Our Ski Glove Buyer's Guide focuses on design variables and materials used in the construction of gloves and mittens. This guide focuses on arming you with practical knowledge for the actual selection and purchase of your new gloves. But make sure to educate yourself on the designs and materials before moving forward.
Answer these basic questions:
1) The most important thing to consider is your budget -how much you can spend? This seems like such an obvious first decision, but no other guide online says this because those guides want your money and the more the better (for them). DO NOT ASSUME you get what you pay for. There are a lot of expensive, crappy gloves. There are also a lot of cheap, excellent gloves. But know, if you go to a retail ski shop, you will invariably get the expensive-is-better sales pitch. Arm yourself with this insider knowledge: most expensive ski gloves derive their price from retail markup, branding and addition of design variables that DO NOT make the gloves better (name brand liners, name brand insulation, branded leather, etc.).
2) What is the predominant weather where you ski? Do you live in Eastern Canada where it's very cold, the Pacific Northwest where it's warmer and wetter, or do you live in Central Rockies where it's colder and drier? WAIT! This is a bit of trick question, because there is no predominant weather anywhere where you and I ski -there are always wide swings and variable weather conditions. That is the nature of winter (outside of the Polar regions). Now certainly, the regional stereotypes I listed above are often true, but they do not conform to these stereotypes enough that this should be your primary focus in regards to choosing ski gloves.
The best advice I can give you as a ski glove company owner (who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has lived his adult life in Utah) is the more variable the conditions are where you ski, the more important glove versatility is. But what makes a glove versatile? Stay tuned.
3) How easily do your hands get cold? Do you have circulation issues such as Raynaud's Syndrome? If you suffer from cold hands you should only buy mittens. But, if you must have 5-finger gloves you need the warmest you can find. Free the Powder was founded to solve this problem - dexterity and warmth. We solve this conundrum with breathable materials. Learn more
4) What type of winter activities will you be doing? Lift-accessed, lower energy resort skiing will allow you to use more heavily insulated gloves, while backcountry skiing, climbing and mountain winter work will probably require less insulation and more focus on dexterity.
5) What is your own personal style? Do you like the appearance of ski gloves better, or mittens or "three-finger lobster" gloves; do you prefer long gauntlet-style cuffs that go over the sleeves of your jacket or shorter gloves that go under-the-cuff; do you prefer leather or synthetic; do you prefer all-black gloves or multi-colored?
OK, so now that you have answered these questions, it's time to consider the design variables:
1) Mittens or Gloves? Generally, mittens are warmer, while gloves provide better dexterity. It really is up to individual needs and preference. Gloves v. Mittens Guide
2) Which style, short or long? This really comes down to whether you prefer to wear your glove cuffs under your jacket sleeves. Learn more about the pros and cons of each style
3) Removable or sewn-in fixed liners ? Removable liners can be really nice. The liners can be used by themselves as an effective second pair of light mittens/gloves, and they can be removed for quicker drying or washing. Learn the pros and cons of each liner
4) What type of insulation, and how much? There are many types of insulation: wool (Old-School), Thinsulate®, Thermolite®, Qualofill®, PrimaLoft®, Breathefil™, cotton, fiber pile, and goose down to name a few. The amount of insulation offered varies greatly. Ski Glove Insulation Guide
5) Battery Powered / Heated: ski gloves with heaters have become very popular. In theory, that seems like a great idea to guarantee toasty hands. Learn more about battery powered heated ski gloves
6) Dexterity and Grip: Gloves are better for dexterity, but you give away something really important, warmth, which gives a mitten much more versatility on a given day. Learn more about ski glove dexterity
7) Water-proofing: the more water-proof a glove is, the less breathable it is, decreasing its versatility. The importance of water-proofing really depends on how much wet weather you ski in. Guide to water-proofing of ski gloves
8) Leather or Synthetic? A leather glove is more form-fitting on your hand, is tougher and looks cool. But, is less breathable than nylon materials Guide to Leather Ski Gloves
9) Palm reinforcements: gloves with reinforcement patches that cover the high-wear areas last much longer. They are not always more expensive. Learn more about reinforcement patches
OK, so now that you have answered the basic questions and considered the design variables it's time for my advice on how to choose ski gloves among all the options:
-You are going to pay more in a retail ski shop than online. The potential benefit of the ski shop is your ability to try on the gloves before purchasing. The reason I hedge with the word "potential" is that it is most likely you will chose gloves that are too big, ignoring the fact that ski gloves will break-in substantially. The major pitfall (besides price) of the ski shop is you are probably going to get bad advice from salespeople who know very little about ski gloves. From time to time I go to ski shops and ask questions, pretending to know nothing about ski gloves. The unsatisfactory answers I get reinforce my decision to remain an all-online ski glove company.
Buy your gloves online!
-Make sure your gloves fit snug when new. They are going to break-in to varying degrees, depending on the stretch-ability of the materials (especially ours). The only time they should be roomy is if your #1 concern is warmth. Gloves that fit larger are warmer, due to increased breathability.
Choose gloves with stretchable materials!
-Everyone skis where the conditions are variable, so versatility is King in ski gloves. The #1 determinant of versatility is how breathable the ski gloves are. It's best to focus on warmth, instead of water-proofing, because the warm gloves that are breathable are going to work much better on most days and most conditions. Focus on water-resistance will only get you gloves that are good in the rain and not-so-good every other day. Cold is a lot more common in skiing than wet is. And besides, your hands are going to spend a lot more time wet in a "water-proof" glove that traps sweat moisture.
Choose breathable ski gloves!
Thanks for reading our How to Choose Ski Gloves | How To Buy Guide. Stay warm and happy.
Here are links to more of our informational guides: