Which pair of extreme-cold-weather gloves should I choose?

How to choose a pair of extreme-cold-weather gloves

Are you planning a hike in extreme temperatures? We can help you choose a pair of cold-weather gloves to keep you warm.

Many sports enthusiasts enjoy hiking and trekking. These activities give you the chance to discover the world while doing something that is really beneficial for your body. For experienced hikers and trekkers – those who know no limits – these activities can be enjoyed in all seasons, regardless of the weather conditions. During periods of extreme cold, you will need to adjust your equipment to ensure that you stay nice and warm while you walk. One essential item for winter is a pair of extreme-cold-weather gloves, an accessory you won't want to do without.

Which pair of extreme-cold-weather gloves should I choose?

Why is it important to choose your extreme-cold-weather gloves carefully?

Whether you're climbing to higher altitudes or hiking on trails closer to home, you may be faced with exceptionally low temperatures. If this is the case, you need to be well equipped so that you don't suffer the consequences of the extreme cold. When temperatures drop below five degrees, we are exposed to a range of problems, including a loss of dexterity and musculoskeletal disorders. You should also note that, as our extremities are particularly sensitive, it is also possible to suffer from chilblains or cracks to the skin, which can be particularly painful.

In order to protect yourself from potential injuries caused by the extreme cold, you need a pair of suitable gloves so that you can stay nice and warm while you hike or trek. It is certainly common to really feel the cold on our hands, feet and head. And so, wearing gloves will provide you with some comfort, thanks to their much-appreciated warmth.

What factors should you consider when choosing your extreme-cold-weather gloves?

When choosing your extreme-cold-weather gloves, it's important to take into account certain factors, to ensure you can hike in excellent conditions. In particular, there are three main technical features, which we outline here to help you make the right choice for your needs.

- Thermal insulation: Of course, one of the first features to look out for when you're choosing extreme-cold-weather gloves is thermal insulation. The gloves that you choose must keep your hands warm in all circumstances, whatever the outside temperature may be. The climate will determine whether you choose a pair with more or less insulation. You either want to avoid to the risk of injury or just the unpleasant feeling of being cold. Most pairs of cold-weather gloves have a thermal insulation ranking of between 1 and 5 that is based on outside temperatures. This can help you to choose the right gloves for your needs.

- Waterproof: When temperatures are particularly low, this can also be an indication of bad weather conditions, such as downpours or snow. In this case, it's essential that your gloves are extremely waterproof. In fact, even if your gloves have really good thermal insulation, it will be difficult to keep your hands warm if they are wet.

The waterproof quality of your gloves is directly linked to the material from which they are made. And so, a distinction must be made between water-repellent and waterproof gloves. It's worth noting that water-repellent gloves won't protect you in heavy downpours or snowfalls, whereas waterproof gloves effectively keep out water.

- Windproof: In addition to rain and snow, the wind can also be a real nuisance when you set out on a hike, whether it’s short or one that lasts for several hours. You'll notice that some models of extreme-cold-weather gloves explicitly state that they are windproof, so you can be sure you’ll have warm hands whatever the wind speed and outside temperature.

Which pair of extreme-cold-weather gloves should I choose?

Extreme-cold-weather gloves: focus on practicality

If you love the mountains, and hiking in particular, gloves are an essential accessory if you want to hike in the winter as well as the summer. However, wearing gloves when you're out and about can be uncomfortable, as you don't always have the freedom of movement you need, especially when you opt for thicker models. Although hiking mainly requires you to use your legs, you may also need to use your hands, in which case your gloves should give you all the mobility you need.

We have several options available that provide you with both comfort and practicality. One option is a thin, warm pair of gloves, so that you can use your hands whenever you need to. Another option, as we will see below, is a pair of multi-layered gloves, which many hikers prefer because of their versatility.

What are the different types of gloves?

To help you choose the pair of extreme-cold-weather gloves that are best suited to your needs, you need to know what types of gloves are available. We make a distinction between gloves and mittens, and below, we outline the advantages and disadvantages of both of them.

- Mittens: Favoured by some hikers, the main advantage of mittens is that they provide excellent thermal insulation, giving you a real feeling of warmth. They are ideal for activities that don’t require much use of your hands, such as hiking, and therefore they could be an interesting alternative. The disadvantage of mittens is that they significantly limit your freedom of movement because four of your fingers are grouped together in the same area. However, your thumb is separate, and so you’ll still be able to use your hands a little.

- Gloves: Unlike mittens, gloves give you greater freedom of movement, as they have individual pockets for each finger. You can therefore carry out most of the movements required, without too much difficulty. On the other hand, they will not keep your hands as warm as mittens would.

How to choose a pair of extreme-cold-weather gloves: the material

To make sure your hands feel really warm in all weathers, it's important to choose the right material for your extreme-cold-weather gloves. We have a look at two of the main fabrics chosen by hikers: Merino wool and synthetic material.

- Merino wool: Known for its warming properties, Merino wool comes from sheep reared in South America, Australia and New Zealand, which proves that it is resistant to extreme temperatures. Merino wool is a top-of-the-range fabric, and it has many benefits for hikers. One of the main benefits is its thermo-regulating properties, so you can enjoy a real feeling of warmth on long winter hikes. Merino wool is also fast-drying, soft and comfortable to wear.

- Synthetic material: Synthetic materials are widely used in the manufacture of gloves, especially ski gloves, and they have many beneficial properties. Whether your gloves are made from nylon or polyester, they will provide you with good protection against moisture, which can be useful on winter hikes. Synthetic materials are also more affordable.

As a general rule, if you only hike occasionally, you should opt for gloves made of synthetic materials. However, if you’re a hiking enthusiast, it's best to opt for Merino wool gloves.

Which pair of extreme-cold-weather gloves should I choose?

What is multi-layering for gloves?

It is worth mentioning multi-layering, which can be useful for your gloves, just as it is for your hiking clothes. This involves wearing inner gloves underneath your gloves. This technique provides two major benefits. First of all, you'll feel really warm, which is your main objective when it is extremely cold. You can choose wool or silk inner gloves to keep your hands as warm as possible.

Secondly, wearing a pair of inner gloves also enables you to put on thicker, warmer gloves that you can take off and put back on as and when you like. You can carry out various tasks and your hands will stay warm thanks to the inner gloves. You can then put your gloves back on when you're finished. For example, you might want to take a photo or make a phone call. These actions require a certain level of agility that not all gloves allow.

How to choose a pair of extreme-cold-weather gloves: the length

Finally, when choosing your extreme-cold-weather gloves, you should also think about how long they are. Shorter gloves can easily be slipped under your sleeves, which is really practical. However, they will be slightly more complicated to remove and replace; an inconvenience if you need to remove your gloves a lot. Long gloves, on the other hand, are designed to be worn over your sleeves, which makes them easier to take off and put on. They also offer better protection against snow and rain.

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