Winter Weather Emergency Supplies

Why Are Mittens Warmer Than Gloves? Which One Is Better?

When your hands get cold, misery is sure to follow. But it isn’t just about comfort. 

You lose a considerable amount of body heat through your hands. That could mean the difference between surviving and not-so-much surviving in a winter-related emergency

Let’s look at exactly why are mittens warmer than gloves, and how they differ and which is more likely to save your fingers in frigid weather.

Are mittens or gloves better for cold weather?

Frostbite can happen in less than 10 minutes. And, it’s your hands that are at the most risk.

Mittens are specifically made for winter weather and to save your digits. Most gloves are not.

Mittens vs Gloves

The battle of hand protection isn’t a battle at all. Mittens will always reign supreme.

Carhartt Men's W.P. Waterproof Insulated Mittens, Black, Large

But let’s look at why and how they differ when they sorta look the same.

Squinting at the Seam

Very few people are going to take the time to measure a seam. So, it’s good to know that gloves’ seams are quite a bit longer than mittens. Because of that, gloves have more surface area; the more surface area, the more chance that heat has to escape

You’re looking for hand protection that has the most insulation. That equates to having as few seams as possible.

Benefits of Body Heat

It’s common knowledge that the closer we snuggle to one another, the more we conserve body heat.

The same goes for your fingers. Mittens allow your fingers to touch, so you’re literally using your own body heat to keep your hands warm.

Science Says So

You can find studies that test the effectiveness of a wide array of mittens and gloves. Once again, the mittens come out on top.

Raynaud’s Disease

Some people naturally have colder extremities. Raynaud’s disease takes keeping your hands and fingers to the next level.

Hands down, mittens are the best way to fight that sharp needling and numbness.

Gloves are Good for Dexterity

Gloves have a minor victory in the realm of range of movement. The tighter seams we mentioned separate your fingers so you can more easily use them.

But, if you’re in an extreme winter emergency, conserving warmth is the number one priority, and most gloves just don’t provide enough. You can always take your mittens off for a few seconds to do certain things, like start a fire.


We have a tie because both are made well for the job they are meant to do. But you also want hand protection that will protect you for more than one winter.

Gloves Materials

  • Leather
  • Wool
  • Nylon
  • Neoprene
  • Spandex
  • Cotton

Mittens Materials

  • Nylon
  • Polyurethane
  • Neoprene
  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Polyester fleece
  • Tricot
  • Acrylic
  • Synthetic fur

Insulation Matters 

The glove shell’s material matters if you’re looking for a long-lasting pair of gloves or mittens. But the insulation matters more when you’re dealing with mitts.

  • Down. It’s fancy and expensive. But that’s because it does its job well. It’s lightweight, breathable, and easy to compress. Down is not waterproof, and it will get rendered useless if drenched. Down mittens are great for dry climates and snow sports.
  • Synthetic insulation. If you’re looking for something a bit more practical, synthetic insulation quickly dries and is far more affordable than down. But down-insulated gloves are warmer than synthetic ones.

Why do snowboarders wear mittens instead of gloves?

Snowboarding is a perfect example of sacrificing extra agility in favor of optimal warmth. Gripping the poles is more challenging when you’re hands are numb.

Some snowboarders opt to use gloves if they want a smoother take-off.

Other Hand Protection Options

SEALSKINZ Unisex Waterproof Extreme Cold Weather Cycle Split Finger Glove, Black/Grey, Large

Lobster gloves. You can find a blend of gloves and mittens. Lobster gloves join the index and middle fingers and pinky fingers. The 2-in-1 hand protection is less clumsy and warm than traditional mittens.

KAILAS Gore-TEX 3-in-1 Pro Ski Gloves – Men's

3-in-1 glovesWho doesn’t like things with multiple uses? 3-in-1 gloves and mittens have a removable liner and shell gloves. Putting a pair or two in an emergency kit ensures that you have a pair in reach for any event.

Heated Mittens Gloves Men Women - 7.4V 2200MAH Electric Rechargeable Battery Gloves for Winter Skiing Skating Snow Camping Hiking Heated Hand Warmer Gloves

The heated option. Oh, yes, they have battery-powered hand protection. But, you are looking at a really serious investment. ($200)

More Mittens and Gloves Features

  • Leather palms. Grip and offers more durability against abrasion.
  • Gauntlet cuffs. Extends over sleeves and cinches closed.
  • Wrist cinches. Secures fit on hand to keep out the cold.
  • Zippered extra pockets. It allows you to insert hand warmer packets or stash something small.
  • Thumb wipe. Wipe your nose when it’s running profusely in the cold.
  • Thumb wipes: Many gloves designed for winter feature soft material on the thumbs specifically for wiping your nose when it begins to drip.

FAQs about Why Are Mittens Warmer Than Gloves?

Why are gloves not warm?

Gloves have way longer seams than mittens, exposing more surface area to frigid temperatures.

Mittens keep your fingers close together so that you benefit from your own body heat.

Are mittens or gloves better for cold weather?

Mittens are far superior to gloves in terms of keeping warm in cold weather. Wearing a pair will reduce your lost body heat and protect your fingers and hands from frostbite.

Why do people prefer mittens over gloves?

It’s not an overall preference because, in a lot of situations, gloves are the way to go because you keep most of the dexterity of your hand.

But, when it is freezing outside, mittens are a must because most gloves simply don’t cut them.

What if I get my mittens or gloves wet?

If at all possible, avoid getting gloves and mittens wet. It means not getting snow or rain inside your hand protection.

Also, breathable mittens and gloves are always the way to go because, most commonly, the wetness comes from the inside. Your sweat can ruin the insulation. 

Can I use my phone when I wear mittens?

A 21st-century problem is we use touch screens for so much, and many gloves and mittens haven’t gotten the memo.

But you can find plenty of options that have touch-screen-compatible fingers and palms. Don’t expect perfection. You give away a little heat conservation when purchasing touch-screen compatible mittens.

By AlwaysReadyHQ Team

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Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

The AlwaysReadyHQ Team is made up of writers and editors with experience ranging from emergency paramedics to former FEMA policy writers to natural disaster reporters.

Our goal is to provide clear, concise, organized, realistic, and actionable information to help you and your family feel comfortable and ready for anything. Less scared and more prepared.

We only source from authoritative sources such as government agencies and industry associations to bring reliable information to directly to you.

Andrew Riley - Contributing Editor

Andrew grew up in a country known for earthquakes, volcanoes, and typhoons. But despite the chaos and destruction of natural disasters, he remembers the resilience and readiness of neighbors, despite a lack of official government aid. He hopes that his team of experienced writers bring a bit of that to all of AlwaysReadyHQ's readers.