Best cold weather gloves 2020: Gloves designed to keep your fingers cosy

The great outdoors is tough on the hands – especially in winter. Here are the best cold weather gloves for making the most of the winter wonderland

Best cold weather gloves: Columbia M Powder Keg II Glove
(Image credit: Colombia)

Being cold is the worst, and if you're not wearing the best winter gloves you can find, you risk turning your adventures from the holiday of a lifetime into an exercise in abject misery. Your extremities are the first areas to suffer when it gets really chilly, so a good pair of gloves can extend how long you can stay outside by an absolutely huge amount. Whether you've got kids who can't resist a frosty morning, a week of northern lights watching or wildlife watching in Wyoming, this selection of the best winter gloves has you covered.

Looking for something more specific? We also have dedicated guides to the best touchscreen gloves (so you can still use your phone when it's chilly), the best running gloves and the best winter cycling gloves.

How to choose the best cold weather gloves

The first thing to think about is whether you want mittens or gloves with fingers. Because your fingers are all kept together in a mitten, they radiate heat into each other, which means mittens are by some distance the warmest possible option. This obviously comes at the expense of dexterity: if you need to operate a camera, re-tie your hiking boots or undo a padlock on a gate, mittens will make miserable work of it. Gloves are better if you need to do fine-fingered tasks – but bear in mind truly warm gloves with fingers might not offer loads of dexterity so in ultra-cold environments it's often better to have the warmest gloves possible (mittens, then) and to just slip them off for a few seconds if you need your fingers.

Waterproofing is the next question – if gloves aren't waterproof they'll wick up water and pass it through to your hands, at which point it doesn't matter how toasty your gloves can be when they're dry – wet gloves are cold gloves. This is particularly true if you're somewhere which is warm enough for snow but not quite cold enough for the snow to stay dry and crumbly.

A final point is to be really careful about sizing. Different gloves from different companies are all sized differently, which XXL (for example) meaning different things depending who makes your gloves. Bear in mind that you'll often benefit hugely from having a pair of merino wool glove liners inside your main glove, so whatever size you think you are you might want to go at least a size bigger so you can wear gloves inside your gloves. This is one accessory where trying different sizes is absolutely crucial. Most online retailers are sympathetic to this and will allow you to return too-small or too-large items for free.

The best cold weather gloves you can buy right now

best cold weather gloves: Sealskinz Waterproof Extreme Cold Weather Down Mitten

(Image credit: Sealskinz)

1. Sealskinz Waterproof Extreme Cold Weather Down Mitten

The best cold weather glove for most people

Specifications
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL (unisex)
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Superbly warm+Outstandingly comfortable+Keenly priced
Reasons to avoid
-Mid-market means there are better – and cheaper – options-Not for those with big hands 

For a very reasonable price, these Sealskinz Down Mittens tick a really impressive number of boxes. They're fully waterproofed – and a claim that's backed up by a two year guarantee – and have an internal, fleece lined baffle at the wrist to keep cold air from getting in. The polyester outer is waterproof, but so is the Downtek down stuffing inside – because it resists water, it doesn't clump together, which means it insulates even when there's moisture present. The interior of the glove is lined with fleece for extra warmth.

The palm of each glove feels tough and offers plenty of grip – useful for gross motor skills such as controlling a snowmobile, and overall these feel hard-wearing. We took our pair to the Swedish Arctic in a particularly cold December and had no complaints. The only thing to watch is sizing – even Sealskinz' XXL size was just a touch on the snug side, so whatever your normal glove size, go bigger here.

(Image credit: Canada Goose)

2. Canada Goose Snow Mantra Mitts

The best premium cold weather gloves

Specifications
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Everything but the kitchen sink+Very warm+Everything you need in extreme conditions
Reasons to avoid
-Not cheap-Overkill for most uses

Go big or go home – that's the mantra endorsed by Canada goose, whose Snow Mantra Mitts redefine 'chunky', and whose price redefines the term 'expensive'. Still, the Snow Mantras are what happens when a company throws the kitchen sink at a product, and the no-expensive-spared approach has yielded a pair of gloves that wins rave reviews world-wide. The design is two-in-one, with an heavily insulated inner layer offering 600-fill-power goose down, with elasticated wrists trapping heat further. The ripstop shell offers durability, while the anti-slip fingertips and palm allow you to hold objects securely even without the all-singing, all-dancing outer layers. 

Pull on those outer layers though, and your hands are in for a glorious time. The three-layer shell stretches in four directions, making it comfortable and tough, and full waterproofing means these gloves will excel in virtually any condition.

best cold weather gloves: Berghaus Windystopper Glove

(Image credit: Beghaus)

3. Berghaus Windystopper Glove

The best budget cold weather glove

Specifications
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Waterproof: No
Reasons to buy
+Warm in milder climates+Plenty of dexterity
Reasons to avoid
-No waterproofing-More effective options for very cold climates

You make a few compromises for the Berghaus Windystopper, but for a bargain price it's a practical, well-made and toasty alternative to clumsy mittens that might be overkill for most people. A generous elasticated wrist makes for a secure fit, and the windproof and breathable Gore Windstopper Fleece construction makes for gloves which are comfortable.

There are a few drawbacks – that Windstopper fleece is windproof but not waterproof – while there's a degree of protection against water, a stern downpour or enthusiastic snowball fight could leave you with damp hands. The palms are made of the same fleece as the rest of the glove, and while there's enough grip there for, say holding on to a bicycle handle, they're not quite as robust as the heavily textured grips on other, more expensive gloves. Still, if you're after a pair of hand-warmers that don't weigh much, give you loads of dexterity and will keep you warm in slightly milder environments, the Windystoppers are the cut-price ticket.

best cold weather gloves: The North Face Belay Summit Series Mittens

(Image credit: The North Face)

4. The North Face Belay Summit Series Mittens

The best cold weather gloves for adventurers

Specifications
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable and hardwearing+Very warm+Usable, grippy palm material

Sitting in the middle-ground between the Sealskinz Waterproof Extreme mitten and the Canada Goose Snow Mantra mitts, the North Face Belay Summit mittens are a hardcore piece of kit that promises to keep you warm through some seriously nippy adventures.

The high density ripstop design is bulky but warm, with plenty of 200 PrimaLoft Silver insulation held within a breathable, waterproof shell that offers plenty of warmth. The inner liner and outer shell are inseparable, but the internal design gives each index finger its own sleeve, allowing you to move your pointer a little more independently than mittens that simply group all your fingers together. The palm and fingertips are reinforced with goat leather, which is a hard-wearing, grippy material that makes these gloves great for those who are looking to take on winter adventures worthy of the name.

best cold weather gloves: Columbia M Powder Keg II Glove

(Image credit: Colombia)

5. Columbia M Powder Keg II Glove

The best fingered glove for cold weather

Specifications
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Easy to wear and grippy+Plenty warm+Hardwearing
Reasons to avoid
-Mittens could be warmer still

Just how warm can a non-mitten be? Columbia aims to answer that question with its Powder Keg II, a waterproof, fingered glove that aims to give those wielding tools in chilly environments the best of both worlds – safe dexterity with fingers that will keep doing what you tell them in the cold.

They're bulky gloves – just because they've got individual fingers don't expect to be able to perform brain surgery while wearing them. Still, you get more control than with a mitten, and the grippy, goats' leather palm and finger material means you'll get plenty of purchase.

The OutDry exterior is waterproof, and the interior Berber fleece lining works in conjunction with the gloves' insulation to keep things warm. The elasticated wrist, complete with a velcro adjuster. They're not quite as deluxe as mittens when it comes to all-out cosiness, but they're not far off. If you need all your fingers while you're outside, these offer a great compromise between dexterity, warmth and price.