Best Hiking Gloves: Outdoor Research Alti
Overall, the Outdoor Research Alti is our pick for the best hiking gloves. With their excellent breathability and waterproofing, their professional-strength construction, their all-purpose functionality is unmatched. Additionally, their style and fit are pleasing to the eye and comfortable.
We believe the Alti is the best not because it makes all other gloves obsolete. Rather, it wins our prize for best hiking gloves because it’s the most balanced, versatile design. The other gloves are worth looking into because they’re better than the Alti in one or two aspects. The Alti wins, however, because it’s better than each of them in all the other aspects.
Hiking Gloves For Every Occasion
If you feel at home among the trees and the mountains, you know how important a good set of hiking gloves are. Whether you need a simple pair of gloves to keep your hands warm or something sturdy and durable, they’re always good to have on hand. There’s quite a bit of work that goes into figuring out what’s the right pair of walking gloves to buy.
We’re all about doing the hard research for you and equipping you with the knowledge to hike every range your heart takes you to. We’ve narrowed the vast array of gloves available on the market to six that we believe work well in different conditions/environments.
With our help, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect set of hiking gloves.
- Best Gloves for Hiking: Outdoor Research Alti
- Best Mountaineering Gloves: Black Diamond Soloist
- Best Lightweight Gloves: Sealskinz All Season
- Best Liner Gloves: REI Merino Wool Liner Gloves
- Best Value Hiking Gloves: Black Diamond Windweight
- Best Fleece Hiking Gloves: The North Face Etip
What To Look For In Hiking Gloves?
What Am I Using My Hiking Gloves For?
Of course, the most important thing to consider when it comes to buying any piece of kit is where in the world you’ll be using it. The best winter hiking gloves in the world will serve you poorly if you’re going hiking through the mountains of Nevada in the summer. If you go hiking in the Cascades in winter with light, summer gloves, you’re going to have a bad day. You might end up being short a finger or two, as well. Overall, think about the weather and the activities you’ll be using them for, and base your decisions on what a glove needs to handle that weather and those activities.
The best winter gloves are usually made out of two layers: an inner layer, and an outer layer. The outer layer provides insulation and protection from the elements usually by using a protective layer such as a Gore-Tex membrane. In this case, synthetic materials usually do the job better than natural fibers, like linen or wool. They tend to lose heat quickly in wet weather, while synthetic fabrics such as polyester are great for retaining heat. A nice, heavy set of the best camping gloves with a wool liner and a polyester exterior will help you deal well with rain and forget that it’s cold out altogether.
If you’re in an area that experiences more dry cold, or if you’re getting ready for a white Christmas then waterproofing isn’t so important. In that case, pairs of gloves that are lighter and more form-fitting, but still warm would be ideal. A thin, warm sort of glove like that tends to offer a better grip and more flexibility. In cases where you don’t need the best waterproof gloves for hiking, that’s a great tradeoff.
Gloves that are suitable for the harshest rainy, cold weather can often be a bit bulky and loose-fitting. This isn’t a bad thing in itself, as space provides extra insulation. However, it can make acquiring a firm grip on things more than a bit awkward. If you’ve got kids and need to demolish them in a snowball fight, it also proves to be a critical disadvantage in that regard. For any manual work in the cold, you’re going to want a pair of gloves that fit your hands more tightly and provide a good grip.
Even in the cold, a good pair of gloves will be keeping your hands warm. In that event, while you’re being active and enjoying the outdoors, your hands might get warmer than you want them. Poor air circulation will lead to excessive sweating and will trap that sweat in your hand. This is uncomfortable, but if you’re out and about for hours, it can lead to lasting discomfort and dryness that might go on for hours or days.
There are several different types of insulation, and you’ll have the choice between waterproof and water-resistant gloves. Water resistant gloves will repel most water and resist penetration by small amounts of water but aren’t fully waterproof. The importance of good insulation has been mentioned before, but mostly in the context predictably extreme weather. That is weather which is dry, subject to frequent rain, or wet and sufficiently cold to the point you need to prepare for snow. Water resistant gloves are a good middle ground for dealing with mild weather, and it’s a good trait to look for in all-weather gloves.
Just how warm are the gloves? Insulation has a close relation to water resistance, but insulation matters more depending on how long you’re out. A lightly insulated, waterproof glove will feel warm for some time, but eventually the cold will still get through to your hands. This is fine if you don’t expect to be out in the severe cold for a long time, but inadequate if you do.
Overall Fit and Style
Besides practical concerns, we all love it when something looks nice on them and fits comfortably. Even if they perform their intended role, you want a pair of gloves that feel good to wear and fit your hands comfortably. Additionally, you probably won’t want gloves that look particularly clumsy or awkward. Style and visual appearance aren’t the most critical factors, but they still count towards the appeal of any set of gloves.
Glove Size/Hand Size
It might seem like an obvious point to make, but it’s easy to forget when you’re shopping online. Glove sizes are often very forgiving, too, so it’s easy to neglect this detail by assuming they’ll probably fit perfectly well either way. If you find what seems to be the perfect set of gloves that you’ve been looking for, you need to make sure they, well, actually fit. Glove sizes are usually relatively simple, running along the lines of Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large, for men, women, and children. It’s a small precaution to take, but an essential one.
Which Pair of Top Quality Hiking Gloves Are Right For You?
Best Mountain Climbing Gloves: Black Diamond Soloist
The Black Diamond Soloist is a bit like a piece of jewelry, given the high price tag. However, the cost earns some great functionality. At a basic level, it’s an extremely breathable, waterproof glove. However, the inner liner is also removable, and opting not to use it can turn it from a cold weather glove into a mild weather glove.
The goatskin-kevlar blend palm is highly durable and tactile, resulting in an excellent sports glove with a long lifespan.
- A removable liner adds versatility
- Extremely strong goatskin/kevlar palm, highly durable
- High-quality sports glove suitable for mountain climbing
- One of the most expensive gloves on this list
Best Glove Liners: Rei Merino Wool Liner Gloves
The Rei Merino Wool Liner Gloves are intended to be worn within a separate shell to provide waterproofing. However, they work as standalone gloves in dry, but cold conditions. Their fifty-fifty mixture of merino wool and polyester offers excellent resistance to the elements.
Additionally, merino wool is one of the most breathable fabrics gloves may be made of. As a result, these REI hiking gloves are warm and breathable. They fit quite well on your hands, and this is good because of the added dexterity. Their conductive fingertips mean you can use a touch screen while wearing them, which makes them even better ‘casual gloves.’ However, as it’s only an insulating liner, attempting to use them by themselves in cold or windy weather for a long time will eventually result in the chill reaching your hands.
The Rei Merino Wool Liner Gloves are a significant part of any winter glove repertoire, and paired with a good shell will protect your hands from all weather conditions.
- Warm, high-quality glove liner
- Composed of extremely breathable merino wool
- Close-fitting, comfortable and suitable for tasks requiring the use of hands
- Relies on a sold-separately shell for waterproof and windproof qualities
Best Fleece Gloves for Hiking: North Face Etip
The North Face Etip fleece gloves give good weather protection, but the best feature is how much flexibility they provide. They have greater dexterity than any other glove on this list, owing to flexible design and materials. Cleaning is easy, as they’re machine washable. The fingertips and palm are each conductive, providing unparalleled precision when it comes to using touchscreens. That said, insulation is quite light, and they won’t resist the cold very well. They have a stylish design, and there are very few tasks that will be obstructed by wearing them. If you need to go hiking in chilly, dry weather, these are a great pick. If you’d like to make your hands a bit warmer, and you need a breathable, dexterous glove to do so, the Etip is a great pick.
While unsuitable for extreme sports or severe weather, the Etip is flexible, comfortable, and an affordable choice for dealing with cool weather.
- Do not hinder the use of hands, an ideal choice for casual wear
- Machine washable
- Conductive palm is highly suitable for using touchscreens without removing gloves
- Poorly insulated, unsuitable for prolonged exposure to cold
Best Lightweight Gloves: Sealskinz All Season
The lightweight Sealskinz glove markets itself as the perfect all-purpose glove. It’s easy to see why; the fit is a tighter and more form-fitting than most, and they’re quite suitable for most weather. The polyester/spandex blend is excellent for moderate climates, as it makes for a solidly waterproof glove that can still breathe.
The All Season is well wind-proofed as well, and they have an elegant, unintrusive solution to keep it from slipping. The thumb and forefinger are marked by a material that lets you use touchscreens and enjoy a significant degree of dexterity. They’re a great choice if you need a set of reliable, lightweight waterproof gloves, and little competition can keep up with them in that regard.
However, the tradeoff is a lack of insulation that renders them ill-suited to cold weather. For running, hiking, and similar activities they provide substantial protection from the elements. For mountain climbing, handling snow, and other cold-weather conditions, they’re just unsuitable.
The Sealskinz is in our opinion, the best, lightweight choices for milder weather.
- High dexterity and flexibility allow you to perform manual tasks
- Excellent protection from wind and rain
- One of the most well-rounded, versatile options; among the waterproof lightweight gloves
- Thin and lacking much insulation, a poor cold weather option
Best Value Hiking Gloves: Black Diamond Windweight
The warm, immensely affordable Black Diamond Windweight Glove Liners represent a high-value pick for the nature lover who refuses to let poor weather deter them. With a shell of pure polyester, they’re heavily insulated and warm. Additionally, the palm is made of the same goatskin as the previous Black Diamond offering. In this case, it offers the same, firm grip.
The Windweight is an excellent choice for any activity that requires protection from the wind and cold. The goatskin palm makes it suitable for mountaineering, and the thumb and forefinger each have conductive material at the fingertips, allowing the use of touchscreens. While not the most precise in this regard, it’s still a valuable feature that makes them suitable for casual use.
If you’re mostly looking for a glove to keep your hands warm while running or biking, this is also a great option, on the downside, it lacks a waterproofing layer. Additionally, the thickness of the polyester fleece results in a glove that breathes poorly.
The Windweight is a simple, affordable option that provides everything the average person needs in a heavyweight glove.
- One of the most affordable choices on the market
- Very warm and well insulated, excellent for dry cold weather
- Goatskin palm makes for a reasonably adhesive choice, suitable for climbing and manual work
- Quality wind resistance
- Lack of waterproofing making it unsuitable for rainy weather
- Not very breathable; this, combined with strong insulation make a poor choice for moderate weather
Best Backpacking Gloves: Outdoor Research Alti
The Alti gloves by outdoor research are an excellent choice for all purposes. While being more substantial and better insulated, they also conform quite well to the shape of a person’s hands. Their use of PrimaLoft, a patented synthetic fiber blend, provides an entirely waterproof exterior.
Primaloft is such a good material because, in addition to reliable protection from the water, breathability is top notch. The Alpen Grip Palm makes for a glove that can find a purchase very comfortably, making the Alti a strong choice for mountaineering. The high breathability means it’s not a poor choice for mild weather, but it’s also not ideal for those conditions. Additionally, the high price tag means that you may have more practical options for your specific needs.
With excellent breathability, a strong grip, and excellent weather protection, the Alti is an unbeatable sports glove.
- Unique use of high-quality synthetic fibers for breathability and warmth
- Provides waterproof and windproof qualities without compromising breathability
- Dexterous, flexible and comfortably fitting
- Palm made of tactile, gripping material
- Very high price tag
- Lacks conductive fingertips for touch screen use
Last update on 2020-02-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API