Hiking gloves are an essential part of your hiking gear and basically any other outdoor activity you will be undertaking. They serve the purpose of protecting your hands from the weather extremities and other conditions that could either cause discomfort of cause you injury. Stepping out in the cold exposes you to the risk of frostbite for your fingers. Extreme cold may also cause several other health problems and even if you shield the rest of your body well, poor coverage of the arms will still expose you to the cold. Hiking gloves are not just for cold weather alone but also offer protection from items and other hazards in the environment. Their overall role is to keep you safe and comfortable to undertake your hiking adventures without inconveniences arising from the condition of your arms. In previous ages it was enough to work with either leather skin gloves or those made from wool and other natural options.
Today, modern technology and the pursuit for the ultimate outdoor glove has created endless options with features that blend both the functional and comfort roles well. Many feature a combination of materials and have added extras for the demanding needs of the modern hiker. This guide will help you arrive at the best glove that fits your circumstances and will serve your purpose better.
Putting on hiking gloves in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares in Argentina. Photo by Melissa
There are several kinds of hiking gloves you can find in the market today. Some of them have specialized functions while others are designed for versatility. The general broad category of the hiking gloves is the time of the season they are most suited. In this regard there are three major kinds of gloves; summer hiking gloves, winter gloves and regular gloves.
Other types of hiking gloves are named after their design or purpose. Some themes include;
Factors to Consider When Picking Hiking Gloves
When choosing your gloves you need to consider the following general factors:
Do not assume that an average sized glove will fit you well. This can be tricky when ordering the hiking gloves online. Normally the sizes of gloves go from small, medium, large to extra-large. It is important to find out which size fits you well without leaving spaces that cold can get in and warm air to leave. It should also be able to fit comfortably for long hours without depriving your fingers and hand proper blood circulation.
Hiking gloves to grab sword grass while climbing. Photo by Mel
This is an essential factor when picking your glove. Not only does it provide protection from getting soaked up in wet weather but also from the stinging winds. Even in summer an all-round waterproofed glove will be protected from getting wet from your sweat. This is essential for comfort and health and also makes cleaning and drying the glove a simple and fast process.
This refers to the ability of your gloves to pass air from your hands outside. Gloves with this wicking ability ensure your arms get comfortably dry and prevents them from getting stuffy and keeps the gloves from smelling. This is usually facilitated through an interior lining within the glove.
You want your gloves to have the best insulation that can match the weather elements you will be exposed to. The kind of warmth you get is largely dependent on the kind of material used to provide the insulation. For cold weather gloves, many modern manufacturers prefer a three layer system which sees, the waterproofing integrated with an outer layer and an inner layer which provides most of the insulation. There are two main material used for insulation and these are down and synthetic materials. Down is great because it is light, durable and breathable and allows for compression without losing its insulation properties. It is more expensive than synthetic fiber and does not provide insulation when wet. Synthetic insulation is less expensive and still provides insulation even when wet. Its major disadvantage is the bulkiness and it loses significant insulation power with compression.
This is an important factor depending on the kind of activity you want to be engaging in while hiking. Some gloves can be restrictive on movement to offer more warmth while in offering more dexterity, some gloves lose warmth. Consider different designs including lobsters and mittens and see how they fit in your hiking adventures. It may require you to be taking off your outer shell if you are going to be using your hands a lot.
There are many features nowadays that are added to gloves. Different makers try to get ahead of the market by offering extra aspects to the gloves. This in turn affects the comfort, utility and convenience provided by the gloves. Ultimately, it also impacts on the final price. Some of the features added include touch screen compatibility, heating systems, leather palms, wrist cinches, thumb wipes, wrist cords and zippered pockets. Pick gloves with features that will improve your experience while avoid the extra features that will only drive the price up but you do not really need them.
Obviously, if you are going to make a substantial investment on gloves, then you want them to last long enough and for several trips regardless of the heavy use. Look at the reviews and the material used to determine the durability of the gloves.
Gloves are an essential part of your hiking gear. Photo by Kyle
Here are some top glove recommendations for various occasions you can check out;
They are easily one of the best hiking gloves because they combine about all aspects you would want in a premium outdoor glove. The basic styles is captures in a stylish design and allows easy use. They are made from 100% nylon which makes them lightweight, water resistant and breathable. Should they get wet they dry up quickly. They come with a fleece line for insulation topped by a removable exterior shell. For better grip you have an anti-slip silicone palm print and the wrist comes with tapering to keep out weather elements. The back of the glove also has a small pocket and the only catch is that it is quite on the premium end in terms of price.
These are great for summer and even regular use. They are made from Polartec fleece and Pittards suede palm patches. They offer great flexibility by converting from mittens to gloves with a fold back flap having a magnetic closure which creates fingerless gloves. They are great for providing dexterity even in cold weather.
These are the ultimate wet weather hiking gloves though their light nature and efficient breathability makes then suitable for many conditions. They are made of 87% polyester and feature a 13% spandex shell that has a leather palm. The thumb and index finger are compatible with a touch screen while it features a 3-layer, waterproof, windproof and breathable structure.
For women looking for a perfect fit in the arms and protection against extreme cold and wet weather, this is the right pair. It features a waterproof, snow proof and windproof exterior which easily sheds snow and water while the interior has air wicking and circulating ability for maximum comfort. For dexterity and great grip, you get textured palms and a lightweight design.
For women looking for gloves much suited for other seasons, this pair has interesting features. It is made from polyester and comes with a women-specific 5 dimensions fit. It is compatible with the touch screen and comes with a silicon grip pattern for strong non-sliding grip. It may not work well in extreme cold and wet weather but for the rest of the seasons, this will serve you excellently.