When it’s too cold for gloves (generally around 10 degrees F), 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 mittens come 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.
Best Winter Mittens Review
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. However, the price has increased by about $30 since then.
The Mercury Mitts are now $110 but still a good buy in our mind. 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.
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 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.
IceArmor Mitten: $40
Looking for a mitten that won’t break the bank? Then you need to check out the IceArmor Mittens. A favorite among ice fishers, these mittens offer a roomy fit and are easy to get on and off. The mittens’ 150g Thinsulate Insulation keeps fingers toasty. And the waterproof, windproof membrane means you’ll stay dry and warm no matter the conditions.
These mittens don’t allow for much dexterity or fine movement, but that’s not what they’re meant for. The IceArmor Mittens are designed to keep fingers warm and be taken off quickly when you get a big one on the line. And they excel at it. For just $40, they’re by far the warmest bargain mitten around.
Dakine Diablo Mitten: $210
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.
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, and they’re still going strong.
LEKI Xplorer XT S Mitten: $130
These mittens 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 pocked on the back of the hand, so you can easily insert a hand-warmer 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.
Hestra makes some amazing mittens that are guaranteed for life. The Army Leather Patrol 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.”
And we tend to agree. They’re warm but not overly bulky. And if dexterity is really important, check out the Hestra 3-Finger Mitten. It frees up and extra digit without sacrificing too much warmth.
First tested during the Yukon Quest Dog Sled Race, these two-part mittens provide superior warmth — even when temperatures plummet to -40 degrees. Wiggy’s has proudly made everything in the U.S. since 1986. The Arctic Mittens have a cult following, and for good reason. They keep hands toasty.
The exterior mitten shell is constructed of a strong, waterproof material. And the inner lining is filled with 24 ounces of a specialized fill known as Lamilite. Anyone looking for a super-warm mitten that’s made in the U.S. will be happy with the Extreme Arctic Mitten.
Looking for a supercharged mitten? The Lucent could be just what you’ve been dreaming of.
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries stash in a pocket at the wrist and provide hours of hand heat. Even without the heater turned on, these mittens prove impressively warm and light with EnduraLoft insulation. And the GORE-TEX inserts mean your hands will stay dry too.
Some have complained of defective batteries, but we’ve never had any issues. The Lucent doesn’t come cheap, but for those with poor circulation, Raynaud’s disease, or just regularly cold hands, it could be money well spent.
Give’r Frontier Mittens:
A new mitten coming this winter, we just had to include this rugged leather mitt from Give’r. The Frontier Mitten raised more than $1 million during its initial crowdfunding efforts, and we’re not surprised. The brand already built a solid reputation for super-durable yet warm and weather-resistant gloves. Its expansion into mittens had fans stoked from the beginning.
We’ve gotten early tests on prototype Frontier Mittens. and they were wonderful from initial use. 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.
You’ll have to wait until late winter for delivery of these mittens, now on pre-sale. But given our early testing, the Give’r Fontier Mittens should be a great choice for years to come.
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 a mild soap and water. Allow to air dry.
- Remove liner. If your mittens have separate liners, remove them and wash 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? Tell us in the comments for future updates to this article.