When it’s too cold for gloves (generally around 10 degrees Fahrenheit), finding the best winter 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, board, and camp 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 ones we recommend and rely on — all winter long.
Jump to our top picks, or explore our full recommendations below:
- Best Overall
- Best Synthetic Insulation
- Best Down Insulation
- Best Budget
- Best Leather
- Best for Kids
- Best for Biking
- Best for Running
- Best Heated Mitt
- Best of the Rest
The Best Winter Mittens of 2021
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 first favorites all the way back in 2007, and it’s still a strong contender.
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.
Best Synthetic Insulation: Marmot Expedition Mittens
The Marmot Expedition Mittens ($115) 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.
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 Leather: Give’r Frontier Mittens
The Frontier Mitten ($128) 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, 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.
Best Mittens for Kids: Burton Vent
The Burton Vent Mitts ($17-79) grabbed a hearty 4.6-star average rating across almost a hundred reviews. These mitts are easy to adjust at the back of the palm, and cinch at the wrist if weather requires, and have a zippered pocket for your little one’s hand warmers too.
The Vent mittens have Burton’s DryRide Insane Membrane for waterproofness and breathability, Thermacore synthetic insulation and two-layer shell fabric. The mittens also have a grip texture feature on the palm, and a soft, microfiber lining to keep hands and fingers cozy inside.
Reviewers like these most for their different size options (kids’ mittens really shouldn’t be one size fits all), ease of use and adjustability, and warmth. Parents also rave at the length of the cuffs and cinches that do a great job at keeping snow out. Normally $35, these kid mitts can also be found on sale.
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 ($80-161), 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 the 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 ($50). Best for high-output winter activities like running, cardio, and hiking, the Fast Wings prioritize lightweight 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.
Heated gloves or mittens can cost upwards of $300 — but not these. Volt’s 7-Volt Battery Heated Mittens ($119) are fully decked out like many other mitts on this list: with a nylon shell, leather palm, and waterproof breathable membrane. In terms of the heating element, the Volt mitts have ultra-thin stainless steel heating wires bonded into the fabric to heat across the back and palm of your hand.
The system, which heats up to 150 degrees, has a built-in microprocessor for heat control and is powered by a 7-volt portable battery. Volt says it lasts for 2 hours on the highest setting and up to at least 8 hours on low.
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 also 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 the Patagonia Nano Puff 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 (our overall winner), 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 while 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 Leki Xplore XT S 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.
Mountain Hardwear’s Oven Mitts ($80) are just what you’d expect from the style — puffy, super comfortable, and extra warm. We love them best for backcountry pursuits — whether on hiking trails or in snow — because of their light weight and packability.
These mittens, with an ultralight ripstop nylon shell and 650-fill down, proved warm for us in all kinds of winter weather — from frosty and windy fall days to full-on snowstorms. And, the pair weighs just 4 ounces (small/medium).
Our only qualm? They do run a tad large, leaving an ample amount of room for liner gloves. (If you want a snugger fit, size down.) Also, the cuffs aren’t as long as some other mitts on this list.
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.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Winter Mittens
Winter can mean a lot of things. Specifically, a range of temperatures. Especially in higher alpine environments with more extreme winds, or places with humidity, temperatures can fluctuate, and drop, wildly. Thankfully, mittens are a time-tested perfect solution to extreme colds.
If you know your body runs warmer or more cold, consider that when buying winter mittens. If you struggle with keeping warmth in your extremities, you may also want mitts with a higher weight or down-fill insulation, or a thicker shell.
Down or Synthetic?
Down mittens are a popular option for skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, however, it loses its insulating powers when wet. Synthetic insulation, however, insulates better when wet and dries a lot faster. For damp climates especially, consider synthetic.
If you are going to be using mittens for higher-intensity sports like skiing and snowboarding, also consider durability and waterproofing. For sports like these, and mountaineering pursuits, you’ll want mitts with longer cuffs and some form of adjustability to keep snow out.
Size & Dexterity
Most brands will now list exact measurements of their mittens, specifically the length of the palm. We recommend starting with your usual glove or mitt size, but always double-check any mitt’s specific sizing chart. Mitts have lots of pros — namely, providing warmth better than gloves — but they do go down a notch in the functionality department.
When shopping for mittens, we always like to look for and invest in ones with touch compatibility (so you don’t have to remove them to check your phone), as well as textured palms for grip and durability.
Finally, it’s a good idea to invest in a pair of liner gloves. These can pair with mittens, or even function on their own on warmer but still wintry days.
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 (if applicable). 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.