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If you’re in the market for a new pair of gloves, you might be wondering what difference is between gloves for skiing and gloves for snowboarding?
The truth is there is not much difference, the main difference is that snowboarders generally wear mittens for warmth (no poles to hold) and snowboarding gloves tend to have more wrist protection on the knuckles and wrist. You can wear both ski and snowboard specific gloves for either sport.
What’s the main difference?
Originally snowboarding gloves were the first to introduce a larger & longer cuff gaiter to provide more protection from snow contact.
Nowadays ski gloves have caught up and made use of many of the same features in snowboarding gloves for warmth and snow protection.
However, there are still a few differences between ski and snowboard gloves; the main ones are:
Snowboarding gloves are bulkier and have more protection on the knuckles.
Reason: snowboarders tend to spend more time sitting or touching the snow. Snowboarders must take off and put on their bindings everytime they get on an off a ski lift.
Snowboarding gloves may have a wrist guard.
Reason: Snowboarders are more likely to fall onto their hands and arms and so benefit from the greater protection around their wrist.
Snowboarding gloves have a longer cuff.
Reason: A longer cuff helps stop snow from getting into the glove or up your ski jacket arm, especially when riding in deeper powder. Nowadays many ski gloves also have long cuffs
Snowboarding gloves may have a reinforced palm.
Reason: A thicker palm helps protect the hand when failing on an open hand.
Many snowboarders wear mittens
Mittens are gloves without separate compartments for your fingers. Mittens are generally warmer than gloves because your fingers can share warmth and circulate the heat within the glove between them.
Just like how penguins huddle in circles, fingers huddled up together inside your mittens tend to be warmer.
Skiers can still wear mittens, but most skiers wear normal gloves because it’s easier to hold poles.
Skiers use poles to move on the flat and pole plant during parallel skiing.
Snowboards have free hands and tend to spend more time touching the snow, so having warmer hands is more of a priority than having more mobile hands.
If you ski or snowboard in warmer weather, mittens can be too warm and make your fingers sweaty!
Are gloves or mittens better?
Gloves provide more dexterity while mittens are warmer with all things equal. Most skiers prefer gloves while many snowboards tend toward mittens. You can wear both mittens and gloves for either sport and it depends primarily on which feel the most comfortable for you.
I delve into all the pros and cons and the major reasons to choose either one over at Gloves Vs Mittens: Which is Better for Skiing & Snowboarding?
Key features to look for in ski gloves ⛷
This is a key factor for all gloves and especially for skiing all day on the mountain. The temperature fluctuates wildly with windchill and snowy conditions. The first step in keeping your hands warm is to make sure gloves are made from quality insulating materials (I recommend Thinsulate or Gore-Tex).
Unlike snowboarders, skiers have poles to grip onto and it helps if your gloves have a ribbed material that can grip to the poles without you applying much force. Gripping too tightly is one reason that many skiers have cold hands (this lowers blood circulation to the fingers).
If you’re hands get wet, they’re much more likely to get very cold. Keeping your hands dry on the slopes is a priority. They can get wet if they’re too sweaty (gloves are too warm) or if they have a low waterproofing rating.
The more it snows and the more contact with the snow that you have through falls, the more important a higher waterproof rating is.
Key features to look for in snowboarding gloves🏂
Snowboarders spend more time on the snow and adjusting their bindings, so warmth is a key factor. If you’re skiing in extreme temperature or have cold hands, then pick a pair mittens so your hands share heat.
Padding & Protection🛡
For snowboarding, grip is not as important because you don’t have poles to hold. But snowboards are more likely to fall on their hands and padding or extra protection on the glove becomes more of a priority.
Look for knuckle protection and thicker padding. This will protect you from falls, knocks and provide that extra bit of warmth.
As a snowboarder, you’ll likely spend more time in contact with snow and you’ll need to undo and do up your bindings getting on and off ski lifts. Buying gloves with a high waterproof rating is crucial. Don’t skimp and buy cheap gloves or mittens or you’ll regret it.
The perfect glove?
Typically the best ski or snowboarding gloves have three layers that work together to keep your hands warm, comfortable and protected.
- A hard wearing, fully waterproof outer shell made from either: nylon, leather, kevlar or other flexible, durable material;
- A thick layer of fleece insulation (Thinsulate) to trap warm air;
- And a breathable membrane that lets out moisture from sweat and blocks outside snow or rain (Gore-tex).
How should my gloves fit?
Your gloves should have a snug fit. Not too tight that you feel pressure or have a hard time getting them on or off, but snug enough that there are no loose gaps.
Gloves that are too big for you won’t be as warm, are more likely to fall off and will make holding poles (skiers) or doing your bindings (snowboarders) much more challenging because excess material will get in the way of your dexterity.
If you’re buying gloves online, measure your hands precisely with a measuring tape. If you buy in person, try a variety of gloves to feel how different fits feel.
How to maintain ski and snowboarding gloves?
Always dust of the snow and dry out your gloves in room temperature or near a heater (not too close or it can damage the material). If you leave your gloves wet they’ll won’t be warm and comfortable next time you hit the slopes.
Once your gloves are dry store them in a zipped bag away from sunlight.
How to wash ski gloves?
After some heavy use or at the end of a season it may be time to give your gloves a wash. Before washing check the instructions on the label or read up on the manufacturer’s advice.
Some gloves can be put in the washing machine but it’s always safer to wash your gloves by hand (especially if they have a leather surface)
- Use a damp cloth with warm water and wipe away by scrubbing the surface.
- Leave to dry naturally (not in a tumble dryer).
Read How to Wash Ski Gloves for a more detailed run-through.
Should I wear glove liners?
Liners are thin gloves that you can wear beneath your ski or snowboarding gloves for extra warmth.
Most people don’t need to wear glove liners unless their skiing in extreme temperatures or they take off and put on their gloves many times throughout the day.
If you’re buying glove liners, make sure they’re thin enough to fit under your gloves and come with touchscreen-friendly fabric on the fingertips -- so you can use your phone on the slopes without having to expose your hands to the cold.
Difference between snowboarding and ski clothing?
Just like gloves, snowboarders and skiers have their own specific clothing. And just like gloves you can wear both snowboarding and ski gear interchangeable without a problem.
Ski Jackets vs snowboard jackets
Ski jackets tend to be short in length and less baggy. Snowboarders tend to spend more time sitting on snow (taking bindings on and off for ski lifts) so a baggier jacket that you can sit on over your trousers (trousers) makes sense.
I wrote much more about this here.
Ski pants (trousers) vs snowboard pants (trousers)
Like jackets, snowboarding pants are baggier and have a more relaxed fit. The baggy fit is a look as well as to provide greater comfort in jumps and tricks and developed from snowboarding close cultural links to skateboarding and surfing fashion.
I wrote more about this here.
More protection for snowboarders
Snowboards stop by pushing their toes out sliding on the heel edge of their board. To stop completely on steep gradients, snowboarders need to push out this edge further and they often sit down on the snow on their bums when waiting for others or resting.
If a snowboarder loses balance on ice or over edges their board then they’re likely to fall back hard on their but and potentially damage their coccyx.
Many snowboarders wear shorts with padding on the but and hips to absorb impact (I wear a pair below my shorts when I play ice hockey! 🏒)
More advanced systems provide full tailbone protection.
If you ski and snowboard then my advice would be to buy a thick warm pair of gloves that have a large cuff. There’s no need for you to have snowboard specific gloves unless you always want a dry pair ready to go or your seriously into both sports and have the cash to spare.
If you’re a new skier or a new snowboarder trying out the sport and you already have a pair of gloves for either sport, then don’t worry, you’ll be fine with the gloves you have.
It’s more important that the gloves you have are warm and comfortable than whether they are specifically for skiing or snowboarding.
Most gloves that brand sell are targeted for both skiers and snowboarders anyway although some have specific versions for each sport.