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How Do Cold Weather Gloves Work?

by Joe Geng on February 10, 2016

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Need to stay warm outside this winter? You need smarter cold weather gloves.
If you’ve worked outdoors for any length of time, you’ve probably searched high and low for the best that cold weather gloves have to offer. Over time, you’ve probably discovered that good performance doesn’t mean thicker and thicker gloves. And water-tight hand protection that locks in sweat isn’t any good, either.

So what does it take to build a great glove? Well, there’s a bit of science behind the perfect cold weather varieties. Here’s how it works:

1. It’s All About That Base: Wick Away Water

With any cold weather gloves, it’s all about layering, and layering begins with the base. The base layer is the warmest and the best gloves wick away moisture. Although snow and rain are real winter hazards, sweat is, too.

If there’s anything worse than cold hands, it has to be cold, wet hands. Water assists in the loss of body heat. So the longer you keep hands dry, the warmer they’ll stay.


Insulation is like setting a smart thermostat for your hands.

2. It’s Like a Heat Wave: High-Tech Insulation

Conserving the heat that you’ve got is critical to staying comfortable. That’s where the next layer – insulation – comes in. Insulation doesn’t necessarily make you warmer; it keeps you warm by preventing the warmth from escaping.

The best type of insulation is Thinsulate®. It helps preserve body heat and it’s quick drying, and it’s also lightweight. Other linings, such as foam and jersey, and acrylic fleece BOA, also keep you warm.

3. Gimme Shelter: Waterproof Shell


The outermost layer of cold weather gloves is the shell. There’s a lot that goes into a protective shell, and good performance might mean different things to different people – depending on the task at hand. For example, some people need a shell that’s entirely waterproof. If your hands are around a lot of water while you’re at work, this might make the most sense for you.

That being said, some workers are more in need of gloves with good breathability. With a high-tech shell, you get fantastic breathability plus water resistance. Some gloves are waterproof only at the palms, but have a breathable back. This is great if your hands tend to sweat, and you need to help the lining dry quicker.

Mittens are another idea for people who work in really cold areas. The layering technology is the same as with other cold-weather gloves: a water-wicking base, insulation, and a great shell. But because the fingers are enclosed together instead of separate, they stay warmer. Mitts might not be ideal for everyone, but one-finger mitts make them a possibility for more people. This gives you a range of motion for your thumb and first finger, while the rest of your fingers stay together.

Staying warm and dry in brutally cold weather has been the pursuit of many workers since cold became, well, cold. There’s more to it than finding heavier and heavier gloves. Fully waterproof isn’t always the best choice, either.

Your work style and job dictate a lot of what you need. As long as you “Don’t Stop Believing” in moisture-wicking, insulation, and protection against rain and snow, you’re on the right track.

Want a tried and tested pair of cold weather gloves that offer all three? Why not request a pair of these babies? They’ll keep your hands both warm – and dry – for hours!

Not quite what you’re looking for? Browse our winter and cold weather gloves section to find your next perfect pair.

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