What’s The Next Best Thing To A Perfect Pair Of Winter Mountaineering Gloves?

Ideas by Chris, words by Anne

Gloves come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. You can get them free when you fill up your car, and you can spend hundreds of pounds on them, but years of experience have shown me that there is no such thing as a perfect pair of winter mountaineering gloves. Whatever kind of gloves you wear, and however waterproof they claim to be, your hands will get wet if you are scrambling or climbing in snow.

 Leather work gloves, as worn by Chamonix bin men

Leather work gloves, as worn by Chamonix bin men

So what’s the solution?

Taking lots of pairs and changing them regularly through the day works well for me. I have boxes full of gloves, all different kinds, that I have tried over the years. So-called waterproof gloves with a Goretex liner will let in water eventually, and they take ages to dry out. The following recommendations are the ones that I use the most. They get wet, but they dry out quickly.

Leather winter work gloves

Scores of lift operators, mountain guides and bin men in the Chamonix valley can’t be wrong. These gloves are cheap, tough and warm. They are not waterproof, but I use Nikwax to slow down the ingress. Before they were available in the UK, I would stock up on them when I was in Chamonix, but you can now buy them online from Snow Shepherd, £15 plus postage.

Dachstein mitts

Dachstein mitts were used on the early Everest expeditions, and they still work great. They are warm even when wet, simple, and easy to repair with a darning needle and some wool. They are not the most dextrous of gloves, but if you sew on some loops and wear thin gloves underneath you can take them on and off easily without the danger of dropping them. They are available at many outdoor retail outlets and websites, including The Climbers Shop, £25 inc p&p

 Dachstein mitts in action in Scotland

Dachstein mitts in action in Scotland

How about you? What are your favourite winter mountaineering gloves? Share your knowledge and experiences by leaving a comment below.