If you plan on hiking in freezing temperatures, it’s essential to keep your hands covered and protected from the elements. No one likes frozen fingers, and the cold could get downright dangerous for your skin depending on the environment you’ll be in.
To help you stay warm and dry while out on the trail, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you know exactly what to consider when purchasing the best hiking gloves for your outdoor needs, plus a review of the top 5 best hiking gloves. For all this and more, read on ahead!
The top 5 hiking gloves we recommend for 2021:
If you’re on the hunt for the best gloves for hiking, there are some primary factors you’ll need to consider when making your purchase.
One significant factor you should consider when selecting the best hiking gloves is whether the product’s material is waterproof or not. If you’re going to be hiking in cold, damp temperatures where there is the chance of weather occurrences like rain, snow, etc., it’s in your best interest to select a waterproof glove to protect your hands.
Otherwise, you’ll just wind up getting soaked and your gloves won’t be much help to you.
Wicking or breathability is something else you need to consider when buying the best gloves for hiking. Premium hiking gloves feature moisture wicking capabilities, which means that they help absorb and deflect excess moisture and sweat that gathers on the skin. Without moisture wicking, the gloves will simply hold on to the dampness and could leave you with quite a chill.
Speaking of which, another important factor for any hiker searching for quality gloves is warmth. You need to make sure the gloves you pick are warm enough to keep the blood flowing in your hands and your fingers mobile for any activities you plan to undertake. Different types of hiking gloves offer varying degrees of warmth.
For example, ski gloves are always quite a bit warmer than driving gloves. You can also layer hiking gloves for additional warmth.
Another critical factor to bear in mind is a pair of hiking gloves’ insulation capabilities. You’ll need to determine how much insulation you’ll require for the type of hiking you’re going to be doing. The gloves you pick should still hold on to a modicum of warmth, even if they get wet, which is another reason waterproofing material is such a helpful feature.
In a general sense, hiking gloves made from synthetic materials are going to do a better job of insulating your hands than a natural material such as wool might. So, if you’re going to be hiking in very cool temperatures and damp conditions, hiking gloves with quality synthetic fibers will likely be your best bet.
Of course, it’s important to make sure you’ll have enough wiggle room in your gloves to move around without feeling like your fingers are welded into place. Certain types of gloves offer more limited dexterity than others, so consider whether you’ll be using tools like a compass, a hiking staff, and so forth.
If you tend towards more mild hikes in cooler areas, this may not be as much of an issue. On the other hand, if you’re planning a grand outdoor expedition, your freedom of movement in a pair of hiking gloves could make all the difference.
You probably wouldn’t wear the same pair of gloves for a chilly fall trek as you would for a great adventure out in the Arctic. When choosing the best gloves for hiking for your needs, it's best to use a weather system to determine the kind of product you need to purchase.
Let’s take a closer look.
When we say moderate weather, we’re referring to those chilly days in fall in most regions. If the area you live and/or like to hike in experiences a warmer winter than is usual, moderate weather gloves could also suffice.
For these kinds of temperatures, you have a few different hiking glove options. Insulated gloves provide an all-in-one system, including a waterproof exterior with insulation inside. These types of gloves are a fantastic option if you want the insulation and comfort you need in one place, without having to worry about taking layers on or off.
Insulated gloves also offer a much better fit than you would have by layering gloves, providing your fingers with better mobility and increased range of movement. These gloves also tend to be on the more affordable side of the spectrum.
Wool gloves are another excellent choice for moderate weather hiking, as a tight enough knit repels moisture and will insulate your hands from chilly temperatures. Merino wool gloves are comfortable to wear and won’t cause any of the unpleasant itching that people normally associate with wool products.
If you’re going to be hiking in very cold weather and extreme temperatures, the first thing you need to know is that one pair of gloves won’t suffice. If you’re going to be trekking in an Arctic blast, it’s essential to protect your skin from the elements and frostbite to keep your circulation going.
So, for very cold temperatures, you will need to start with a liner glove as your base layer, followed by an insulating layer, and finally a waterproof layer. The good news is, you don’t have to wear the liners at the same time all the time.
For instance, if the weather warms up a bit, liner gloves will do. When it gets chillier, simply add on the insulating layer for extra warmth. You don’t necessarily need all three layers at once unless you’re consistently exposed to freezing elements.
Your liner glove should be water resistant to keep your hands warm and dry. Polar fleece is nice and warm but gets wet quicker. Merino wool is an excellent choice for the liner base layer. For your insulating layer, you’ll want to pick fleece or wool mittens or gloves.
The final layer, the waterproof overmitt is there to shield you from the wind, keep snow off, and deflect moisture from sleet and rain. These overmitts are pretty bulky, but the vast majority already feature an insulating liner, so you won’t have to make a separate purchase.
Here is our detailed review of the top 5 hiking gloves.
Our first best hiking gloves selection is this form-fitting pair by Mountain Made. The fabric is nice and light, giving you plenty of breathing room while still remaining insulated enough to keep your fingers nice and warm. We absolutely love the fact that the Mountain Made Outdoor Gloves feature built-in TouchScreen technology, so you can access all your essential information on your mobile device while out on the trail.
The material of these hiking gloves is designed to dry quickly, absorbing moisture and bacteria that lead to those unwelcome odors. We also really like that these best hiking gloves sport an anti-slip zipper so you can slide them off and on with ease. The material keeps heat in, while still giving you sufficient freedom of movement when you’re in the great outdoors.
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The next best hiking gloves selection on our list are these impressive gauntlet gloves by Gordini. Designed from 100% polyester, their synthetic design will keep your hands well insulated in a wide range of weather conditions. The polytex fabric of these gloves is also totally waterproof, which is a huge plus in our book.
These waterproof hiking gloves pack quite a punch in terms of comfort and reliability, offering premium insulation without being overly bulky. So, whether you’re hiking in cold, windy conditions or the snow, you can rest assured that these gloves will see you through.
We especially liked that the Gordini gloves include a reinforced leather palm to ensure you have plenty of gripping power if you’re climbing in rough terrain. The gloves even feature a drawstring at the wrist to help insulate you further from the cold and make it easier to slip the gloves on and off as you need to.
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The thing we really love about these best hiking gloves by The North Face is their built-in Etip design, which is specifically meant to block wind and harsh elements. So, if you’re going to be hiking in rough terrain and really cold temperatures, the North Face Etip Hardface Gloves could be just the pick for you. They are a great option for wilderness treks and on trail adventures alike, as they will keep your hands insulated without weighing you down.
We especially liked the five-dimensional style of these gloves to ensure they fit a wide range of hand sizes. Plus, these hiking gloves also sport stretch fleece material, which will keep you super warm, while being resistant to wear and damage.
Another feature we really liked is the articulation style of these gloves, that offers a comfortable shape to wearers. The touchscreen fingertips are another added bonus that we think you’ll find really useful when hiking for long periods.
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If you’re planning on hiking in moderate to slightly chilly temperatures, these SmartWool Liner Gloves are an excellent contender for your shortlist. Designed from 45% merino wool, 45% acrylic, and 9% nylon, you get the best of both worlds with a blend of wool and synthetic fibers for ultimate insulation. These also make a great liner glove if you’re going to be hiking in more extreme weather conditions.
The knit of these liner gloves is light and breathable, so you won’t have any issues moving around. The cuff finishing is designed from rib knit to remove any excess bulk, plus these gloves feature that all-important touchscreen technology so you can stay connected from just about anywhere.
We love the natural moisture-wicking design of these gloves, that absorbs and repels moisture and bacteria to reduce the risk of unpleasant odors gathering.
The fact that the SmartWool liner gloves are compact also makes them a great choice for globetrotting adventurers who don’t want to take up too much space in their gear but still require a thoroughly insulated option.
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Our final pick for the best hiking gloves are these insulating cold weather mittens by Black Diamond. Manufactured from 92% nylon and 8% spandex, the palm is designed from super warm goat skin with a 100% polyester built-in lining. For more extreme weather conditions, these could be the choice for you.
We like the fact that as insulating as these mittens are, they are still lightweight and offer sufficient breathing room. They are resistant to wear and tear, with a Pretext Shield for added resilience. We love that you can remove the liner of these gloves if the weather conditions warm up. The liner itself is insulated, featuring high-loft fleece.
These are 100% waterproof, which is essential for extreme cold and damp weather. We also really like the mittens’ four-way stretch to give your fingers plenty of freedom of movement.
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So, who made it to the top spot? After reviewing each product carefully, including the unique features, pros, and cons of every pair of hiking gloves, we picked the Mountain Made Outdoor Hiking Gloves as the final winner.
Their touchscreen component and impressive moisture wicking ability will keep you connected (and dry) when you’re on and off the trail, plus the fabric is light and breathable. These gloves are highly durable and well suited to a range of hiker levels and activities. The anti-slip zipper was also a bonus feature we really liked, and think could be very helpful so you can take your gloves on and off without unnecessary fuss.
While these gloves should probably not be worn on their own if you’re going into an Arctic blast, for moderate to cold conditions in the great expanse of nature, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better option.