Lucy Wallace & Chris Townsend keep the worst of the weather at bay with a selection of warm and waterproof winter gloves
Sometimes, finding the perfect pair of winter gloves can feel a bit like searching for the Holy Grail. There’s a hackneyed saying that ‘there’s no such thing as a waterproof glove, due to the big hole where you put your hand in’. In a sense it’s true – in the worst weather, all gloves will wet out eventually. But don’t despair as good quality, well-fitting gloves can keep hands toasty in terrible weather for several hours.
Words: Lucy Wallace & Chris Townsend | Main Image: James Roddie
If you are going to be out in all weathers, consider paying that bit extra for a waterproof membrane, which protects from driving rain or wet snow. Make sure they have pre-curved fingers with seams out of the way of the fingertips for good dexterity. Warm, compressible insulation is also important – and there are many options to choose from, including synthetic lofting fills like PrimaLoft, and deep fluffy pile. The fit is key – it’s an important part of dexterity, but it also affects performance in other ways too.
If you have to take your gloves off to carry out a fiddly task, your hands will get cold, and moisture will find its way into the gloves. Not all gloves are the same shape, so try a few and track down a pair that work for you. The good news is that it’s likely other models made by the same brand will be a good fit too.
Be aware that in the worst winter weather, no glove will keep your hands dry all day. There are days on the hill when it is normal to go through three or four pairs. Having a stash of reliable gloves is helpful, and the best will also dry quickly so that they are ready for use the next day.
The best winter gloves | Our picks
- Rab Women’s Pivot Gore-Tex Gloves | RRP: $145 / £120 (Best Buy)
- Mountain Equipment Women’s Guide Gloves | RRP: £65
- Black Diamond Women’s Guide Gloves| RRP: $170 / £160
- Montane Women’s Supercell Gloves| RRP: $89 / £65
- Mountain Hardwear Women’s Cloud Bank Gore-Tex Gloves | RRP: $100 / £100
- DexShell Ultra Weather Winter Gloves | RRP: $52 / £45
- 66 North Langjokull | RRP: $80 / £50
- Extremities Furnace Pro | RRP: £50
- Outdoor Research Arete II Gore-Tex | RRP: $99 / £90
- Montane Anti-Freeze Packable Down Mittens RRP: $85 / £60
What makes a good winter glove for hiking
For durability and good grip on ice axes and trekking poles gloves should have textured, reinforced fingers and palms. An inner waterproof/breathable membrane will help keep out wind, rain and snow. Synthetic insulation dries quickly and retains some warmth when wet compared to down.
A curved shape is more comfortable and makes using your hands easier in thick gloves and mitts.
For the best dexterity and maximum warmth, gloves worn next to the skin should be close-fitting but not tight. If you want to wear thick gloves over liner gloves you may need to go up a size.
Bulky seams, especially round the fingers and thumb, reduce dexterity. Seams on the fingertips can wear more quickly than offset ones. Internal seams can rub, so fewer or none there is more comfortable.
Long cuffs that can be tucked inside jacket sleeves or pulled over jacket cuffs keep your wrists warm. To fit over jacket sleeves cuffs, need to be wide as well. Cuffs should be close-fitting or adjustable for warmth and to keep snow and rain out.
Leashes & clips
Wrist leashes on gloves and mitts mean you’re less likely to drop or lose them when you take them off. They can be worth fitting yourself if they are not provided. Gloves that clip together can be hung over a hipbelt or pack strap to prevent loss.
Some gloves have touchscreen-compatible material on fingers and thumbs – though using touchscreens with thick gloves can be difficult anyway.
The best winter gloves for women
Here are some of the best winter gloves for women all tested by outdoor enthusiast Lucy Wallace. Lucy had all these gloves on an extended test in the Scottish mountains, walking and mountaineering, since early 2022, during one of the wettest and wildest winters in memory. Weights are from both reviewers’ digital scales.
Rab Women’s Pivot Gore-Tex Gloves
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Price: $145 / £120
- Weight: 210g (L)
- Pros: Warm, dextrous, grippy
- Cons: Not touchscreen-friendly, short fingers
Materials: Gore-Tex, Pittards leather, PrimaLoft Gold insulation | Features: nose wipe, knuckle padding, long gauntlet with drawcord closure, wrist loops | Sizes: S, M, L | Men’s version: yes
Rab Pivot waterproof gloves are warm enough for most activities, including walking and climbing. The outer fabric is a stretch soft shell across the backs of the hands, and butter-soft Pittards leather on the palms and fingertips. The insulation is lovely compressible PrimaLoft Gold, and a silky microfibre lining wicks really well. The fit is narrow, and the fingers are a bit short – the gap between the fingers feels a bit like having webbed fingers.
Read our full Rab Women’s Pivot Gore-Tex Gloves review
Mountain Equipment Women’s Guide Gloves
- Rating: 4/5
- Price: £65
- Weight: 169g (L)
- Pros: Good value, dextrous
- Cons: Short cuff, not touchscreen-friendly
Materials: 100% polyamide shell, goatskin palm, microfleece and pile lining, Drilite waterproof insert | Features: karabiner loops, drawcord closure, nose wipe | Sizes: XS, S, M, L | Men’s version: yes
Mountain Equipment describes the Guide as ‘the workhorse’ of its extensive range of gloves. Tough polyamide shell, with grippy goatskin palms and a waterproof membrane. Fit suits broader hands, with pre-curved fingers and careful seam placement near the tips. Comes with karabiner clips on the middle finger and on the cuffs. Not the warmest gloves out there, but they are ideal for active use in the cold and damp conditions that are typical of British winters.
Read our full Mountain Equipment Women’s Guide Gloves review
Black Diamond Women’s Guide Gloves
- Rating: 4/5
- Price: $170 / £160
- Weight: 300g (L)
- Pros: Extremely warm, removable inner glove, long gauntlet
- Cons: Reduced dexterity, expensive, not touchscreen-friendly
Materials: nylon, spandex shell, goat leather palm, PrimaLoft Gold, wool and microfleece liner, Gore-Tex waterproof insert | Features: nylon and goat leather outer with insulated waterproof liner Snow cuff, with drawcord, foam knuckle pad | Sizes: XS, S, M, L | Men’s version: yes
The Black Diamond Guides are by far the warmest pair of gloves that I tested. The outer shell is beautifully constructed from supple soft shell and goatskin. The removable liners are waterproof, and dry much more quickly than one-piece gloves. The long cuff has a drawcord and is designed to go over shell clothing – perfect for powdery snow days, but less useful in freezing rain.
Read our full review Black Diamond Women’s Guide Gloves review
Montane Women’s Supercell Gloves
- Rating: 4/5
- Price: $89 / £65
- Weight: 189g (L)
- Pros: Dextrous, good value
- Cons: Not touchscreen-friendly, not as warm as some
Materials: Granite Stretch soft-shell, 500D nylon reinforcement, goatskin palm, Freeflow Mantle waterproof membrane, pile lining | Features: leash strap, elasticated cuff and wrist adjustment | Sizes: XS, S, M, L | Men’s version: yes
Despite having tons of pile insulation, the Montane Supercell is very nimble-fingered. The shape is narrow and will suit people with slender hands and long digits, and it is the perfect fit for me. The pile lining feels lovely, and whilst not as warm as some it is enough for active use in typical British winter conditions. Supple goatskin palms provide grip and protection from the head of an ice axe.
Read our full Montane Women’s Supercell Glove review
Mountain Hardwear Women’s Cloud Bank Gore-Tex Gloves
- Rating: 3/5
- Price: $100 / £100
- Weight: 191g (L)
- Pros: Warm, touchscreen-compatible
- Cons: Poor dexterity
Materials: nylon/goatskin shell, Gore-Tex insert, PrimaLoft Black insulation | Features: touchscreen-compatible, karabiner loops, hook and loop cuff closure |Sizes: S, M, L | Men’s version: yes
Mountain Hardwear’s Cloud bank gloves are aimed squarely at resort skiers who suffer from the cold. The padding is bulky, and even moving my fingers takes work, let alone gripping things. Made worse by the presence of a seam right across the ends of each finger, which further reduces dexterity. On the plus side, there’s built in touchscreen capacity, which is impressively sensitive.
Read our full Mountain Hardwear Women’s Cloud Bank Gore-Tex Gloves review
The best winter gloves for men
Here are some of the best winter gloves for men, these gloves have been tested by leading outdoor expert Chris Townsend. Chris tested these gloves in the Cairngorms in cold, wet, windy, and sometimes snowy weather in winter, spring and autumn. He says “All of these gloves are so warm, I could only wear them comfortably in those conditions”.
DexShell Ultra Weather Winter Gloves
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Price: $52 / £45
- Weight: 145g (L)
- Pros: Dexterity, warmth, lightweight, cost
- Cons: Seams on fingertips, no leashes
Materials: Taslan polyester, textured anti-slip PU, Porelle membrane, PrimaLoft Gold with CrossCore, polyester fleece | Features: nose wipe, touchscreen-compatible thumb and forefinger, clip together | Sizes: S-XL
The DexShell Ultra Weather Winter Gloves are made from soft, flexible fabrics and are surprisingly warm. The price and weight are both low. There are big loops on the cuffs for attaching leashes, though none are provided. Minor concern is that there are seams over the fingertips. For most hillwalking these shouldn’t be a problem but for scrambling or technical climbing they could be a weak point.
Read Chris’s full DexShell Ultra Weather Winter Gloves review
66 North Langjokull
- Rating: 4/5
- Price: $80 / £70
- Weight: 200g (L)
- Pros: Warmth
- Cons: Non-adjustable cuffs, no leashes, quite heavy
Materials: nylon Cordura, Pittard leather, PrimaLoft, Gore-Tex, Polartec Power Stretch | Features: elasticated wrist, clip together | Sizes: men & women XS-2XL
Langjokull gloves are warmest of the synthetic insulated ones tested, as you might expect from an Icelandic company. The synthetic insulation is thicker than on the other gloves and the gloves are quite bulky, which means that dexterity is minimal. They are very comfortable to wear, and the fleece lining feels instantly warm. The leather on the palm and fingers gives good grip and should prove durable.
Read Chris’ full 66 North Langjokull review
Extremities Furnace Pro
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Price: £50
- Weight: 115g (L)
- Pros: Soft material, flexibility, comfort, lightweight, cost
- Cons: No leashes
Materials: 70/30 acrylic/wool, XDry membrane, PrimaLoft Gold | Cuffs: zipped Features: touchscreen-compatible, PU reinforcements, clip together | Sizes: XS-L
The Furnace Pro gloves are very comfortable and warm. The outer has a water-repellent treatment, so it doesn’t absorb water. The fingers are shaped and curved, and there’s a zip at the cuff to ensure a close fit. Gloves are soft and flexible, and have better dexterity than stiffer ones.
Check out Chris’ full Extremities Furnace Pro review
Outdoor Research Arete II Gore-Tex
- Rating: 4/5
- Price: $99 / £90
- Weight: 265g (L)
- Pros: Gauntlet style, leather protection, comfort, separate liner, leash
- Cons: Expensive, quite heavy
Materials: 88% nylon/12% spandex, WR goat leather, 100G EnduraLoft polyester, Tricot polyester, Gore-Tex; liner glove: 40% wool, 35% acrylic, 25% polyester | Features: nose wipe, touchscreen-compatible liner gloves, clip together | Sizes: men S-XL, women S-L
The Arete II gloves are the only men’s ones reviewed that come with separate liners and leashes. They’re also the only ones with long, wide gauntlet cuffs designed to fit over jacket sleeves. Leather protection on the palm, thumb and fingers is more extensive than on the other gloves too, covering the whole area and wrapping over the fingers completely. These gloves work fine for hillwalking but would be especially good for hillwalkers who venture onto easier-graded winter climbs.
Read Chris’ full Outdoor Research Arete II Gore-Tex reviews
Montane Anti-Freeze Packable Down Mittens
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Price: $85 / £60
- Weight: 115g (L)
- Pros: Very warm, lightweight, cost
- Cons: Not waterproof, minimal dexterity
Materials: recycled Pertex Quantum Eco, nylon/PU, 750 fill power water-resistant down, recycled nylon | Cuffs: adjustable, inner stretch wrist gaiter | Features: baffled construction | Sizes: XS-XL
Mittens from Montane are designed for an emergency boost of warmth over liner or fleece gloves. They’re not waterproof, though the down is water-resistant so they should stand some dampness. They’ll probably only be worn for short periods anyway, just long enough to warm hands. As an emergency item they’re excellent but they’re not ones to wear most of the time
Read more from Chris’ full Montane Anti-Freeze Packable Down Mittens review