In a winter sports environment, ski gloves are possibly the most important garment of clothing that you will own.
Bodily extremities like hands and feet are most susceptible to the cold and as some of the main arteries pass through the wrists it is essential to protect this area as much as possible.
The first thing to determine is your hand size as gloves that are too small will feel uncomfortable and gloves that are too large will inhibit your grip on the ski poles.
Like most things you pay for quality and with gloves it is worth investing in the best possible set you can afford.
Insulation is an essential part of the glove and the best insulation will be warm without being too bulky. This must not be confused with a ‘spring’ glove, which will be thinner and designed for spring like conditions.
Always ask for advice on the specific purpose the glove is designed for.
Mittens are popular for people who suffer from cold hands in conditions that are more extreme than the average. When the fingers are together in the same area they create a warmer environment than single fingered gloves. The disadvantage with mittens is that the feeling and grip on the ski poles is not as acute as with gloves, so professional skiers and racers would generally not use mittens at all.
There is a compromise between a glove and a mitten by ‘Hestra’ (Swedish glove makers) which holds three fingers, separate index finger and a thumb. This provides both extra warmth whilst still keeping the dexterity of a glove. It also uses high quality leather on the outside as well as Gore-Tex waterproof technology to prevent any water leakage. This glove is called ‘Hestra Army Leather Gore-Tex XCR and is available from www.hestragloves.com).
It is important that your gloves are waterproof as well as warm. Waterproof and breathable fabrics that are used in ski jackets, are also used in gloves (for example; Gore-Tex as in the Hestra above) and the best brands will tape up the seams to prevent any water leakage. Good quality leather gloves can also provide enough water resistance in persistent damp conditions as long as they are looked after properly, with special oil coating.
Glove linings can also be used in colder conditions to provide extra warmth. These are typically made from fleece or polyester materials or sometimes silk. A thin lining made from silk can be useful if you need to take your outer gloves off for any reason but still want some protection from the cold.
My personal favourite brand of glove is ‘Hestra’. This is a Swedish manufacturer specialising in the production of high quality gloves for skiing and mountain biking. Due to the cold climate in Sweden, these gloves have been designed to tackle the most extreme conditions. They are also comfortable, technically well made and last along time. I have no other motive to promote Hestra gloves other than I like and use them!
If you can afford it buy two pairs of gloves or even a pair of mittens and a pair of gloves. One should be designed for very cold conditions and the other for average skiing weather. It is also good to carry a spare pair of gloves with you, in your back pack. So if one pair becomes wet through, you can change them over for the dry set.
Next time…. I will discuss another essential item of skiing clothing, Ski Socks.
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