Finding the right gloves

Here at Mountain Equipment, like so many climbers and mountaineers, we’re glove-obsessed. One of the reasons we really care about gloves is because they are absolutely vital; cold hands quickly become useless. Choosing which gloves to buy can seem like a daunting process. But it need not be.

This buying guide aims to highlight the key aspects of glove design, what pair might be best for your needs, specific features of Mountain Equipment gloves, and how to care for your gloves in the long term.

What are the best gloves for...?
Searching for the ideal pair of winter climbing gloves, or the perfect gloves system for winter mountaineering or summer trekking? Read our blog for expert advice about the ideal gloves for your specific needs.
Style is important
Depending on whether you are climbing, mountaineering or skiing, your gloves need different attributes. Dexterity is really important to a climber; for a mountaineer it’s about adaptability; and for a skier breathability is key. Consider also the type of wrist closure – do you want the glove to go under or over your jacket cuff, and do you want a cinch option or do you want a gauntlet with a long wrist? This is often down to personal preference. Do you prefer gloves or mitts? Gloves are more dextrous but less warm than mitts. Small features can be important too, for example climbers might look for carry loops to attach their gloves to karabiners.
Warmer isn't always better
Where are you going, and therefore how warm do you need the gloves to be? Thicker gloves are almost always warmer than thin ones, and mitts are usually warmer still. Lightweight gloves are usually sufficient when working hard even when it’s cold, but you may prefer something warmer if moving slowly, if you have poor circulation, or if it’s absolutely freezing. Remember that you are trying to keep your hands comfortable, not just hot, as overheating and sweating hands aren’t pleasant and can lead to damp gloves which don’t insulate well. This is why having both a thin pair and a thick pair of gloves with you is a good combination.
There are advantages to waterproof gloves
Gloves that feature a GORE-TEX® or Drilite® membrane are waterproof. In wet and cold conditions this is essential, but it can make the gloves less breathable and slower to dry if they do get wet inside. Sometimes this is inevitable due to water or snow getting in through the cuff or having to put on the glove with wet hands. Gloves without a waterproof membrane will get damp in wet conditions but tend to dry quickly and some people like their simplicity. In cold and dry weather they have advantages over waterproof gloves.
Dave MacLeod's guide to winter gloves
There are a number of factors to consider when making a glove purchase for a specific activity. With this in mind, we’ve called upon Dave MacLeod, Pro-Team athlete and fellow glove obsessive, to impart some words of advice to help winter climbers everywhere to make an informed decision when it comes to glove choice this season, in this guide to climbing gloves.

Mountain Equipment Gloves Features Explained

Depending on whether you are climbing, mountaineering or skiing, your gloves might need different features.

Gloves Care Guide

Can my gloves be machine washed?

Fleece gloves can be machine washed according to the care label, but gloves with leather components should be hand-washed in lukewarm soapy water, and only when absolutely necessary. Use soap flakes or a specialist outdoor cleaning product to do this, and rinse very thoroughly. If they are really dirty they can be machine-washed, but we don’t recommend this as it will reduce the lifetime of the product.

How should I dry my gloves?

Fleece Gloves should be dried according to the care label and can withstand moderate direct heat. Gloves with leather components should be dried naturally away from direct heat whenever possible, which means not on radiators, in front of open fires, and not in a tumble drier or scorching-hot drying room (though most drying rooms are fine). Regular exposure to direct heat can result in cracks in the leather. However, we are well aware that sometimes the Gloves you must use the next day are soaked, and relatively high heat is the only way to dry them fast enough. If this is the case then thoroughly wring out the gloves to get excess moisture out, shape them into a hand shape while they dry, and try to remove them from the heat source as soon as they are dry. Do not expose leather Gloves to heat sources hotter than your hand can comfortably cope with: if it’s too hot for your skin then it probably is for the leather too.

The leather on my gloves is cracked - What can I do?

If the leather on your Gloves has started to crack or has got rough and hard then chances are it has got wet and been dried multiple times, or has come under a lot of abuse. To prolong the life of the leather, rub wax into the Gloves, just as you would with a pair of leather boots. Specialist Glove Waxes are best, though normal water resistant leather boot wax is also suitable.