Gloves Versus Mittens: An Educated Debate

gloves-vs-mittens-featuredWhile winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21st, the thin layer of frost covering those leaves outside has a way of making us feel otherwise. When the chill in the air has you reaching for your winter gear, do you have a go-to pair of gloves or a mighty warm pair of mittens? We know there’s an ongoing debate in many social circles about which of the two is really warmer, better and more practical, and we think it’s high time we hashed out that healthy debate for all to see.

Glove enthusiasts argue:
First and typically foremost, the glove-wearers among us state that they prefer them because they provide more dexterity than mittens. Also, they say, gloves insulate each digit individually, while mittens do so only for the thumb.

Mitten devotees counter with:
Body heat. Your fingers, when bundled together, are better able to generate heat using one another. Plus, when it comes to snow sports, how much dexterity do you really need? You can just as easily hold your poles and put Frosty’s carrot nose into place with your mittens as well as you can with a gloved set of fingers.

The expert’s take on things:
The single most important step you can take in keeping your hands warm is to make sure they stay as dry as possible. The more moist your hands get, the higher the potential that they’ll get cold. You may recall our Snow Glove Buyer’s Guide, in which we speak with Arctic Explorer Eric Larsen for some expert advice.

“I’ve spent my life search­ing for the per­fect glove,” Larsen said. “A lot of glove characteristics pre­clude other ones.”

The Buyer’s Guide continues: “In super cold conditions, moisture management becomes increasingly important as even slight dampness can lead to dangerous loss of heat. In mild conditions, repelling moisture from the out­side while allowing sweat to leave the body is also difficult, leading to compromises in glove design that allow for quick evaporation and minimal water repellency.”

The conclusion:
The debate of mitten vs. glove may rage on for centuries to come, but because the real issue is breathability (not dexterity or insulation) that aspect will likely always be a matter of personal preference. In other words, decide whether you prefer the feel of a glove or a mitten — or if you need one or the other for a specific activity. Then make sure that it’s made of breathable fabric so that your hand perspiration can escape as vapor, keeping your fingers and hands as dry and as warm as possible so you can stay out in the snow as long as your heart desires.