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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.