The best hiking gloves are absolutely essential kit for cold weather adventuring. A poor pair of gloves – or no gloves at all – can leave you uncomfortably cold when you’re walking, hiking, riding, running, climbing, camping or messing about outside in the frostier months.
Even at the mild end of the spectrum, this will ruin what could and should be a great experience, but in some situations, being unprepared and leaving your hands exposed can result in much worse eventualities. It doesn’t take long for frozen fingers to become next-to useless at performing simple tasks, such as doing up or undoing laces and zips to remove wet clothes and access dry ones, or getting stoves and shelters set up, which can lead to more serious scenarios developing fast.
Suffice to say, it’s definitely worth investing in windproof, waterproof designs that will keep you happy and comfortable for hours outdoors.
- Keep your body warm with the best down jackets and puffers
- And don't forget about the best base layers
- Hiking essentials: everything you need for a memorable trip
The best hiking gloves vary in style, from breathable windproof designs suitable for all sorts of sports, to thicker, waterproof gloves, ideal for really challenging weather. Some are even made specifically so you don’t need to take them off to use devices with touchscreens, which is very handy for navigating while using an app like komoot, or just to keep in contact with others.
If you’re a regular outdoor explorer, it’s a good idea to invest in a few pairs of gloves for different uses, including a thinner pair for active pursuits in cold weather and a really warm pair for getting you through the worst of the winter. Thin ’liner’ gloves and warmer outer gloves (or mittens) can also be worn together for extra warmth.
The best hiking gloves for outdoor adventures in colder months
Extremities Antora Peak GTX Glove
A lightweight waterproof glove designed for cold-weather hillwalking and winter sports, including skiing
RRP: $48 (US)/ £80 (UK) | Unisex: Yes | Sizes: S–XL | Materials: Shell: 100% polyester; palm: 100% leather; membrane: Gore-Tex; lining: 100% polyester | Weight (per glove): 112g/4oz | Colours: Black
The Antora Peak gloves feature a polyester shell, waterproof Gore-Tex membrane and cosy brushed lining, with a genuine leather palm. The lightly lined construction ensures they are surprisingly breathable for winter gloves, meaning no sweaty palms. Nor are they overly bulky, so they slide easily underneath the cuffs of a waterproof jacket. They feel relatively dextrous too, thanks to the rollover finger design that means there are no seams at the fingertips. As a result, most backpack buckles pose no problems when wearing these gloves, and it’s similarly easy to retain a firm grip on an ice axe or ski poles. On the flipside, with limited insulation, they’re not the warmest winter gloves out there, and in sub-zero conditions you may need a thin liner glove underneath – though this is a practical layering system for winter mountaineering anyway. The cuffs aren’t the longest, so they don’t offer quite the same level of coverage as bigger, heavier gloves. Similarly, they have just a single wrist closure rather than the secondary snow lock cord that is often found in other slightly more technical glove designs. Overall, however, the Antora Peak gloves work well for cold-weather mountain pursuits, ticking plenty of boxes. They’re warm enough for winter use in many areas (especially if combined with a thin liner glove), impressively lightweight, not too bulky, reliably waterproof and offer decent finger articulation. They’re a little more expensive than many rival offerings, but can often be found at discounted prices, which makes them an extremely good value purchase.
The North Face Montana Futurelight Etip Glove
Highly featured warm, waterproof and breathable snow gloves for skiers, boarders and winter hillwalkers
RRP: $70 (US)/£75 (UK) | Unisex: Men’s and Women’s versions available | Sizes: S–XXL | Materials: Shell: DryVent 100% nylon plain weave; Fabric: polyester (55%) and polyurethane (45%); Insert membrane: Futurelight; Lining: 200g Heatseeker Eco | Weight (men’s large, per glove): 101g/3.5oz | Colours: Black / Taupe
Presented primarily as a glove for skiers and snowboarder, this wonderfully warm glove is perfect for cold-weather hill walkers too. TNF’s proprietary Heatseeker Eco insulation (70% recycled) does an excellent job of heating hands. On top of this, brand’s Futurelight membrane insert is both breathable and waterproof, preventing moisture from getting in or building up inside the glove, even during stiff climbs. The outer also has a water repellent finish. The full-length gauntlet stays securely in place under jacket cuffs, and the elasticated fastener pulls the mouth of the glove tightly shut, keeping out snow and cold air. A ladderlock wrist-cinch on the top of the hand keeps body-heated air in, and your fingers stay warm right to the tips, thanks to the fourchette-box construction of the glove. The synthetic leather palms are durable, and work well with poles, and the glove’s shape keeps hands in a naturally neutral, comfortable position. Both gloves in the pair feature an elasticated wrist leash, for keeping them secure if you remove them to perform a task, which is good, because we found the ‘Etip’ material disappointingly ineffective at operating touchscreen devices (possibly because the glove is so well padded).
Karpos Polartec Glove
High-performing lightweight glove for energetic outdoor activities such as hill hiking, trail running, cross-country skiing or climbing
RRP: $60 (US)/£45 (UK) | Unisex: Men’s and Women’s versions available | Sizes: XS-XXL | Materials: Polartec PowerStretch Pro fabric | Weight (men’s large, per glove): 23g/0.8oz | Colours: Black
There are various good features on this excellent lightweight multi-activity thermal glove from Italian mountain-savvy brand Karpos, but the defining factor is that it is made from Polartec Power Stretch Pro fabric. This means the gloves are comfortable, durable and dynamic, with four-way stretch and top-shelf tensile strength and abrasion resistance. They hold their shape perfectly, and the outer fabric of the palms boasts a branded sticky grip, for keeping hold of poles, bottles and handlebars. The glove has a silicone-printed logo on back of the hand, which is small but relatively luminous, the fingers are nicely shaped for dexterity, comfort and warmth, and it features touchscreen fabric on the index finger, which actually works (unlike some gloves we’ve tried). They’re not waterproof, and are relatively thin, so there is a limit to the protection they can provide, but allow hands to breath freely and wick sweat away superbly when you’re engaged in high-intensity aerobic outdoor activities such as hill hiking, trail running, cross-country skiing or climbing. Tip: Carefully cut the oversized label out before use.
Columbia Wind Bloc
A breathable, windproof glove to whip on for dry and warmer weather excursions
RRP: $41 (US)/£30 (UK) | Unisex: Yes | Sizes: S–XL | Materials: Outer: Polyester fleece (100%) / palm: suede | Weight (men’s large, per glove): 39g/1.4oz | Colours: Black
While thick, insulated gloves are ideal for when the temperature drops to minus digits, they’re overkill in warmer winter weather. For cool autumn and spring days, or for faster-paced activities such as hiking or trail running, pick a breathable, windproof glove such as Columbia’s Wind Bloc. It boasts Columbia’s own-brand Omni Heat thermal reflective material as an inner layer, which uses tiny silver dots to reflect back body heat and warms hands very effectively while still staying breathable. These softshell gloves block wind well, and elasticated wrists further trap in heat and keep cold air out. They feature a touchscreen-compatible fabric on the thumb, index and middle finger, and this does actually work. Reflective detailing is handy for nighttime running or dog walking. They do feel a little stiffer than other softshell gloves we tried, but loosen up somewhat with use. If you already own a tough winter glove, this is a good lighter design to add to your outdoor kit arsenal. Male and female versions with different sizings are available.
Sealskinz Waterproof All-Weather Glove
This brilliant and fully waterproof glove is ideal for all kinds of activities in the grimmest of weather conditions
RRP: $65 (US)/£45 (UK) | Unisex: Yes | Sizes: S–XXL | Materials: Outer: Polyester (92%), Neoprene (5%), Elastane (3%) / Palm: Leather (100%) | Weight (per glove): 104g/3.6oz | Colours: Black, Grey
If you’re after a tough and weatherproof glove that won’t let you down in challenging conditions, pick Sealskinz. Their range of waterproof gloves are actually fully waterproof, unlike ‘water-resistant’ gloves that will only withstand light rain. We’ve been wearing Sealskinz’ gloves for years now and they reliably keep our hands dry even in a storm, and are ideal for cycling and hiking or even sailing in wet weather. There are plenty of other great features here, including a fleece panel on the thumb, a touchscreen-compatible index finger and a wide Velcro strap at the wrist to keep warmth in and water out. We also like the tough yet tactile suede palms, which offer good grip even when wet. Add a liner glove for really cold weather – or pick Sealskinz’ insulated version of the glove, ($70/£50) and you’ve got the perfect quiver-of-one glove well worth its price tag. Highly recommended.
Rab Power Stretch Contact Grip Glove
Warm, adventure-ready all-rounders
RRP: $40 (US) / £30 (UK) | Unisex: Yes | Sizes: XS, M, L, XL | Materials: Power Stretch Pro with silicone print palm polyester (53%), nylon (38%), elastane (9%) | Weight (per glove): 30g /1oz | Colours: Black / Deep ink
Unlined, all-purpose gloves of relatively simple design, the Rab Contact Grips work well for trail pursuits of all kinds, including hiking and hillwalking. The Power Stretch Pro fabric ensures a close fit, and means they are a little thicker than most liner-style gloves, providing a greater degree of warmth. The silicon grip palm is also very tacky, ensuring a firm hold on things such as water bottles and poles. Contrary to what Rab say, they’re not really practical for use as a liner glove, because the palm grip is too sticky to slide under other gloves or mitts easily. But as a single-layer solution for general walking, rather than technical scrambling or winter mountain climbing, they work well. The latest version also has a conductive print on the thumb and index finger, enabling you to use them with smartphones, which is an increasingly important feature for modern runner. They also have a slightly extended cuff compared to most gloves of this type, giving added wrist protection. Sensibly, the design is still low-profile, with a Lycra binding but no raised hem edging, so they slide easily underneath coats. These gloves are not water-resistant, but the synthetic fabric is very quick drying and maintains its thermal properties even when wet. They’re also fairly breathable, which makes them versatile enough for multi-activity use, so you can wear them trail running.
Outdoor Research PL Base Sensor Glove
Polar fleece–fabric gloves for use alone in milder conditions, or as a base layer in colder climes
RRP: $24 (US)/£18 (UK) | Unisex: Men and Women’s versions available | Sizes: Men’s S, M, L, XL, women’s S, M, L | Materials: 50wt polar fleece with silicone print palm | Weight (per glove): 25.5g /0.9oz | Colours: Black/Coyote
The lightest model in US brand Outdoor Research’s fairly extensive range of fleece gloves, the PL Base Sensor is expressly designed as a liner glove to be worn under a pair of chunkier mitts or gloves for winter mountain pursuits – basically, they’re a base layer for your hands. But they’re also good as a stand-alone lightweight glove for use during many activities in milder conditions, including hill walking and hiking. Made from an extremely light 50-weight polar fleece fabric with a soft inner and a smooth, shiny face, they slide easily under bigger gloves but are thin and dextrous enough to tackle the majority of tasks without needing to take them off – though admittedly the slightly awkward finger stitching could be improved to make very fine work easier. They also have touchscreen compatible Sensor technology for use with smartphones, plus a minimalist grippy silicone print on the palm that isn’t overly tacky, but which stops your phone from sliding out of your grasp (and tumbling off down the hillside) when you stop to take a photo or make a call. They have a little stretch for a close fit with a nicely tapered wrist, and generally just do the job in an efficient, unfussy way. While they’re not the most hardwearing glove around, our pair have stood up to general use very well (and markedly better than other lightweight gloves we’ve tested) and they’re also relatively inexpensive. They’re not particularly water-resistant, but they manage moisture well and dry quickly. And though they can only offer limited warmth, it’s still enough to take the chill off when worn on frosty winter morning walks.
Rab Flux Liner Glove
The perfect pair of liner gloves for use under a thicker pair of gloves, or worn alone in warmer weather
RRP: $23 (US)/£17 (UK) | Unisex: Yes | Sizes: S–XL | Materials: Polyester | Weight (per glove): 40g/1.4oz | Colours: Grey
Good liner gloves are the bit of outdoor kit you never knew you needed. We’ve been using the same pair of Rab liner gloves for a few winters now, and reckon they’re worth their weight in gold. These light, stretchy gloves are thin, breathable and very comfortable – wear them alone on warmer spring days or stick them underneath thicker gloves or mittens for bitter winter conditions, such as for ski trips or when hiking in snow. These liner gloves are also very useful when you’re camping or working outdoors and need to do more fiddly jobs such as looking after a stove – they offer good dexterity without ending up with freezing hands. Rab’s liner gloves feel well-made, and the soft fleecy lining inside is a treat in cold weather. The thicker cuff stops wind well, and help the liners to stay put under larger gloves. It’s a pity they don’t clip together for easier storage.
Patagonia Nano Puff Mitt
These light but well-insulated gloves are like cosy puffer jackets for your hands
RRP: $69 (US)/ £65 (UK) | Unisex: Yes | Sizes: XS–XL | Materials: Polyester | Weight (per glove): 96g/3.3oz | Colours: Green
Patagonia’s Nano Puff insulated jackets are rightly very popular for their brilliant warmth to weight ratio, and the brand have applied exactly the same concept to these comfy-as-anything mitts. Pop them on and they provide instant warmth but never feel heavy or restrictive. The Nano Puff gloves are windproof and water-resistant enough to put up with light rainfall, and the elasticated wrists help to further trap in heat. These squishy gloves are stuffed with 55% recycled PrimaLoft Gold Eco Insulation, which compresses down easily to stuff in pretty much any pocket. The inside of the gloves is a soft-brushed fleece that feels great against the skin. The tops of the gloves are a rather thin material that, just like a down jacket, you’ll want to keep away from anything sharp to avoid the risk of ripping, but the palms do at least have tough abrasion-resistant pads suitable for working or setting up camp.
The North Face Gordon Etip Glove
A cosy glove ideal for using your phone on the go on more casual days out
RRP: $48 (US)/ £35 (UK) | Unisex: No – men’s glove | Sizes: S–XL | Materials: Polyester/cotton | Weight (per glove): g/oz | Colours: Grey
Meet Gordon – if you regularly need to use your phone in the great outdoors, he might just be your new best mate. The North Face have set out to design a glove with smartphone owners in mind, and the silicone fingers and palm allow you to easily use a phone without removing your gloves, and also offer great grip. Where we found Gordon came in really handy was on hikes when regularly stopping to navigate using an online app, or just when taking a quick photo of a view without the faff of pulling gloves on and off. These gloves are warm enough to keep your fingers cosy on more relaxed winter walks in dry weather, and the soft fleece feels great against the skin. They also clip together for easy stashing in a pocket. The Gordon gloves aren’t warm or waterproof enough to face bad weather, and they aren’t quite slim enough to work as liner gloves, but for using your phone (or for dealing with other tech such as cameras) outdoors they’re a handy buy.
Black Diamond Soloist Finger Glove
An innovative design for cold-weather climbers and mountain explorers that combines the warmth of a mitt with the dexterity of a glove
RRP: $100 (US)/ £89 (UK) | Unisex: Yes | Sizes: XS–XL | Materials: Shell: Pertex Shield with four-way stretch; palm: 100% goat leather; membrane: BD.Dry; lining: 340g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation and high-loft fleece liner | Weight (per glove): 261g /9.2oz | Colours: Black
In extreme cold, most climbers and mountaineers prefer mitts to gloves, since they offer superior warmth. However, it is difficult to do even simple tasks with mitts on. Black Diamond’s solution is their Soloist Finger glove, a split ‘lobster claw’ design that aims to combine the warmth of a mitt with the dexterity of a glove. Designed for alpine climbing (but also good for cold-weather hillwalkers, especially those who suffer with Raynaud’s Syndrome or circulation problems), they employ a Pertex shell with a waterproof insert utilising the brand’s own BD.dry waterproof-breathable membrane, and a removable, PrimaLoft-insulated liner. With this system, the waterproof shell can be used alone on warmer days, while the liner can be added for freezing conditions (and removed for faster drying if it gets wet). And it works – they’re very warm and allow some dexterity. They’re very well made and employ quality materials, from the hard-wearing Pertex shell fabric to the supple goat leather palm. They do use the brand’s own BD.dry tech rather than a proprietary membrane like Gore-Tex, but we haven’t discerned a difference in waterproof performance. They have nice long cuffs and a secure wrist closure, though no secondary snow lock – and somewhat surprisingly, no lanyard either, so care must be taken to avoid losing one. But as a go-to glove for technical winter mountain use, we’re total converts.
What to look for when buying the best hiking gloves
The best hiking gloves come in all shapes and sizes, and we recommend buying a few different pairs for different outdoor scenarios and weather conditions. Following are a few factors we advise taking into consideration before making a decision on what to buy.
Gloves or mittens?
One of the major design differences you’ll come across in gloves designed for the cold is gloves versus mittens. Mittens are warmer than gloves, but you’ll lose a lot of dexterity, so they are best suited for very cold weather or for when you don’t need to move your hands much, such as when skiing. A thin inner ‘liner’ glove worn under a thicker glove or mitten can be a good way to keep warm but allows you to use your fingers freely when needed. You may also see ‘lobster’ gloves, which are half mitten, half glove, on sale.
Next up, decide if you need gloves with or without insulation. Insulated gloves (stuffed with either synthetic or down insulation, just like puffer jackets) are very warm but less breathable than non-insulated gloves. We recommend the former if you suffer from bad circulation or for adventures in the coldest weather, and the latter for warmer days and for wearing during energetic activities such as trail running or hill walking in the shoulder months.
Weight and bulk
This might seem a minor consideration for such a small item, but often you will start out on a morning walk or a run, very thankful for your gloves, only to find yourself removing them after climbing the first significant hill because your hands are too hot – especially as deep winter slides into spring. When this happens, the easier your best hiking gloves are to safely stash the better. Lightweight packability also means you’re more likely to take a pair of gloves along as a ‘just in case’ item in a backpack, which often proves a very wise decision, especially if you end up being out longer or later than you expected.
Other design features
There are a few more design features that are useful additions to the best hiking gloves. If you plan to use your new gloves in wet weather, look for a fully waterproofed (rather than just ‘water-resistant’) pair – Sealskinz is a reliable brand. Some gloves are cinched at the wrist with elastic or Velcro straps – this stops wind chill or snow getting to your hands. You’ll also see ‘touchscreen compatible’ gloves on the market, which allow you to use your smartphone without removing your gloves first. We like gloves that clip together, for easy storage and for grabbing from your backpack on the go. And have you ever wondered why there’s a soft fleece-y panel on the thumb of your glove? Yep – it’s there so you can wipe your nose. Finally, consider what colour gloves you go for. Most winter gloves come in neutral blacks and greys – we favour darker colours, as they don’t show dirt (or snot…).
Getting the right size is just as important with the best hiking gloves as it is with clothing. If you’re buying gloves you’ll need to rely on in cold weather or when working outdoors, it’s a big help if they fit perfectly. Only the cheapest gloves are one-size-fits-all – others are unisex but come in different sizes, and gloves designed specifically for men or women usually fit the best. Sizes can vary wildly from brand to brand but most brands have handy sizing charts available – measure the length of your hand and the circumference of your palm to find where you sit from XS–XL.
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