Warm gloves are an essential defence against the unpredictable British weather. Even in summer, a stiff wind can swiftly whip up while you’re out hiking, cycling, climbing or camping: decent gloves will prevent your hands from freezing, and waterproof designs can help you work or play for longer even in a downpour.
Picking the right gloves can be tricky, though, as there’s a huge range of styles, materials and prices on offer. Here’s our guide to the best outdoor gloves on the market, along with tips on how to choose the perfect pair.
How to buy the best gloves for you
What type of gloves should I buy?
The first thing is to decide where you’ll be wearing your gloves, and what you want them for. A fully waterproof pair is useful if you want to play sports or go walking in uncertain weather conditions. Warm gloves with touchscreen-compatible fingers are great for commuters, as the last thing you want is to have to take off your gloves every time you want to use your phone. Fleece and wool gloves may not be waterproof, but are wonderfully cosy and comforting on dry, icy days.
Needless to say, you’re not limited to one pair: if you spend a lot of time outside, you’ll find it useful to own a bit of a glove arsenal, to protect your paws whatever the weather.
How do I ensure a good fit?
Hands vary a lot – and so do gloves, so it’s always worth trying on a new pair before you buy. Even if you think you know your size, different brands have different ideas of what constitutes “medium”, “large” and so forth. Some brands offer different sizes for men and women, but there’s nothing inherently gendered about the products themselves: indeed, you may find that a design marketed for the opposite sex fits you like, er, a glove.
As a rule, gloves should feel comfortable and roomy, but without too much space at the top of each finger. Look for a snug but not restrictive cuff and check you can make a fist without feeling any tightness. Adjustable cuffs that tighten with velcro or toggles are great for keeping rain out and warmth in.
What features should I look for?
If you’re looking for gloves to wear in the rain or snow, pick a pair that’s fully waterproof, not just water-resistant. Ideally they’ll use a waterproofing technology such as Gore-Tex, or give a waterproofing rating in millimetres. If you’re after maximum warmth, pick a pair with insulation such as PrimaLoft. Mitten-style gloves that bunch your fingers together are good for preserving body heat too.
For more casual use, such as dry-weather winter walks or commuting, you may as well plump for a sumptuously soft pair of knitted gloves to keep you cosy, or a light fleecy pair for warmer weather. Touchscreen-compatible fingertips are popular, as they make it easy to use your phone on the go; they’re good for cyclists and walkers too, as they let you access your navigational system without having to peel off your gloves.
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The best outdoor gloves for men and women in 2018
1. Sealskinz All Season gloves: Best cycling gloves – and brilliant all-rounders, too
Price: £40 | Buy now from Tredz
They might be designed as cycling gloves first and foremost, but these are actually excellent all-rounders; warm enough for winter, yet breathable enough for use all year round. You won’t even notice rain or wind trying to cut through them, and the comfy liner and sumptuous goat leather outer feel reassuringly good quality. They’re also touchscreen compatible – and the price is decent too.
Key specs: Material: Polyester, leather; Sizes: S-XXL; Colours: Black and olive green; Waterproof? Yes; Adjustable fit? Yes
2. Black Diamond Soloist gloves: Best for extreme conditions
Price: £87 | Buy now from Trek Inn
These gloves are stonkingly expensive, but they’re packed with high-end features. Made with alpine climbers in mind, they’re fully, reliably waterproof and feature removable liners, providing extra warmth and making them easier to wash and dry. They’re easy to adjust too, with lovely luxe goat leather palms and PrimaLoft insulation to keep your mitts warm in the harshest conditions. A top pick for serious outdoor types heading into the mountains
Key specs: Material: goat leather, PrimaLoft; Sizes: XS-XL; Colours: Black; Waterproof? Yes; Adjustable fit? Yes
3. The North Face Powerstretch: Best gloves for warm weather
Price: £30 | Buy now from Millets
As the name hints, these gloves are wonderfully flexible – and so lightweight to wear you may forget you’ve got them on. On their own they’re perfect for warmer days, or for handling equipment or ropes; in rougher weather they’ll serve as liners to go beneath waterproof outers. With their deliciously soft fleecy lining, these gloves are a pleasure to pop on: simple, pocket-friendly and effective.
Key specs: Material: Polyester and fleece; Sizes: XS-XL; Colours: black; Waterproof? No; Adjustable fit? No
4. Berghaus Touchscreen: Best touchscreen gloves
Price: £22.50 | Buy now from Wiggle
If you don’t want to have to keep ripping off your gloves to control your GPS while you’re out running or cycling – or if you’re just addicted to your smartphone – then touchscreen gloves are the answer, with conductive metals woven into the fingertips of the thumb and forefinger that allow you to type and tap without exposing your fingers to the elements. There are plenty of touchscreen designs on the market, but Berghaus’ offerings are exceptionally warm, using fleecy Polartec material to keep your hands cosy – and if need be they’re light enough to double as liners inside a waterproof pair.
Key specs: Material: Polartec®; Sizes: S/M and L/XL; Colours: Black; Waterproof? No; Adjustable fit? No
5. Smartwool Cozy: Best gloves for cold, dry conditions
Price: £21 | Buy now from Blacks
On crisp winter days, there’s no need for hefty waterproofing – warm woollen gloves are more breathable and less bulky. Smartwool specialises in this sort of glove, and these ones are brilliant for country rambles, walking the dog or keeping snug on your bike. Just be warned that the fingers are rather long – if you have stubby digits they may feel a little lost.
Key specs: Material: Smartwool; Sizes: S/M and L/XL; Colours: grey; Waterproof? No; Adjustable fit? No