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Just like the feet, cold hands often plague skiers who haven’t yet figured out the best way of staying warm. I’ve battle-tested everything so you don’t need to. Try these top techniques for keeping your hands warm next time you ski.
1. Wear Quality Ski Gloves
The best method of keeping your hands warm is to start with the basics: invest in high-quality ski gloves that actually work! After trying a bunch of different types of gloves from the cheap to the expensive, I’d recommend buying gloves that use Gore-Tex or Thinsulate. (Gore-Tex tends to be more breathable)
Wear ski specific gloves with long cuffs that go under but ideally over your ski jacket sleeve. Gloves should be fully waterproof and stay keep your hand dry during heavy snowfall or when you take a tumble.
My Top Ski Glove Picks for 2022
2. Put Gloves on, Inside
Store your gloves inside and put them on while you’re still at room temperature. This will mean the glove is insulating a warm hand, rather than trying to warm a cold hand from the get-go.
If you have to take your gloves off to do something, be brief and deliberate with your movements. The colder your hands get, the harder it will be to insulate them.
3. Use Liner Gloves
Liners aren’t for everybody, and a good pair of gloves should suffice. For extreme weather or for cold-blooded skiers, glove liners can help wick away moisture and insulate your hands while the main glove is off.
Choose liner gloves with a screen compatible material on the digits, so you can use your phone without taking them off. Be aware that, liners need to be thin enough to fit inside your gloves. Too bulky and they may stretch your main gloves and make them too big for wearing on their own.
4. Look Into Mittens
(I don’t mean see into them!) Many snowboarders use mittens because they’re warmer as your digits are closer together. This allows your fingers to share heat and for warmer air to circulate inside the gloves. It does make holding poles a bit more difficult, but it’s still fine for most skiers.
Mittens work for me, no issues down to minus 20 with no underglove. Definitely warmer than separate fingered gloves of similar thickness with similar materials.
Tips for warm hands – Snowheads
My Top Ski Mittens Picks for 2022
5. Don’t Clench Fists
Many new skiers hold onto their poles for dear life – this will limit blood circulation to your fingers and make your hands colder. Breathe, relax and grip your poles more loosely. At the end of each run, flex your hands to get blood moving.
6. Use Hand warmers
Hand warmers are small heated objects that give your hands a boost in very cold weather. Their great to have in your backpack as an emergency or for those colder days.
While they come in disposable packs, I’d recommend a rechargeable hand warmer like the Karacel which doubles as a power bank for your phone. Another great idea that will warm your core, taste good and keep your hands warm – is to bring a thermal flask of hot tea or coffee.
After a lot of research, my top pick is the Zojirushi stainless mug which will keep your drink hot for 6 hours or more and comes in three sizes (check price on Amazon). It has over 4k 5 star reviews.
7. Keep Your Core Warm
Your hands and feet are usually the first part of your body to get cold when your core temperature is reduced. One of the best ways to keep your hands warm is to make sure the rest of your body stays insulated and dry.
The best way to do this is to:
Quality Ski Clothing
Wearing insulated ski clothing with high breathability (over 8k mm) and a high waterproofing (over 10k mm) is important for keeping your core warm. Breathability helps wick away internal moisture and keeps you dry.
While a higher waterproofing rating means you can ski in deep powder or a heavy snowfall without getting wet. The outer shell is important, but so is a warm mid-layer fleece and a body-hugging thermal layer. Choose polyester blends that wick away sweat and don’t retain much moisture like cotton.
Starting the day with a hot meal warms you and fuels you for a day of high-intensity skiing. Throughout the day fuel up on high calorie and nutrition snacks. Aim for a good mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to power you through the day.
As a rule, hungry people feel colder, plus you won’t enjoy skiing as much if you’re body’s not got the energy it needs. Moderate downhill skiing burns up, on average, 400 calories an hour
These are just a few techniques from my Skiers Ultimate Guide to Staying Warm
8. Wear dry gloves
If you’re leaving your gloves tucked into your jacket all night, they won’t have a chance to breathe, air out and dry. As with all your equipment, always lay your gloves out at room temperature or near a heater to completely dry out throughout the night, ready for the next day’s skiing.
Any moisture on your gloves will suck out the warmth from your hand and get very cold from the windchill. Damp gloves make for miserable hands.
P.S Glover liners are also a great way of insulating your hands and covering up bare skin when your main gloves are off. I reviewed the best glove liners here – check it out if you are interested.
9. Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol
Smoking constricts blood vessels, reducing blood circulation which will make your extremities (hands and feet) feel colder. The more you drink the more likely you are to fall on skis and lower your body temperature.
Alcohol might feel warming, but have it actually dilates your blood vessels and forces blood from your core to the surface of your skin, where it can be more easily sapped into the air around.
Drink cautiously while skiing and be aware that you’ll feel the effects more strongly the higher up the mountain you are. Leave alcohol for the Apres-ski.
10. Eat Citrus
According to Science, eating citrus fruits while skiing will help your hands stay warm.
Researchers have taken two groups of volunteers into air-conditioned rooms and measured the temperature of their fingertips after drinking a placebo and then drinking orange juice.
For those that drank or ate citrus, their fingers maintained a more stable temperature along with the blood flow to their extremities. For those that drank the placebo, their fingers got colder and colder!
If you eat a bunch of oranges before you go skiing, your risk of frostbite may go down, since you’re keeping up your blood flow to your fingers and toes.
Phytonutrients in citrus, such as hesperidin, may increase blood flow sufficient to warm the hands and feet of those with cold sensitivity.
Michael Greger M.D, NutritionFacts.org
Don’t peel your oranges with bare hands in the cold as this may have the reverse effect! Pre-peel your oranges, eat them before you go skiing, or drink some juice.
11. Tighten Wrist Cuffs
The wrist cuffs around your gloves should be tightened to stop cold air from reaching the interior of your glove, but not so tight that blood circulation is cut off to your hand. Adjust the wrist cuffs so it’s comfortably fit around your wrist and there is a seal between your jacket and your glove.
Don’t over-tighten the cuff and risk restriction blood flow to your hand. If this happens, your hands will get progressively colder throughout the day until the wrist cuffs are loosened again.
How Not to Keep Your Hands Warm?
- Wear cheap, poor-quality gloves.
- Take your gloves on and off and expose bare skin.
- Clenched fists will reduce circulation.
- Drink alcohol or smoke.
- Over-tighten wrist cuffs.
How to keep your hands warm?
- Wear quality ski gloves, Gore-tex, or Thinsulate
- Put gloves on, inside not outside
- Use liner gloves in extreme temperatures
- Look into mittens or glove liners
- Don’t hold your poles too tightly
- Use rechargeable hand warmers
- Bring a thermal flask of hot liquid
- Keep your core warm
- Wear dry gloves
- Avoid alcohol or smoking
- Eat oranges, to improve blood flow in the cold
- Tighten wrist cuffs to seal out snow
Bonus: Wear Heated Gloves
Sometimes you need an extra boost and a guarantee of warm toasty hands on those really cold days. Heated gloves are not cheap, but they are amazing. They use small flexible batteries that fit inside the cuff. They then have small heating elements that go through the glove and up the fingers.
The batteries last between 2-10 hours depending on the setting (usually high, medium, and low heat modes) and the battery power of the gloves. The batteries can be recharged via a USB wall socket and you can buy multiple batteries that you keep in your backpack for multi-day adventures or all-day warmth.
I recently wrote an article reviewing my top picks for the best-heated gloves. If you’re interested check it out!
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