PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson
January 17, 2017

Sometimes it’s hard to believe how cold temperatures can get during winters in the northern United States. Temperatures frequently hover around 0 degrees F in January and often dip below zero, sometimes by as much as 20 degrees. That’s a far cry from the hot temperatures of summer, which can hit 90 F on a hot day; that’s a swing of 110 degrees F in just six months!

Needless to say, it’s impossible to get any outdoor work done in cold weather without a good pair of gloves. I am particularly sensitive to cold hands, and as a result I’ve experimented with many different types of gloves (and combinations of gloves!) looking for the type that works best in the coldest weather.

Truth be told, I have yet to find a single pair of “magic gloves” that are perfect for everything, but I have gained some insight and opinions on various types of gloves. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect pair!

1. Ordinary Gloves Don’t Work in Cold Weather

The gloves that serve you perfectly during the summer and hold up through months of hard work are rarely ideal for cold temperatures. A good pair of leather gloves might be perfect for working in the garden, but they’re not thick enough or warm enough for cold weather, and this will only become more pronounced if the gloves get wet from water or snow.

2. Waterproof Layers Keep You Dry

I’m a very big fan of gloves that have a waterproof layer embedded inside (these are a good example), which means that no matter how wet your gloves get on the outside, your hands will stay dry inside. This can be a huge deal if you need to work with water, such as filling buckets for livestock, or if the weather is wet or snowy.

However, because these gloves are composed of multiple layers of fabric in addition to the waterproof layer, they can be bulky and inappropriate for handling small objects that require careful finger movements and lots of finesse. In other words, you might find it hard to use small tools with gloves like these.

3. Thinsulate Keeps You Warm

Thinsulate, a synthetic fiber used for insulation, has been around for nearly 40 years and is perfect for making warm gloves. As its name implies, Thinsulate is a thin but powerful insulator, keeping your hands warm without being too large or cumbersome.

4. Multiple Pairs Of Gloves Can Work In A Pinch

If for some reason you find yourself ill-prepared for cold weather and without a pair of good gloves, you might be able to make do by wearing a couple pairs of gloves at the same time. For example, a pair of soft knit gloves worn underneath a pair of tougher leather gloves can be a nice and warm combination. Keep in mind, though, getting them on and off requires some effort—they refuse to slide on as a single unit!—and the thickness of two gloves together makes it difficult to handle small objects.

5. Good Gloves Aren’t Cheap

In the case of some products, “more expensive” doesn’t necessarily mean “better quality,” but I’ve found that gloves tend to be an exception. A quality pair of gloves comes with an appropriate price tag, so if you’re going to be doing a lot of work in cold weather, don’t skimp on your gloves—it’s better to spend more on a warm pair than save a few dollars and be cold all winter.


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