The Best Gloves and Mittens: Tested

Don’t let your digits go numb this winter.

Ryan Wichelns|Updated January 21, 2023

129 reviews with an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars
A snowboarder brushes snow off her Black Diamond Mercury mittens.

Editor’s note: Inventory can be unpredictable these days, so some of the items in this list might be temporarily out of stock when you read this guide. We’ll do our best to update it accordingly.

Your hands are everything in the winter: your anchors to the ice pitch, balance points while slashing powder, tools while setting up camp and utensils to help you chop and carry firewood. Between all of that, there’s walking the dog, scraping your windshield, gripping handlebars and even holding frozen steering wheels. That’s a lot of exposure to the elements in the fourth season.

But just because it’s cold out, doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your hands’ effectiveness (or your general comfort), and these gloves and mittens prove it. Our team of testers evaluated the warmth, dexterity, durability, comfort and features of the top gloves and mittens at REI Co-op to bring you the year’s best for every activity. You can’t go wrong with these.

Test Results

For quick recommendations, check out the results of our round-robin here, or scroll down for in-depth reviews.

Other Top Performers


Test Results: As good as it gets short of a mitten. For a glove, that’s about as much as you can ask for in terms of warmth—and exactly how one tester described the Heli Insulated after a season of use ice climbing and skiing in the Northeast. “My circulation is like Boston at rush hour,” he says, “so whenever I saw the temps plummeting into the teens and single digits, I reached for these.” The thicker-than-usual liner dishes out generous warmth (it’s removable for quicker drying, but you can’t wear it alone), while the water-resistant shell traps heat inside. A longer wrist gauntlet ensures no gapping between glove and jacket.

Because the Heli Insulated stays true to its name, you might expect it to be big and clumsy, but it scored surprisingly well in dexterity. Like most ski gloves, it has precurved fingers and leather palms, but the special sauce is the Hestra-unique numeric glove sizing: Instead of small, medium and large, Hestra gloves are offered in several sizes based on the length and circumference of your hand. If you size right, you should end up with a snug, wrinkle-free fit. (This sizing allows for a single unisex model, rather than men’s and women’s.) With a precise fit, testers could easily hold a ski pole, adjust buckles and clip carabiners.

Our skiing tester praised the Heli Insulated for its snow-specific features like wrist leashes, which let him remove the gloves on the lift to check his phone (they are not touchscreen compatible) without losing them, and the oversize gauntlets, which made them easy to put back on and kept the powder from creeping inside. Ample leather on the palms and fingers kept them from falling apart after months of handling climbing ropes, sharpening ice tools and grabbing ski edges. Buy here.

A snowboarder wearing Hestra Heli insulated gloves

Bottom Line: The Hestra Gloves Heli Insulated Gloves have a mixture of warmth and weather protection with dexterity and durability that give it a Goldilocks combination for cold days playing in the powder.

Testing Stats:

  • Days out: 25
  • Testing states: New Hampshire, New York, Vermont
  • Coldest temp: 3° F in Smugglers Notch, Vermont
  • Best testing story: During a single day of guiding ice climbers in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire, our tester sent upwards of 2 miles of rope while wearing these gloves.


Test Results: The first swings and ice-screw placements of the season are always rough, but the Rab Baltoro gloves made it that much easier and more comfortable for our tester. During a full day climbing Gothics Peak's North Face in the Adirondack Mountains, these gloves allowed our tester to swing tools, tie knots and clip ice screws without ever needing to remove them. All while offering adequate protection against the mid-teen temperatures and windy alpine environment of the 1,000-foot face. By the numbers, they don't have quite as much insulation as other climbing gloves, but combined with a high-pile fleece across the palm, they were well suited for all but the coldest days.

When it was time to pull them off (to rummage around in a backpack or snap a photo), our tester appreciated the over-cuff gaiter, which meant he didn’t need to mess with his jacket’s cuff every time. A softshell stretch outer fabric on the back of the hand kept them from getting too swampy during long pitches or while climbing in the sun at Colorado’s Ouray Ice Park. The leather palm, which is reinforced in high wear spots, has yet to show any real signs of weathering after roughly 50 hours of use. And a generous pre-curved palm and fingers made it comfy to grip ice tools for long stretches without the fabric bunching up. Buy here.


Bottom Line: For pursuits that demand precision and dexterity like ice climbing and backcountry skiing, there’s no better option than the Rab Baltoro Gloves, which deliver both without sacrificing warmth.


A skier wears Rab Baltoro gloves.


Testing Stats:

  • Days out: 9
  • Testing states: Colorado, New York
  • Coldest temp: 6° F in Keene Valley, New York
  • Best testing story: Ice climbing in the Adirondacks is almost never just that. At the top of the slide, our tester dealt with a deep snowy bushwhack through tree wells, where he cinched down the gaiter and started swimming through the snow—but nothing made it into the gloves.


Test Results: Warmth is warmth, whether you’re in Antarctica or the Lower 48. That’s why our testers loved the Black Diamond Mercury, the warmest mitt in our test. A pile of PrimaLoft® on both the back and palms, plus additional boiled fleece, makes them suited to subzero expeditions—or any adventure where you’d prefer warm hands. “Honestly, I only bring these on the coldest days, otherwise they're too warm,” says one Colorado-based tester. "But on below-zero lift ski days, I couldn't get away with anything less."

One of those aforementioned days saw temps get as low as -6° F (plus a sturdy breeze) while skiing Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin. Everything else was chilled, said our tester, except his hands. The Mercury Mitts feature a liner that you can pull out of the reinforced goat leather outer mitt to let them dry separately on longer trips, and a massive gaiter to fit over the cuffs of even your beefiest jackets.

Warmth like this is bulky, so expect fine motor skills to suffer in this mitten. While we could pull a zipper with a long tab or hold an ice axe, this mitten wears more like a boxing glove than others in our lineup and we lacked the dexterity to do more detailed work like brushing snow out of our ski bindings. Buy here.

A snowboarder wears Black Diamond Mercury mittens.


Bottom Line: The Black Diamond Mercury Mittens are a safe bet whether you’re regularly in super-cold climes or just suffer from perpetually cold hands.


Testing Stats:

  • Days out: 20
  • Testing states: Colorado, New Hampshire, New York, Washington
  • Coldest temp: -6° F in Summit County, Colorado
  • Best testing story: When what was supposed to be a New Year's cold snap in New Hampshire turned into rain, one tester was still thankful for warm (and waterproof) mitts as a sopping wet hike in the Presidential Range ended by layering up in the visitor center. “These things were dry when I pulled them out of my backpack and I couldn’t have been more thankful.”


Test Results: The gloves you wear skiing or ice climbing are often designed precisely for those missions and see short periods of intense use. But your everyday gloves—the pair you’re wearing for everything from walking the dog to shoveling the driveway to stacking firewood—typically need another level of toughness. For our Ridgway, Colorado, tester, that was the REI Co-op Guide Insulated Gloves, and they remained free of rips and tears after a season of use. “They get more use than almost any other gloves I have, and they've stood up to it,” he attests. A tough leather exterior with a reinforced palm withstand constant use or even warm-weather ice climbs near home.

The Guide gloves aren’t too heavy on insulation, but kept our tester comfortable walking the dog in temps down to the mid-teens—even lower with more active pursuits. A softshell on the back of the hand is stretchy and breathable, and the rib-knit cuffs (with a reinforced pull tab) make it easy to get them on and off.

The Guide gloves aren’t waterproof, but testers didn't have issues with leaking or wetting out. The fingers aren’t pre-curved, but like most leather gloves, you break them in, and the Guide start to form to your hand. Buy here.

A snowboarder builds a small snowman.


Bottom Line: Thanks to rugged durability and comfort, the REI Co-op Guide Insluated Glove is a real glove-of-all-trades for everyday use.


Testing Stats:

  • Days out: 15
  • Testing states: Colorado
  • Coldest temp: 13° F in Silverton, Colorado
  • Best testing story: “These things basically live on the dashboard of my truck, so they’re always with me when I’m out,” said our tester. “Even on the coldest mornings, they’re surprisingly supple and warm up quickly once I get them on.”


Other Top Performers

Test Results: Simplicity is the name of the game with these liners from REI Co-op. They slide easily under other gloves and mittens and were just enough to take the bite out of single-digit temps when our tester was forced to remove his mittens atop Colorado’s Grizzly Peak. On warmer ski tours, they were all he needed to defend against the brisk morning air while wicking sweat from his skin. The liner itself is an even blend of merino wool and polyester for a best-of-both-worlds combination of warmth and moisture management. (The merino also keeps them fresh. Our pair smelled fine after a three-day hut trip near Vail Pass, Colorado.) Cool: The Merino Wool Liner 2.0 is touchscreen-compatible on the thumb and index finger. Buy here.

A person throws a snowball into the air while wearing REI Co-op Merino Wool Liner Gloves


Test Results: Quality warmth and weatherproofing don’t need to come with a massive price premium. As the name implies, this Burton glove is equipped with a GORE-TEX waterproof membrane. It also has above-average warmth and dexterity, much like many of the other options in our test, but at a fraction of the cost. The GORE-TEX 3-in-1 Glove kept our tester warm and dry on a high-20s powder day at Idaho’s Sun Valley Resort, and she noted nice features like the removable liner and touchscreen compatibility. At this price, you get a polyurethane substitute for leather, though, so don’t expect best-in-class durability. Still, this glove should hold up fine for a season of normal resort use. Buy here.

A hiker opens her water bottle while wearing Burton GORE-TEX Gloves



Test Results: Gloves or mittens? If the decision has you stumped, maybe the answer is to split the difference. Lobsters like the Hestra Gloves Fall Line separate the thumb and index finger for dexterity, while keeping the middle, ring and pinky fingers contained for warmth. (The liner, which isn’t removable, has five fingers.) Our tester liked them specifically for inbounds steeps where the chair-served uphills were chilly, but swinging poles out in front for jump turns was made just a little bit easier with a loose index finger. The Fall Line has a leather outer that has held up to a full season of hard testing and low-profile cuffs that easily slide under jacket sleeves. Buy here.


A snowboarder straps into their snowboard while wearing Hestra Fall Line 3-Finger Mittens



Shop All Gloves Shop All Mittens


Buying Advice


Question number one: Do I want gloves or mittens? What it tends to come down to is that, plainly, separating your fingers makes it easier to use them, whether that’s zipping your shell, operating your phone or even pointing out the next run you want to take. Such dexterity tends to be essential in disciplines like backcountry skiing and riding, climbing and working around the house. The problem is that if you’re not moving and pumping blood into your fingertips, separating them comes at the expense of warmth.

Enclosing your fingers in one insulated pocket allows them to radiate heat to each other, keeping you much more comfortable on cold days. This might be the best bet for someone who plans to primarily use their mittens lift-skiing at resorts or as emergency backups. You might wear gloves while making camp, but switch into warmer mittens for downtime in the cook tent.

In between, three-finger gloves (or lobster mittens) like the Hestra Gloves Fall Line split the difference. They set apart your thumb and index finger for dexterity, while keeping your less useful fingers together for warmth. Many mittens, like the Black Diamond Mercury, also have glove liners, so your fingers insulate each other inside the mitten, but have a touch of dexterity. (Also, you can remove the mitten shell to use your fingers in the liner without totally exposing skin.)


Dexterity vs. Warmth in Gloves

Two snowboarders fist bump

Question number two: Do I want usable fingers or warm fingers? When you narrow your search for gloves specifically, you still have a few considerations because dexterity and warmth are typically on opposing ends of a spectrum. Warmer gloves require more insulation, generally making them bulkier and stiffer. That trade-off is fine for most skiers and snowboarders who will use a glove like the Hestra Gloves Heli Insulated or the Burton GORE-TEX 3-in-1; they’re ultrawarm and allow just enough finger control to grip a ski pole or lift the restraint bar.

Gloves with less insulation can be made slimmer to conform better to your hand and fingers, which makes it easier to perform delicate tasks like tying knots, thumbing your dog’s leash or even, as one tester raved, “picking your nose.” That makes gloves like the Rab Baltoro nicer for more technical objectives like climbing.

But know thyself. Sometimes you just don’t need that much warmth, and a basic barrier from the elements will serve you well. If you’re planning to wear gloves during an aerobic activity like backcountry skiing or shoveling snow, consider a lighter model like the Rab Baltoro or the REI Co-op Guide Insulated Glove. A liner like the REI Co-op Merino Wool Liner 2.0 can be worn alone kicking around town, walking the dog or even jogging as slight protection and warmth without impeding dexterity at all.

Find a glove that can do both—keep your hands warm and let your fingers do their thing—and you’ve hit on the jackpot on handwear.

Read more in our article, How to Choose Gloves or Mittens.




We dished out more than 35 pairs of gloves and mittens sold at REI to a cadre of trusty testers, who spent two seasons using them as much as possible. We asked them to push each pair of gloves and mittens to its limits, using it in as many conditions as possible and doing as many different things as co-op members do: ice climbing, resort and backcountry skiing, shoveling the driveway, winter camping, biking to work and more.

After ample use, those testers collected their thoughts and graded each glove on its warmth, dexterity, durability, comfort and features. Those scores were tallied up and averaged; the top performers in each category are represented in this guide, as well as a handful of next-bests.


Photography by Andrew Bydlon