A lot of people think that gloves are gloves, but, then again, a lot of people aren't snowboarders. People who snowboard often will tell you that finding the right glove is very important. They might also tell you that it's not easy but, with a little bit of knowledge, the task becomes much simpler.
The first step in choosing the gloves that are right for you is deciding what you'll need; what will your hands be doing and what will the weather be like where you snowboard.
If you need a lot of warmth, there are many options. Fleece is probably the most popular form of insulation for snowboard gloves and mittens because of its light weight, its great warming ability and its quick drying. Although other materials are constantly being developed and they may be better than fleece in some ways, fleece is the standard. Usually, gloves with fleece insulation will have a mention of the weight of their pile. The heavier the fleece, the warmer it will be. The North Face and Outdoor research will be two brands you'll want to see here.
Down and wool are natural materials that can be used as insulation; they both offer great warmth, even when wet. Other materials, such as MicroLoft and PrimaLoft are great low weight insulators that will keep you as warm as fleece and have great moisture management abilities. PrimaLoft is a synthetic substitute for down. It is just as warm as down and is lighter than down in wet conditions. MicroLoft, like PrimaLoft, is a down substitute; its primary advantage is that it can be compressed better than down, but does not lose any of its warming properties.
For spring and summer skiing, you may need little or no warmth at all. In that case, there are neoprene gloves that will keep your hands warm in high winds but won't weigh you down. Neoprene snowboard gloves will keep you dry, will dry quickly, allow for great finger articulation and can enhance your grip because of their treated or rubberized palms.
Snowboard gloves and mitts wouldn't be doing their jobs if they let you get wet. The best protection from moisture is a pair of gloves with a durable water resistant finish or gloves with a Ventia™ shell. For extreme conditions, you'll want your snowboarding gloves to have fully taped seams to make sure that water doesn't creep in. If you'll be riding in lighter conditions, you'll only need critically taped seams.
If you don't think you'll need too much waterproofing, fleece gloves may be enough for you. Fleece dries quickly and keeps you warm even when it is a little damp. Some types of fleece, like polar fleece, are windproof and waterproof enough to keep you warm on dry, crisp days.
Dexterity and grip:
If you're going to need to be working with your hands and using tools, you'll need your snowboard gloves to provide good grip and finger articulation. If fine motor skills are going to be important, you can rule out mitts, unless you opt for mitts that give you the option of exposing your digits, like the Outdoor Research Index Mitts. Regular mitts, however, can often provide great grip because of the treated, rubber or leather palms.
The thinner the gloves, of course, the greater range of motion your fingers will have. If you'll be working in cold weather but cannot afford to sacrifice dexterity, the best option may be heavy snowboard gloves or snowboard mitts that have a removable fleece liner. That way, when you need to use your fingers, you can yank off the shell and then put it back on when you're finished.
Otherwise, thin fleece or neoprene gloves will offer the best dexterity. Thicker gloves or mitts usually have AlpenGrip™ or some other rubberized palm to make sure you have a good grip on tools, poles and ropes.
Popular brands you'll want to consider include The North Face and Burton. Both of these companies have years of experience in developing materials that will withstand the elements of nature. Outdoor Research gloves are some of the best on the market. Although they are a bit more expensive, they will be a lifetime investment. Don't forget, Altrec offers a generous return policy, so if they don't fit, we'll make sure you're taken care of.
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