Mountaineering & Expeditions

Mountaineering Equipment: How To Choose The Best Mountaineering Gloves

Mountaineering gloves are a crucial piece of mountaineering equipment. Here's how to choose the right pair for you...

Mountaineering gloves are a key part of mountaineering equipment. Photo: iStock

Mountaineering gloves are one of the most essential pieces of kit you can buy when it comes to mountaineering equipment. There are so many types and brands on the market – where do you start?

Firstly, it’s important to note that there is no such thing as the perfect pair of mountaineering gloves – you won’t find one single pair of gloves that will suit all your needs in the mountains.

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Like mountaineering jackets, the chances are you’ll need two, if not three different types of gloves for different mountaineering pursuits.

If you are a day hiker, you are going to need a different type of waterproofing, dexterity and insulation to someone who is getting ready for a winter climbing session.

Just like there are layering systems for your upper and lower body when it comes to mountaineering, there are also glove layering systems – to keep you warm, dry and suited to the right conditions on the mountain. The Alpine Institute recommends the following gloves for these conditions:

Mountaineering gloves require a layering system too, depending on whether it is summer or winter. Photo: iStock

Summer Mountaineering

  • Fleece/soft shell liner gloves
  • Mid-weight insulated, waterproof gloves

Whenever you are travelling across snow, you should have some protection on your hands – even if the conditions are warm. For early in the morning, you’ll want your mid-weight gloves and then as the day warms up, you can swap down to your light liners.

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Winter Mountaineering & Ice Climbing

  • Fleece/soft shell liner gloves
  • Mid-weight insulated, waterproof gloves
  • Heavy insulated gloves or mittens

When climbing or skiing in the winter, you pretty much wear gloves all the time. Mid-weight gloves will be the ones you wear most of the time.

When you are cooking or around camp, you might swap down to your liner gloves. If it is windy, cold or your gloves are wet, you might want to layer up with a pair of heavy insulated mitts.

Always bring a spare system of gloves on every mountaineering trip – just in case your gloves get lost or soaking wet. There’s nothing worse than frozen fingertips when you’re trying to climb.

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Liners are great first layer mountaineering gloves as they allow lots of dexterity. Photo: Marmot

These are great gloves for hiking or wearing as a base layer under more insulated gloves. They offer a lot of dexterity for fiddling with equipment or tying knots, plus they are very breathable.

However, they aren’t the warmest gloves on the planet – if mountaineering in snow and ice, you will need an insulated pair of gloves to wear on top.

These Marmot Power Stretch gloves are great all-purpose liners with a surprising amount of insulation for a thin gloves.

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Mid-weight mountaineering gloves should be warm and water-resistant, you’ll end up wearing these the most. Photo: Black Diamond

These should be warm and water-resistant with a good amount of dexterity so you can belay in them or handle your gear, like ice axes. You don’t want these to be too big and bulky, otherwise you won’t be able to have enough dexterity to use them while climbing.

Black Diamond Enforcer Gloves are great mid-weight gloves, built to tackle the most bitterly cold days on the mountain with 100 per cent Gore-Tex waterproof lining and ice-tool specific fit for gripping ice axes.


Heavy insulated mountaineering gloves are required for extreme altitudes and temperatures. Photo: Mountain Hardwear

These are your warmest, most insulated gloves. Often these come in mitten form as the fingers stay together and don’t lose heat so easily.

They are waterproof and offer only a small amount of dexterity. Ideal for the harshest coldest conditions – the kind you would find scaling Everest.

Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Mitts are ideal for those extreme conditions, especially over 8,000m. Waterproof, windproof and loaded with 800 down fill, these will keep you warm and dry in the coldest winter conditions.


Outdoor Research have put together this great introductory video to choosing your the right pair of mountaineering gloves, depending on the conditions.

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