Need to keep your digits toasty? From liner gloves to alpine gauntlets, David Lintern and Judy Armstrong have got your extremities covered.
The best hiking gloves have to withstand all sorts of obstacles whether that be the harsh weather conditions or the objects that they come into contact with when on a hike.
Hiking gloves are always exposed and in contact with all manner of environments making durability a key concern. With the exception of the famous, indestructible woolen Dachstein, synthetics tend to be more robust, and dry more quickly than finely woven natural fibres.
I’m sceptical about both siliconised ‘grips’ and ‘touch screen compatibility’ – both are sorely tested in foul weather or low temperatures, where their performance seems to drop off markedly.
After many years of grumbling, I’ve come to accept that hiking gloves are always going to be a compromise. There is no one glove to rule them all.
Hiking gloves are easily lost or blown away, frequently wet out, but if sized appropriately, they can be used in combination for extra protection, just as we do with other apparel. So, accept the limitations and layer up!
Some of the hiking gloves reviewed here are mere liner gloves – base layers for the hands. Others offer far more protection from the elements, and some you can use in combination.
Arguably, breathability is less of a problem for gloves because our hands are exposed to the elements and will often feel the cold first, but you may prefer to use a layering system if you overheat when walking uphill.
Fingers and wrists have blood vessels close to the skin, so partial exposure equates to better temperature control. Air permeable (liner) gloves therefore have their niche.
However, it’s worth remembering – the more layers or insulation, the less dexterity. It’s just physics, there’s no real way around it.
Features of the best hiking gloves
Internal seams should be minimal for maximum dexterity. Bulky seams, especially around the fingertips and thumb, reduce your ability to use equipment such as cameras, carabiners, rucksack buckles, even clothing zips.
If you remove your gloves, it’s useful to be able to clip them together to dangle across a rucksack hipbelt or hook onto side straps. Wrist leashes and clips prevent your gloves separating or being dropped if you take them off.
Bizarrely, gloves are usually measured in inches. To find your size, measure around the widest part of your hand – usually the circumference of your palm and knuckles – with a tape measure (excluding your thumb). It’s best to measure your dominant hand as it can be fractionally bigger. If you’re between sizes, you’ll usually be warmer in a bigger glove, as air insulates.
There’s no major difference between men’s and women’s gloves, except in sizing. Women’s gloves tend to go to much smaller sizes, and often have slightly shorter fingers and narrower palms.
5 women’s year-round hiking gloves for 2022 reviewed
Judy’s testing notes: With early winter weather veering between ‘silly-mild’ and ‘life threatening storms’, conditions were ideal for testing gloves. Judy trialed her varied selection of handwear on foot, mountain bike and touring skis, in the North York moors, Lake District and the French Alps. Judy is a women’s medium, or unisex small, and weights are from her own digital scale.
Best Buy: Trekmates Taktil Dry Glove (RRP: £40)
Likes: Dexterity, curved fingers, touch screen, warmth, waterproofing
Weight: 102g (Small) | Fabric: shell; polyester/elastane, DRY Protect membrane (PU), palm; Amara (polyester microfibre + polyurethane), lining; polyester pile | Sizes: S – XL unisex
Trekmates have ticked virtually every box with these gloves. In fact, the only improvement would be to have a women’s specific fit. It’s a cold-weather glove courtesy of its silky, almost faux-fur, pile lining, and the DRY Protect waterproof, breathable membrane (5000mm hydrostatic head). But while they’re warm (not to full-winter levels, but fine around the 0C mark), they’re not chunky. The pre-curved fingers (which are the key) in a box construction plus stretch panels ensure real dexterity, and I found myself reaching for these gloves as first option for the widest variety of activities.
Read more: Trekmates Taktil Dry Glove review
Recommended: Sealskinz Women’s Waterproof All-Weather Lightweight Glove (RRP: £35)
Likes: Waterproof, breathable, grip
Weight: 77g (women’s Medium) | Fabric: shell; 94% polyester, 6% elastane, palm; 50% polyester, 50% polyurethane, lining; 100% polyester | Sizes: S – XL (men S-XXL)
This is a truly versatile glove from British brand Sealskinz. They’ve been keeping our extremities warm and dry for 25 years and are so confident in their ‘waterproof’ claims they offer a lifetime guarantee. This glove is from their women’s range; in hindsight I should have gone to a Small (my hand is 7.5”, usually a Medium). The glove has a fairly tough outer, with a textured palm. This textured fabric has a fair amount of horizontal stretch and is used between the fingers and down to the thumb. It gives the close-fitting glove mobility and dexterity, which makes it both supple and grippy.
Recommended: Mountain Equipment Super Alpine Women’s Glove (RRP: £75)
Likes: Oiltac leather, dexterity, durability, no loose lining
Weight: 100g (women’s Medium) | Fabric: shell; Pontetorto soft shell (polyamide, elastane), palm; Pittards Oiltac leather, lining; microfleece (polyester) | Sizes: XS-L (men S-XXL)
This is an unusual glove from one of Britain’s most established alpine brands. It combines a durable, windproof, highly water resistant (not waterproof) soft shell outer with a beautiful Pittards Oiltac leather palm. Oiltac was originally created for football goalkeepers’ gloves and incorporates polymers that promote contact adhesion, plus a tanning process that offers a high degree of water resistance. This both protects the leather and guarantees grip in difficult weather conditions.
Salewa Leather Finger Glove (RRP: £95)
Likes: Soft goatskin, slim cuff/gauntlet, low bulk fit
Dislikes: Warmth to bulk ratio, leather reinforcement patches
Weight: 150g (XS) | Fabric: shell; goat leather, palm; goat leather, lining; Alpine Wool Responsive (78% merino wool, 22% nylon fibres with embedded minerals) | Sizes: XS-XXL unisex
Strange – the test glove was size XS / 6 and should have been too small, but in fact was the biggest glove here. There’s no arguing with the quality, especially the use of soft, supple goatskin leather (naturally windproof and water repellent although not technically waterproof). The Alpine Wool Responsive lining was warmer than I expected given how slimline the glove feels but it’s definitely more ‘lining’ than ‘padding’. I honestly couldn’t feel the Responsive element, which claims to ‘absorb infrared heat and reflect back to the body’; my hands quickly got cold in cooler conditions, and I wouldn’t reach for them in a winter freeze.
Read more: Salewa Leather Finger Glove review
RECOMMENDED: Black Diamond Mercury Mitt Women’s (RRP: £110)
Likes: 2-in-1, warmth, waterproofing, winter protection, recycled fibres
Dislikes: Reduced dexterity with inner and outer combined
Weight: 248g (women’s Medium) | Fabric: shell; 100% recycled polyester ripstop stretch, 100% recycled polyester stretch with BD Dry insert + GTT Empel DWR, palm; premium goat leather, liner; 170gsm Primaloft gold + 133g PrimaLoft gold, recycled fleece lining | Sizes: XS-XL (men XS-XL)
So much to say about this mitt, but in a nutshell, there’s a waterproof shell in recycled, stretch polyester with supple, grippy goat leather palm, thumb and finger capping hosts a waterproof BD.dry insert and hard-wearing, high-performing PFC-free DWR. A removable liner is stuffed with a fat dose of Primaloft Gold Cross Core (amazingly warm for the weight) on the back of the hand and a lesser quantity on the palm (to allow grip), plus a recycled fleece lining.
Read more: Black Diamond Mercury Mitt Women’s review
5 men’s year-round hiking gloves for 2022 reviewed
David’s testing notes: The gloves were trialled over a few months from the end of summer into the beginning of winter, mostly in the Cairngorms. Gloves are easy to test as they pack down small and are needed often: all of these items enjoyed numerous day trips and saw some extremely challenging backpacking weather in late autumn. David takes a size large glove and weights are as supplied.
Best Buy: Mountain Equipment Mantle (RRP: £28)
Likes: Warmth, breathability, fit
Weight: 40g | Fabric: Cycloknit fleece | Sizes: XS to XL (womens XS to XL also)
The Mantle might just be my new favourite glove for colder conditions. ‘Cycloknit’ is a patented fleece – on the inside, there’s high lofting, gridded fluffy goodness, and on the outside, a flat, fine weave which shrugs off snow and light rain easily. The fingers seams are constructed on a box (3 seams on each finger) design and the overall fit is just right for me – the fingers are not too long, and I can slide a very thin liner glove underneath without constricting the hand.
Read more: Mountain Equipment Mantle review
RECOMMENDED: Outdoor Research Versaliner (RRP: £50)
Likes: Versatility, warmth
Dislikes: tapered fingertips
Weight: 79g | Fabric: Shell glove is Pertex Shield 2.5L. Inner glove is a polyester/spandex softshell | Sizes: S-XL (womens S-L)
With the Versaliner, you get two for one. The main glove has a fleece inner and a smooth, soft-shell-like outer. The palms have tiny siliconised dots for grip, which function well, and the glue (often a weak point) hasn’t failed yet. The cuffs fully cover the wrist, are not tapered and have a loop at the wrist, all of which is makes for practical, grab-and-go protection. And on the outside of each glove, there’s a pocket which contains… a second, over-glove! These are a highly water-resistant shell which vastly improves warmth and, while not technically waterproof (the seams are not taped) they are about as waterproof as gloves get.
Read more: Outdoor Research Versaliner review
RECOMMENDED: Extremities Sticky Power Liner (RRP: £25)
Likes: fit, mid-range warmth
Dislikes: slightly slower to dry
Weight: 83g | Fabric: Polyester (93%), Elastane (7%) | Sizes: wide range of 8, from XS to XL
Extremities will be known to many readers, as the glove manufacturer enjoys wide distribution in physical shops. This, alongside a very wide range of available sizes means they are a popular choice. The main component here is a medium weight fleece inner with a smooth faced outer, equipped with fine siliconised ‘threading’ on the palm and 3 of the fingers. These low-profile grips have proved durable so far and I find them less intrusive than dots.
Read more: Extremities Sticky Power Liner review
Rab Forge 160 (RRP: £18)
Likes: warm for a liner glove
Dislikes: long fingered fit, some piling
Weight: 30g | Fabric: 46% Merino wool, 53% part recycled polyester | Sizes: S-XL (women’s S-L)
The Forge is one of two ‘true’ liner gloves in my selection. This one is a mix of (non mulesed) merino wool and polyester, at a ratio of 46/54%, of which 35% of the polyester is recycled. As a result, it dries slightly more slowly than a fully synthetic equivalent but is much warmer for its weight. At any rate, it’s so thin that it should dry in a sleeping bag or jacket pocket overnight.
Read more: Rab Forge 160 review
RECOMMENDED: Montane Dart (RRP: £18)
Likes: fit, fast drying
Dislikes: very lightweight/less warm
Weight: 20g | Fabric: APEX ECO 100% recycled polyester | Sizes: S-XL (women’s XS-L)
At first glance, there’s not very much to these synthetic liner gloves, but perhaps that’s fitting for the brand who’ve increasingly aligned themselves with ‘fast and light’ in recent years. The Dart gloves may only be ‘just’ there, but sometimes that’s just enough.
Read more: Montane Dart review