During the months leading up to our official launch, a lot of people asked “Which should I get, the gloves or the mitts?”
Honestly, we’re so proud of both products that no matter which you pick, we don’t think you can go wrong.
But to help you determine which will best fit your needs, here’s a quick overview of each, followed by some suggested uses.
Why You Should Choose Winter Mittens
Snow mittens are the best choice when maximum protection from the cold is your first priority.
Why? Consider how toasty a sleeping bag can be when compared to sitting around a campsite wearing even a warm jacket. By allowing all your arms and legs to occupy the same insulated space, your limbs share the heat. Since a mitten works the same way but on a smaller scale, you can kinda think of it as a “sleeping bag” for your hand.
But more importantly, since a mitten doesn’t have material that wraps around each individual finger, a mitten has less outside surface area than a comparable glove. Less surface area on the outside equals a reduction in heat loss. Another advantage of mittens is fewer seams, which also have the potential to allow a small amount of heat to escape.
A researcher in Antarctica once tested these theories and indeed concluded that mittens consistently retained more heat than gloves.
Naturally, the downside to mittens is you can’t independently move your fingers. But depending on the activity, this may or may not matter. For example, you can grasp ski poles just fine wearing mittens. But on a fat tire bike, mittens may make it difficult to safely operate the brakes and (on some component group sets) the shifters.
Another thing to consider is if you have a condition that makes it difficult to stay warm, such as Raynaud's disease. Or maybe you’re just prone to being cold. If this describes you, mittens are definitely worth a look.
A final criterion may be the temperatures you expect to be exposed to. If you’ll be spending extended periods of time in temperatures below 0°F, mittens might be the better choice.
As you decide if mitts are right for you, it's worth note that in our Mainers mitt, we built in 400 grams of insulation over the back of the hand (compared to our gloves, which offer 250 grams of insulation over the back of the hand). Both the glove and the mitt are supremely warm, but when compared side by side, the mitt will feel warmer.
The extra insulation was appreciated by Maine-based nature photographer Tyler Kimbar, who put a pre-production pair of Mainers mitts through their paces:
"I was immediately blown away by the quality of the mittens. There is a soft fleece lining on the back of your hand and thumb inside the mitt that keeps your hands warm.”
- Downhill and cross-country skiing in extreme cold
- Snowboarding in extreme cold
- Hiking in extreme cold
- Ice climbing in extreme cold
- If you’re prone to cold fingers
- Temperatures below 0°F
Why You Should Choose Winter Gloves
Snow gloves trade-off a very small amount of warmth for an increase in dexterity.
By dexterity, we mean the ability to access a zippered pocket to retrieve your keys without removing your gloves. It can also mean operating your phone, taking photos, or pretty much anything else that requires more precision than is possible while wearing mittens.
But how much are you trading off in heat retention? Truth be known, a well-designed, properly insulated glove will keep you plenty warm in practically any normal set of winter conditions, which in most parts of the country, we’d describe as temperatures between 0°F and 32°F. Therefore, the majority of outdoor enthusiasts probably will be better served going with gloves.
As mentioned above, our Mainers glove offers 250 grams of insulation over the back of the hand, compared to the 400 grams of insulation our mitts provide over the back of the hand. Both the glove and the mitt provide amazing feel and dexterity. But when compared side by side, the glove will feel a bit lighter and less bulky.
For Colorado-based hiker through-hiker Daniel Flanagan, maximum dexterity is a must:
"There's nothing worse than having to take your gloves off in the backcountry when it's freezing outside just tighten a strap or open your pack. Mainers has definitely solved that problem, and given me more time outside this winter season. Waterproof, warm, and nimble, Mainers hit the mark for extreme weather gloves."
- Winter cycling
- Winter fishing
- Activities that require fine motor skills, such as the opening and closing of zippers, latches, buckles, etc.
- Activities that require you to operate electronics
- Temperatures above 0°F