One of the struggles with snowboarding, especially when you first learn to snowboard, is staying warm without being too warm. As a beginner you will likely spend quite a bit of time on the ground, and getting up from the ground. This can lead to you being cold from so much time sitting in the snow or overheating from struggling to get up all of the time with a board strapped to your feet.
As you progress, you will learn what works best for you to regulate your temperature. Being chilly on the way up so you don’t sweat on the way down is usually a good tradeoff. But what do you do about your hands? You want them to stay warm, but you still need to be able to use them, so is the answer a nice toasty pair of gloves, or some super cozy mittens?
The answer depends on the person. Like so many other decisions it comes down to personal preference, but here the big advantages and disadvantages of both are pretty easy to boil down.
Gloves allow you better use of your hands. You will be strapping in repeatedly, if you need to tweak something on your equipment, mess with your boots, or get your phone out of your pocket, you’ll be able to get more of that done with gloves on. The drawback is that they aren’t as warm as mittens.
Mittens will keep you warmer than gloves. Your fingers are all able to have a little party in there, and they will keep each other warm. But you will not have great dexterity.
There are also trigger mitts or lobster claw gloves that separate your thumb and index finger, and your other three fingers are huddling amongst themselves. These are newer to the market and there aren’t a whole lot of options in this category.
Some gloves and mittens have zipper pockets on the back that will allow you to slip a hand warmer in there, or release a little bit of heat if your hands are beginning to sweat. You can also just slide hand warmers in the gloves or mittens even without the little pocket, the pocket just helps to keep the warmers in place and keeps the heat source away from direct contact with your skin in case it gets too hot.
I prefer a Gore-Tex type shell material to leather because I like to be able to wash my mittens. My hands run very cold so I always wear mittens, but I also wear glove liners under the mittens. These serve two main purposes for me 1) they are easier to wash- gloves get funky quickly and 2) when I do need more use of my fingers, I can slip off my mitten and still have some protection. My liners are either wool that will conduct enough heat to operate my phone, or a wicking material with fingertips that will allow you to use a phone.
Many leather gloves will have a waterproof layer too – Gore-Tex, Hipora, or something similar. These layers should keep your hands dry. And dry is will keep you warmer than wet. You should also treat the leather with some type of conditioner and waterproofer…Nikwax and SnowSeal for example.
Make sure that whichever you choose fits you well. If they are too big or two small not only will they be less comfortable, but they will not keep you as warm as they should.
Gloves and mittens come with regular, close to the wrist cuffs that will tuck into your jacket, or with gauntlet cuffs that are longer and bigger to go over your sleeves. This helps keep the snow out, which is always a good thing. I resisted gauntlet cuffs for a long time, but when that was all I could find in the mittens that I was looking for, I gave in. They are much easier to get on and off when fiddling with a phone, iPod, bindings, etc.
If you run cold, invest in a good pair of mittens. Your hands will thank you. If not, the world is your oyster and you have your pick of whatever handwear you want keeping in mind the good and bad about each choice. You never want to have to cut a snow day short because your hands are cold.