The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Gloves: How to Choose, Use, and Maintain Them

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When it comes to hiking gear, one item that is often overlooked but can make a huge difference in your comfort and safety is a good pair of hiking gloves. In this ultimate guide to hiking gloves, we’ll cover everything you need to know about choosing, using, and maintaining hiking gloves.


Hiking gloves are an essential piece of gear for any hiker, regardless of skill level or hiking experience. They provide protection for your hands from the elements, terrain, and potential hazards while also allowing you to maintain dexterity and grip. In this guide, we’ll help you understand why you need hiking gloves, the different types of gloves available, and what factors to consider when choosing the right gloves for your needs.

Why You Need Hiking Gloves

Hiking gloves serve several important purposes. They protect your hands from the elements, including cold, wind, and rain. They also provide cushioning and support, preventing blisters and abrasions from forming on your hands during long hikes. In addition, hiking gloves provide grip and dexterity, which is especially important when navigating tricky terrain, such as steep ascents and descents, rocky or uneven ground, or when using trekking poles.

Types of Hiking Gloves

There are three main types of hiking gloves, each designed for different conditions and purposes.

1. Lightweight Gloves

Lightweight gloves are designed for mild to moderate weather conditions. They are made from thin, breathable materials, such as nylon or polyester, and are often lined with fleece for warmth. Lightweight gloves provide some protection from the cold and wind but are not suitable for extreme weather or temperatures.

2. Midweight Gloves

Midweight gloves are designed for colder or wetter conditions. They are made from thicker, more insulating materials, such as wool or synthetic blends, and often feature waterproof membranes, such as Gore-Tex. Midweight gloves provide more warmth and protection than lightweight gloves but are still relatively lightweight and flexible.

3. Heavyweight Gloves

Heavyweight gloves are designed for the most extreme conditions, such as high altitudes, polar expeditions, or winter hiking. They are made from thick, heavily insulated materials, such as down or Primaloft, and often feature multiple layers and waterproof membranes. Heavyweight gloves provide maximum warmth and protection but can be bulky and restrictive.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Hiking Gloves

When choosing hiking gloves, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you get the right pair for your needs. Here are some of the most important factors to consider:

1. Material

Hiking gloves are made from a variety of materials, including nylon, polyester, wool, leather, and synthetic blends. Each material has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose a material that fits your needs. For example, leather gloves are durable and provide excellent grip, but they may not be as breathable as synthetic materials.

2. Insulation

Insulation is a crucial factor to consider when choosing hiking gloves, especially if you’ll be hiking in cold or wet conditions. Look for gloves that have insulation appropriate for the conditions you’ll be facing. For example, lightweight gloves with a thin fleece lining may be sufficient for mild conditions, while heavyweight gloves with down insulation and waterproof membranes may be necessary for extreme conditions.

3. Dexterity

It’s important to choose hiking gloves that allow you to maintain dexterity and grip, especially when using trekking poles or navigating tricky terrain. Look for gloves that fit well and provide a good range of motion for your fingers.

4. Waterproofing

If you’ll be hiking in wet conditions, it’s essential to choose gloves that are waterproof or at least water-resistant. Look for gloves that have a waterproof membrane, such as Gore-Tex, or that are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating.

5. Breathability

Breathability is also important, especially if you’ll be hiking in warm or humid conditions. Look for gloves that are made from breathable materials and have vents or perforations to allow for airflow.

6. Fit

Proper fit is crucial for hiking gloves, as gloves that are too loose or too tight can be uncomfortable and limit your dexterity. Make sure to try on gloves before purchasing to ensure a good fit.

7.  Cuff Style

The cuff style of hiking gloves can also affect their performance. Gauntlet-style cuffs that extend up your forearm provide more protection from the elements, while shorter cuffs provide more flexibility and ventilation.

8. Touchscreen Compatibility

If you’ll be using your phone or other touchscreen devices on your hike, consider gloves that are touchscreen compatible, allowing you to use your devices without removing your gloves.

9. Color

While color may not be the most important factor when choosing hiking gloves, it can be helpful to choose gloves in a bright or reflective color to increase visibility on the trail.

How to Use Hiking Gloves

Using hiking gloves is pretty straightforward, but here are some tips to make sure you’re using them effectively:

1. Put Them On Properly

When putting on your hiking gloves, make sure they fit snugly but not too tight. Pull the cuffs up over your wrists to prevent debris and cold air from getting in.

2. Adjust Them As Needed

Throughout your hike, you may need to adjust your gloves for comfort or to access items in your pockets. Take the time to make any necessary adjustments to ensure that your gloves stay in place and don’t impede your dexterity.

3. Use Them For Grip

Hiking gloves are designed to provide excellent grip, so use them to your advantage. When climbing, use your gloves to grip rocks or branches for support. When using trekking poles, use the palm and fingers of your gloves to grip the poles.

4. Protect Your Hands

Hiking gloves can protect your hands from cuts, scrapes, and blisters, so use them to prevent injuries. Wear gloves when handling sharp objects or rough surfaces to prevent cuts and scrapes, and wear gloves when hiking to prevent blisters from forming on your hands.

5. Take Them Off When Needed

While hiking gloves provide important protection and grip, there may be times when you need to take them off. For example, if you need to use your phone or other touchscreen device, you may need to remove your gloves. Additionally, if your gloves get wet or sweaty, it’s important to remove them to allow your hands to breathe and dry off.

6. Clean Them As Needed

Hiking gloves can get dirty and sweaty over time, so it’s important to clean them as needed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your gloves, but in general, you can wash them in warm water with mild detergent, rinse them thoroughly, and allow them to air dry.

By following these tips, you can use your hiking gloves effectively and keep your hands protected and comfortable while on the trail.

How to Maintain Hiking Gloves

Hiking gloves can be a valuable investment, so it’s important to take good care of them to ensure they last as long as possible. Here are some tips for maintaining your hiking gloves:

1. Clean Them Regularly

Dirt, sweat, and other debris can accumulate on your gloves over time, which can cause them to deteriorate faster. To keep your gloves clean, wash them regularly with mild soap and warm water. Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach, which can damage the gloves.

2. Dry Them Properly

After washing your gloves, squeeze out the excess water and hang them to dry. Avoid using a clothes dryer, which can shrink or melt the gloves. Instead, allow them to air dry in a warm, dry place, away from direct sunlight.

3. Store Them Carefully

When you’re not using your hiking gloves, store them in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight and moisture. Avoid crumpling or folding the gloves, which can cause them to lose their shape. If possible, store them in a drawer or on a shelf, rather than in a backpack or bag, which can compress them.

4. Treat Them With Care

While hiking gloves are designed to be durable, they can still be damaged if not treated properly. Avoid using your gloves for activities they’re not designed for, such as chopping wood or handling sharp objects. Be careful not to snag them on branches or other obstacles on the trail, which can cause tears or holes.

5. Replace Them When Necessary

No matter how well you maintain your hiking gloves, they will eventually wear out. When you start to notice signs of wear and tear, such as holes, tears, or thinning material, it’s time to replace them. Continuing to use worn-out gloves can put your hands at risk of injury.

By following these tips, you can maintain your hiking gloves and keep them in good condition for many hikes to come.


In conclusion, hiking gloves are an essential piece of gear for anyone who enjoys hiking or other outdoor activities. They provide important protection for your hands, as well as grip and dexterity for various tasks on the trail.

When choosing hiking gloves, it’s important to consider factors such as the type of hiking you’ll be doing, the climate you’ll be in, and your personal preferences for fit and style. By taking the time to choose the right gloves for your needs, you can ensure that you’ll have a comfortable and safe experience on the trail.

Additionally, it’s important to maintain your hiking gloves properly to ensure they last as long as possible. Regular cleaning, proper storage, and careful use can all help to prolong the life of your gloves.

By following the tips provided in this article, you can choose and use hiking gloves effectively and keep your hands protected and comfortable on your next hike.


Q: Can I use regular gloves for hiking?

A: While regular gloves may provide some protection, they are not designed for the specific needs of hiking. Hiking gloves are designed to provide the necessary grip, dexterity, and protection needed for outdoor activities.

Q: How do I know what size hiking gloves to buy?

A: Hiking gloves come in a range of sizes, so it’s important to measure your hand and compare it to the size chart provided by the manufacturer. It’s also a good idea to try on gloves before purchasing them to ensure a proper fit.

Q: Can I wash my hiking gloves in a washing machine?

A: It’s generally not recommended to wash hiking gloves in a washing machine, as the agitation can damage the gloves. Hand washing with mild soap and warm water is typically the best method for cleaning hiking gloves.

Q: Can I use waterproofing spray on my hiking gloves?

A: Yes, waterproofing spray can be applied to hiking gloves to help repel water and keep your hands dry in wet conditions. However, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid using harsh chemicals that could damage the gloves.

Q: How often should I replace my hiking gloves?

A: The lifespan of hiking gloves can vary depending on factors such as the frequency of use, the type of hiking activities you do, and the quality of the gloves. However, as a general rule, it’s a good idea to replace your hiking gloves when you start to notice signs of wear and tear, such as holes or thinning material.

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