Freezing hands and numb fingers will ruin the pleasure of your winter run – so when the cold weather arrives, a high quality pair of running gloves are essential. They will keep your hands cosy, block the effects of wind and rain, wick away sweat and – in many cases – enable you to continue using the touchscreens of your phone and GPS smartwatch.
Gone are the days of glove-buying being a simple procedure. There are a myriad of different styles, materials and designs on the market, available from a myriad of different brands – which makes choosing one pair far trickier. How much warmth do you need from your gloves? Is wind and water resistance a priority or not? Do you need touchscreen-compatible e-tips and safety-conscious reflective detailing? Will you find normal 5-fingered gloves, mittens or ‘lobster’ designs more comfortable? And how prone are you to clammy, sweaty hands?
These are all questions you’ll need to mull over and answer. But, whether you’re shopping for super-warm gloves, lightweight liners, weather-resistant mittens or tech-approved e-tips, here’s the Outdoors Magic guide to shopping for a new pair of running gloves.
Putting all the fabric wizardry and high-tech features aside for a minute, the most important thing with any pair of gloves is that they fit well. Aim for a pair that are snug enough for good dexterity, but not too tight as to be restrictive or too loose that they flap around. Consequently it’s best to try before you buy, where possible.
Gloves come in a broad variety of fabrics, from natural materials such as merino wool to synthetic blends such as polyester, spandex and nylon. Merino is warm and quick-drying, but some people find it itchy. Modern synthetic fabrics tend to feel soft against the skin, and are designed to wick sweat, regulate temperature and deliver a good balance between warmth, weather protection and breathability. A few of the fabric options to look out for include gloves with a fleecy lining for added warmth, softness and comfort, and those with a windproof outer (such as Gore-Tex Infinium or Pertex) for enhanced weather-resistance.
All gloves provide some level of thermal insulation, but warmth levels can vary significantly. Thinner gloves will provide a touch of warmth, without the risk of over-heating (a common problem as your hands warm up throughout the course of your run). Thicker gloves – particularly those with integrated insulation such as down, fleece or Primaloft synthetic fill – will trap heat more efficiently and thus deliver far more warmth. But thicker gloves can feel bulky and unwieldy with poor dexterity, and can easily lead to over-heating. Most runners opt for lighter, thinner gloves with minimal insulation.
Your hands can easily get sweaty and clammy in gloves. Breathable fabrics are the solution, allowing sweat to wick away from your skin. But take brands’ claims about breathability with a pinch of salt – gloves are rarely as ventilated as the over-confident marketing blurb claims.
If you want to keep your hands dry, you’ll need gloves with some kind of waterproof membrane or a a rain-resistant coating such as a DWR. Some brands use Gore-Tex while others have their own in-house waterproof fabrics. But proceed with caution – many runners believe waterproof gloves are best avoided because it’s almost impossible to find a pair that won’t leave your hands super-sweaty and mega-clammy. This is because gloves that are truly waterproof probably won’t be breathable enough to prevent sweating.