GEAR CHECK - GLOVES & MITTS
25 Jun, 2016
Get it right when it comes to choosing the right gloves or mitts.
We have one of the largest selections of snowboard gloves and mittens in New Zealand and knowledgeable staff that can offer expert advice.
Gloves and mitts are some of the most important accessories for skiing and snowboarding. Getting the right pair for you may seem simple but there are some important differences. Cold hands can ruin your day on the mountain. Getting gloves that are specifically designed for skiing and snowboarding will help you stay warm, dry and have features necessary for a day on the hill. This guide will help you understand differences in materials and features that will make skiing and snowboarding that little bit better.
To get your hands on the ideal gloves or mitts you will want to consider:
- Gloves or Mittens
- Outer Material
- Cuff Length
- Size and Fit
Gloves VS Mitts
This is the first decision you will make. Do you prefer the dexterity and movement of gloves or the warmth and style of mittens? There are gloves and mitts for all conditions. Brands will often manufacture gloves and mittens with the same features (like the Burton Gore-Tex Glove and Burton Gore-Tex Mitten).
Gloves give you better dexterity and movement, making it easier to do up your ratchets on you bindings, get into zips and adjust your goggle strap. Mittens provide superior warmth. Because your fingers are together in one compartment the generate more heat, however mittens limit mobility making it difficult to do some tasks.
Another option is a trigger mitt which has a separate index finger, allowing you to get the dexterity of a glove with the warmth of a mitt.
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Gloves and mittens vary in the amount of warmth they provide. Finding a pair that fits your needs is important. Depending on where you are snowboarding – Mt Ruapehu, Queenstown, Japan or Alaska – is going to affect the level of warmth you will need. Warmer conditions will require a thinner glove while colder conditions will mean having a more insulated glove. Added to this, some people tend to get colder hands and will require a warmer glove in all conditions.
The warmth of a glove or mitten is reliant on the outer material (shell), type and level of insulation and how waterproof and breathable a glove is, after all, a dry glove is a warm glove!
Outer Material (Synthetic VS Leather)
Synthetic – Many ski and snowboard gloves and mittens are made from a synthetic fabric, normally nylon. Higher quality models use waterproof breathable fabric with a membrane or coating such as ePTFE/Teflon or PU/Polyurethane. At the top end, Gore-Tex models include a separate ePFTE insert (known as a membrane) between the outer fabric and insulation. Fabrics can come in a hard and softshell with softshell fabrics more common in gloves and mittens designed for warmer conditions.
Leather – Leather gloves and mittens are a harder wearing option. Normally made from cowhide or goatskin, they are more durable and flexible than synthetic materials. Leather is naturally water-resistant and when treated and combined with a membrane, leather can be a good option for a waterproof, windproof, warm and durable option. When maintained correctly with leather treatments, leather gloves and mittens can last for years.
Wet hands are cold hands. The major cause of wet gloves is from sweat and a lack of breathability from the inside of the gloves and mittens. In a waterproof, breathable glove the membrane is inserted between the outer layer and insulation and has very small pores that prevent moisture from entering but allow vapor (sweat) to esape making it a 2-way fabric. How waterproof and breathable a glove is depends largely on the membrane.
There are many good waterproofing membranes including:
Gore-Tex – Gore-Tex typically offers the highest level of waterproof breathability.
Hipora – Hipora fabrics are waterproof, windproof and breathable. It is a stretchable material making it more flexible than other options.
Polyurethane – Most waterproof and breathable fabrics have a laminated membrane of PU (polyurethane). PU fabrics offer a good value solution for waterproof and breathability.
Finding the right level of insulation is important. Properly insulated gloves provide improved warmth and breathability while allowing for improved movement and fit. How cold it is where you are going to be skiing or snowboarding will affect the level of insulation required and you may want more than one pair.
Different types of insulation include:
Down – Made from natural feathers and plumules, down traps air which helps keep your hands warm. Higher rated down improve warmth while reducing weight and volume. Down is incredibly warm when dry but if wet it can reduce its effectiveness and be slow to dry.Primaloft - Primaloft uses a synthetic microfiber insulation material to help the body retain warmth and conserve heat. This is a very good insulation choice in wet conditions and although Primaloft is not as warm as down by weight, but it’s breathable, compressible, water resistant and provides good insulation even when wet.
Thinsulate - Made of ultra thin microfibers, Thinsulate insulation from 3M has excellent insulating properties with less bulk, making it ideal for use in glove and mittens where dexterity and movement is important.
The glove lining is a layer of material built in for comfort and to help increase warmth. Gloves and mittens are often lined with fleece or wool and often have moisture-wicking properties to help keep sweat away from your skin and to pass it through the breathable membrane.
Another good option is a removable liner such as a Burton Powerstretch Liner or Mons Royale Volta Glove Liner. Both feature moisture-wicking properties to keep hands dry and warm with the added benefit of being able to remove them for warmer conditions.
Many ski gloves and mittens have reinforced palms with added grip. This helps protect the gloves while adding grip for binding in or holding on to snowboard edges
Short or long? Choosing cuff length comes down to personal preference. Short Cuffs are designed to go under your jacket sleeve and can provide better mobility. Long Cuffs feature a longer, wider fit and are designed to fit over your jacket sleeve and can prevent snow getting in.
Articulated Fingers – Some gloves pre-curved fingers, helping you to grip a board or chairlift bars easier.
Zippered Pockets – These can work as vents for warmer days or to put a hand warmer in on colder days.
Touch-Tech – More common now, Touch-Tech allows you to use your smartphone while keeping gloves on.
Size and Fit
Having gloves and mitts fit correctly will help with warmth, comfort and improve movement and dexterity. A proper fitting glove should fit snuggly and allow enough room at the tips of the fingers to pinch around 5mm of fabric. When making a fist, the glove should not be so tight that it constricts movement.
Many glove manufacturers use different fits for mens, womens and youth gloves. Buying a gender specific glove will help with getting a correct fit.
Shop from our range of Burton, Pow and Rad gloves and mitts now.
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Need more help? Call Boardertown on 0800 4BTOWN, email us or drop by our stores in Auckland and Queenstown for expert advice.