Nothing ends an enjoyable winter day faster than cold hands. Once your digits get cold, the fun seeps out of whatever you’re doing, and all you want to do is head home. It’s happened to me more times than I care to count, and I now pay extra close attention to my gloves so I can keep my hands warm and happy. Here are my favorite pairs that I use for specific activities.
Best For: Skiing
These are my favorite all-around ski gloves, hands down. They’re thin and dexterous enough that you can buckle your ski boots or adjust straps on your backcountry ski pack, but packed with enough synthetic insulation that your hands won’t freeze while riding the lift. A tough, waterproof pigskin leather on the palms resists tears if you use them to put on chains during a powder day or gather wood for your après fire. The breathable back vents heat on the skin track on sunny spring days.
Best For: Running
Regular liners won’t cut it when you head out for a run on frigid days: your hands will start and stay cold, which can be a recipe for misery. That’s why Patagonia wisely included a thin nylon mitten that folds out of the cuff of these liner gloves and covers your fingers. It withstands chilly wind and provides warmth to keep you going when temperatures dip below freezing. The Peak Mission also features a DWR coating to shed precipitation and a reflective hit across the wrist so you’re visible after dark.
Best For: Walks and casual outdoor pursuits
Rosie, our year-old mutt, is so active that if she doesn’t get out daily, she goes insane. That’s why walking her is the one outdoor activity I do every single day during winter. I wear these Black Diamond liner gloves on those walks, because they’re just warm enough for the early-morning chill and they have touchscreen functionality, so I can check email along the way. Outside of dog walks, the Screentap is also a great backcountry ski glove on spring days and works well inside the Vermonter glove (below) for cold-weather projects.
Best For: Yard work
These gloves live inside my truck year-round and are frequently put to use. Made in Vermont from rugged goat leather, and hand-stitched with thick nylon thread to prevent seam tears, they’re the most durable work gloves I’ve ever tested. Just last week I wore them with the Black Diamond liners while attaching a towrope to a vehicle that was buried in snow. This week I’ll be sporting them to cut down and buck a tree in my front yard. The company also makes a skiing version with a waxed canvas cuff you can cinch.
Best For: Everyday use
The Guide Lite is a cross between the aforementioned Lightweight Screentap and the Vermonter. Tough leather palms make them perfect for cold-weather tasks at home or digging your car out of a snowbank, while a thin construction with touchscreen functionality, articulated fingers, and a breathable soft-shell back mean it can work as a liner. Beyond suggests treating the gloves with its beeswax to make them waterproof.
Best For: “Oh shit” moments
Packed with gobs of PrimaLoft insulation, the Alpha SVs are the warmest mittens I own, keeping my hands cozy when all other gloves fail. I’ve used them on bitter powder days, when friends had to head inside to warm up, and they live in my backcountry ski pack in case something goes wrong. If I get stranded, or a partner does, and we have to wait for a rescue, these mittens will be the first piece of emergency gear to go on. (Editor’s Note: this glove is discontinued—bummer. If you’re looking for something for similar purposes, Arc'teryx’s Fission SV mitten has a lot of the same features as the Alpha SV, but we haven’t tested it. The most comparable gloves we have tested are the Black Diamond Absolute Mitts.)