In search of the warmest, waterproof-est gloves in existence
May 2, 2014 10:24 AM   Subscribe

My husband works outdoors in all kinds of weather, and he's mostly fine with it, but the one thing he says he still hasn't found is a good pair of gloves that keep his hands warm and dry, but that are thin enough that he can still do things with his hands (use tools etc). In the dead of winter, when it's 33F and raining, the hands get frozen quickly.

Money is no object for the right pair of gloves.

Do you have this holy grail of work gloves? What are they?
posted by rabbitrabbit to Shopping (11 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
From a related perspective, ice climbers obsess over their gloves, many of which have Primaloft lining and/or GoreTex inserts, along with leather palms for toughness. Might do quite well for a work glove.

However, in reality hands sweat like the rest of the body, and so gloves get wet from the inside out. What that page of ice climbing gloves doesn't tell you is that most climbers swap out different pairs throughout the day. There's nothing better than a warm dry pair after you take the wet, cold ones off, and there is no single perfect glove that can prevent you from needing that second pair.

Softshell for me seems to keep a layer of warm air around better than wool or fleece. Something like these - nice to have a second or third pair of these around for when pair #1 needs swapped out.
posted by Dashy at 10:38 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

You might try winter sailing gloves, like these from Gill or, slightly cheaper, West Marine's house brand.
posted by nicwolff at 10:39 AM on May 2, 2014

Duluth Trading has a few that might work.
posted by yoga at 10:41 AM on May 2, 2014

posted by entropone at 10:48 AM on May 2, 2014

Bionic Gloves?
posted by yoga at 11:00 AM on May 2, 2014

I bought my husband gloves from Tom's Truck Shop that worked well for him. There are a few types to try.
posted by maxg94 at 11:07 AM on May 2, 2014

Oh hai, cyclocross racer here. We deal with this all the time as the 'cross season runs 1 September - 15 January. There is nothing that can make you more miserable than riding a bike around in the mud in freezing-ass cold damp weather with your hands stretched out in front of you on the bars exposed to windchill. And one of the major issues we have is dexterity because nothing's worse than trying to brake, shift, and pick up / manhandle a bicycle through barriers with frozen, lumpy, swaddled fingers.

We have a myriad of solutions to deal with this: neoprene gloves, multiple pairs to switch after one's been soaked, Gore-Tex, fleece, etc. Swix cross-country ski gloves have been the best for me in dry weather, and alpine ski gloves from REI or Outdoor Research (or Hestra but those are $$$) are best for really really cold (sub 5°F) but they're expensive for work gloves.

Ultimately when it's REALLY wet and cold, the single best solution of all has been a layer of emollient barrier cream (that's merely one choice, there are many out there) under a layer of cheap, disposable nitrile or latex exam gloves, then your neoprene/goretex/whatever winter gloves over top of that.

This works for several reasons. The barrier cream prevents chapping and "cold crack/chilblains" from windchill. The nitrile or latex exam gloves prevent the overglove from soaking through and provide an extra "dexterity-positive" layer for when you have to take the over-glove off to make a phone call, do fiddly drivetrain adjustments, go pee, etc. Yes, your hands will sweat in this configuration, but it won't matter because just like a wetsuit, your body heat is trapped by the windproof boundary layers of barrier cream and exam gloves.

You can buy exam gloves in bulk from warehouse stores, and they also make a great solution for workshops where you want to avoid getting your hands greasy or filthy or whatever.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:59 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm an outdoor runner and run outside even when it's below zero. Unfortunately, I also have Reynauds.

They sound hokey, but totally work as liners for UNDER regular gloves:

prolotex gloves

My brother also suffers from Reynauds and has a pair of the grippy gloves and says they work fine on their own. I was really skeptical, but they have saved my fingers.

FWIW, I also have a pair of the pants which are great for layering but the ceramic socks didn't do anything for me.
posted by floweredfish at 1:12 PM on May 2, 2014

In addition to swapping gloves/liners out as they get damp/wet, chemical handwarmers - the kind you shake to get going - are a huge comfort for cold hands. If he is in and out of a vehicle, maybe you could rig a glove dryer over a heat vent.
posted by theora55 at 2:17 PM on May 2, 2014

I work outside all winter, too, down to -20f. When it's really cold and I need to tinker, I wear leather driving gloves as a liner inside (wool) flip top mittens. The leather gloves have a poly or acrylic liner in them. I often keep a couple of those chemical handwarmers mentioned above inside the mittens for warming up after a period. When I don't need to tinker I wear boiled wool mittens from Ortovox inside a generic waterproof shell with thin merino glove liners against the skin. Again, handwarmers can go inside the mittens.
posted by release the hardwoods! at 10:32 AM on May 3, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Clearly this is the wrong season to try out these suggestions, but now he has a list to work from when the weather gets cold again.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:30 AM on May 5, 2014

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