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The Best Mountaineering Glove System

Keep Hands Warm with Liners and Gloves or Mittens

By Susan Joy Paul

Man moving up on ridge, Strichkogel, Gosaukamm, Austria
Hermann Erber/Look/Getty images The Best Mountaineering Glove System

A climber on the summit ridge of Denali or Mount McKinley in Alaska.

Photograph © Mike Powell/Getty Images Apa Sherpa reached the summit of Mount Everest for the 19th time in 2009.

You better have your glove system dialed in if you're going to climb Mt. Everest over 20 times like Apa Sherpa.

Photograph courtesy Apa Sherpa

It’s difficult in winter to keep your hands and fingers warm, especially when you’re climbing mountains or ice climbing up frozen waterfalls. Climbing requires a lot of digital dexterity—putting on crampons, tightening boot laces, taking photographs, and zipping and unzipping coats and packs. If it’s really cold out, it can be hard to do these mundane tasks without risking frostbite to your fingers and hands.

What’s the Best Glove System?

When it’s freezing cold, you can’t risk frostbite by taking off your gloves for even a few minutes. To keep warm and save your fingers from frostbite, use a good glove system to keep your hands and fingers warm. So the question is: What’s the best glove system to keep your hands warm?

Use a Glove Liner

Start with a glove liner that fits snugly, yet allows freedom of movement and good circulation to all your fingers. The glove material should retain its ability to retain warmth even when wet. You should be able to tie your boots, open your pack, and manipulate your climbing gear while wearing glove liners. Never take them off while you’re outside.

Add Gloves or Mittens

Next, add a warm mountaineering glove or mitten. Gloves offer greater dexterity, while mittens provide more warmth. Be sure to select the glove liners first, and then get insulated gloves or mittens that fit over them. Don’t buy liners that are too thin and inadequate because you first bought mountaineering gloves that are too snug and won’t accommodate a proper liner. Make sure the gloves and mittens have a leash that attaches to your wrist, so you won’t lose them if you take them off to manipulate gear while wearing your liners.

Also Bring Taped Mitts

Finally, be sure to use a pair of taped mitts—mittens made of wind-proof material with taped seams—when the weather turns cold and windy. Taped mitts are very thin and quite large because they fit over your liners and gloves or mittens. They provide an extra layer of insulating air and prevent wind from entering your glove system. Store the taped mitts in your pack and add to your glove system as needed. They should also have leashes that attach to your wrists —a strong gale can tear a mitt from your hands, leaving you in a dangerous situation. Use leashes, they could save your hands.

Buy a Glove System for Climbing

Glove Liners
Outdoor Research PL 400 Gloves
Black Diamond Glove Liners
Seirus Superliner Gloves

Mountaineering Gloves and Mittens
Outdoor Research Insulated Gloves and Mittens
Black Diamond Gloves and Mittens
Marmot Genesis Glove

Taped Mittens
Outdoor Research Endeavor Taped Mittens
REI Taped Mittens
Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Mittens

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