The Only Work Gloves You Need

Choose leather for breathability, strength, and flexibility. You'll never want to stray.

Sep 15, 2014
Outside Magazine
Hestra Fall Line Eddie Bauer Guide Black Diamond Dirt Bag FlyLow Tough Guys Dakine Duster and Kinco Lined Grain Pigskin L

Never abandon old standbys, especially when it comes to gloves. Clockwise from left: Kinco Lined Grain Pigskin Leather Palm, Hestra Fall Line, Eddie Bauer Guide, Black Diamond Dirt Bag, FlyLow Tough Guys, and Dakine Duster.    Photo: Mark Wiens

With so many “performance” options out there, why do ski patrollers, lifties, and your ski-bum friends still wear old-school leather work gloves on the mountain? They’re cheap, durable, mostly waterproof, and authentically stylish. They’re also popular enough that gearmakers have jumped on the trend. It’s hard to improve a classic, but these six come close. 

1. The Original

This is the glove that started it all. Introduced in the 1980s, Kinco’s Lined Grain Pigskin Leather Palm is tough and water-resistant. We suggest treating the palm with Nikwax or Sno-Seal to improve insulation. One pair should last a season. And because they’re less than twenty bucks, you won’t feel guilty retiring them. From $18;

2. The Swedish Classic

Family-owned Swedish manufacturer Hestra has been making wool and leather work gloves for four generations. Its Fall Line demonstrates how well the company has dialed in the details, from exterior seams that improve dexterity and minimize contact—think seamless undies—to plush neoprene wrist closures for bomber insulation. $145;

3. The Pro Model

Designed for professional mountain men, the Eddie Bauer Guide is packed with features—like Prima-Loft Gold on the back and insulation on the palm that resists packing down by ski poles. They’re also great for rope work, 
if you’re into that sort of thing. $129;

4. The Workman

Cut from goat leather—the most durable animal skin—Black Diamond’s Dirt Bag is shaped to fit an open or closed hand (most ski gloves are cut to grip a pole). It also maintains the burger-flipping aesthetic while sneaking in a few upgrades. $40;

5. The Upgrade

During summer, FlyLow pays idling ski techs a dollar a glove to Sno-Seal its Tough Guys for water resistance. That same level of attention went into the design, which features articulated points at the thumb and forefinger for dexterity and a breathable insulated lining on the back. $32;

6. The Resort Edition

Dakine’s Duster is the only glove here that includes a waterproof membrane, making it the best for rain-snow slurries and the worst for alpine pursuits. The wide zippered cuff gives it a slightly higher-profile look, but the added warmth is a plus for resort skiers. $50;

Second Skin

To extend the life of leather gloves, waterproof them with Atsko’s Sno-Seal ($8) before you get them wet. The beeswax treatment fills the pores and prevents the hide from breaking down. Use heat when applying—a hair dryer or an oven on a low setting (185 degrees)—to sink the wax deep into the leather.

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