Gloves or Mittens?

Hands down (no pun intended) the worst experience one can have while skiing is to be outfitted with insufficient hand protection. This painful experience is one that many of us can share, and likely won’t forget any time soon. It is therefore imperative that proper attention be paid when selecting hand armor for fun in the snow.

            The most important factor in whether a glove or mitten will be warm is fit. Too small and the many tiny capillaries and veins inside each finger start to become constricted, limiting the amount of blood flow to appendages. Too large and there is excess dead space surrounding the hand, requiring additional valuable thermal energy to heat. A snug, but not tight fit will ensure that the body’s own warming defenses are able to work at their most effective capacity.

            The biggest decision to overcome after proper size has been determined is whether to choose gloves or mittens. Gloves have the obvious advantage of giving the wearer a greater degree of dexterity than mittens. Due to this, many skiers prefer gloves outright in order to maintain control over poles. Also, when hiking or tooling around in the backcountry, gloves will allow users to make adjustments to equipment or use tools without having to leave hands uncovered- sometimes a dangerous proposition. Some glove models feature hand-warmer pockets to allow users to keep a chemical heat pack next to the hand for even greater warmth. In warm climates or springtime conditions, “pipe” gloves will be the most viable option for most, as they still offer the protection of a glove but without the insulation of a full winter model.

            Mittens will always take the win when the mercury dips low. Due to the fact that fingers are isolated, re-warming hands is oftentimes impossible in a glove. Once hands are cold, they tend to stay that way until a warmer atmosphere is found. The body is unable to use its own heat to stay warm. Mittens keep those fingers together and allow this natural warmth to be shared. It is also for this reason which seniors and those with limited or restricted circulation will generally find mittens to be very appealing. Choosing features such as a leather palm, thinner Gore-Tex shells, and not wearing inner glove liners are ways to ensure that users are getting maximum dexterity in their mittens.

            Some companies even offer combination mitten/gloves, resulting in a sort of “lobster claw” configuration. While these remain a premium option, they do offer a best of both worlds solution.

            Sugar Bowl’s Chalet andJudahretail locations carry a variety of gloves and mittens to keep guest’s hands protected in the wide variety of conditions encountered on the hill. The friendly staff is more than happy to assist customers in trying on and locating particular sizes and models.


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