Guides Hiking Gloves

Best Hiking Gloves for Backcountry Use: 2021 Buyer’s Guide

man hiking in the wilderness

If you’re an avid hiker, then you already know why wearing the best hiking gloves on any hiking trip is important. If you’re new to hiking, then you may not realize that these gloves are a very important piece of gear. The fact that the gloves can keep your hands nice and warm is just part of the reason you don’t ever want to go hiking without them. If you’re a relatively new hiker and you don’t already have a pair of good hiking gloves and don’t know why you’d even need them, then you’ve come to the right place. Wearing these gloves when you go for a hike will offer many benefits. In this buyer’s guide, I’ll go over why hiking gloves are essential, what features you should look for, and how wearing the gloves can improve your next hiking adventure. I’ve also included reviews of the five best-selling pairs on the market, so you’ll be sure to choose the perfect pair, one that will suit your needs based on when and where you hike. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each pair, their top features, and their rating.

Hiking Gloves Comparison Chart

ProductWaterproof/
Water-Resistant
MaterialSizesRating
Intra-FIT Climbing Gloves

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NoGoat Skin5
TrailHeads Running Gloves

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YesPolyester/Spandex3
OZERO Mens Winter
Thermal Gloves

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YesTPU/Polyester/Cotton5
Black Diamond Crag
Climbing Gloves

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NoSynthetic Leather/Mesh5
Mountain Made Outdoor Gloves

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YesPolyester4
Bessteven Hiking Gloves for
Men and Women

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YesPolyester4

Best Overall-Intra-FIT Climbing Gloves


Our Rating: (5/5)

These hiking and climbing gloves are comfortable and soft, made out of high-quality grain goat skin, providing the perfect balance of dexterity and durability. The palms are heavily padded to protect the hands when you’re dealing with steep, rugged terrain. The breathable design is due to the high spandex content, which also makes the gloves flexible and easy to put on and take off. The cuffs of the gloves have Velcro closures, so you can loosen or tighten the gloves for a custom fit.

Pros

  • Built-in carabiner hole
  • Flexible
  • Durable
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Gloves run a size small

Conclusion

Made out of durable grain goat skin, these gloves offer superior grip and protection against rough terrain. The reinforced palms and fingers are designed specifically for the challenging terrain you’ll come across in the backcountry. Additionally, thanks to the level of dexterity the gloves provide, you won’t need to remove them to handle gear, dig through your pack, or answer your phone. When it comes to durability and quality, this pair of gloves is at the top of its class.

Best Moisture-Wicking Technology-Trail Heads Running Gloves


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These lightweight gloves are perfect for fall and spring use, but they don’t provide the type of insulation needed for freezing temperatures. The gloves feature a four-way stretch design, offering a higher level of dexterity. The gloves are made out of a blend of spandex, polyester, and nylon, with moisture-wicking technology. The gloves dry quickly and are designed to prevent sweat from soaking the material. The gloves also feature double layer stretch cuffs that keep them secure and promote wearer comfort.

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Made out of moisture-wicking material
  • Perfect for fall and spring use
  • Low price

Cons

  • Not well-insulated

Conclusion

These gloves may not be able to handle freezing temperatures, but they’re a great choice for use in the spring and fall months. The gloves themselves are water-resistant and feature moisture-wicking properties that will keep your hands cool and dry. These gloves are a great choice for well-maintained trails, camping, short hiking trips, and more.

Best Waterproof Hiking Gloves-OZERO Men’s Winter Thermal Gloves


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These gloves are waterproof, windproof and well-insulated, so they can be worn in cold, wet weather. The gloves are made out of TPU, cotton, and polyester, with a water-resistant shell that will keep the hands warm and dry. On the middle and index finger and the palms, you’ll find silica gel particles that are designed to improve the wearer’s grip. This will also allow you to use your phone to answer calls and texts, without removing the gloves. The elastic cuff closure also makes it easier to put the gloves on and remove them. These are the gloves you want to have on hand during the fall and winter months, especially when you’re hiking and camping in the backcountry.

Pros

  • Textured fingers and palms
  • Durable outer shell
  • Elastic cuff closure
  • Waterproof and windproof

Cons

  • Gloves are not very flexible

Conclusion

These gloves are versatile, heavy-duty, and perfect for the casual and serious hiker.

They provide excellent insulation that will protect the hands from freezing temperatures, while remaining warm and dry as you navigate the rugged terrain of the backcountry. The blend of comfortable, insulating, and durable materials ensures that these gloves will last season after season.

Best Summer Hiking Gloves-Black Diamond Crag Climbing Gloves


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These heavy-duty gloves are designed for hiking and climbing. Yet, despite their heavy-duty design, the gloves are lightweight and breathable. The gloves are designed to protect the hands from rocks, branches, and rough terrain. They’re made out of synthetic leather and mesh, which helps to improve breathability. In terms of insulation, these gloves are not designed to keep the hands warm in freezing temperatures, but they’ll work well in mild and hotter weather.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Stretchy
  • Durable
  • Made out of mesh and synthetic leather

Cons

  • Not designed for colder weather

Conclusion

These lightweight, breathable gloves are designed for mild and warm weather conditions. They do an excellent job of protecting the hands from challenging terrain and will come in handy if you’re dealing with sharp rocks, steep trails, and backcountry hiking. While they can’t protect the hands from water or freezing temperatures, their stretchy, flexible design works to improve grip and protects the hands from scratches, blisters, and abrasions.

Best Winter Hiking Gloves-Mountain Made Outdoor Gloves


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Made out of polyester and PVC rubber, these gloves improve dexterity, feature a YKK zipper closer which allows you to adjust the fit, for improved security and comfort. The material is quick drying and absorbent, offering a multi-directional stretch that’s a must for the avid hiker. These insulated gloves are waterproof and perfect for colder temperatures and wet weather conditions. However, they lack breathability, so they’re not recommended for warmer climates.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Waterproof
  • Multi-directional stretch
  • Absorbent
  • Quick drying

Cons

  • Runs a size large
  • Not breathable

Conclusion

If you’re looking for high performance gloves that can handle freezing temperatures in the backcountry, then your search is over. While the gloves lack breathability, these gloves feature the type of thick, flexible, durable design you need when you’re hiking more challenging terrain in colder conditions.

Most Rugged Hiking Gloves-Bessteven Winter Warm Gloves


Our Rating: (4/5)

These gloves are made out of water-resistant polyester. The breathable fabric will wick moisture away from the skin to keep the hands warm and dry, even in colder temperatures. The material itself is lightweight and thin, so it won’t compromise your grip, even when you’re dealing with wet, slippery terrain. This is due to the anti-slip silicone design on the palms. In addition to the silicone textured palms, you’ll also find conductive fabric on the index finger and the thumb. This allows you to use your phone to text, make calls, and swipe, without having to remove the gloves. These gloves are well-insulated, windproof, and water-resistant, offering ultimate protection in colder environments.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Moisture-wicking material
  • Made out of water-resistant polyester
  • breathable

Cons

  • Not designed for temperatures under forty-degrees
  • Can be difficult to use phone, despite textured index finger and thumb

Conclusion

These gloves are perfect for hiking, camping, and mountaineering. They can also be used for winter sports and can be worn under half-finger biking gloves, ski mittens, and bulky leather gloves. While the manufacturer claims the gloves provide excellent thermal protection, they should not be worn in temperatures under forty degrees. In extreme temperatures, the hands will still be exposed to the cold. If you’re planning on using these gloves in temperatures below forty-degrees, I recommend using them as a base layer under thicker gloves. This will provide ultimate protection in freezing temperatures.

Hiking Gloves Buyer’s Guide

A good pair of hiking gloves will protect your hands from colder temperatures, bugs, abrasions, and moisture. These gloves are not just designed to protect your hands, but the right pair can also enhance your performance on the trail.

There are several different types of gloves available on the market. But when you’re shopping for a new pair, the most important aspect isn’t the style, but the fit. But before I dive into how to size your new gloves, let’s take a look at the benefits of wearing hiking gloves.

Benefits of Hiking Gloves

hiker in the forest

  • Hiking gloves will keep your hands warm and flexible, even in freezing temperatures. Gloves with insulation will keep the hands warm and the fingers fully flexible, so your grip will not be compromised in colder weather.
  • These gloves will protect the hands from insect bites
  • If you’re dealing with some very challenging terrain, hiking gloves can also help to improve your grip. Some gloves will have a textured palm and fingertips, which can help to significantly improve a hiker’s grip, even in wet weather conditions.
  • When you’re hiking through the backcountry, you’ll be sure to come across some rough terrain. Wearing gloves will protect the skin on the hands from cuts, bruises, and abrasions

Other Important Features

As you can see, there are many reasons why you need to wear hiking gloves, whether you’re hiking in the winter or summer months. However, you can’t wear the same type of gloves for the winter that you would in the summer, since winter gloves are usually heavily insulated, while warm weather gloves usually aren’t. Because of this, you’ll need to consider many factors when you’re shopping for gloves, including breathability, fit, material, and glove type.

Fit

An ill-fitting pair of gloves can be uncomfortable to wear and can also be harmful. If you end up caught in the middle of a storm, you don’t want rain seeping into the sides of the gloves. You also don’t want to wear gloves that are too small, which can cause skin irritation, or gloves that are too big, which can have a major negative impact on your grip. Fortunately, most manufacturers will list a size chart that will display the different sizes available and their measurements.

Insulation

How much insulation you’ll need will depend on the time of year you hike and the average temperatures you have to deal with. You don’t want to overdo it with gloves that are heavily insulated if your part of the country experiences mild winters. Well-insulated gloves will be a must if you experience harsh winters and freezing temperatures.

The colder the climate, the more insulation you’ll need to keep your fingers working efficiently and your hands nice and toasty. Owning a pair of gloves that are able to absorb moisture will be key. Look for insulation padding and gloves that are made out of a type of windproof material, which will prevent the gloves from losing heat. Some gloves will feature a couple of layers, which will help with temperature control.

Some manufacturers will use a three-layer system which involves a waterproofing technique that’s used for the liner and outer layers. This design provides the most insulation.

Typically, synthetic materials or insulating-down are used. Down is a great option because it’s breathable, durable, and light. It’s also easily compressible without losing its power to insulate. However, it’s a more expensive option compared to synthetic fiber and it doesn’t offer the same level of insulating power once it’s wet. With synthetic materials, you’ll find that it causes the gloves to be somewhat bulky. Unfortunately, it can also lose some of its insulating power if the materials are compressed. Nylon is a type of synthetic material that’s not very breathable, but it offers excellent insulation.

Breathability

Breathability is also important, since gloves that are made out of material that’s not very breathable can cause the hands to sweat excessively, negatively impacting your grip. Gloves that are made out of breathable materials will keep the hands nice and cool, allowing moisture to escape from the interior of the glove but preventing moisture from entering.

Polyester does an excellent job of wicking away moisture and also absorbs oil-based body sweat. Search for gloves that are equipped with a lining that’s made out of polyester.

Outer Shell

The most important part of the gloves is the outer shell. While a standard pair of gloves are made out of the same material inside and out, hiking gloves consist of a mixture of different types of materials, with a more durable outer shell that’s abrasion and tear-resistant. When you buy hiking gloves, make sure they’re made out of materials that are designed to handle heavy-duty wear and tear. Some outer shells are waterproof, while others are not. In most cases, you won’t need gloves that have a high waterproof rating that keeps the hands dry in the event of submersion. Instead, the gloves should be able to handle light to heavy rainfall.

Warmth

How warm a pair of gloves are will be determined by the material type and thickness. If warmth is a big priority for you, then the first thing to check out is the insulation layer. Usually, gloves that consist of multiple layers will be the warmest, compared to a single layer pair. However, glove warmth isn’t everyone’s main priority, especially for hikers who need gloves to use during the spring and summer months.

Protection

The main reason people purchase hiking gloves, aside from their warmth, is the level of protection they can provide. Some hikes will demand more durable gloves than others, but regardless, protection will be vital. Look for gloves that come equipped with palms that are made out of durable material, such as leather. You should also look for gloves that are equipped with extra padding on the fingers and the knuckles.

Anti-Slip

In some hiking situations, a good grip will be crucial, especially if you’re dealing with steep rocky terrain. In this type of situation, you’ll want a durable pair of gloves that offer excellent traction. Look for gloves that come equipped with drawstrings, zippers, straps, or cinches that are designed to secure your gloves. An anti-slip palm print can also help to improve your grip.

Types of Hiking Gloves

couple hiking in the wilderness

The type of gloves you choose should depend on the type of hiker you are, where you hike, terrain type, and of course, weather conditions.

There are a few main types of hiking gloves to choose from, including:

  • Fleece
  • Waterproof
  • Gripping gloves

Fleece

These gloves are a great buy because they do a good job of keeping the hands nice and warm, the material is light, and they’re usually very affordable. Even if the material gets wet, the fleece is still able to provide warmth. Additionally, fleece also dries impressively fast. Gloves that are made out of fleece are perfect for moderately cool weather and can also be used as a base layer, if you’re wearing waterproof gloves.

Some hiking gloves that are made out of this material will come with traction fingertips, which will allow you to use your phone without removing your gloves.

Waterproof

Waterproof hiking gloves are designed to keep the hands dry in adverse conditions. Some gloves will provide superior protection and insulation while others won’t do that great of a job keeping the hands warm but do offer a higher level of finger dexterity.

Gripping

These gloves will focus mainly on traction. They’re a good choice for the hiker who often hikes through very challenging terrain, or the mountaineer. These are the gloves that have traction on the palms and fingertips, which will make it much easier for the wearer to handle climbing up steep and rocky terrain.

Price

These days, hiking gloves are surprisingly affordable. The price will be based on the type of material the gloves are made out of. In most cases, you can find a great pair of gloves for $20 to $40. Lower priced gloves tend to lack durability and breathability. If you need gloves you can rely on for the entire season, I recommend investing in a pair of top of the line gloves. They’re definitely worth the higher price tag.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Choose Mittens or Gloves For Hiking?

Gloves and mittens both offer different types of benefits, but if you’re looking for gloves to wear when you’re hiking in colder temperatures, then you’ll want to go with hiking gloves because they offer a higher level of dexterity. The ability to use all of your fingers, moving them freely, will help to improve your grip when you’re dealing with large rocks, branches, and challenging terrain. It will also allow you to use your phone, drink, and eat, easily. However, if you’re planning a short hike with flat terrain and you’re dealing with freezing temperatures, you can always opt for some mittens, just bring a good pair of hiking gloves along just in case.

How Can I Wash My Hiking Gloves?

Most types of hiking gloves are machine washable. However, you’ll need to double check the manufacturer’s care instructions before you toss them in the wash. If you have to hand wash them, you can use a cloth and warm soapy water to wipe them down, allowing them to air dry.

What are Hiking Gloves?

Hiking gloves are designed to protect the hiker in the event of colder weather conditions. However, lightweight hiking gloves can also be used in warmer weather to protect the hands from blisters, bug bites, scratches, abrasions, and rough terrain.

Do I Need to Choose Waterproof Gloves for Hiking?

That will depend on when and where you hike. If you’re hiking in warmer weather, in dry conditions, then no. If you’re hiking in the winter, or wet terrain, such as a swamp, or around a river, then waterproof gloves are a must and can keep your hands nice and dry throughout the duration of your hike.

Do You Need Gloves for Hiking?

In most cases yes. These gloves can protect the hands from a variety of weather conditions and terrain types. If you want to keep your hands soft and free from blisters and calluses and you normally climb through steep rocky terrain, gloves are a great option. In colder weather, gloves can keep your hands warm and dry and will allow the fingers to maintain their dexterity, even in freezing temperatures.

How do You Choose Winter Gloves?

If you’re looking for gloves that you can wear daily, then go for hiking gloves that are made out of fleece, spandex, or polyester, since these materials will provide plenty of warmth. If you’re looking for gloves that can provide maximum protection, then I’d go for gloves that consist of a couple of layers, including the shell and the inner lining.

Final Thoughts

The best hiking gloves will suit your needs depending on the time of year you hike and the environment. Remember, when you’re shopping around for the right pair, size, comfort, material type, insulation, and breathability, will all be important factors to pay close attention to. This guide is designed to help you choose a pair of hiking gloves that will be a huge asset on your next trip. Each of the products that made it onto my top five list scored high in a variety of areas including breathability, fit, durability, and overall quality. With this guide and my product recommendations, you should have no trouble finding the perfect pair to use on every hiking trip, whether you’re mountaineering, or dealing with backcountry terrain.