Winter is long. But many people love it. Others hate it. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, one thing is certain: Cold hands don’t help. If you’re in the former group, frozen digits can hinder your enjoyment. If you’re in the latter group, cold hands may make you dislike it even more intensely.

Here’s the thing. Cold hands are not an inevitable byproduct of winter. The right glove or mitten helps you work and play outside when the going gets cold.

To select the best hand protection, consider the weather, the work, and the trade-off between warmth and dexterity. Lighter gloves and mittens provide more dexterity but less warmth. Heavier gloves and mittens provide more cold protection but less dexterity. It’s wise to own several different types of hand protection to take you from a chilly but otherwise cheerful sunny day to those that are soggy and dark or sunny and Arctic. No single type of hand protection can see you through all that, especially when you factor in dexterity.

Find quick info below on our top-performing gloves and mitts, then keep scrolling to read more about these and other options, plus some buying advice.

Mittens or Gloves?

We divided our list into Winter Work Mittens and Winter Work Gloves. If you know what you’re shopping for, skip to that section. If you don’t, read below to understand the two garments.

Mittens (or mitts, as they’re sometimes called) can keep your hands warm in the coldest weather. Broadly speaking, there are two types: those with a trigger finger or a claw configuration, and those without. The trigger finger is necessary for hunters, obviously, but also those operating nail guns or power tools like circular saws and chainsaws. For the most extreme cold, select a mitt with a removable liner or at least enough room to allow you to wear separate knit mittens or liners underneath.

Gloves provide dexterity that mitts don’t. Owning more than one type allows you to adapt to changing conditions. Plus, you can dry one pair after wearing them in soaking rain or snow and switch to a dry pair.

Materials and Construction

Mittens and gloves made from synthetic materials dry more quickly than those made from leather. However, leather is more resistant to wear. Goatskin is more supple than leather from cattle, and top-grain leather (the top layer taken from the hide) provides a little more texture for a better grip. Also, gloves are made from a wider variety of materials and make use of a wider variety of construction than mitts. Gloves from heavy leather offer more wear resistance and moderate cut resistance. Synthetic gloves that are woven specifically for cut resistance may have an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) cut-resistance rating of A3 (lower) to A5 (highest. Because these gloves are built from slippery synthetic materials, they often have a PVC rubber-like coating on the palm and fingers for increased grip.

Other features to look for, if you want added warmth, include insulation of any kind and an extended cuff to prevent heat leaking where your sleeve meets the glove or mitt. Velcro straps and bungee closures at the wrist keep even more heat from escaping. But beware: While a bulky glove sized to fit over a liner will offer more warmth, it sacrifices dexterity. Thicker, better-insulated gloves require more gripping force for you to hold a tool like a hammer, and this can cause you to tire more quickly.

How We Selected and Tested

We have decades of experience doing winter work while wearing gloves and mittens. In making these picks, we sought a range of performance, comfort, dexterity, durability, and warmth. We put on each of the gloves or mitts and ran through a battery of tests in which we swung a hammer and used small and large pliers, a ratchet wrench, and a cordless drill. We also shot a picture of our hand inside the glove or mitt using a Flir infrared camera. Gloves and mitts that showed more purple are warmer. Warm yellow indicated heat loss. Bright yellow to incandescent white-yellow meant maximum heat loss. We also included some promising options toward the bottom; we haven’t had a chance to test them yet, but they look to be good options.

Watch: Can your current gloves protect you from boiling water?

Winter Work Mittens


Give’r Frontier Mittens

Frontier Mittens

  • Rugged

  • Requires break in

The Give’r ads show people wearing the company’s gloves and mittens to pick up burning logs and plunging them into boiling water. We can’t vouch for those tests, but we can say that the Flir camera showed a nearly impeccable thermal profile. That’s thanks to a thick leather exterior and an interior sewed with a sophisticated multi-layer Hipora membrane coupled with Thinsulate insulation. The optional wax coating—which we recommend, by the way—helps the mitts shed water. A knit wrist band does provide a comfy seal where the Give’rs meet your shirt or coat. As to this mitt’s dexterity, we suspect it will improve with time or if you use the company’s recommended accelerated break-in method (heating the mitts in an oven for a couple of minutes at 200 degrees F.). We found the leather provided good grip on a hammer handle and also offered some help in manipulating a ratchet. As to using a cordless drill and pliers, don’t try it. You need a trigger finger mitt for those, we found.


SwedePro Chainsaw Mitts

Chain Saw Mitts

  • Chain-stop fabric in left mitt

  • Not very warm below 30 degrees F

We own a pair of these SwedePro chainsaw mittens and like them. They’re not as warm as heavily insulated mittens (they work down to about 30 degrees F or so), but they do provide good dexterity. For extra protection in cold weather, we slip wool liners into them (you have to size them a little large to do this). We also like them for using a circular saw in the cold. For added safety, there’s chain-stopping material sewn into the back of the left mitten; it’s a tough, synthetic warp-knitted material that, upon contact with a spinning chain, immediately winds itself into that chain, snarling it and the saw’s sprocket. The material’s high tensile strength and the winding action bring the chain to a stop, mitigating potential injuries. It’s difficult for your left hand to make contact with a chain on a modern saw because of the hand guard and chain break, but some people manage to do it anyway, as injury statistics bear out.


Vermont Glove Woodchopper’s Mittens

Woodchopper's Mittens
Vermont Glove Vermont Glove

  • Impeccable craftsmanship
  • Sturdy

  • Requires wool liner for warmth

The most dexterous mitt in our test is the Chopper’s model, built in Vermont out of goatskin with tough nylon thread and a webbed reinforced joint at the thumb. We would rate these gloves for cold (but not too cold) weather, comfortable down to somewhere in the 20s based on our experience with them outside. Of course, that depends on your degree of physical movement. Doing heavy vigorous work like shoveling snow, you can probably wear these to a much colder temperature. What really sets the Chopper’s apart is that they’re sized and shaped to fit a lightweight but very warm wool glove liner. If you buy extra liners, you’ll be assured of staying warmer in soggy conditions by switching to a dry liner—a handy feature if you also happen to have sweaty hands. By separating the liner from the mitten, the two dry more quickly.

Winter Work Gloves and Mittens Thermal Profile

As seen through the lens of our thermal Flir camera, gloves and mittens that show more purple are warmer. Warm yellow indicates heat loss. Bright yellow to incandescent white-yellow shows maximum heat loss.

Winter Work Gloves


Give’r 4 Season Gloves

4 Season Gloves

  • Warm
  • Rugged

  • Requires break in

Outside of a baseball mitt, this is nearly as heavy a leather glove as you’re going to find. It’s thick, impregnated with a wax finish (optional), and has a double-layer reinforcement at the thumb, palm, and finger tips. Cold protection is accomplished with a 40-gram insulated lining. All that makes the gloves so stiff when new that the manufacturer recommends accelerating the break-in process by heating them in a 200-degree oven for two minutes and then wearing them while doing work. The thermal profile of the Give’r is very good, revealing some thermal breakout at the index finger and the cuffs but otherwise quite uniform.


Superior Glove Dexterity

Superior Glove

  • Good grip

  • Not warm enough for extreme cold

This is a low-cost and semi-disposable cold-weather glove that’s great for wet winter work. It consists of three-part construction: a nylon shell, a rubberized PVC crinkle finish adhered to the palm and finger tips, and a fleece lining. For its low cost and thin insulation, its thermal profile wasn’t bad, but there’s no mistaking it for an extreme-weather product. What the glove does offer is the best dexterity in this test, which we appreciated when using our drill, pliers, hammer, and ratchet wrench.


Mechanix Wear FastFit Insulated

FastFit Insulated Gloves
Mechanix Wear

  • Light and comfortable

  • Light duty

This is another glove that does double duty or even triple duty. Wear it outside for a walk or when doing light work such as raking leaves. Mechanix Wear rates the glove as being capable down to 40 degrees F, and that aligns with our experience. But we also found that the synthetic fabric and close fit allows it to easily slide inside a baggy mitten, such as the SwedePro or the Choppers, to act as an effective liner. The thermal profile isn’t impressive, but the dexterity is, almost as good as bare hands. And it’s allegedly touchscreen-friendly, but our experience trying to operate a phone was uneven. Sometimes the glove worked, and other times it didn’t.

Untested Options


IronClad Tundra


  • Rated for extreme duty

This fully synthetic glove has a shell backed by 200-gram insulation, and a waterproof insert (like a glove within a glove) should keep your hands dry even in slushy weather. Though we haven’t tested these yet, we’ve worn IronClad gloves in the past and found them to be warm and dry. The glove also protects your hands with padding at the knuckles and reinforcing materials at the tips. The palms are lined with a coarse, high-traction fabric to help you hang on to the controls on the snow thrower or to the rope on your kid’s sled as the two of you go hurtling downhill.


Wells Lamont Cowhide Thinsulate

Cowhide Thinsulate
Wells Lamont

  • Reinforced palm

While we don’t have any experience with this insulated version of the Cowhide Thinsulate yet, we have logged several years of use on the uninsulated version. It’s one of the most durable work gloves we have ever owned, so we think the addition of insulation and a fleece lining can only make a good glove better–especially for winter wear. The insulated version uses the same cowhide exterior, which makes for a perfect glove material. It’s tough, extremely long wearing, and retains its shape as the years pass, only improving with age.