When it’s too cold for gloves (generally around 10 degrees Fahrenheit), a good pair of mittens is crucial to enjoying wintertime activity.
We spend a lot of time outdoors testing gear. And if we’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that being cold can quickly ruin any adventure. This is where having the best winter mittens comes into play.
Sure, you sacrifice a bit of dexterity for cozy digits, but that’s the price of warmth in the rock-bottom cold months of the year. And if it means having a good time outside all winter long, then it’s a price we’re willing to pay.
We tested mittens through frigid Minnesota winters, during cold Colorado outings, and while traveling across North America in search of snow-laden adventures. We regularly hike, bike, ski, and board in these mittens. We’ve even had a few snowball fights and an epic snow angel competition for good measure.
While this list doesn’t cover every mitten ever made, suffice it to say we’ve been thorough in narrowing it down to our favorites. These are the mittens we can’t stop raving about, the hand covers we recommend and rely on all winter long.
The Best Winter Mittens of 2021
Best Overall: Black Diamond Mercury Mitt — Men’s & Women’s
We think of these mitts as cocoons for the hands. They’re indeed stuffed full of PrimaLoft insulation, the same fill used in cold-weather sleeping bags. This was one of our favorites back in 2007, and it’s still a strong contender even though the price has increased by about $30 since then.
The Mercury Mitts are now $110 but still a good buy in our opinion. They’ll last for several years, and, with a removable liner, they can be used in frigid or kinda-cold weather.
With the newest rendition of the Mercury Mitts, Black Diamond added a “trigger finger” that separates your index finger from the rest, increasing dexterity without surrendering too much warmth.
Runner-Up: Arc’teryx Alpha SV Mittens
If warmth means more than the cost to have it, then the Arc’teryx Alpha SV mittens ($259) are the way to go. So much so, in fact, that “SV” stands for “severe weather.” In fairness, these mittens are overbuilt for most users — these are the mittens to don for alpine objectives or ice climbs.
GORE-TEX tech makes the mittens highly weather-resistant, and the WINDSTOPPER construction keeps the SV mittens almost totally windproof. Add in PrimaLoft Gold and Silver insulation, and you have a mitt you can wear by itself for exceptional warmth. But Arc’teryx also designed the SV to fit over the liner gloves — the brand’s own Alpha SL or FL gloves, or other options — to keep fingers and hands as warm as possible.
The real surprise with these mittens, and the factor that makes them a technical piece, is the weight. Despite the weatherproofing and warmth, the Alpha SV weighs in at just over 9 ounces. Ounces become precious if you’re swinging your arms for hours a day.
Best Synthetic Insulation: Marmot Expedition Mittens
These mega mitts are wonderfully warm and made for Mount Everest climbers and South Pole scientists. They are puffy, PrimaLoft-stuffed, waterproof mitts that have kept our hands toasty in extreme temps as low as -30 degrees F.
But there’s a caveat: The abundant insulation creates a mitt that lacks dexterity — you could easily grip a ski pole, but anything much more than that is difficult. Mountaineering is fine, but don’t try ice climbing in them. And even riding a fat bike is hard depending on dexterity requirements to shift and brake.
Amazingly, these mittens have increased by only $5 since this article was first published. They cost $115 and are worth it if you need an uber-warm mitt that will last for years.
Best Down Insulation: Dakine Diablo Mitten
This mitten system allows for a lot of versatility. You can easily switch between layers during high-output activities and pile all three layers on when the temps drop. The removable liner glove has a silicone grip and touchscreen-friendly fingertips. The 650-fill down mitten liner provides plenty of lofty warmth. And the GORE-TEX outer makes for a breathable, waterproof shell.
We also like the leather palm, which provides just enough grip for managing ski poles or carrying your board. These are a big investment, and, depending on your needs, you could perhaps get away with a cheaper pair. But if you’re looking for a versatile mitten system that will keep you cool on the uphills and warm on the mountain, the Diablo Mittens can’t be beat.
Like the Dakine Diablo mitt system ($210) but looking for something less pricey? Check out Dakine’s gauntlet-style Titan Mitt, also with a removable liner and GORE-TEX (but no down), for just $70.
This mitt didn’t blow us away as the snazziest or most high-tech, but it’s gosh-darn warm. A basic design and budget-friendly, we found the Challenge mitt ($58) to be warm enough for a variety of snow activities and, best of all, easy to put on.
The mitts have wrist leashes and easy-pull tabs so you can shed them when you need more dexterity (although the mitts are touchscreen-compatible, so you don’t need to shed them to check your phone!).
We also found these gloves to be extremely soft thanks to the cozy fleece lining that extends all the way to the cuff. To top it off, Gordini added tech like a textured water-resistant shell and a waterproof and windproof GORE-TEX Warm insert.
Best for Biking: GORE Wear Thermo Split Gloves
Call ’em gloves, call ’em mittens, call ’em lobster paws — the added dexterity of a split mitt is great for cyclists. The concept itself isn’t new, but GORE’s in-house brand, GORE Wear, has lobster mitt we’ve tried and love. And because it’s made by GORE, it offers superior wind protection, loads of warmth, solid durability, and enough water resistance to stand up to snowmelt (once you’re inside) or light freezing drizzle.
GORE rates them to temps that fall below 40 degrees F, but if the mercury plummets to teens or single digits, a set of pogies like Bar Mitts will (most often) afford you the extra warmth you need on top of these mittens.
For shoulder season and year-round commuters, the Thermo Split Gloves also have touchscreen-compatible index digits to check directions or send quick texts. Best of all, you can score these for under $100.
Best for Running: Salomon Fast Wing
We’ll admit, these aren’t for the coldest of temps, but if you’re looking for a lightweight mitt that can perform, check out the Fast Wing from Salomon. Best for high-output winter activities like running, cardio, and hiking, the Fast Wings prioritize light weight and versatility.
The glove has Salomon’s AdvancedSkin Warm tech, which reflects warmth back to your body and works to retain heat, plus a DWR-treated windproof mitt cover, extended cuff, and touchscreen finger. All that and these mitts weigh less than 2 ounces.
If you want a light mitt, the Fast Wing is a solid option. Just know they aren’t for the coldest temps, as they don’t have added insulation.
Best of the Rest
Designed for mountaineering and high-elevation adventure, these mittens prove warm even in the coldest conditions. The leather palm provides plenty of grip, and the three-panel thumb construction allows for even better dexterity to grab gear. We like the longer cuff for its all-around sturdy construction, keeping snow from sneaking in.
Perhaps best of all is the thumb insulation that keeps the secluded digit warm all day long. And speaking of insulation, the PrimaLoft not only repels water but dries quickly if it does get wet. This is key for staying warm all day. And if you get too warm, simply remove the liner. We’re on our fifth year using the Alti Mittens ($199), and they’re still going strong.
Warm enough to wear without liners, we liked these mitts ($69) for both casual and performance winter adventures. Reviewers note they’ve worn them hiking, biking, walking, skiing, winter running, and more. We found that they fit true to size, but some reviewers claim they are on the roomier side (conveniently leaving more room for liners if needed). At 3.4 ounces, you’re getting lots of warmth for a pretty low weight.
The mittens contain 100 g of insulation with a brushed tricot lining, and the exterior has a DWR treatment to combat the wetter elements. And new for 2020, Patagonia is transitioning these mitts from PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco polyester to PrimaLoft’s 100% recycled polyester P.U.R.E. insulation.
At $45, for less than half the cost of the Black Diamond Mercury Mitts, you can get these cozy Dirt Bag Mitts to keep your hands warm. You could call these mitts basic, but they do the job — the water-resistant, all-leather exterior shell kept our hands warm winter camping and skiing. The gloves are finished with a 100g fleece lining and knitted cuff for that extra coziness factor.
Warm, soft, true to size, and a great price point — the Hestra Moon Mittens ($80) have proven very popular in recent years.
Not only are these gloves great-quality and well-insulated (with PrimaLoft Gold insulation and a ripstop windproof shell), but they’re also great at transcending activities — from cruising groomers to walking around town. The mitts also have thoughtful sheepskin leather reinforcement on the palms for enhanced grip.
The Frontier Mitten raised more than $1 million during its initial crowdfunding efforts, and we’re not surprised. The brand had already built a solid reputation for super-durable yet warm and weather-resistant gloves. Its expansion into mittens had fans stoked from the beginning.
From our Frontier Mitten early prototype testing to the brand’s 2.0 pair (now $128), these mitts proved wonderful from the get-go. They have the same burly leather build as the gloves, which means they can handle turns on the slopes or grabbing a log out of the campfire. Under that, five layers of insulation and a waterproof liner keep hands cozy.
These mittens ($130) check all the important boxes. They manage to offer as much dexterity as you can get in a mitten while being stuffed full of PrimaLoft. One of our favorite features is how supple they feel. The Soft-Tex membrane keeps wind and water out without unwanted bulk. Add in the goatskin-leather palm, and you have a very comfortable and functional mitten.
But that’s not all. There’s also a zippered pocket on the back of the hand, so you can easily insert a handwarmer on the coldest of days.
And the standout feature of these mittens is the Trigger Loop. It’s a little loop between the thumb and pointer finger that perfectly integrates with Trigger S Poles. This allows you to quickly snap in and out, so you don’t have the hassle of pole straps. It’s a great bonus feature on some of our favorite warm, comfortable, and durable mittens.
While these leather ski mittens require a little care, they’ll also last for years. Flylow’s Oven Mitts ($50) perform well in frigid temps and are durable and, of course, toasty warm. Reviewers love the quality of these gloves for the price point. Really, if you want something for cold days — whether hiking, skiing, or working out in the snow — these mitts will get the job done.
Hestra makes some amazing mittens that are guaranteed for life. The Army Leather Patrol Mitt ($140) is one of the company’s hottest hand coverings.
It’s made of durable, waterproof leather and a flexible softshell material, all stuffed with a polyester/fiberfill insulation for warmth. The company touts them as “one of our absolute warmest mittens for those really cold days.” And we tend to agree. They’re warm but not overly bulky.
Looking for a leather mitt that won’t break the bank? Obermeyer is a known entity in the ski world, and its Leather Mitten ($79) is purpose-built. Full leather construction provides defense against the elements — cold, moisture, and wind — while 170 g of insulation works to keep hands warm on a frosty pow day.
These aren’t the cheapest or warmest mitts on the list, but Obermeyer strikes a solid balance of value and performance here. We don’t love the men’s-only offering here, but the sizing runs down to a size small. The brand’s women’s Down Mitten costs $20 more and offers both 600-fill warmth and leather construction.
Mitten Care 101: How to Wash Mittens
First off, it’s important to note that mittens rarely need washing, so don’t go throwing them in your weekly laundry pile. That said, there are times when a filthy glove needs cleaning or a worn-out mitt needs a bit of love. Here are three mitten care tips:
- Spot clean. Skip the full wash whenever possible and opt for a spot clean. Wipe down with mild soap and water. Allow to air dry.
- Remove liner. If your mittens have separate liners, remove them and wash them as needed. If the entire mitten absolutely needs a thorough washing, use tech-specific wash like Granger’s Performance Wash on the delicate cycle. Lay flat to dry.
- Condition leather. Leather can be a great waterproof material, but it needs proper care and attention. First, rub down the mitten with a damp cloth to remove any grit. Next, massage a leather wax like Sno-Seal into the leather. Allow to air dry at room temperature overnight. Use a soft cloth to remove any extra wax and get ready to enjoy your supple, waterproof mittens.
Have a favorite mitt we missed? Let us know in the comments below for future updates to this article.