If you don't have the best cold weather gloves you can find, you're running the risk of your outdoor adventures going from all fun and games to total and utter misery. If the weather turns on you when you're out and about, the first place you're going to feel it is in your extremities, and while your feet are likely to be tucked up in thick socks and sturdy footwear, if your gloves are lacking then that could put a hard limit on how long you can stay out.
Keeping your hands warm in even the coldest conditions shouldn't be hard work, however; we've picked out the best options that'll mean toasty digits on anything from a frosty morning to an alpine blizzard, and if you need a bit of extra heat then it won't hurt to toss one of the best hand warmers into the mix too.
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.
- Stay cosy with one of the best men's winter jackets
How to choose the best cold weather gloves
The big decision you need to make when choosing the best cold weather gloves is whether you want mittens or gloves with fingers. Each choice has its own advantages and disadvantages; with mittens your fingers are all together radiating heat onto each other, providing extra warmth, but the downside is the lack of manual dexterity. If you're wearing mittens and you need to do pretty much anything using your hands, you're guaranteed a miserable time and will be better off removing them for as long as it takes.
Gloves, of course, make it easier to do things like take photos or re-tie your laces, but that said the warmest gloves will still make things tricky. If you're going to use your hands for tricky tasks in the coldest weather, the best bet's likely to be getting the warmest gloves you can find (that is, a pair of mittens), and take them off for as long as the job takes to avoid frustration.
The next thing to bear in mind is waterproofing. Non-waterproof gloves will wick up moisture and it'll end up on your hands, and wet hands are cold hands. So unless you're somewhere that's cold enough for snow to stay dry and crumbly, you'll probably need waterproof gloves.
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
If you expect the very best cold weather gloves to cost you an absolute fortune, think again. These Sealskinz Down Mittens come at a reasonable price but tick most of the boxes. They're doubly waterproof (guaranteed for two years), with both the polyester outer and Downtek down stuffing guaranteed to resist water, so you'll still be insulated even if moisture gets into these mittens. There's an internal, fleece lined baffle at the wrist to keep cold air from getting in, and the interior of the mitten 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.
For the chunkiest cold weather gloves you can get at a price that'll make you wonder if they've put a decimal point in the wrong place, look no further than the Snow Mantra Mitts from Canada Goose. The company's thrown absolutely everything at these and put them on sale at a price that redefines the question, "HOW much?", but the rave reviews worldwide suggest that they've succeeded. 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.
Assuming you don't want to take out a second mortgage on a pair of Snow Mantra Mitts, the Berghaus Windystopper is a much more reasonable proposition as long as you don't mind making a few compromises. This glove's a more practical alternative to heavyweight mittens and at a much more reasonable price, with a generous elasticated wrist that makes for a secure fit, plus windproof and breathable Gore Windstopper Fleece construction for plenty of comfort.
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.
Back to serious mittens, and somewhere between the Sealskinz Waterproof Extreme mitten and the Canada Goose Snow Mantra mitts come these cosy and hardcore North Face Belay Summit mittens, which should keep you warm in the coldest conditions.
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.
We've already explained that if you want maximum warmth then you're going to have to go for mittens, but if you want the convenience of gloves without succumbing to frozen fingers, Columbia's Powder Keg II is pretty much as good as it gets. It's a waterproof, fingered glove that gives you the best of both worlds if you need to work with our hands in the frozen outdoors.
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.