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Best Hiking Gloves:
Cover Up For Comfort

By Diane Spicer

Gloves for hiking provide comfort and a margin of safety. Pick the best ones for your happy trails. #gloves #glovesforhiking #hikingclothing #hikergloves #outdoorsafety #coldweatherhiking

The best hiking gloves are the ones you reach for over and over again, because they work well to keep your hands warm and dry.

That's why I recommend that you have at least 3 types of gloves in your hiking gear locker.

Let's tackle them one at a time, with an overview of hiking gloves by function.

Best hiking gloves
for cold weather

Cold weather hiking the best hiking gloves to guard against hypothermia.

Scary fact:

One of the most neglected areas on a hiker's body in cold weather are your hands.

  • We all think about protective hats and jackets and pants, but please don't overlook the importance of keeping your hands warm at all times.

If your fingers are numb, you aren't going to have the dexterity to adjust your clothing, take the cap off your water bottle, or unfold the map that tells you when an important trail junction is coming up.

And that leads to making mistakes on the trail that can endanger your life, or at least your enjoyment of a hike.

So keep your digits toasty warm!

I have a repertoire of winter hiking gloves, and switch them out as needed.

The least cumbersome pair are fingerless gloves, like these.

  • My fingers are free to manipulate, grasp and tug on my hiking poles, boot laces, and zippers, but the rest of my hands and wrists stay warm.
  • Doesn't sound like a big deal? It will be when an icy cold wind is blowing, or it begins to rain.
  • And they convert easily to mittens when I need a bit of extra warmth around my fingers.
The best hiking gloves keep your hands warm and dry regardless of the weather, as this female backpacker on snowshoes demonstrates.The best hiking gloves for winter hiking keep your digits warm enough to grip your trekking poles

Fleece hand protection
on a hike

I like lightweight fleece gloves for situations when I know I'd rather not use mittens, like the photo above.

  • They ride along in the bottom of my pack year round, because cold hands are dangerous for extended periods of time.
  • Even a nice summer day can turn nasty at higher elevations. Always put on an extra layer once you top out somewhere the wind can reach you (especially important if you're sweaty from the exertion of uphill hiking).

Note that these glove options are not weatherproof, so I recommend them only for dry cold conditions.

If you want bombproof gloves with all the features, that also allow you to interface with your phone or GPS screen, expect to pay a bit more. 

But revel in the warm, dry hands you'll have!

Here is a full array of your options.

  • Remember to sort them by weight, weather proofness, and features, as outlined above.

Natural fiber options

Possum down might not be a familiar glove material to you, unless you reside in New Zealand.

Read the Hiking For Her review of Possumdown hiking gloves here.

Another natural choice: alpaca wool gloves, like these.

Best hiking gloves for
cool windy conditions

In the spring and fall, I want to stay warm but don't want extra bulk in my pack or on my hands.

These are the gloves I pull out of my pack when I begin to feel chilled.

  • I know that my core temperature is dropping a bit, and I pay attention by warming up my hands.
  • I also pull on a hat if I'm not already wearing one.
  • More cool weather hiking tips here

Sometimes I know that I'll be cold part way through the hike, because I've consulted my topographical map and recognize a ridge or other windy land feature coming up soon.

So these gloves are kept within easy reach, in my jacket pocket or a top pocket of my backpack where my hiking partner can easily reach them for me.

That way, I don't need to lose body heat by stopping, removing my pack (there goes all of that delicious warmth trapped against my back!), and digging through gear.

I recommend that you do the same: Keep these gloves handy (oooh, a hiking glove pun).

Why not wear
hiking mittens?

I am not a fan of wearing mittens on the hiking trail, with one exception.

Mittens encase my hands in a non-functional configuration, making it hard to grip my poles or do much of anything.

The only exception I make is when I face really cold conditions and I want all of my fingers smushed together to share warmth.

  • I make sure all gear adjustments have been made before I slip on mittens like these.
  • Sometimes I need my trail buddy to help me yank on the second one! And I return the favor.
  • Sometimes I wear these mittens in my sleeping bag if I'm having a hard time falling asleep. For some reason, warm hands relax my entire body.
  • They're also nice cushioning for sitting on hard cold rocks!

I appreciate the safety loops on these mittens, because I can dangle them above snow or mud from my poles or pack.

Best hiking gloves
for sun protection

Tall peaks behind hiker sitting on rocks holding her green backpack

I never used to believe in wearing gloves to block UV rays on cloudless hikes...

until I began to require skin biopsies every year for the pigmented spots on my face and hands.

Now I'm a believer in wearing lightweight, light colored wicking fingerless gloves on my summer hiking adventures.

Ever notice how sunscreen tends to wear off?

  • How many times do you reapply it to your hands and fingers?
  • Yeah, not so much for me, either.

This brand is rock solid in the gear industry.

If you'd prefer full sun gloves, they've literally gotcha covered! These are handy when you're hiking over reflective snow fields, to prevent sunburn.

Bonus: Wearing these gloves prevents "age" spots, too.

If you want to go whole hog into UV protective clothing, read this.

A few more tips
for buying
the best hiking gloves

If you're just starting out hiking in cooler conditions, and won't be staying outdoors overnight, you can get away with bargain brands of hiking gloves.

But expect flimsy materials, poorly sewn seams, and less than ideal insulation.

If you're heading into uncertain weather conditions, or plan to spend at least one night camping in cool/cold/unpredictable temperatures, you absolutely must pay attention to your hands.

Regardless of which brands and styles you go with, be sure your best hiking gloves have:

  • women's sizing, with a snug but not binding fit
  • a cinching system for creating an airtight seal for really cold conditions
  • appropriate thickness to keep you from over heating or freezing (which is why I have several styles)
  • durable synthetic material on the palms if gripping poles or camera gear is important
  • non-chafing seams
  • wrist straps to prevent loss

Gloves = hiking love

If you are hiking with newbies, children, or a group of folks you don't know well, bring along a second pair of gloves to hand over when any of them begin to shiver.

Demonstrate without a word that the best hiking gloves are a vital component of your anti-hypothermia strategy.

Be prepared for grateful words and a big smile.

Notice the word LOVE in there?

  • Glove love is where it's at, y'all.

Ready to tackle warm feet on a hike? I thought you might be up for it ;)

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Best Hiking Gloves

I get emails all the time about what I wear on the trail.

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