by Diane Spicer
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.
Cold weather hiking the best hiking gloves to guard against hypothermia.
One of the most neglected areas on a hiker's body in cold weather are your hands.
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.
I like lightweight fleece gloves for situations when I know I'd rather not use mittens, like the photo above.
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.
Possum down might not be a familiar glove material to you, unless you reside in New Zealand.
Another natural choice: alpaca wool gloves, like these.
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.
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).
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 appreciate the safety loops on these mittens, because I can dangle them above snow or mud from my poles or pack.
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?
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.
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:
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?
Ready to tackle warm feet on a hike? I thought you might be up for it ;)
Best Hiking Gloves
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About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She's been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for 5+ decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.
All rights reserved.
Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.
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