Snowboarding on a day when temperatures dip into single digits will result in cold hands and fingers. Thus, to prevent frostbites and protect these important parts of our body, it is important to use gloves or mittens.
Both can be used for skiing and snowboarding, which means it all comes down to personal preferences. But could one be better than the other for snowboarding? Let’s find out!
Do snowboarders wear mittens or gloves?
Snowboarders usually wear mittens for simplicity and optimum warmth. Along with these are a pair of thin glove liners to allow dexterity without exposing your hands to the cold air and snow. Snowboarders also prefer mittens with a wrist straps feature, which is useful in chairlifts, and thin gloves that are touch-screen compatible to be able to operate smartphones and cameras without getting their hands cold.
Whether you’re going skiing or snowboarding, you’ll need a good pair of gloves to keep your hands warm and toasty. If you’re looking for gloves and mittens recommendations, check out our articles on the best ski gloves for men, best ski gloves for women, and best ski gloves for kids for our top recommendations.
Most manufacturers make ski gloves that can be used more specifically for snowboarding and provide great dexterity without sacrificing warmth. These differ in some features compared to ski-specific gloves:
- Snowboarding gloves are bulkier as riders tend to spend more time sitting or touching snow, thus needing more protection on their knuckles.
- Gloves for snowboarding often have a wrist guard for protection because snowboarders are more likely to fall on their hands and arms.
- Snowboarding gloves have longer cuffs to prevent snow from getting in, especially in deeper powder. Most ski gloves today are also made with longer cuffs.
- Gloves used for snowboarding have reinforced palms that are thicker to protect the hands when falling.
Many snowboarders wear mittens because they are generally warmer than gloves since they allow your fingers to share warmth and circulate heat with the mitten. Although skiers can also wear mittens, most of them prefer gloves as they allow them to hold ski poles more easily and to operate other gear.
Snowboarders, on the other hand, have free hands and spend more time touching snow than holding onto ski poles. Thus, warmth is more important for them than full dexterity.
Keep in mind that skiing and snowboarding in warmer weather while wearing mittens can make you too warm and make your hands sweaty.
Choosing the right equipment is a good start to an amazing snowboarding trip. No matter what your budget, ability level, and where you will be spending most of your time on the mountain may be, we have the best snowboard for you.
Key Features for Snowboard Gloves & Mittens
Here are the key features you should look for when choosing gloves or mittens for snowboarding.
Snowboarders spend more on the snow than skiers, so warmth is a key factor for them. On the other hand, if you are skiing in freezing temperatures, you can opt for a pair of mittens.
Mittens are generally warmer because your fingers are held together and can share heat with one another. Furthermore, the warm air can also circulate more easily and mittens have less surface exposed to the cold air and snow.
You should keep in mind that the warmth of any mittens or gloves depends on the materials and their construction. A lot of mittens also provide more warmth than gloves and vice versa due to these factors.
So to keep your hands warm, the most important factor you should consider when choosing gloves and mittens is quality. If you do choose mittens but have to take them off regularly, then we’d recommend you wear glove liners underneath to avoid losing heat whenever you need to take your hands out.
Here are the two most common types of insulation used for ski gloves and mittens:
Down is an excellent insulator and is praised for its breathability, easy compressibility, lightness, and durability. Although down insulation is more expensive than synthetic, it maintains its loft longer than synthetic, which makes it a good investment. Besides, down insulators can also lose their ability to insulate well when they get wet. Thus, they’re not frequently used in gloves and mittens.
When down insulation is used, it is often protected by waterproof shells that can help the gloves stay dry, making them an excellent choice for skiing in cold and dry conditions.
This is a less expensive insulator that can even insulate when wet and dries a lot faster than down insulation. It is best for skiing, snowboarding, and playing in the snow, especially in locations with damp climates. The downsides are that they offer less warmth for their weight, are bulkier than down insulation, and that the insulation decreases each time it gets compressed. Synthetic insulation is usually used in gloves for cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and snowboarding.
If you’re looking for a glove made of durable material that has stood the test of time, why don’t you give leather gloves a try? They are warmer than other gloves and may be the most cost-effective material for winter gloves.
Since you do not have to hold poles while snowboarding, a good grip is not as important. However, snowboarders are more likely to fall on their hands. Thus, padding or reinforcements are needed on the gloves or mittens to provide extra protection.
You should look for protection on the knuckles and thicker padding to protect you from falls and knocks and to provide extra warmth.
Snowboarding will let you spend more time in contact with the snow. Plus, you also need to operate your bindings from time to time and get on and off ski lifts. That is why you should make sure to have a pair of gloves or mittens that is waterproof and breathable.
Mitten and gloves, whether for skiing or snowboarding, should be fully waterproof to keep your hands warm and dry. As there are different levels or ratings of waterproofing, you have to check them when buying gloves so you can stay dry while in the snow.
Breathability is also important as it will prevent sweaty fingers or hands. The more breathable and waterproof the gloves or mittens, the dryer and warmer your hands.
Look for Gore-Tex and other quality membrane technology that allows moisture to escape through the fabric while keeping the weather elements out.
- Thumb Wipes
This feature can be found in both gloves and mittens and consists of a soft material in the thumbs that is used specifically for wiping your nose.
- Leather Palms
Gloves and mittens with leather palms will help you get an excellent grip and help the gloves withstand abrasion better than palms made of synthetic materials.
- Zippered Pockets
This feature is often found at the back of the hand of both gloves and mittens, can only fit disposable handwarmer packets, and can also be used as vents when it gets warmer.
- Long Gauntlet Cuffs
Manufacturers also make some gloves and mittens extend up until your jacket sleeves. Pull them over your sleeves and cinch them close to keep the snow and cold air from getting in.
- Leashes/Wrist Cords
Leashes allow you to secure your gloves and mittens to your wrists to make sure you don’t drop them while on a chairlift or when you need to have a drink or snack.
- Wrist Cinches
Wrist cinches are also added for gloves and mittens to have a snug fit at your wrist and to secure the gloves on your hands.
New to snowboarding? The sport can be a bit intimidating at first, but once you have mastered the basics, it will unlock a lifetime of fun on the mountain. Read this article to learn how to snowboard as a beginner.
Are mittens better for snowboarding?
Since snowboarders are always in contact with snow, mittens are better for them as they are warmer than gloves. However, you should look for the key features to guarantee that your mittens will keep you warm and dry.
Although mittens restrict dexterity, it is still better to have warm hands and fingers. Note that you don’t need optimum dexterity when snowboarding, but if you think you do, then opt for a lobster-type of mittens or layer with a pair of glove liners so you can still perform finer tasks without exposing your hands to the cold.
This simple comparison chart simplifies the differences between gloves and mittens in terms of dexterity and warmth.
Less ability to grip
Note that in snowboarding, you do not need optimum dexterity and grip as you will not be using poles.
Do you need gloves to snowboard?
When you snowboard, you do need protection for your hands against the cold and snow, but whether these are gloves or mittens will depend on your preferences. If you snowboard in warmer climates and need optimum dexterity, then you can just use gloves. On the other hand, if you do not need much dexterity and prefer warmth, then you can choose mittens. Either way, you should choose quality gloves or mittens with the materials and features you need most.
If you snowboard, it is better to get mittens that have all the key features you need to ensure that they will not hinder your activities. However, you can also use thick and warm gloves with a large cuff for dexterity and sufficient warmth.
You do not really need to have snowboard-specific gloves or mittens unless you want to level up your skills and get serious in the sport.
Keep in mind that warmth and comfort are more important than whether your gloves or mittens are specifically made for the sport.