If you’re like me, nothing destroys a kick-ass ski day like freezing fingers. But, no matter how hard I try, I struggle to keep my ten digits toasty. I have something called Raynaud’s Disease, a fairly common syndrome that causes small arteries to narrow, limiting blood flow to certain areas like your fingers and toes. This means my hands turn an odd shade of white (#creepy) and go numb, even if it’s only mildly cold outside (or randomly when I’m sitting on the couch with my husband, watching a movie. Truth).
That said, white hands don’t mean I want to call an audible for a day on the slopes! They do mean that I need to pay extra attention to the mittens and gloves I choose to wear, especially if I want to actually enjoy myself rather than wallowing in the misery that is ice blocks for fingers.
Below I’ve listed my favorite mittens and gloves that have done the best job keeping me warm. Personally, I always select mittens over gloves for optimal warmth, but dexterity takes a digger, and I realize most people prefer gloves. I’ve included both gloves and mittens on the list so you can find the best choice for your lifestyle.
Houston, we have a solution. The Bitterblaze (or Ouray Ice if you want the women’s version) uses Aerogel insulation, the same stuff NASA uses for space travel. Aerogel is ultralight—it’s 2% silica and the rest air—so it feels like nothing on your hand. But, unlike standard insulation that traps warm air in pockets, Aerogel is a solid that prevents any heat from escaping thanks to its low conductivity. When combined with PrimaLoft Gold synthetic insulation on the back of the hand, the Bitterblaze gloves are one cozy and dexterous solution.
If you want a straight-up warm mitten, definitely check out the Mercury Mitts. The secret sauce for warmth is the blend of materials: the removable liner uses 340 grams of PrimaLoft insulation with a soft-to-the-touch fleece lining. Capping that off is a proprietary waterproofing insert, a Pertex four-way stretch shell, and a goat leather palm with Kevlar stitching for maximum durability. In a nutshell, we’re talking maximum warmth. Downside: It packs out quickly.
Guides around the globe know and trust Hestra so this wouldn’t be a true lineup without the Swedish brad in the mix. The three-finger design is clutch: more dexterity than a mitten but superior warmth to a standard glove. Sure, you won’t be able to enact 10-digit dialing on your cell phone, but you can certainly use your hands if needed. A removable fleece liner does a decent job of resisting pack out but the leather palm needs continual love to maintain top-shelf waterproofing. If you live in the PNW or somewhere with uber wet conditions, you will likely need to use extra maintenance with the Heli Ski—or look elsewhere.
To be sure, the 4-Season Gloves are not the warmest on this list; not even close. But who can resist that classic leather work glove look? Not me, that’s for sure. These gloves are versatile. Thanks to the full-leather construction, they are super durable and 40 grams of Thinsulate insulation means your hands will still be warm, especially if you are touring or otherwise engaged in high-cardio activities. Bonus: buyers can customize their gloves with hand-branded initials (up to three letters).
Sure, they’re spendy, but let’s be real: Arc’Teryx isn’t known for low prices, and the quality and durability of product typically makes up for the sticker shock. The Fission Gloves are no different and if you have the cash to plunk down for a one-stop-shop glove, this may be it. Gore-Tex waterproofing and a softshell stretch fabric encompass PrimaLoft insulation for a moderately warm glove. But where the Fissions shine is their waterproofing. PNW skiers, you could dunk your hands in a bucket of water and I think you’d still come out dry. Dexterity reigns supreme too, so even if you’re hitting the hill with ropes and belays, everything should be gravy.