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4 Different Types of Ski Gloves

Skiing down a slope action shot

Ski gloves are a whole lot more than a cute accessory to wear on the slopes. Some gloves are meant just for style, like those elbow-length gloves you wear with formal wear. But ski gloves? They’re meant for business.

What do the different types of ski gloves do and how do they affect your hands when you’re enjoying cold weather sports? It’s time to find out what makes ski gloves work so well at protecting you in winter weather.

Taking the Gloves Off

Skiing in the mountains action shot

Gloves have been a part of fashion for thousands of years. In fact, a pair of elaborate gloves was found in the tomb of King Tut, who was Tutankhamun, Pharoah of Egypt. In ancient days, gloves were used as an important symbol of one’s rank and position in society. High-ranking members of the church and the royal family wore gloves to show that they had status and wealth.

Different styles of gloves emerged and many different materials and decorations were added to the various types of gloves that have appeared in fashion over the years.

Types of Ski Gloves to Look For

Skiing is actually a really old sport. The oldest skis ever found were made around 8,000 B.C.E. in Russia. People in northern Europe used skis. Even Vikings used them. Skiing was used in warfare in the 1700s and in the 1800s, skiing competitions of various kinds were held in northern Europe.

After alpine skiing became popular in the 1930s and television brought skiing coverage to homes around the world in the 1950s, skiing became a well-known sport. Now, there are many types of skiing and different ski gloves that make it possible to brave those cold, snowy climates.


Burton Mens Formula Glove, Martini Olive, Small

Pipe gloves are a type of ski glove that are preferred by snowboarders. They have a little less insulation than standard ski gloves but still protect your hands against wind and cold. These gloves are made to give fingers flexibility.

They are a little thinner than ski gloves, a little less bulky. This gives your fingers and hands a good range of motion and movement. However, pipe gloves are a little less warm than other styles of ski gloves.


MCTi Ski Gloves,Winter Waterproof Snowboard Snow 3M Thinsulate Warm Touchscreen Cold Weather Women Gloves Wrist Leashes Grey Large

Standard ski gloves are made in a layered design. They have an inner lining, the layer that’s actually against your skin when you wear the gloves. Then there is a layer of insulation, material that keeps your hands warm and protects you from the cold. There is a tough outer shell next, which may be made from leather or rubber or a synthetic material.

Often, ski gloves are then coated with a waterproof membrane to further block bad weather.

Three Finger

Outdoor Research Men's Highcamp 3-Finger Gloves

Three finger ski gloves sort of combine gloves and mittens. These gloves have articulated index fingers and thumbs but the middle, ring and pinky fingers are enclosed together in a mitten-like construction. Three finger gloves are also known as lobster gloves because your hand sort of resembles a lobster claw while you’re wearing them.

This is a very warm style of ski glove but only provides limited motion and movement of the hands and fingers due to the design.


RIVMOUNT Winter Gloves Men Women,Waterproof Touch Screen Gloves Warm Ski Gloves Windproof Thermal Gloves 608

Some ski gloves are made to be touchscreen gloves that still allow you to touch the buttons on your phone. These gloves have special textured tips, along with all the other features you find in standard ski gloves.

Ski Glove Features

Close up of person in ski gear

Sometimes, different types of ski gloves vary only slightly based on different features. These little changes do make a difference and have an effect on the way the gloves look and feel.


Basically, gloves have only two types of cuffs: long and short. The short cuffs end right at the base of the wrist. Long cuffs are, well, longer. In both styles, ski glove cuffs are often made with wrist cinches. These are essentially drawstrings that allow you to pull the gloves tight to block out wind and moisture.


Because they’re made for extremely cold temperatures, ski gloves are made with insulation to provide another layer of warmth and prevent heat loss. Lots of different materials are used for insulation.

Cotton is a good clothing material but it’s not great as insulation. It’s not quick-drying material and it can soak up a lot of water. Cotton is also highly breathable, so it’s not the most effective at holding in body heat.

Down is a popular insulator because it works. Down is from the natural feathers of geese and ducks. It’s the same stuff that keeps them warm and dry. It’s lightweight and very soft material and it insulates well.

Synthetic materials are often used in glove insulation. Acrylic, polyester and other non-natural fabrics are quick-drying, easy to wash and highly durable.

Wool is found in insulation often. It’s a natural material and it’s the same stuff that keeps sheep warm. Wool stays warm even when it’s wet, resists moisture and it’s lightweight and breathable even though it’s incredibly strong.

Wearing Different Types of Ski Gloves

The different types of ski gloves perform different functions but all ski gloves are made to perform one main job: keeping your hands warm. Everything else is about personal preference and about what you need your hands to do while you’re out there in the snow.

Once you know about the different types of gloves you can choose, you’ll be able to choose the exact right kind of ski gloves for you.


Standing near a tree in ski gear

Ski gloves do a lot to keep your hands warm and there are a lot of features that go into these designs. There’s still a lot more to know about these gloves. That’s why we searched for the most frequently asked questions about ski gloves and got the answers.

How do you wash ski gloves?

Ski gloves are worn outside and they’re going to get dirty. When they do, you don’t want to ruin them because you washed them the wrong way. So can you wash your ski gloves? Yes. But how you wash them varies based on the type of ski gloves you have.

Always check the care label on your gloves. There should be detailed instructions here so you know how to wash your gloves. For many gloves made with synthetic materials, you can simply put your gloves in a mesh laundry bag and wash them in cold water with mild detergent on a gentle wash cycle. You can then either lay them out flat to air-dry on a towel or dry them on low heat in the dryer.

Leather gloves are a bit of a different animal because, as everyone knows, leather isn’t easy to clean. It’s not as simple as tossing leather in the washing machine and walking away. No, this material requires some special care. Leather should be brushed gently with a dry brush first. This will remove dirt and debris from the material.

Next, use a damp cloth to gently wipe down the leather. You don’t want to get leather too wet or it could shrink, crack or experience some other type of damage.

Some ski gloves have separate liners, which should be washed separately. Before you wash your glove, remove any removable liners. Hand-wash glove liners in lukewarm water with a little bit of soap. Put the liners in the water and gently wash them by rubbing your fingers over the material gently.

Let them soak for 20 minutes and drain the sink or basin you’re using, filling it with plain water with a few drops of vinegar. Rinse the gloves thoroughly in this solution to remove the soap. Lay the liners out flat to dry.

Are ski gloves waterproof?

Most ski gloves are made to be waterproof because snow and ice are just water that’s cold. You don’t want melting snow and ice to make your hands wet because then, hands get cold. Ski gloves are made in a multi-layer design, with the outmost layer being made up of a waterproof membrane that protects your hands from moisture so you and your gloves stay dry.

How should sky gloves fit?

Unlike many other types of clothing, gloves don’t come in a lot of different sizes. You don’t pick out a size 4 glove, for example. They’re usually made in sizes like small, medium, large and extra large. This can make it difficult to get a good fit. But to make sure your glove is fitting your hand properly, there are certain things you should look for.

Gloves should be somewhat snug but not tight. This means your fingers should be able to move easily in all usual directions. The tips of the gloves shouldn’t be pressing against any of your fingers or thumb. You should be able to make a fist and then stretch out your hand completely without feeling any tightness or pulling.

At the same time, you don’t want your glove to be too loose. The tips of your gloves shouldn’t be sitting off your fingers. Extra room in your gloves is an invitation for cold air to get to your hands, which defeats the purpose of wearing gloves.


Encyclopedia Brittanica – skiing

Fashion in Time – History of Gloves in Fashion and Society

New to Ski – How to Wash Ski Gloves (Leather vs Synthetic)

REI Co-Op – How to Choose Snow Gloves and Mittens

Ultimate Snowboarding Guide – The Ultimate Mens Snowboard Gloves Guide