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The Canadian has a rich heritage of trying to stay warm. With temperatures as low as -50°F (-45°C) in the winter and reaching only 32°F (0°C) in the summer, winter gloves might as well be called “all-year-round gloves.”
Whether dog-sledding to work, making repairs to their igloos or prepping the rink for a pick-up game of hockey, staying warm is of utmost importance.
Though your winters may not be as harsh as those of a Canadian, there’s no question that you want to stay warm when the days get cold.
This Definitive Guide to buying winter insulated gloves will explain how you, too, can survive winter like a true Canadian… eh.
A winter glove needs multiple layers to be most effective. The exact number depends on what it’s designed to protect you from.
A glove needs a minimum of two layers to be considered a ‘winter’ glove:
Winter gloves can have up to four layers. Along with the two mentioned above, a second layer of insulation may be added for colder temperatures and a waterproof membrane for wet and slushy conditions.
Before you can choose the best insulated gloves, consider these factors:
In general, men generate more heat than women, as do people in their 20s to 40s versus people over fifty.
Your activity level and BMR determine how easily you break a sweat.
If you’re prone to overheating, buying a glove with too much insulation can be as dangerous as buying a glove with insufficient insulation.
You’re more likely to take your gloves off to let your hands breathe once you start sweating, which puts you at risk for winter-related injuries like hypothermia.
Not all winters are created equal, so identify your particular winter conditions before determining which insulated gloves will be right for you. Look at the environmental conditions of your area including average moisture content, lowest monthly temperatures, and your elevation.
If you live on the east coast of the United Sates or the Atlantic Canadian Provinces, your typical winter will have lots of moisture from the Atlantic Ocean. Snow on the east coast is wet and heavy, and the temperature sits between 16°F and 24°F (-8°C and -4°C).
Cities like Vancouver or Seattle on the west coast still experience wet winters but more mild.
The northern Midwest states like North Dakota and Canadian Prairies have cold and dry winters.
Learn more tips and tricks by reading “3 Features You Need When Buying the Best Cold Weather Work Gloves.”
Choosing the best insulation for winter gloves is a juggling act. You don’t want so much insulation that you can’t move your hand, but you also don’t want a glove that’s so thin that your hands get cold.
Air it a good insulator, so the insulation in winter gloves is designed to trap it. This way thermal energy can’t easily escape, keeping you warm even when it’s freezing.
When looking for the best thermal insulation, you need an option that traps air but won’t trap moisture.
Cotton flannel is the most basic option for winter insulated gloves. This moderately good insulator is made of loosely intertwined fibers, between which air is trapped.
Cotton is the least desirable option because of its absorbency. Cotton absorbs 27 times its own weight, which will rapidly wick away body heat and can lead to serious complications in cold conditions.
Boa acrylic is one of the warmest insulation options, but it’s bulky. If you don’t require good dexterity or you don’t work in sub-zero climates, boa acrylic is a reliable, cost-efficient option.
The synthetic fiber Thinsulate™ is synonymous with thin work gloves for cold weather. It strikes a balance between providing good insulation and not adding excess bulk. Gloves made with Thinsulate™ will be more expensive than other options, but if getting your job done requires good dexterity then it’s a small price.
Keep in mind that there are several varieties of Thinsulate™, and the right level for you will depend on your particular application, environmental climate and genetic makeup.
There are many risks associated with choosing inadequate winter protection from frostbite to hypothermia. In -15°F (-26°C) weather, it can take less than 30 minutes for frostbite to set in. These serious health risks can be minimized by wearing the right protection. Learn more by reading “Can It Be Too Cold to Work Outdoors?”
If you’re working in a climate that has mild winters like the southern states, you may not want to buy a pair of insulated gloves. You may only require a bit of extra insulation at morning or night.
In these cases, a glove liner is your best bet.
A glove liner is made from materials like Thermolite® or ComFortrel®. These materials are thin and wick away moisture, while providing extra insulation.
Learn more in our post “Glove Liners: How to Prevent the Curse of Cold Hands at Work.”
Consider swapping gloves out for mittens when you’re looking for the best winter protection in sub-zero temperatures.
While you’ll be sacrificing finger movement by wearing mitts, they can keep your hand feeling warmer than gloves.
When all four fingers are kept together, there is more air trapped in the space compared to when your fingers are isolated. This is also a better option if you don’t generate a lot of body heat or are prone to getting cold easily.
Finding the proper fit is important regardless of the season, but winter has its own set of rules for getting it just right. This excerpt from our blog “5 Winter Glove-Buying Tips to Make This Your Best Winter Yet” details how.
In the right pair of winter work gloves, there should be a little bit of room between your fingers and the end of the glove. This small pocket of air traps warmth around your fingertips.
Pay attention to how the glove fits around the webbing at the base of your fingers. If the glove is crammed against the base of your fingers, then it’s no good. This compresses the insulation, which means the glove can’t properly trap air and your hands will be chilly very soon.
Consider how far the glove extends down your wrist. Does the glove provide sufficient coverage to avoid gaps and exposed skin in the area between your glove and jacket?
Use our sizing chart to get a rough estimation of your glove size.
For generations, the solution to staying warm in winter was by wearing furs or pelts, sleeping near livestock, and dressing in layers.
Much like how we learned to hunt and make fire by following the teachings of our ancient ancestors, we learned how to survive a workday in the dead of winter by following the teachings of the Canadian.
Through reading this Guide, you now know to examine your personal attributes, decide which insulation will work best for your climate and working conditions, and how to get the perfect fit.
While you may not be able to play hockey or swig maple syrup as well as a Canadian, you can now stay warm like one. Congratulations!
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Hand Injury Rates are Reduced by 60% when using the right gloves.