Ski mittens like the Hestra Heli Mitt and are typically warmer than ski gloves since less surface area is exposed to the elements, and fingers stay warmer when kept together through body heat and movement. However, gloves provide significantly more dexterity. In most cases, you may have to take mittens off to perform tasks that gloves can do without any issue. But, you may need to get a more heavily insulated product, like to perform as well in the warmth category as a thinner ski mitten.
If you ski in dry climates like Colorado or Utah, down gloves are an option (although you will have a hard time finding them). It is the world’s best insulator for the weight, and provided your gloves have a waterproof shell, the risk is relatively low that the down will become inundated with water. However, small differences in weight aren’t much of an issue when choosing ski gloves and the associated risks of losing your insulation are high. For these reasons, synthetics make the most sense and therefore dominate the industry.
||How to Choose Ski Gloves
by Ian Nicholson
Located between the shell material and insulation is a waterproof membrane or insert. Gore-Tex offers the best combination of waterproofing and breathability on the market. Cheaper gloves often use a non-Gore-Tex insert of varying names (BDry, C-Zone, Dryride, MemBrain, etc.) and degrees of efficiency. Keep in mind that if you choose a cheaper ski glove in the $50 range, you can expect good waterproofing but breathability is where you'll really notice the difference. When your hand gets sweaty, moisture gets trapped and doesn't have a good way to exit the glove. Entry-level gloves can be fine for those who ski shorter sessions at the resort and frequently air them out, but serious skiers will want a serious glove to stay comfortable throughout the day.
The majority of high-end gloves use PrimaLoft insulation, a synthetic microfiber known for its superior warmth-to-weight and ability to retain loft when wet (it’s called “synthetic down” for a reason). Given that skiing is as inherently prone to contact with moisture as any land-based activity, going with a performance synthetic like PrimaLoft makes a lot of sense. Premium ski gloves like the new Arc’teryx Lithic and use PrimaLoft to great success.