One of the very first things you learn about cold weather outdoor activities is the importance of ensuring you always keep your extremities warm. In cold weather settings, whether it’s a chilly fall day or the dead of winter, it is the feet and hands that get cold first.
It isn’t too difficult to find hefty boots and thick wool socks, plus the activity of walking or otherwise moving also helps to keep feet and legs warm. Hands are a bit of a different story.
Fingers and hands can quickly become painfully cold extremely fast. Plus the lack of fat and muscle on fingers means that even if your core is warm enough that you’re nearly sweating, your fingers can still be dangerously cold. Therefore it is vital that you very carefully select what gloves you will wear, especially if you’ll be deep out in the woods or on a trail.
It’s easy to find exceptionally warm winter/snow gloves, but it’s another thing to try and find gloves that are warm but also thin.
Typically thin gloves offer no insulation, making them inappropriate for winter conditions.
Many cheaply-made thin winter gloves also have little or no water resistance, which can spell disaster if you’ll be making contact with water or snow. Cold hands are bad enough, but cold wet hands can lead to serious problems.
Rather than risking glove failure by purchasing the first pair of thin winter gloves you see, consider purchasing a pair of these 4 lightweight but durable winter gloves instead.
The North Face is a very well-known outdoor gear brand, probably most popular for their apparel. However, they do have an impressive selection of gloves as well. When it comes down to thin, lightweight winter gloves, you can’t go wrong with the TKA 100.
TKA stands for Thermal Kinetic Advancement, which is a technology added to TNF’s fleece gloves to improve insulation and durability. These gloves are available in both Men’s and Women’s options, with the only differences between the two being anatomical sizing.
That small design feature alone really helps ensure a snug but comfortable fit, especially for women with smaller hands that find unisex smalls are still too large.
The TKA 100 gloves have a 5-way dimensional fit and are designed for light warmth in cool conditions. These are a great choice for more mild winters or to wear when running errands outside. Some customers have also used them as a liner glove when temperatures really get cold.
While the gloves do lack tech-friendly fingertips, they are still a very nicely made, quality pair of lightweight fleece winter gloves. These retail for $24 (check for the latest price) and come in a few different colors.
When it comes to keeping your hands warm in bitter cold temps you must layer, just as you would with your clothing. A good pair of form-fitting, light liner gloves that work as a warm base layer are vital. Liner gloves can be worn alone, but what really makes them great is that you can remove your heavier, bulky gloves/mittens but still have some hand protection with the liner.
The Smartwool Liner Gloves are an excellent investment for two main reasons – they are incredibly well made and they are touchscreen compatible. These are unisex gloves available in XS to L sizing, all of which retail for an even $24 (check here for the latest price). You also get three different color choices.
As you’d guess from the brand’s name, these liners are made of a wool material, or more specifically a wool blend. The main part of this glove is a Merino wool, acrylic and nylon blend. The thumb and index finger are primarily polyester, however.
The reason for this is these two fingers are touchscreen-friendly (etip gloves). The big advantage here is that you can still keep your hands warm while using your smartphone, GPS or other touchscreen tech.
My Ideal Use: I love using these as Ski gloves, particularly for a liner to either layer up or layer down depending on where you are on the mountain (chairlift, wind, base-camp, etc…).
Under Armour’s ColdGear line is highly respected and most pieces have excellent reviews, so it isn’t too much of a surprise that their Infrared Fleece Gloves are a great option.
Like most UA gloves, the ColdGear Infrared come in Men’s and Women’s sizing, along with a few different color options. These retail for $39.99 (check here for the latest price), which is a bit pricier than others but worth every penny when it comes to warmth ratings.
The ColdGear Infrared gloves are made of a blend of polyester and elastane. The exterior fabric is not waterproof but it is fast drying. The brushed interior lining is made of ColdGear Infrared technology, which is a soft shell thermo-conductive material that absorbs and retains natural body heat given off by your hands.
The palm is made of suede for better grip and the gloves also have extended wrist cuffs. Last but not least, UA added Tech Touch print to the thumbs and fingers so you can still use your phone without having to take your gloves off.
Despite being sleek and thin looking, the ColdGear Infrared Fleece Gloves are wonderfully warm and great for winter activities. You’ll find that they aren’t too bulky for casual wear and offer enough dexterity for outdoor activities or even working outside.
While not as well-know of a brand as the above 3, the Head Multi-Sport SensaTEC gloves are great for winter athletic activities. These gloves are surprisingly warm yet fit the hand very well. The overall design allows for amazing dexterity and use of electronics as well.
These are designed to be able to be used for numerous different types of activities, and customers find this is certainly true. You’ll find these work great for hiking, running (street or trail), cycling, golf, and more.
The palm of these gloves is finished with a silicon design, which offers a better grip on tech devices, handlebars, trekking poles, etc. The SensaTEC technology is a material present in the fingertips of the gloves which allows you to use a touchscreen device without having to expose your bare hands to the elements.
The Head SensaTEC gloves have an extended cuff for a closer, more comfortable fit. These gloves are designed with unisex sizing in mind, with sizes from X-Small up to XLarge/2XL. There are also two color options – Black and Grey.
These retail for about $30 to $50 (check here for the latest price) depending on the retailer and sizing. You can find these readily online through sites like Amazon, but may also find these at Walmart and Costco. When you need something that is tougher than fleece, warmer than a liner and lacks any unnecessary bulk, these are a go-to choice.
Pro Tip: I generally avoid leather gloves in this category because 1) they tend to need more fabric to insulate, and 2) tend to be heavier than most synthetic or fleece alternatives.
When comparing different gloves and generally shopping around, keep in mind that you should select a pair that has a temperature rating that is the lowest you’d expect to encounter. It is much better to have gloves that are a bit too warm than not warm enough.
It is also a good idea to carry a backup pair of gloves or liners in your backpack if you can, especially if there is any chance of your gloves getting wet or damp during whatever activity you’re enjoying.
Finally, if you are purchasing liner gloves or a pair of thin gloves you may like to layer your heavy pair with, be sure to take them with you when shopping in store so you can ensure both will compliment each other in terms of fit.
Sam Hardy is an outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for survival prepping. He writes about the great outdoors and his favorite equipment here.