Mittens vs Gloves: Which is Better?

No matter what winter sport you like to do the most, you need to keep your hands warm and protected from the snow, wind, and cold. Chilly fingers are an easy way to ruin an otherwise amazing day on the mountain. 

I’ve been snowboarding for most of my life and have plenty of experience with many different styles of mittens and gloves. I used both of them often and know what they both have to offer for skiers and snowboarders. 

In this post, I’ll take a direct look and mittens versus gloves. We’ll see if one of them is better for skiing and snowboarding. Spoiler alert – I use both in different situations and recommend you do too. 

Warm up those fingers, and let’s get started. 

Initial Considerations

Both gloves and mittens will keep your hands warm and protected from the winter environment when you are out skiing or snowboarding. The choice in which to use can be a personal preference, but I’ll also highlight some benefits of one over the other below. 

If you only have gloves or only have mittens, it doesn’t matter what you wear. If they keep your hands warm and dry while providing enough comfort to last all day, they work. You don’t need to run out and get a new pair if what you have seems to work.

Mittens vs Gloves: Factors in the Debate

Ok, let’s get started with the competition between gloves and mittens. Well, it’s not really a competition, but it is a question that I hear a lot from my snowboard students. The factors below should help you figure out which option is best for your preferences. 


The first primary consideration for any glove or mitten option is waterproofing. You need to keep your hands dry for them to stay warm. If you are looking at a glove or mitten that isn’t fully waterproof – don’t use them for skiing or snowboarding. 

The Winner: Draw

Both gloves and mittens can offer excellent waterproofing capabilities, as long as they are constructed out of high-quality waterproof material. Look for GORE-TEX or treated leather options. 


In addition to keeping your hands dry, they also need to stay warm. This is provided by insulation that helps block out wind and cold. Generally, the thicker the insulation, the warmer the gloves or mittens will be. 

The Winner: Mittens

Mittens are the warmer option to choose from. If you struggle with cold hands and fingers or ski or ride in really cold conditions, mittens are my recommended option. Heavily insulated gloves can work, but mittens will keep your hands warmer by design. 

Because your fingers physically touch one another while wearing mittens, you have body heat on your side. This natural benefit lets your fingers warm each other up while being well-insulated inside. Mittens are almost always the warmer option. 


Dexterity means how well you can use your hands while wearing gloves or mittens. If you want to reach into your pockets, access your phone, or pull the straps on your bindings, you’ll want a dexterous option. 

The Winner: Gloves

Gloves allow for more agility and freedom of movement than mittens. This is because you can move each finger separately from one another. Mittens are more like having a webbed hand, and you can still do some basic grabbing but are limited. 

If you need extra grip to get your bindings set up right or mess around with your phone often while you ride, gloves are probably the better choice to go with. Most skiers and snowboarders like this added flexibility. 


Any glove or mitten model you choose will only work if it stays together and doesn’t wear out. If you get a hole or tear in them, their performance will be severely compromised. That’s why durability is another critical concern between the two. 

The Winner: Draw

Durability is more a result of quality construction and not a difference between gloves and mittens themselves. They can both be durable or durable, depending on the brand and what they are made out of. 

Be sure to look for gloves and mittens with a robust construction featuring sealed seams, durable synthetic, and natural fibers. Reading reviews can help you determine if a product is strong and durable. 

Should I Wear Gloves or Mittens? 

My honest answer is that you should have a pair of each. I like to wear gloves when conditions are warmer because they give me more flexibility and dexterity. And I have a really warm pair of mittens to use when the temperature gets really cold. 

If you get a high-quality set of each, you’ll be set for many seasons of warm-handed riding or skiing. You might find that you have a preference and like wearing one style over the other, but this can be different for everyone.    

If you only want to get a single set, I would say go with mittens if you are worried about your hands getting cold. Go with gloves if you want more dexterity and flexibility to grab and grip things. They both do the job as long as they are a high-quality option. 

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Here are some quick answers to a few commonly asked questions relating to mittens and gloves for skiing and snowboarding. 

Is there a difference between ski gloves and snowboard gloves?

Not really. The only main difference between ski gloves and snowboard gloves is branding. You can use any winter glove for both sports, and they are not exclusive to one over another. However, different models might have features you prefer. 

Which is better gloves or mittens?

On most days, I wear gloves. They are more dextrous and flexible. But when conditions get really cold, mittens will provide you with more warmth and protection from the elements. It’s a good idea to have both to match the conditions you are skiing or snowboarding in. 

What gloves should I wear for snowboarding?

Check out this list of the best snowboarding gloves to get a good idea of what I recommend you wear when riding. There are many options out there; just make sure they are fully waterproof and durable enough to last.  

Do you need gloves for skiing?

Yes, you do. Wearing gloves is a must for any skier or snowboarder. Without them, your fingers and hands will get cold quickly, and you can get frostbite. Even on warmer days, you always need to wear gloves or some sort of hand protection. 

Final Thoughts

Mittens and gloves are essential items for skiing and snowboarding. You might like one of these over the other for fit and feel. It really doesn’t matter which you choose, just make sure they will keep your hands warm and dry while you’re out in the snow. 

About Lorraine
I'm a certified snowboard instructor. My first experience with snowboarding occurred at an indoor resort. One run had me hooked, and it has turned into a lifelong passion ever since then. I'm here to share with you some of the tips and advice I have learned along the way.

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