatile use
Sealskinz Waterproof Extreme Cold Gloves
If you’re planning a hike in extreme cold conditions, these gloves are your go-to. They offer superior thermal protection and come with removable liners for added warmth.
- Extreme cold protection
- Removable liners
- Thermal insulation
Forclaz Mountain Trekking Gloves MT900
These gloves are designed for the tech-savvy trekker. With touchscreen compatibility, you can easily operate your phone without removing your gloves. They offer windproof protection and are a good option for hikes in windy conditions.
- Touchscreen compatible
- Versatile use
Black Diamond Pursuit Gloves
Known for their durability, these gloves are built to last. They come with leather palms for better grip and offer excellent thermal protection, making them suitable for extreme conditions.
- Leather palms
- Thermal protection
Icebreaker Merino Oasis 200 Glove Liners
These glove liners are made from merino wool, offering natural insulating properties. They can be worn alone for light activities or used as a base layer for extra warmth.
- Merino wool
- Natural insulation
- Versatile use
The North Face Denali SE Leather Men’s Gloves
These leather gloves are both durable and comfortable. They come with a waterproof shell, providing an added layer of protection against wet conditions.
- Waterproof shell
The North Face Apex Insulated Etip Men’s Gloves
Designed with functionality in mind, these gloves offer touchscreen compatibility. They provide good insulation and are versatile, making them suitable for a range of outdoor activities.
- Touch screen compatible
- Good insulation
How to Care for Your Gloves
Investing in a good pair of gloves is just the first step; maintaining them is equally important to ensure they last for many seasons to come. Here’s how you can take care of your gloves:
Cleaning and Storage
- Cold Fingers, Warm Water: Contrary to what you might think, it’s best to wash your gloves in warm water. Cold fingers are a sign that your gloves need a good clean.
- Dry Hands, Happy Hiker: Always make sure to dry your gloves properly before storing them. This prevents the inner lining from developing odours and ensures you have dry hands the next time you use them.
- UV Rays and Material Wear: Some gloves come with UV protection. If yours don’t, consider using a UV-protective spray to shield the material from UV rays, which can degrade the fabric over time.
Everyday Use and Special Care
- Everyday Use: For gloves that you use frequently, a regular wash and air-dry cycle is sufficient. However, for gloves designed for extreme weather conditions, special care may be needed.
- Breathable Shells and Inner Layers: If your gloves have breathable shells or removable inner layers, make sure to wash these separately according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Longevity and Value
- Good Value: Taking proper care of your gloves not only extends their lifespan but also makes them a good value investment for your outdoor activities.
- Great Choice for Longevity: Opting for gloves with durable materials like leather or synthetic insulation is a great choice if you’re looking for something that will last.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the right pair of gloves for winter hiking is a decision that can significantly impact your comfort, safety, and overall experience. From the type of glove material to the fit and additional features, there are several factors to consider. Whether you’re looking for gloves that offer excellent thermal protection for colder temperatures or a pair that provides a comfortable fit for everyday use, there’s something out there for everyone.
Remember, the bottom line is that a good pair of gloves is an investment in your outdoor adventures. By taking the time to choose the right pair and caring for them properly, you’ll ensure that your hands stay warm and dry, no matter the conditions. And let’s face it, warm hands make for a much more enjoyable hike.
So, go ahead and make your pick from our top choices, and don’t forget to consider the various features that are important to you. Whether it’s water resistance for wet conditions or synthetic insulation for extra warmth, the options are plentiful. Happy hiking!