Ski gloves don’t need to cost more—oh, screw it, they shouldn’t cost more—than a lift ticket. While the highest-end ski gloves are works of art that push technology, dexterity, fit, style—and, well, price—to the limit, the bottom line is simple: they won’t help you ski any better.
Years ago, I worked at a reputable ski and climbing shop in Jackson, Wyoming. One day, a co-worker of mine was answering questions for a customer who assured him he wanted the “newest, top-of-the line” ski glove. At the rack, the customer was holding a pair that cost $190, thinking they were the ticket to bliss, but my co-worker (who wasn’t long for the job) disabused him of this notion.
“You don’t want these,” he said. “What you want is to buy this $7 jar of waterproofing wax, then go to the Mini-mart and buy this brand of work gloves. They cost about $15. Buy two pair and save yourself $153.”
The customer eyes widened, his jaw slightly slack; he couldn’t believe his ears (neither could the store manager who was watching the conversation from the balcony, his blood boiling). The customer grabbed the wax, thanked the employee, marched to the cashier, and left with a smile on his face.
While this was an extreme case, the point of the matter is simple. You don’t have to break the bank to find gloves that will serve your needs. Many top brands make exceptional ski and snowboard gloves that satisfy style, fit and longevity. The craftsmanship is there, as are the materials—quality leather, waterproof/breathable fabrics and insulation—and you can get them for $75 or less.
Black Diamond Spy Glove
Streamlined with a minimal compression molded cuff, the svelte goat leather-palmed Spy glove uses BDry® waterproof inserts to keep melting snow from chilling your digits. The fixed fleece lining and stretchy shell fabric work in concert to create a dexterous glove that’s crafted to hold poles or ice tools, and isn’t short on warmth for moderate temps down to 20ºF.
Outdoor Research Revolution Glove
The most robust glove in the lot, the Revolution is a fully waterproof/breathable ski glove for deep winter conditions. The Enduraloft® insulation is lightweight but warm for a glove that’s considered ergonomic in colder conditions (e.g. not too swollen from bulk). The leather palm breaks in quickly, and the medium gauntlet can easily be worn over or under your jacket cuff. The artciulated wrists save excess material and allows more natural movement when gripping poles or performing chores in the bitter cold.
Marmot Caldera Glove
Simple, cozy and supple, the Caldera is an everyday ski glove with high-loft fleece lining, a short, pull-tab gauntlet and safety leash. Using Marmot’s proprietary MemBrain® insert, the Caldera can battle wind and water, all the while allowing sweat and water vapor to escape, so your hands stay warm. The Falcon articulated grip is designed to contour with a ski pole, and the felt nose wipe on the thumb is a sublte nod to cold weather practicality.
Kombi Exodus Glove
The GoreTex®-lined Exodus is filled with Primaloft® insulation for a seriously advanced glove in an affordable package. The palm is made with water-repellent goatskin leather for a close-to-skin feel when gripping poles or adjusting boots and bindings. The low-profile elastic wristing hugs your hands for a snug fit, and the dual pull gauntlet closure is a cinch to fasten and loosen.
Kinco 901 Ski Glove
This is the workingman’s tool. Patrollers, guides and all sorts of on-mountain employees know the virtue of the Kinco ski glove. Durable, moderately warm and easily replaceable, the 901 is all pigskin, (which breathes a bit), with reinforced palm and stretchy wrist gasket. The leather naturally conforms to your hand over time, creating a custom fit that’s all you. Double HeatKeep® with thermal lining keeps hands warm even when temps drop into the teens. Easily saturated in wet weather, though, the Kinco has an ally in Sno-Seal, the $7 waterproofing wax (8oz canister) that works just as well with other leather-palmed ski gloves.