We’ve come a long way since those snowy days when mom would run a string through our coats from mitten to mitten so we wouldn’t lose them while lobbing snowballs at our kid brother. Now we ski, we climb, we hang around lodges looking dashing as hell, but our hands still need to stay warm, dry and protected; they need to look good. These five pairs of winter gloves vary in purpose and technical prowess — some have Kevlar stitching, others have deft beadwork — but they’re all at the top of our list this winter for one reason or another.
Hestra Heli Ski de Cuir
Best Gloves for Skiing: Swedish company Hestra is a major player: they date back to 1936 and made more than two million gloves in 2012. This set is a classic, with a long cuff for keeping the powder out of your sleeves, a wind- and waterproof upper made from Hestra’s poly/cotton Melange Twill and yellow leather, with a cowhide leather palm and a removable wool terry lining.
Oakley Factory Winter Glove
Best Gloves for Snowboarding: With their decidedly retro look, these gloves set the right tone for winter shredding. The leather and stretchy fabric shell has a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane and Thinsulate lining. That means these are lightweight, flexible and windproof. The nose wipe panel is an added bonus.
Astis Colter Glove
Best Gloves for Picking Up Babes: That’s Colter, as in John Colter, member of Lewis and Clarke’s famed expedition and the guy often considered the original mountain man. These hand warmers are, like all Astis gloves, designed by a couple of buddies taken by the beadwork of the Cree Native Americans, made in the U.S. of brown, silicone-injected (for waterproofing) suede and lined with Polartec Thermal Pro High Loft insulation. They’re big on warmth and protection, but even bigger on fur lining and horse-and-rider beadwork.
Mountain Hardwear Seraction Glove
Best Gloves for Ice Climbing: Ice climbing gloves are the surgical gloves of sport. It’s not enough that they keep you warm and dry; they also require flexibility and fit for handling tools and protection against collisions with ice and rock. The new Seraction is made of a stretchy softshell fabric built with the brand’s OutDry and Q.Shield technologies for warmth and waterproofing, fleece insulation on the back of the hands, and a durable, thin leather palm. Secondary use: snowball fights where winning is a must.
Editor’s Pick: Some people will buy these because they look tough, clean and capable — the gloves of an operator. You get much more than looks with the Caden: the three-layer Gore-Tex outer shell is waterproof, windproof and durable; the leather palm is specially to improve range of motion; and the fleece liner is warm and removable. The Caden is an all-around beast, whether you’re working your way up a project or out for a day of resort skiing.