When it’s too cold for gloves (generally around 10 degrees F) a good pair of mittens is crucial to enjoying wintertime activity. You sacrifice dexterity for cozy digits, but that’s the price of warmth in the rock-bottom cold months of the year.
Editor’s Note: This story, originally published in 2007, is one of our most popular reviews of all time. It has been updated for 2015 with new mitts we have used and love (plus, we left in a few standby models that we still wear from the original test).
So what mittens are the best for outdoor enthusiasts who ski, climb and throw snowballs at friends? Over the years we’ve tested many pairs of top-end mittens that meet the cold-weather challenge. Got a favorite mitt that’s not mentioned here? Tell us in the comments. For now, here’s our run-down on a few top picks, some of the warmest mittens in the world.
Black Diamond Mercury Mitt ($110).
The company described these mitts as cocoons for the hands, and indeed they’re stuffed with PrimaLoft insulation, the same fill used in cold-weather sleeping bags.
This was one of our favorites back in 2007 and it is still a strong contender. However, the price has increased by about $30.
The Mercury Mitts are now $110 but still a good buy in our mind. They will last for several years and, with a removable liner, they can be used in frigid or also 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. Buy now
These mega-mitts are wonderfully warm and made for Mount Everest climbers or South Pole scientists. They are puffy, PrimaLoft-stuffed waterproof mitts that have kept our hands toasty in extreme temps as low as minus-30 F.
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, this mitten has only gone up $5 since this article was first published in 2007. They cost $115 and are worth it if you need an uber-warm mitt that will last for years. Buy now.
Marmot does make an even warmer mitt if you don’t mind shelling out big bucks. The company’s 8000 Meter Mitt costs a sky-high $275 and is designed for high-altitude cold. It is really three mitts in one, including a waterproof shell with a Gore-Tex mitt insert as well as removable 700-fill goose down mittens. Buy now
Among the warmest in the brand’s line, and constructed with a multi-layer ripstop nylon, these technical, versatile mitts are super warm.
Made with a jacket-like outer fabric, the mitts use a three-layer 70D GORE-TEX material. This makes them waterproof and breathable.
Their removable PrimaLoft One insulated glove liners provide extra protection in cold, damp climates or for higher altitudes.
The “SuperCinch” gauntlet closure locks out cold air and snow by sealing off the wrist. For climbers, a carabiner loop lets you clip the mitts in when you need dexterity and bare hands temporarily on a route while messing with a rope and your gear.
Hestra makes some amazing mittens that are guaranteed for life. The Army Leather Extreme Mitt 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.”
Discontinued: Granite Gear Lutsen Mitts
Originally $89, but now discontinued, these were a stout, waterproof pair with wool-fleece liners. They were among our favorite mittens back in the day. Sadly, the company stopped producing mittens altogether.
You might be able to find these used. The simple, streamlined construction and a non-bulky wool-fleece liners let you have the dexterity to clip a carabiner and tie knots when ice climbing. (It took practice but was doable.)
They fit well and have a leather palm. Also, they were among the warmest in the first review, holding their own in temps down to minus-20 degrees. If you can somehow still find a pair, buy ‘em up.