Thanks to their small size and distance from your heart, your fingers and hands are usually the first extremities to feel cold. Ironically, they’re often an afterthought for skiers, who pay relatively little attention to their gloves. Until recently, so did manufacturers, who spent more energy developing and marketing equipment and outerwear. But that’s changing. No longer the ignored step-siblings of higher-priced gear and apparel, gloves are getting their due, especially when it comes to research and design. The trinity of comfort that influences base-layer and outerwear design—warmth, dryness and mobility—also drives ski-glove construction. An outer shell keeps moisture and wind out, a down or synthetic insulation traps and holds warmth close to your hand, and a liner wicks perspiration away from your skin. Glove-only manufacturers go so far as to employ “handgineers” to study how fingers and hands move while taking into account gender and other physiological differences that make one skier’s hand more susceptible to cold than another’s. Here are nine models built for warmth, breathability and dexterity. One of them will surely fit your needs like a…well, you know.
Gender specifics Women have narrower fingers, palms and wrists and a greater drop in pinky length than men, which means gender-specific designs are more than marketing gimmicks. A glove that’s too big can’t trap and hold heat close to your hand; one that’s too small restricts movement and circulation.
Thumbs Evolution gave us the opposable thumb. But some gloves hinder its utility by restricting the natural motion that allows us to grasp and hold tools, such as ski poles. Look for gloves with properly articulated thumbs that fold easily toward your middle and ring finger.
Fingers Yours should touch the end of the glove without being restricted by bulky insulation. Mittens, in which your fingers share generated heat, are generally warmer than gloves but offer limited dexterity.
Wrist Wrist straps should be easy to grasp and adjust while wearing gloves and should hit at the break of your wrist. Longer gauntlets with Velcro or cinch closures help seal out snow and wind while keeping warm air inside.