Table Of Contents

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!
Winter can be long… and cold, especially for our hands, and hands are great! They help us do just about everything, from shovelling snow in the driveway to holding onto ski poles while making sweet pow turns in the alpine. When the temperatures really take a nosedive, we reach for mittens. By keeping your fingers close together – sorry thumb – they help to keep the whole hand warmer than gloves. Sure, you lose some dexterity, making simple tasks that much tricker, but they are a real treat for people with bad circulation or just naturally colder hands. And hey, mittens are now all the rage after ol’ Bernie modeled them on a cool Washington morning.
For this review we have taken a look at four pairs of mittens to see what the main differences are at four price points. The mittens include the Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor Mitts ($115), Black Diamond Spark Mittens ($80), Kinco Lined Pigskin Ski Mittens ($20), and a brand from Amazon called Tough Outdoors ($20). All of the mittens were tested on my local ski hill in British Columbia. We have had a strange winter, so the temperatures have been higher than normal, but the alpine can still get pretty chilly. Also, all of the mittens in the test are that brand’s large size. As you will see, the difference between Black Diamond and the rest of the gang is pretty apparent. Though they all look rather different in size, each glove fit quite well in its own unique way.
A Comparison and Review of Ski Mittens - Gear Hacker

How To Decide On A Pair Of Mittens

Shell Material

There are essentially two shell options on the market: leather and synthetic material (like nylon). Leather is longer lasting and when treated can be waterproofed, improving the lifespan of the mitten. Synthetic materials are excellent as well – just not as tough as leather – though some mittens are reinforced with leather in high-wear areas like the palm and thumbs.

Waterproofing

Not all mittens come waterproof, it is important to look at what the company states about the mitten and it’s weather resistance. Modern designs have now been able to incorporate waterproof membranes to the inner layers of the mitten helping the leather or synthetic shell material to repel water. Other mittens need to be treated with third party or proprietary waterproofing agents to keep the water at bay. Wet hands equal cold hands, so it is important to consider if you are in a wetter climate.

Insulation

How warm will these mittens keep your hands? Many companies will list a grade of how much cold the mittens can handle. For example the Black Diamond Spark Mitts have a range of -1°C to -12°C. This comes down to the type of insulation and how much has been put into the mitten. All of the mittens in our review use a synthetic insulation but down is another insulation option on the market. Synthetic does a better job of keeping your hands warm even if it gets wet and is less likely to clump as you wear the mitten.

Features

Mittens are fairly simple creatures by design, but that doesn’t stop companies from adding features to help them stand out. There are a few things to look out for though when searching for the perfect pair. Leashes, a strap system that will keep the mitten attached to your wrist even when you take the mitten off, great when you want to take that TikTok video on the chairlift. A nose wipe, some mittens include a soft piece of fabric on the back of the thumb to give your nose some relief on those chill days. The cinches, used to adjust the fit and keep the mitten secure to your hand. Does the mitten have any, are they in convenient places, can you use them while wearing mittens?!

How We Judged?

These mitts spent some serious time in a backpack as they were taken on several chair laps at the local ski hill. Temperatures ranged from 0°C at the base to -15°C at the peak, a great variety to test the mitts. The wind at the summit could also get pretty nasty, a perfect for testing the wind resistance and breathability.
To test dexterity, each mitt was subject to a large thermos pick up challenge, of which they all did surprisingly well, with the exception of the Amazon pair. Each pair of mitts was also worn while I tried to handle all of the zippers on my ski jacket and bibs, and taking on and off goggles from my helmet. I also used them to fully clip up my backpack, a challenge for some and a breeze for others. No mitten was able to open a can at the tailgate, so they all failed there sadly.
From there it was just a lot of skiing which I have been fortunate to be able to continue given the global pandemic. Watching for wear and tear as they got more use, and testing them out at different temperatures and elevations.
A Comparison and Review of Ski Mittens - Gear Hacker

A Comparison And Review of Ski Mittens

 

Our Top Picks

Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor Mittens Best Cold Weather Mitts

Black Diamond Spark Mitts: Best Overall Mitts

Kinco Lined Pigskin Ski MittsBest Budget Mitts

A Comparison and Review of Ski Mittens: Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor Mittens - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Warmth 90% 90%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Dexterity 70% 70%
  • Durability 90% 90%

Pros

Gore-Tex Liner, Comfortable Leash

Cons

Gauntlet Sizing

Finger Slots: No

Cuff Style: Gauntlet

Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex Insert)

A Comparison and Review of Ski Mittens: Black Diamond Spark Mitts - Gear Hacker
Buy Now at Backcountry.com
  • Warmth 80% 80%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Dexterity 90% 90%
  • Durability 90% 90%

Pros

Finger Slots, BD.dry Insert

Cons

Different Colors Have Different Features

Finger Slots: Yes

Cuff Style: Cuff

Waterproof: Yes (BDDry Insert)

A Comparison and Review of Ski Mittens: Kinco Lined Pigskin Ski Mitts - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Warmth 60% 60%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Dexterity 70% 70%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Pros

Inexpensive, Super Soft

Cons

No (Can Be Treated)

Finger Slots: Yes

Cuff Style: Cuff

Waterproof: No (Can Be Treated)

A Comparison and Review of Ski Mittens: Amazon Mittens Tough Outdoors - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Warmth 70% 70%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Dexterity 70% 70%
  • Durability 60% 60%

Pros

Inexpensive

Cons

Overall Fit And Leash System

Finger Slots: No

Cuff Style: Cuff

Waterproof: Yes (Nylon Shell)

Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor Mittens

A Comparison and Review of Ski Mittens: Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor Mittens - Gear Hacker

Best Cold Weather Mitts

  • Warmth 90% 90%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Dexterity 70% 70%
  • Durability 90% 90%

Price: $115

Finger Slots: No

Cuff Style: Gauntlet

Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex Insert)

What We Like: Gore-Tex Liner, Comfortable Leash

What We Don’t: Gauntlet Sizing

Outdoor Research’s new Carbide Sensor Mittens are excellent. They come with a Gore-Tex liner to keep water out while allowing your hands to breathe as you shred the glades at your local hill. The wrist strap and leash are made in partnership with adventure belt company Arcade and are very effective at their jobs. The price tag of $115 does seem steep but the warmth, waterproofing, and comfort delivered by the mittens are superb. The cuff could be a little bit larger to become a true gauntlet cuff, but other than that there isn’t anything we’d change about these mittens. With an excellent choice of insulation and soft interior tricot, the Carbide Sensors are Best Cold Weather Mitts, perfect for tackling cold resort days.

Black Diamond Spark Mitts

A Comparison and Review of Ski Mittens: Black Diamond Spark Mitts - Gear Hacker

Best Overall Mitts

  • Warmth 80% 80%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Dexterity 90% 90%
  • Durability 90% 90%

Price: $80

Finger Slots: Yes

Cuff Style: Cuff

Waterproof: Yes (BDDry Insert)

What We Like: Finger Slots, BD.dry Insert

What We Don’t: Different Colors Have Different Features

This one is a favorite of the testers. The stylish and functional Black Diamond Spark Mitts are the definition of low-profile performance. The BD.dry insert has kept our hands dry throughout the day and the cuff is soft against the skin while keeping the mitten securely in place. They also come with the softest nose wipes of the group, an added bonus. Not as warm as large mittens, they are perfect for moderate temperatures or if you’re working hard in the backcountry. The finger slots inside of the mitten improve dexterity and comfort for each finger. The combination of warmth, comfort and features, made the Black Diamond Spark Mitts our Best Overall Mitts.

Kinco Lined Pigskin Ski Mitts

A Comparison and Review of Ski Mittens: Kinco Lined Pigskin Ski Mitts - Gear Hacker

Best Budget Mitts

  • Warmth 60% 60%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Dexterity 70% 70%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Price: $20

Finger Slots: Yes

Cuff Style: Cuff

Waterproof: No (Can Be Treated)

What We Like: Inexpensive, Super Soft

What We Don’t: Need To Waterproof Before Using

Essentially the unofficial brand of the ski patroller and ski bum, Kinco is a cult favorite in mountain towns. Using a very comfortable liner with finger slots surrounded by soft leather, these gloves have surprised a lot of our testers. They’re also warmer than expected and quite stylish. The cotton backing on the hand does reduce the water resistance and allows a lot of heat to escape, but for $20 it is hard to go wrong. Limited accessories but surprising performance would make these gloves the perfect Spring skiing companion and have made them the Best Budget Mitts.

Other Mittens

Amazon Mitts

A Comparison and Review of Ski Mittens: Amazon Mittens Tough Outdoors - Gear Hacker
  • Warmth 70% 70%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Dexterity 70% 70%
  • Durability 60% 60%

Price: $20

Finger Slots: No

Cuff Style: Cuff

Waterproof: Yes (Nylon Shell)

What We Like: Inexpensive

What We Don’t: Overall Fit And Leash System

Not surprising, but these weren’t the most impressive gloves of those we tested. The liner is quite soft but can get very hot; it does not wick moisture but instead seems to trap it in the glove. The cinch strap on the back of the wrist and at the bottom of the cuff worked very well to keep the mittens strapped onto our hands during testing; this helped with the slightly off-fit of the mitten. The “leash” worked fine; it is not as secure as we would like it to be but it did the job. For $20 mittens off of Amazon, they were warm and comfortable, but just lacked the performance that we have found in other mittens on the test. This would be an excellent mitten for a recreational skier who has a tendency to lose mittens or for your teenager who also loses mitts all the time.

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!