Dexterity in ski gloves and mittens
Dexterity in gloves and mittens for skiing and snowboarding is a complicated issue, with lots of variables that steer buying decisions.
What set of glove design variables provide the best dexterity?
A super thin glove with maximum stretch and minimum insulation.
That’s not exactly the answer you were looking for in a ski glove worn in the cold, with variable weather conditions. So, the real question is what set of glove design variables provide the best dexterity without compromising too much warmth?
I often read glowing reviews of the dexterity of certain gloves, only to find that they have 40 grams of insulation or less. These type of winter work gloves are very common and are widely available at hardware stores, Home Depot and Walmart. Many ski glove companies utilize this strategy as well (with a hefty mark-up). These are very popular with Ski Patrol, and skiers and snowboarders with lower glove budgets. The real problem in my experience is that my hands just can’t handle the cold with these types of winter gloves that maximize dexterity, while minimizing insulation levels.
So, what set of glove design variables provide the best dexterity AND are still very warm?
- Use of non-rigid materials that break in over time, stretch and conform to your hand’s unique shape and size.
- Maximum breathability: Dry hands are essential to the best grip possible. When a glove is highly breathable, less insulation is needed, thereby increasing dexterity. “Water-proof” membranes are usually the culprit in decreasing breathability of a glove. The extra layer literally puts plastic between the liner and shell, and significantly decreasing moisture transfer.
- Natural cowhide, tanned and treated for maximum softness and grip. The surface of the palm is perhaps the most important variable. It has to be soft and grippy.
- Thin, dense insulation that retains excellent warmth with around 200 grams of insulation. Lofty insulation make your hands feel like they’re floating inside the glove. And when compressed (gripping a ski pole or climbing tool), they lose their thermal dynamics. Compress the loft, compress the warmth. “Thin” insulation retains its warmth when compressed.
- Both long-cuff and short-cuff gloves can have excellent dexterity and grip, but short-cuff gloves that employ an over-sized hook & loop closure (Velcro®) are best. The better the glove grips your wrist, the less the palm moves. Watch Major League baseball players regularly re-tighten the straps on their batting gloves. That is to maintain optimum grip and dexterity.