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Glove and Mitten Guide

As any snowboarder knows, getting cold on the mountain can ruin even the greatest day of riding. The first place the heat will leave is your fingers. This make picking the right pair of snowboard gloves or mittens for your riding adventures critical for your warmth, safety, and enjoyment. Although this decision isn’t the most difficult one you will make when assembling your snowboard set up, there are a few things you want to consider before purchasing a pair of snowboard gloves or mittens.


A. Waterproof and Breathability

Your gloves have many of the same characteristics as your outerwear. You need them to block wind, and keep your hands dry. This means that waterproofing and breathability are going to be two key features to look for in snowboard gloves. First and foremost, waterproofing is essential.  Not only for snow, but alos for warmer climates where the snow may not be as dry or tends to melt faster. Once your snowboard gloves are wet, it’s all over. To protect your hands from wetness, many different materials are used. Gore-Tex is by far the best waterproofing material. Just as important is the how well your gloves breathe. Breathability creates much needed air flow, allowing sweat and moisture to escape, keeping your hands dry and comfortable.


B. Insulation

Insulation is a personal preference when it comes to gloves. If you tend to be very warm bodied, you may not need very insulated gloves. However, if you tend to be a cold person, you may look for a glove with a lot of insulation. Keep in mind that because the insulation is thicker in a glove, that does not automatically mean that it’s warmer. Many synthetic insulators are high tech and are specifically woven tighter to make them thinner, but still being warmer and allowing for a full range of movement. These are definitely higher end gloves, but functionally are way better. Another option is Down Insulation, but down should mainly be used in drier climates. This is because when down gets wet, it loses its insulating properties and will no longer keep you warm.


C. Lining

The lining in a snowboard glove is an extra layer of material built in that allows for more comfort and increases warmth, while also protecting the insulation.  This lining tends to be made from one of a few different types of synthetic materials that have moisture wicking abilities to help keep your hands dry.  Some liners are removable while others are built into the glove.


D. Fit

Fit is an important factor to consider when buying a snowboard glove because if the fit isn’t right, the glove will not provide the proper warmth, nor will they be as comfortable. Gloves that are too big will lose heat easily. Gloves that are too small will restrict blood flow and cause your fingers to become cold. A good fitting glove will leave minimal space between the tip of the outstretched finger and the glove, while coming all the way down the valleys between your fingers. This will allow you with the right range of movement and proper amount of air space to keep your hands and fingers warm.  


E. Cuff Length

There are two main types of snowboard gloves, over-the-cuff and under-the-cuff. Over tend to be longer and have cinches at the ends. This allows you to pull the sleeves of your jacket inside your glove and cinch the glove down leaving no space for the elements to enter. Shorter gloves tend to have a sleeker fit and can be warn on the inside of your jacket sleeve. Longer cuffs tend to offer more protection in deep powder but shorter cuffs offer greater mobility around your wrist. Determine which factor is more important to you and take into consideration what type of riding you will be doing and where. For instance, a longer cuff would probably be better for backcountry riding, while a shorter cuff would allow for better grips on pipe and park riding.


G. Extra Features

Most snowboard gloves have extra features for convenience and comfort. Some gloves offer zippered pockets that can house disposable hand warmers for when the weather calls for it. Other gloves and mittens have grips and/or reinforcements typically on the palms and thumbs as these are the areas that get the most wear and tear. This will increase the durability of your gloves or mittens. There are snowboard gloves that come with a soft nose wipe area on the thumb for drippy and running noses. And sometimes there is a mini squeegee on one of the thumbs to help wipe your goggles clear, but only use this feature on the outside of your goggles. Another feature that is available on some gloves is a wrist loop that is attached to the cuff so that your gloves can dangle when you don’t need to be wearing them but also don’t want to have to hold onto them.


H. Mittens 

The debate between gloves and mittens has been an ongoing one and no real conclusion has been reached, it’s all a matter of personal preference.  Mittens will provide more warmth because your fingers will share one compartment inside the mitten and can generate more heat that way.  But, mittens have less mobility in some circumstances. If warmth is your number one consideration and you don't mind taking your gloves off to pick your nose then mittens are for you.


I. Glove Liners

Glove liners are a thinner, non-insulated glove that provides extra warmth and fit inside your regular snowboard gloves. The same concept of layering that you apply to your outerwear should be used on your hands. Glove liners provide a first layer to wick moisture and provide extra warmth when the temperature requires it. Glove liners can be made of many different materials; wool, silk, polyester, synthetics or a blend of many materials. The thicker the material, the more insulation and warmth the material will provide. However, thicker materials may not breath or wick moisture as well and actually end up making your hands sweat and become wet. Wet hands and cold wind will make for a frozen hand, so be careful with your liners. A good thin windstopper material is that will keep your hands dry is always a good choice in liners. Remember, liners are not a necessity and most higher end gloves will be ample protection even without liners.