When packing for a ski trip, gloves and mittens are one of the most important items of clothing to consider. Out on the slopes, the cold weather and snow spares no mercy for hands and fingers, and a high-quality set of ski mittens or gloves is absolutely essential for staying safe and warm and warding off frostbite.
As I was researching the best ski mittens to purchase for the 2020 season, I couldn’t help but notice that a) existing buying guides were drastically catered toward men and b) there were a disproportionate number of reviews for mittens that cost upwards of $200, without explaining why it may be necessary to spend so much.
I created this guide for the vast majority of people out there who want to protect their hands from the cold at an affordable price. After intensely researching and testing over 20 different pairs, here are 7 fantastic pairs of ski mittens that will keep your hands toasty warm on the slopes:
Ski Gloves vs Ski Mittens: Which is Better?
When you’re out on the mountain, you’ll find people of all experience levels wearing both gloves and mittens on the slopes. Whether you choose ski gloves or ski mittens to keep your hands warm is an entirely personal preference, but there are a few differences you may want to consider before committing to one or the other (especially since high-quality ski gloves and ski mittens can be very expensive!).
Gloves are most useful for people who value dexterity over warmth. While you can definitely find great pairs of ski gloves that do both, gloves generally are less warm than mittens because they separate your fingers and therefore retain less heat. On the plus side, gloves give you access to all of your fingers, which is especially useful when doing things like writing, taking off boots or other gear, and handling zippers. Click here to read our guide to the best ski gloves!
Mittens, on the other hand, do not provide this type of control and dexterity, but they are considerably warmer than gloves. For someone like me, who has poor circulation and gets cold fingers easily, ski mittens are much more comfortable when it’s cold out. Mittens can be an especially good choice for snowboarders, as you don’t need to fiddle around with poles when you’re on the hills.
We generally recommend mittens unless you really need your fingers on the slopes for some reason – they’re warmer and more comfortable for even the coldest winter conditions.
What to Look For When Buying Ski Mittens
In our opinion, the #1 most important characteristic the best ski mittens will all have is the ability to keep your hands warm. Why wear them if they don’t do that? Many pairs of ski mittens have an inner thermal lining with an outer shell, which will keep your hands toasty warm. Some also have a zippered pocket for hand warmers, which is a huge plus. You’ll also want to look for a pair that has a strap for tightening or loosening to fit snugly around the wrist area, keeping warm air in and cold air out.
Another very important feature to look for is weatherproofing. The best ski mittens will be waterproof and windproof, providing a barrier between your hands and the elements. A good pair of waterproof mittens or gloves is especially important for beginners, as you’ll likely spent a bit of time in the snow when you fall or need to get your bearings. It’s also incredibly important for skiing in very cold or icy conditions, or at night when the temperatures drop even further.
Dexterity is obviously a challenge for mittens, as you won’t have control over your individual fingers anymore. However, certain fabrics and models enable more dexterity than others – something to consider if you’ll want to be able to use your hands at all without taking off your mitts!
Lastly, you should always keep comfort in mind when you are choosing a pair of mittens. Just because we deem a pair of mittens as “the best” doesn’t mean they will be the best ski mittens for you! We always recommend trying on a few different pairs before committing, especially because finding the best air of ski mittens will require an investment.
Best Mittens for Skiing & Snowboarding
Generally, with snow sports, you get what you pay for in terms of quality and durability, and ski mittens are no different. There are ski mittens out there in the market for less than $10 and for over $500. For the average recreational skier or snowboarder, you can expect to spend up to $200 on a high-quality, reputable pair of ski mittens. Any more than $200, and you’re getting into the highly specialized expedition products that most people do not need.
If that number has you freaking out, don’t worry, we’ve included some options on here that are much less expensive than that! Once you buy a pair of mittens, they will last you for many years, so you shouldn’t have to make a purchase like this often.
With all that said, we tested and researched several pairs of ski mittens to find the best pair for this upcoming ski season. To protect the integrity of our recommendations, we did not include any options in our search that a) were not available to men AND women and b) were made by unknown brands that do not specialize in outdoor gear.
Here’s a list of 7 products we’d recommend (or scroll down to the bottom for our top recommendations!):
Arc’teryx Fission SV Mittens
As one of the premium outdoor brands on the market, Arc’teryx makes some of the best ski mittens around, and you definitely get what you pay for. The Arc’teryx Fission SV Mittens are quite possible the all-around best ski mittens on the market, with thick, flexible leather that provides some of the best warmth and dexterity of all the mittens on our list.
They have top-of the line waterproofing and wool insulation that will keep your hands nice and toasty at very low temperatures. In addition to resort slopes, skiers and riders also love these mittens for backcountry touring and cross-country skiing as well. They also come at a heftier price than most mid-market ski mittens…but you’ll be sure to have warm hands for years to come.
- Pros: One of the best-fitting mittens for skiing and snowboarding, warm when active, very durable and last for many years
- Cons: Expensive, designed for active use (so not as good for everyday use)
Black Diamond Mercury Mitts Cold Weather Mittens
Black Diamond’s Mercury Mitts are quite possibly the warmest mid-market option out there, with removable liners made of Primaloft insulation and fleece. Made of leather and synthetic outer material that keeps water, ice, and snow out, these gloves are super toasty warm (maybe even too warm, according to some customers). For those skiing at high elevations or in extreme cold, the Black Diamond Mercury Mitts are the best option on our list for you.
While we didn’t experience this problem, many people say these mittens run small and tight, so size up if you prefer a looser fit. Other users complain that the mittens are sometimes too warm, which causes sweaty hands and wrists. Luckily, since the liner is removable, you can easily dry it out between runs!
- Pros: Warmest ski mittens on our list, great weatherproofing, stretch material provides good dexterity, removable velcro lining great for keeping interior dry
- Cons: Run small, less breathable (some users complain of sweaty hands at warmer temperatures)
The North Face Montana Etip GTX Mitt
The North Face is one of the most ubiquitous brands in the outdoor industry when it comes to cold weather gear, and their Montana Mittens (and gloves) are a great choice at a reasonable price. While their Montana gloves are more popular, the mittens are also a great option for those looking for a solid, more budget-friendly choice.
Made of leather, synthetic fabric, and lots of insulation, these mittens are quite warm. However, the internal lining is actually a glove, which is somewhat strange to us given that it is not removable. This makes getting in and out of the mittens a bit of a pain, especially with damp or sweaty hands.
- Pros: Very warm, budget friendly
- Cons: Liner is a glove (not a mitten), and is not removable, not available on REI/Backcountry, inconsistent/small sizing
Outdoor Research is a premium outdoor brand that offers a wide range of some of the best ski mittens on the market. Their Meteor Mitts are a budget option that are quite popular with skiers and snowboarders for their warmth and functionality. The fleece liners separate from the shells so they can be worn separately or together, which is one of our favorite features in a premium mitten.
Although these are a great mitten, they do have some drawbacks – the liners aren’t attached properly inside the mittens so they tend to bunch unevenly and become uncomfortable. There also aren’t any hand warmer pockets, which make it difficult to use external heat to warm up your fingers.
- Pros: Warm and weatherproof, removable fleece mitten liners that can be worn separately
- Cons: Poor liner design, no hand warmer pockets
Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitten
Hestra’s premium Army Leather gloves and mittens are made from top-of-the-line, durable leather with a warm removable inner layer. For those searching for a fantastic extreme weather mitten that’s versatile and will keep your hands warm, the Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitten is one of the best ski mittens out there. The army leather outer shell keeps water, ice, and wind out and prevents moisture from entering the inside, ensuring warm and dry hands during long days on the slopes.
Hestra makes even thicker and warmer gloves and mittens, but we like the Heli version because they’re thin enough to provide some dexterity. If budget isn’t a concern, these would be our pick for the best ski mittens for all conditions.
- Pros: Very warm, snug fit, removable liner, durable and last for several years
- Cons: Expensive, but otherwise no cons
Gordini Gauntlet Gore-Tex Mittens
As the least expensive option on our list, Gordini makes an excellent pair of Gore-Tex mittens at a fantastic price. The Gordini Gore-Tex Gauntlet Mittens are the most budget-friendly option on our list, but don’t let that deter you – these are excellent mittens that stay warm in cold temperatures. They definitely aren’t the warmest mittens out there, but for the price, you’ll definitely stay warm and dry enough.
For your average resort skier, these mittens are absolutely enough. However, if you’re going to extremely cold places or plan on being in wet conditions, you may want to choose a warmer pair on our list.
- Pros: Budget-friendly, solid construction and durability, good fit
- Cons: Inconsistent sizing and fit, no removable liners, less warm than other products
Burton has been around as a ski and snowboarding brand for a long time, and they are especially attuned to the needs of skiers and snowboarders. The Burton Gore-Tex Mittens are great for non-extreme temperatures and come at a very reasonable price. They’ve got hand warmers and soft, removable internal liners for extra warmth.
While they are a fantastic mitten, these are neither the warmest nor the most durable mittens on our list. However, if you’re looking for a solid mild weather mitten for resort skiing or riding, the Burton Gore-Tex Mittens are a solid choice.
- Pros: Removable liner, budget friendly
- Cons: Not as warm as others on our list, less durable
Our Final Recommendations
If you aren’t too worried about price, we would hands-down recommend the Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski Mitten, as they’re the warmest and most weatherproof mittens out of all of the ones we tested. However, with a price tag that’s more than twice the amount of some of the other options on our list, it’s definitely not the most budget-friendly option.
For those on a budget or who want something a bit less heavy-duty, we’d recommend the Gordini Gauntlet Gore-Tex Mittens. At less than $50, and they’re incredibly warm and will definitely still keep your hands warm and dry while out on the slopes. (Note: The author of this article ended up purchasing the Gordini Gauntlet Mittens and highly recommends them!)
We’d love to hear your opinion on our review. Let us know which ski mittens you ended up buying in the comments below!