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Difference Between Gloves And Mittens: When to Use Them?

Gloves vs Mittens, which one to use for snowboarding, skiing or in cold weather? Is mitten good for toddlers? Know the difference between gloves & mittens & when to use them here.

gloves vs mittens differences

Have you ever wondered what makes it so difficult to find the perfect protective gear for your hands? Well, if not, this blog will help you understand. Choosing the right gear to protect you from the freezing cold during winter is never an undemanding job. This happens mostly because a good number of people don’t know how to differentiate between various gears available in the market. 

Again, these gears have different materials, which makes it even more confusing, especially when these materials look similar in a way. To keep the hands warm, there are two distinct gears, i.e., gloves and mittens. To help you get the clarity on each one of them, let us begin. 

What are Gloves?

glove is a piece of clothing used to cover the entire hand. Gloves have an opening for each finger, meaning that when wearing them, each finger goes into a separate sheath. Each independent sheath protects the fingers and keeps the entire hand warm. 

Gloves come in many types, and it’s possible to find others that don’t resemble gloves. On such ones, the fingers go into one sheath or pocket, making them fingerless gloves.


Because they have an opening for fingers but no sheath for each separate finger. Gloves work by enabling the users to accomplish simple and even complex tasks that require fine finger agility. 

Unlike other types of protective clothing, gloves work to ensure maximum utility and usability, two main purposes that have never changed since the glove’s invention.

What are Mittens?

Mittens can be mistaken for gloves but are different. The only distinction between them and gloves is the fact that they have a separate sheath for the thumb while the rest of the fingers remain in contact with each other. 

This means that the mittens have a compartment that keeps the four fingers together, separating the thumb. Therefore, this makes mittens better for cold weather protection when compared to gloves. 

Gloves vs Mittens: Difference between Gloves & Mittens

There are many ways in which gloves and mittens can be compared. However, the main difference between gloves and mittens is the fact that the former has separate openings for each finger, while the latter only has a separate sheath for the thumb.

Does the difference above sound enough?

Well then, if not, the points below will offer additional information on what makes these two gears distinct. 

1. Materials

Gloves come in different shapes and sizes and the use. This gives manufacturers a variety of materials to choose from when making them. Gloves people use in Winter are from materials like cotton, leather, and wool. 

Others used in various places like hospitals, kitchens, and paintings contain latex, polyester, nylon, polyurethane, and polypropylene. 

Again, if the gloves are waterproof, as they have a waterproof breathable material to protect hands from ice, snow, wind, and water. Those used in heavy-duty activities have special material that reinforces firm grip when holding, hence increasing durability. 

Also, they have rubber, leather, PVC, and silicon, which are all abrasion-resistant materials. To ensure the gloves are warm, manufacturers use high-tech materials like 3M Thinsulate, Thermal R, Kevlar, and Polyester. These materials sometimes work in combination with wool to produce a great gear that is an excellent insulator for heat.

Materials used in the making of mittens don’t differ that much from the ones used in gloves. Materials such as polyester, polyurethane, nylon are very essential in the manufacturing of mittens.

Other additional materials like wool, leather, cotton, and others are also used to make mittens. Sometimes mittens have some vulnerable parts and therefore, manufacturers prefer the latter materials to enhance reinforcement. This reinforcement makes mittens the best tools for snow and mountain climbing. 

Just like gloves, some mittens contain lightweight fibers that offer high degree insulation, protecting the hands from cold and water. Examples of synthetic materials used are PrimaLoft, Thermaco, thermal-R, and Kevlar etc. 

The other ones are natural fibers which are wool from Merino sheep for proper warmth and dexterity. These materials determine the price of mittens as well because some of them, like the Merino sheep’s wool, is of quite high value. 

Therefore, when buying mittens, we recommend you prefer quality over quantity. This is because high-quality mittens are expensive and more durable when compared to cheap ones.

2. Ease of Hand Movement

When performing various activities, our experts recommend gloves. This is because gloves have separate openings to fit each finger. They also cover the entire hand, creating comfort, warmth, and a tight grip, hence providing excellent versatility. 

Mittens don’t have separate openings for other fingers, apart from the thumb. This makes it difficult to move fingers because of the lack of a firm grip. Also, that four fingers are in close contact while enclosed into a mitten, they can sweat easily, reducing the ability to grip properly. 

3. Breathability

When buying gloves, it’s important to consider breathability. Breathability is important because it determines how well a glove is versatile regarding the environmental temperature. We can all agree that mittens are warmer because they restrict hand movement. 

This traps a layer of warmth in between fingers and hence is not good in terms of breathability. Contrary, gloves permit the free movement of fingers and give a firm grip. Because gloves rarely become damp because of moisture, they have the highest breathability capacity. 

4. Water Resistance and Wind Proof

When buying these two gears, water-resistance and wind-proofing are critical factors to put into consideration. For people who enjoy outdoor activities like snowboarding, mountain climbing, and skiing, choosing water-resistant gloves or mittens is key. 

These gears contain different degrees of water resistance depending on the activity that someone prefers. For example, if you are going mountain climbing, we’d recommend you to choose 100% water-resistant gear. 

Both mittens and gloves have equal water resistance as they share similar waterproof materials. Some gloves and mittens usually use Gore-Tex materials, which allow moisture from the hand to escape while blocking wind and moisture from outside. 

Depending on the types of gloves or mittens you buy, they can either be partially or fully both wind and waterproof. However, some may have wind-resistant materials but are few, as the ones available are expensive. 

So, mittens are good in terms of wind resistance but water resistance, both mittens, and gloves are good, depending on the material. This means that if a glove has a higher rate of breathability, it’ll keep your hands dry and free of moisture. 

Many work gloves come with latex or nitrile outer coating to make them waterproof to some extent. If you are involved in activities that require completely water tight gloves, you need to find gloves made with neoprene, nitrile, polyester, polar fleece materials.

5. Warmth

Are mittens warmer than gloves? Again, who enjoys having freezing hands during winter? No one, of course! This is the reason warmth is an important factor when buying either winter gloves or mittens. 

Mittens are warmer than gloves, as some people argue. I know you may wonder why, especially if you have used warmer gloves before, right? Mittens are good because they keep the fingers together and this produces heat that keeps the entire hand warm. 

Scientists teach that the best way to keep the hands warmer is to keep them together by rubbing them and that’s exactly what mittens do. One thing you should know is that mittens don’t give you warmth as your body produces this. 

What these gears do is keep this warmth concentrated in a mitten to comfort you. If you observe keenly, you’ll realize that most of these mittens are usually large. It’s hard to find smaller mittens in the market because even the ones made for children usually look oversize. 

What is the reason behind their size? The size is important because it allows some air to be trapped inside. So, your body heats this trapped air and gives you warmth. Mittens serve as an insulator, slowing down the rate of heat transfer to the outside environment. 

According to gearjunkie.com, the warmest mittens are Black Diamond Mercury Mitts. These mittens are stuffed with PrimaLoft insulation, the same material that is used to make cold-weather sleeping bags. They have a removable liner for easy movement of fingers.

Here are some of the best warmest and heated mittens or gloves, mittens available on Amazon.

What’s better for snowboarding mittens or gloves?

Are you a snowboarder?

If yes, which of the two do you prefer when snowboarding? It is obvious to prefer your choice, but it’s advisable to have an idea of which one we recommend. Often, both mittens and gloves are excellent choices in unfriendly cold places and seem to serve the purpose well. 

However, mittens are good for snowboarding because they are warm and keep off the wind, hence making your snowboarding more enjoyable. Again, some snowboarders prefer using gloves because gloves are easier to wear and remove when compared to mittens. 

So, for experts snowboarders who don’t mind moisture building up when snowboarding and enjoy some warmth, always go for mittens. For starters, we recommend choosing the best snowboarding gloves for a firm grip when falling and keeping the hands dry. 

However, mittens stand a between a position for snowboarders because they have the highest temperature versatility during winter. 

Mittens or Gloves: Which is better for Skiing?

Unlike snowboarding, most skiers prefer using gloves. This is because skiing involves a lot of hand movement and therefore a firm grip is essential. Because gloves have a separate sheath for each finger, they provide an excellent ability to hold a ski pole. 

We recommend the use of gloves, especially if you are a beginner. Why? Because using mittens might take you long before you get used to them. Again, if you are skiing in an inhospitable environment, we recommend mittens as they are warmer. 

In the market, there are also other best-heated mittens for both genders, children included. These mittens come in a variety of sizes and work with the help of tiny wires that are woven between the fabric. Heated mittens have batteries too to help them function and generate heat.

Suggest Read: Best Heated Mittens to Save Your Hands from Bone-Chilling Cold

Mittens or Gloves for toddlers? Which is good?

Are you wondering what’s best between mittens or gloves for a toddler?

To know that, it’s important to understand a few basics. Children are known to be very vulnerable especially when exposed to extreme cold. This is because they are not good at regulating body temperature as they are still developing. (Read More Here)

Their fingers can get cold but it takes minutes to lose warmth from their bodies and get sick. For that reason, it’s important to get mitten gloves for your baby. Mittens are warmer and decrease the fine motor ability of the hand, making them the preferred choice in children. 

Some parents may prefer buying gloves for toddlers because they are cheap. However, gloves keep fingers away from each other, hence reducing the amount of warmth the hands generate. 

The Bottom Line

Gloves and mittens differ from mere appearance to their functionality. Mittens use specialized materials that keep your hands warm in cold weather. Gloves provide a firm grip when skiing and mountain climbing because of their dexterity. 

Apart from that, the two gears have so many things in common in terms of the materials they use and their functionality. Both gloves and mittens protect the hands when the temperatures go beyond zero degrees. The manufacturers ensure these gears offer a maximum shield for your hand’s muscles and tissues from frostbite. 

The debate between gloves and mittens is ongoing, and it seems not to end soon. However, but the most important thing is to keep your hands warm and comfortable while maintaining a firm grip.

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