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

Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves by trapping body heat, making them superior for extreme cold weather and preventing frostbite.

why are mittens warmer than gloves

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.

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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.

Do mittens or gloves work better?

Mittens may not provide the same level of dexterity as gloves, but they offer superior warmth, making them a better choice for extremely cold weather.

Why do mittens help keep your hands warm in the winter?

Mittens help keep your hands warm in the winter by keeping the fingers close together, which traps heat and maintains warmth. By providing increased insulation and warmth for the fingers, mittens effectively prevent frostbite and other cold-related injuries.

Does a mitten produce heat or keep heat trapped?

The mitten does not generate heat, but rather functions as an insulator, trapping our body heat and energy. It works by containing the heat in close proximity to our skin, thereby keeping us warm.

Do gloves keep hands warm yes or no?

Gloves do keep hands warm by providing insulation that helps retain body heat, especially in extreme cold weather conditions. Additionally, there are various styles available to cater to specific work-related requirements.

Why do mittens have fingers?

Mittens have fingers to enable the shell of the mitten to move in sync with your hand, providing dexterity similar to a glove while still offering the undeniable warmth of a mitten. Additionally, having finger slots allows for improved moisture management.

What effect does cold weather have on hands?

Cold weather has a significant impact on hands, leading to various detrimental effects. As a response to the cold, fingers and toes tend to become cold in order to maintain warmth in the trunk. However, this cold response can have hazardous consequences for the hands. These include a reduction in hand dexterity, grip strength, sensitivity, and overall motor function. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can even result in frostbite and necrosis.

Why are some people’s hands warm and others cold?

Some people have warm hands while others have cold hands due to differences in blood circulation. When blood flow to the hands is increased, it results in pink and warmer hands. Conversely, when there is restricted blood flow, the hands can become colder and sometimes even painful. This restriction of blood flow to the hands can occur when the two arteries responsible for carrying blood to the hands are affected.

Why are my hands still cold in gloves?

Your hands may still feel cold even when wearing gloves due to ill-fitting gloves. Gloves that are too large for your hands can be a major factor in causing cold fingers during the winter season. It is important to remember that it is the warmth generated by your hands that keeps the gloves (or mittens) insulated.

Why are some people’s hands always so cold?

Some people’s hands are always cold due to various factors such as anemia, diabetes, lupus, scleroderma, thyroid disease, poor circulation, or nervous system disorders. Additionally, even otherwise healthy individuals may experience cold hands as a normal response to a cold environment, which is usually not a cause for concern.

How do you keep your hands warm in gloves?

To keep your hands warm in gloves, it is recommended to wear a liner closest to your skin. This liner should effectively remove moisture and create a thin layer that provides warmth. It is important to keep the liner on while performing tasks that require finger dexterity to avoid direct contact with cold surfaces. Wearing a thin liner inside your glove can increase heat by approximately 20 percent.

Should winter gloves fit tight or loose?

Winter gloves should fit snugly, neither too tight nor too loose. If they are too small, they can limit movement and leave your wrists vulnerable to the cold. On the other hand, a properly fitting glove or mitten should have approximately ¼ inch of material beyond your outstretched fingers. It should also allow you to make a fist without feeling too constricted or restricted.

Do fingerless gloves keep your hands warm?

Fingerless gloves do keep your hands warm because, despite leaving your fingers exposed, they still cover your pulse point, palm, and wrist, ensuring that your hands remain toasty.

Are my hands supposed to be cold all the time?

My hands should not be cold all the time. If my hands feel cold frequently, even when I’m not in a cold environment, it may be advisable to consult a healthcare provider.

How can I keep my hands warm in the winter without gloves?

To keep your hands warm in the winter without gloves, you can utilize your body heat. Regardless of the outside temperature, certain parts of our bodies, like the areas under our armpits and between and under our thighs, tend to remain warm. Place your bare hands directly on the skin in a warm region of your body and keep them there until they become warm.

What is it called when your hands are always cold?

When your hands are always cold, it is referred to as Raynaud’s (ray-NOSE) disease, which causes numbness and cold sensations in certain body parts, like the fingers and toes, in response to cold temperatures or stress.

How can I make my hands more cold resistant?

To make your hands more resistant to cold, consider using gloves that are thicker or have better wind-proofing. Mittens are also a great option as they provide more warmth compared to fingered gloves. Additionally, you may want to try using gloves with a long gauntlet to cover your wrists, as the thin skin in that area can result in significant heat loss if left exposed.

What are the pros and cons mittens vs gloves?

Mittens are advantageous in keeping hands warmer due to the fingers being snugly together, resulting in less heat loss. They are ideal for gripping poles and sled ropes, and are easy to put on and take off, which is particularly beneficial for children. However, it is important to note that mittens offer less dexterity compared to gloves.

Are mittens or gloves better for hiking?

Mittens are a preferable choice for hiking due to their convenience and ability to retain heat. They are easier to put on and remove, and the close contact of fingers in mittens helps to preserve warmth. Additionally, mittens provide a practical option for keeping hand warmer packets tucked inside.

Are mittens or gloves better for kids?

The better option for kids, whether mittens or gloves, depends on their outdoor activities. If your child will be downhill skiing, where hand dexterity is not crucial, mittens are recommended. However, for all-around use, especially if your child will be dealing with boot buckles, heavy zippers, and snowball making, gloves are the preferred choice.

Should I get mittens or gloves for skiing?

You should consider whether to get mittens or gloves for skiing. If your main concern is staying warm, opting for high-quality mittens would be a good choice. Mittens are particularly beneficial for women and children who often experience cold fingers. On the other hand, if you require excellent grip and dexterity for certain activities or prefer easier picture-taking, gloves might be more suitable for you.

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