Hikers, mountaineers and trekkers regularly face harsh conditions such as low temperatures, heavy rain, snow and wind. In order to perform to the best of your abilities in these conditions you will need some additional equipment that will provide decent insulation and weather protection – not least for your hands as fingers are one of the body parts most prone to frostbite. A pair of high-quality gloves is therefore one of the most important pieces of hiking gear as it will keep your hands warm, dry and comfortable. However, not all gloves are suitable for all conditions which complicates selecting the proper pair.
Gloves for hiking and mountaineering in spring and fall, usually only have one layer to keep your hands warm. However, as they usually don’t feature a shell they will not resist moisture for long.
Winter gloves are usually constructed of three layers (similar to the layered clothing system). Closest to your skin there should be a lining that wicks moisture away from the skin. On top of the lining an insulation layer will entrap the body-warmed air to keep your hands warm while the last and outer layer is a shell for protection against rain, wind and snow. However, some winter gloves have a removable lining so that you can dry it properly or even use it as a standalone glove (in warmer weather).
Many of us are not used to think in this manner, but gloves should be considered as highly modular (similar to the way you layer clothes) so that you can adjust them to whatever type of weather you encounter on the trails. You can for example use lining (such as Merino liner gloves) separately or use mittens for added insulation and/or weather protection.
In this review we selected and reviewed the best gloves for hiking and mountaineering. As we wanted to present you different options we selected four pairs of gloves that are designed for winter activities (hiking, mountaineering, alpine climbing etc.) at various temperatures and one pair of lighter gloves intended for use in spring and fall. We only selected gloves that offer good performance and durability.
1. Buying Gloves for Hiking and Mountaineering – What is important?
Winter gloves typically use synthetic fill for insulation as it efficiently entraps body-warmed air even when exposed to moisture or wet. Lighter gloves can use fleece or wool for insulation. The level of insulation should always be selected according to the expected weather conditions. Some gloves are highly modular (removable lining, shell etc) and can thus be used at various temperatures. For more information about insulation materials, check our Comparison of Mid-Layer Materials.
The shell is typically made of waterproof yet breathable materials such as Gore-Tex, Pertex, Membrain etc. In addition to weather protection, the shell also has to provide good durability. For more information about shell materials, check our Comparison of Shell Materials.
The lining is very important part of the gloves as it wicks the moisture away from the skin and thus reduces the conductive heat loss that a wet glove entails (thermal conductivity of water is approximately 25 times higher than the thermal conductivity of air). More information about the conductive heat loss can be found in our Comparison of Base Layer Materials.
Gloves should provide good dexterity so that you don’t have to take them off when for example putting on snowshoes, crampons or taking items out of the backpack.
2. The Best Gloves for Hiking and Mountaineering Review
- Outdoor Research Alti
- Black Diamond Soloist
- Mountain Hardwear Hydra Pro
- Marmot Randonnee
- Outdoor Research VersaLiner
|Feature/Product||Outdoor Research Alti||Black Diamond Soloist||Mountain Hardwear Hydra Pro||Marmot Randonnee||Outdoor Research Versaliner|
|Insulation||PrimaLoft Gold||PrimaLoft Gold||Thermal.Q||Thermal R||Radiant Fleece (95% Polyester, 5% Spandex)|
|Shell Material||100% Nylon (Gore-Tex Inserts)||Pertex Shield||92% Nylon, 8% Elastane (OutDry Laminate)||2-Layer MemBrain||2.5-layer Pertex Shield (Removable)|
|Lining||100% Nylon, PrimaLoft Gold (Removable)||PrimaLoft Gold (Removable)||100% Polyester||DriClime||Radiant Fleece (95% Polyester, 5% Spandex)|
|Weight (Pair)||358 g||235 g||170 g||184 g||79 g|
|Best Use||Mountaineering, Alpine Climbing, Expedition||Hiking, Mountaineering, Alpine Climbing||Hiking, Mountaineering, Alpine Climbing||Hiking, Mountaineering||Hiking, Mountaineering|
1. Outdoor Research Alti
- Alpine Climbing
The Outdoor Research Alti gloves are the warmest and the most technical gloves in this review. They are best for alpine climbers, mountaineers and others who plan to do trips in extremely harsh winter conditions and thus need a warm and durable pair of gloves. The gloves feature a shell equipped with Gore-Tex inserts for protection against water and wind. Under the shell is an insulation layer that contains 100 grams of synthetic PrimaLoft Gold insulation, which offers a superb warmth-to-weight ratio, dries fast and is well-compressible. Furthermore, it maintains warmth even when wet – which does not apply to natural insulation- as for example goose down. The manufacturer claims that the PrimaLoft Gold maintains 98% of warmth when wet which is indeed impressive. The innermost layer – the liner, is removable and also insulated with PrimaLoft Gold fill (170 grams) and can thus be used in warmer weather as a standalone glove. With the Outdoor Research Alti gloves you therefore get two pairs of gloves in one, so to speak. In addition to superb construction and materials, the gloves also feature pull loops, carabiner loops and gauntlet closures. The liners can be tightened in wrist with Velcro-type tightening system. The Outdoor Research Alti gloves provide great warmth and durability and are therefore highly popular among mountaineers and alpine climbers.
2. Black Diamond Soloist
- Alpine Climbing
The Black Diamond Soloist is another pair of highly insulated and fairly technical gloves that is most suitable for alpine climbers, mountaineers and hikers who often do long trips in very cold conditions. The Black Diamond Soloist gloves feature a thin but durable shell made of Pertex Shield material, which provides good weather protection while being fairly breathable. The shell’s palm is made of goat leather and uses Kevlar stitching for increased durability. The fingertips are also reinforced with goat leather. The liner can be removed from the shell and used as a standalone glove. It is insulated with PrimaLoft Gold insulation (170 grams on the backside, 133 grams on the palm) and features a BDry waterproof/breathable insert for protection against the wind and rain. The gloves are also equipped with a single-pull adjustment system in the wrist area and a drawcord at the very back. On the middle fingers there are attachment points that allow you to attach the gloves with a carabiner to your gear such as a climbing harness or backpack, whenever you don’t need them. The Black Diamond Soloist gloves are slightly less insulated than the above listed Outdoor Research gloves but they are still a great choice for hiking, mountaineering and alpine climbing in very cold conditions.
3. Mountain Hardwear Hydra Pro Gloves
- Alpine Climbing
The Mountain Hardwear Hydra Pro gloves are very sturdy and provide good warmth while being very light. Therefore, they are best for alpine climbing and cold-weather mountaineering or hiking. The gloves consist of a waterproof/breathable shell with OutDry laminate, a Thermal.Q insulation layer (120 grams) and polyester lining. The palm of the glove is additionally reinforced with water-resistant goatskin leather. The shell (OutDry laminate) features a waterproof membrane that keeps your hands well-protected against rain and wind while at the same time offers good breathability. The Thermal.Q insulation was designed to mimic the structure of goose down and thus offers good warmth. Furthermore, it is well-compressible and maintains warmth even when wet. The gloves are also equipped with pull-on loops, adjustable Velcro cuffs and carabiner loops. The Mountain Hardwear Hydra Pro gloves offer good warmth for low weight and are thus highly recommended for various activities in cold weather.
4. Marmot Randonnee
The Marmot Randonnee gloves offer great performance for the price. The gloves feature a shell made of a 2-layer MemBrain material which does not only provide good protection against rain and wind, but also decent breathability. The insulation layer under the shell uses Marmot’s Thermal R insulation. The Thermal R insulation is made of polyester fibers and provides great warmth even when exposed to moisture. The DriClime lining next to your skin is made of two different denier yarns so that it efficiently pulls the moisture away from the skin where it spreads and evaporates. Furthermore, the DriClime lining is also very comfortable to the touch. The Marmot Randonnee gloves feature a single-pull adjustment system in the wrist area and a drawcord at the back. The Marmot Randonnee gloves are best for those who want a pair of well-performing winter gloves for a reasonable price.
5. Outdoor Research Versaliner
- Everyday use (liner)
The Outdoor Research Versaliner gloves are much lighter and less insulated than other gloves in this review. Therefore, they are best for hiking in spring or fall. The gloves consist of two elements – the liner and a waterproof/breathable shell. The liner is made of Radiant Fleece and thus provides decent warmth along with great moisture-wicking properties. Additionally, the liner is equipped with silicone grip pads on the palm, a glove clip, pull loop and a zippered pocket. In the zippered pocket there is a waterproof shell which can be worn over the liner in case of bad weather as it can be deployed quickly and easily..It is made of the wind- and waterproof Pertex Shield fabric. The Outdoor Research Versaliner gloves are a great choice for recreational hikers and mountaineers who want to keep their hands warm in spring and fall.
3. The most attractive product in the review