Barrabes guide to the different glove options on the market and how to choose the right pair for each activity.
The hands are one of the areas of the body most sensitive to cold, as they are located at the end of the venous return, far from the heart. The blood frequency is therefore not the same as in the chest.
Gloves are responsible for protection and keeping your hands warm. Without this complement, we could not even dream of taking trips to the mountains.
Its main mission is to protect us from the cold and the outside elements. One concern remains: We need protection, but in the mountains, hands are very important. We therefore need protection that does not prevent us from carrying out our maneuvers.Our hands are used in various situations and with different accessories (ice axe, carabiner and zipper).
Gloves or mittens?
The great advantage of mittens is that they are warmer, because the fingers warm up with each other. Its great disadvantage is that having no fingers, they are less agile and allow less manoeuvres.
For situations of intense cold in which we do not need to resort to maneuvers requiring intensive use of the hands (such as alpine skiing), mittens can be an excellent solution for those who particularly suffer from the cold.
Keep this idea in mind: if we wear mittens during an activity in which we have to take them off many times, it is likely that we suffer more from the cold than wearing gloves, which allow us to perform some of these shares, without withdrawing them.
Mittens are also used during expeditions, in this case with feather padding, acquiring a large volume.
The importance of the correct size
A pair of oversized gloves will reduce dexterity.
But under no circumstances should we choose a pair of gloves that are too tight to facilitate agility. If our fingers are compressed, we will feel cold due to reduced blood circulation. In more extreme situations, we can even see some frostbite appear.
For this reason, feather down is generally not used for glove filling, except for expedition mittens. Its larger volume prevents dexterity.
Long glove or short glove?
Long gloves are designed to carry the sleeve of the jacket inside. They further protect against the outside elements, preventing snow, water or the like from getting inside.
Besides the increased protection, gloves have the advantage of being easier to put on and take off.
They have less volume, are more comfortable, more agile in activities in which we have to perform maneuvers, but their protection is also less. It’s easier for water and snow to get into your sleeve. They are similar to work gloves.
Everyone will find a glove in his hand. It’s a matter of taste and circumstances. In some cases, brands make both short and long versions of certain models, which is the only difference between the two.
Protection from the elements? With diaphragm?
The perfect pair of gloves that can be used on all terrains does not exist.
This is why there are different types of gloves. Let’s imagine that we go hiking on a cold day without precipitation: it is likely that with fleece gloves, very breathable and pleasant and offering perfect dexterity will suffice. In such a situation, a pair of gloves with a high calorific value and with protections for skiing or mountaineering is not suitable.
Waterproof gloves are fundamental in most situations and are usually made from a waterproof breathable membrane.
One way or another, any pair of gloves should provide warmth depending on your needs. Fleece or thin gloves are made from membrane and internal/external materials protecting from external elements. Body heat accumulates within the glove filling.
The better the heat/weight/volume ratio, the more ductile it is. This will allow us to protect ourselves thermally with less bulk and maximum agility.
With or without undergloves?
There are pairs of gloves, which usually include a fleece underglove. But even if your glove isn’t like that, in cold weather it’s a great idea to wear a glove liner.
These help a lot to retain heat and are very useful when you need to remove the main glove for a maneuver, such as taking a photo, cell phone, etc.
A very interesting option are the silk ones, which work very well.
Mountaineering? Ski? Hiking?
Everything that is said can be summarized in this sentence: The choice of gloves is a compromise between protection against the cold, the elements and their dexterity to be able to carry out sports activities in the mountains.
The greater the heat input, the more padding we need and unfortunately the glove will be less agile. Part of this problem can be solved by choosing gloves with high quality materials, which offer reduced weight and bulk, while maintaining excellent caloric intake.
For example: A mountaineering glove needs more agility than an alpine ski glove. Its design will be different and may incorporate little or no padding in the palm. These are gloves that offer protection, but they cannot ignore the performance objective.
A pair of alpine ski gloves requires less dexterity and we can give up this agility by looking for more warmth in an activity in which the hands are going to be underused. For the practice of trail running, we prefer a light pair of gloves.
They usually have a palm made of very resistant materials such as leather, always waterproof, which, as we said, also compensates for the little padding they usually have in this area. The reinforcements are also present on the fingertips and on the back of the hand.