How to Buy Ski / Snowboard Gloves

Nothing can ruin a day on the mountain quicker than your hands becoming cold and numb. Buying gloves that will keep your hands warm is paramount to enjoying your day on the mountain. Although it may seem like a simple purchase, there are many different types and styles of gloves and mittens that add some complexity to the decision. This guide will help you find a pair from The Ski Bum that works best for you.

Gloves and Mittens

The first decision you have is choosing between a glove or mitten. Mittens generate and retain more heat because your fingers all share the same component. However, mittens significantly lower the mobility of your fingers, which can be more of an issue for skiers than snowboarders. Also, in order to reach into your pockets or adjust the strap of your goggles, you will probably have to take off your mittens.

On the other hand, gloves offer far more flexibility while sacrificing a little warmth. More experienced skiers may prefer gloves, as the extra dexterity comes in handy when making adjustments. Choosing between mittens and gloves usually boils down to personal preference. If your hands usually get cold fast, then mittens may be the best choice. But if you require mobility in your hands, then you should look into buying gloves.

Types of Gloves

In general, there are two types of gloves that are used for skiers and snowboarders, and each has distinct qualities:

  • Synthetic - Synthetic gloves or mittens can be purchased with either hard or soft shells. These are usually made with a synthetic fabric, like nylon, that also has a waterproof/breathable membrane like Gore-Tex. The membrane is the protective layer that prevents water from seeping through the glove.
  • Leather - Often made from cowhide or goatskin, leather gloves are naturally very warm and weather resistant. Leather gloves are strong and durable, so if they are treated properly they can last for a very long time. Leather gloves will break in and give you a better feel than synthetic gloves.

Waterproof and Breathable Shells

Waterproofing and breathability go hand-in-hand with ski and snowboard gloves. Just like your jacket and pants, synthetic gloves have an outer shell designed to keep your hands warm and dry. The quickest way for your hands to become cold is by them getting wet, so buying gloves that are both waterproof and breathable is extremely important.

Synthetic gloves specialize in keeping your hands dry in most conditions. The waterproof and windproof outer shell (i.e. Gore-Tex) is specifically made to prevent the cold, the wind, and precipitation from reaching your skin. To go along with this, they are built with miniature pores that allow moisture from your sweat to escape, making them breathable and keeping your hands dry. This makes synthetic gloves versatile for most climates.


In terms of insulation with your gloves or mittens, much of the decision will come down to your preference. Some insulations are designed to keep your hands warm in extreme weather, while other options are for more mild conditions.

  • Down - This insulation contains down feathers and plumes that are warm and naturally trap heat. When choosing a glove or mitten with down insulation, you must make sure it is waterproof. When the down material gets wet, it loses all of its insulation properties. This makes down insulation a good fit for dry and cold conditions.
  • Synthetic - Synthetic insulations are typically more expensive, but these can be more versatile than down. Although these may not be as warm as down, they excel in being weatherproof. Also, you can purchase your glove based on the thickness of the insulation depending on your comfort level. If you usually get cold easily, buy gloves that have more insulation.

You should choose your insulation based upon your own personal comfort and your typical ski conditions. If you are in a wetter climate, synthetic insulation will work best. Synthetic insulation is generally more expensive, so if you ski or snowboard in a drier climate, down gloves will save you money and be equally effective.

Cuff Length

The main purpose of cuffs is to prevent moisture from entering your jacket or gloves. Once again, choosing your cuff length is predicated upon your personal preference.

  • Short Cuffs - These reach the base of your wrists and enables increased mobility in your wrists, which can be very important for some people. Usually, you will place the jacket over these cuffs to ensure protection against the snow.
  • Long Cuffs - These cuffs are usually tucked over your jacket, offering a greater protection against water entering your jacket or gloves.

Not much else goes into picking between cuffs. Be sure to select the glove length that is most comfortable for you.


If your gloves do not fit properly, they will not be effective. If your gloves are too big, they will not trap heat as well and will make it more difficult to grip your ski poles. If they are too small, then you will limit your dexterity, not cover your wrist all the way, and be very uncomfortable. You should leave about a quarter inch of room between your fingers and the end of the glove, and you should be able to make a fist without feeling constricted.

With the information above, you should be ready to purchase your gloves with The Ski Bum. Remember, much of your selection will come down to your personal comfort, so make sure you buy a pair of gloves or mittens that will work best for you. With your next gloves, you will be ready to spend all day on the mountain without worrying about your hands getting cold!

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