Are Mittens Warmer Than Gloves?

Last Updated on 06/12/2021

Why are mittens warmer than gloves

Are Mittens Warmer Than Gloves?

Are mittens warmer than gloves? Mittens work to trap and circulate the heat from your whole hand, rather than individual fingers, they spread the warmth better than gloves. There is also less surface area for warm air to escape through in mittens.

If you’re going out for a day on the hill, it might be difficult to choose between mittens and gloves. The mittens vs gloves debate in the winter appear to be as popular as the snowboarder vs skier. It also almost separates into two camps.

But mittens and gloves can both be useful for either sport. They’re also useful for winter climbing, mountain walking and just getting out of the house. By why are mittens warmer than gloves?

What is the Difference Between Gloves and Mittens?

Let’s start basic here. Gloves and mittens aren’t that different. Both cover the palm of your hand, but while mittens are a one-piece fit over the fingers, gloves have separate compartments for each.

Because of the separate finger compartments, you can do a lot more in outdoor gloves than you can in mittens. You can use your hands more freely and feel everything a little easier.

Mittens don’t give you the same level of feel, but they are far warmer. Having your fingers all in one place is a little like having them in their own sleeping bag. They trap the heat from all four fingers and circulate it to keep them warm.

Benefits of Mittens

  • Quite simply, mittens are warmer. The heat from your whole hand is trapped in one place, while gloves rely on each digit to insulate themselves.
  • Part of the reason mittens are warmer is that they have less surface area than gloves. This also means less surface area and fewer seams for water to enter through.
  • Mittens are easier to put on and take off. If you’re up on the mountain and want to remove your mittens to sort a zip or open a chocolate bar, they’re really easy to fit back onto your hand.
  • Because they’re easier to use, mittens are better for youngsters. If you have ever tried to fight a toddler’s hand into a glove, you’ll know that mittens are a great choice.

Benefits of Gloves

  • The main benefit of gloves is that they give you better dexterity and feel. If you need to use cameras, open snacks, hold ski poles, fix bindings, or do just about anything on the mountain, it will be far easier in gloves than mittens.
  • Gloves are usually better on warmer days. As the winter season ends, the days warm up. You will still want to have hand protection on, but the increased surface area of gloves makes them more breathable so you won’t sweat as much.

Wearing Gloves Inside Mittens

Whether you choose to wear gloves or mittens, liner gloves are a worthwhile addition. They are more commonly worn underneath mittens, though.

Liner gloves give you the best of both worlds as well as much warmer hands. If you need dexterity but don’t want to expose your skin to harsh conditions, your liner gloves will protect you enough for a few minutes at a time.

If you’re ski touring, you may find that your hands are far too warm in your mittens as you walk uphill. Many people tour up in their liner gloves, then add the warmer layer for skiing back down.

Gloves Vs Mittens for Skiing

As we mentioned earlier, the gloves vs mittens divide runs a little in line with the ski vs snowboard split. Gloves are usually preferred by skiers because it’s easier to hold your pole and be more active with your hands in gloves.

That’s not to say that mittens aren’t a viable choice. Many people find that their hands get too cold in gloves and will choose mittens instead.

Gloves Vs Mittens for Snowboarding

Snowboarders are less active with their arms than skiers. This means that they don’t get the same blood flow to their fingers as skiers do, and gloved hands can get very cold. Many snowboarders prefer mittens to gloves because they keep their hands warmer.

The downside to this is that as a snowboarder, you will be regularly doing up and undoing your bindings. This is easier in gloves than in mittens. You may also find that the limited dexterity of mittens means your bindings wear at them quicker than they would with gloves.

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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