How to Choose the Best Winter Gloves for Your Activity

Make sure you have the right level of insulation and coverage, whether you’re skiing at high altitude or simply walking to your car in cold temperatures.

With winter weather comes cold hands. When you’re outside in the elements, you want to make sure that your hands and fingers are properly covered and protected, and a great way to accomplish this is to suit up with pair of gloves or mittens.

Gloves and mittens offer protection from the cold, but not every pair is going to provide you with the warmth that meets your needs. You wouldn’t want to go for a run with gloves designed for snowboarding, nor would you want to ice fish in a pair of outdoor running gloves. There are a few key features that separate one pair from the next, and knowing what to look for can be the best move for your comfort, protection and, in some cases, your wallet.

To help break it down, you can categorize gloves into three tiers: lightweight, mid-weight and heavyweight, corresponding to how much insulation each type of glove will offer. This is a key factor in determining which glove is best for your outdoor activities.


As you could probably guess, lightweight gloves are going to offer you the least amount of insulation. This is not a bad thing, though, if you know when to wear them. While these gloves aren’t going to offer much protection in a blizzard, they are great for daily wear and outdoor running in weather that is above freezing, but still cool enough to warrant gloves.

Some of the features most common in lightweight gloves are breathability and moisture-wicking properties. There are also an abundance of options with touchscreen capability, meaning that you can use your smartphone or other devices without having to remove your glove and expose your hand. This is a great option, especially in running gloves when you are trying to keep your playlist going or checking your progress. Some lightweight running gloves also offer windproof mitt covers that can be pulled over your fingers for an added layer of protection from the elements.

Lightweight gloves are often used as a liner glove. These kinds of gloves are so thin that they have the ability to be comfortably worn under heavier gloves without being too thick or cumbersome. If you like the idea of your lightweight gloves pulling double duty, be sure to read the sizing, and look for “liner gloves” in the name.


Mid-weight gloves offer a thicker, warmer insulation layer than lightweight gloves and are usually the most abundant option available. Many of the same qualities that are found in lightweight gloves, such as touchscreen capabilities, breathability and windproof materials, are also found here. Mid-weight gloves also include a number of mitten-style options. Mittens increase warmth by trapping more heat due to their limited hand exposure.

However, there are some qualities that begin to appear in mid-weight gloves that aren’t offered with lightweight gloves. You could see waterproof materials in this classification, which aids in wet snow conditions. Longer wrist cuffs available in mid-weight gloves extend coverage and protection to your wrist and help keep snow from finding its way to your skin.

Mid-weight gloves are an ideal fit for snow sports such as snowboarding, sledding and other winter activities. There are also mid-weight running gloves available for those aiming to get a few miles in as the snow begins to fall. People who also work outside in the cold and freezing conditions might also want to look to mid-weight gloves to protect their hands from the elements.


Heavyweight gloves offer the highest level of insulation and are designed for more extreme weather conditions. With snow guards built into the cuffs and windproof materials, the intense warmth of these gloves are designed for frigid temperatures and blizzard-like conditions.

Some heavyweight gloves up the ante even further by offering electric heating elements built right in. Powered by batteries similar to that of a wristwatch, these heating elements aid in adding more warmth to your hands, and if you are in conditions calling for heavyweight gloves, every little increase in temperature can help.

Heavyweight gloves aren’t ideal for every occasion, but for those looking into high-altitude mountain climbing, ice fishing and other extreme-weather activities, they could be the right choice.

Having the right gloves is always a sound investment. Simply put, you want to be sure you’re protected and able to enjoy the winter activities you love so much. When you’re on the slopes, running in cold temperatures, or just getting from point A to point B in the winter months, you want to be comfortable and satisfied. Knowing what options are available, you should be better equipped to identify which glove is right for you this season.