Under a windproof shell mitten, is an insulating liner mitten significantly warmer than an insulating liner glove made of the same material and thickness?

This is a different question from "Are mittens warmer than gloves?" because that question is about mittens vs. gloves that aren't inside a windproof shell mitten.

Some facts (I think):

  • When exposed to the atmosphere, mittens are warmer than gloves because a mitten has less surface area to conduct heat or release water vapor.

  • Wind strips away the layer of warm moist air from next to the skin, speeding up conduction and evaporative cooling.

  • Insulation works by trapping air (a very slow conductor) close to the skin and slowing down convection within that layer of air -- that's why the walls of buildings are lined with fiberglass batts instead of left empty.

  • Wind makes insulation less effective by forcing air through the gaps, causing convection.

Speculation based on that:

Liner mittens and gloves equally do the job of trapping air next to the skin and limiting convection. Inside the windproof shell mitten, either one works at maximal effectiveness. Because there's no material between the liner and the shell to prevent convection, and because the shell doesn't prevent conduction, we can assume the air inside the shell is about the same temperature as the air outside. But the shell does minimize evaporative cooling by minimizing the surface area that's exposed to the wind.

It seems the only difference between the liner mitten and the liner glove is that the glove has more surface area for conduction with the air inside the shell mitten. But is that conduction even significant? It's a confined environment inside the mitten, and the fingers of the liner glove are usually in contact.

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Are mittens warmer than gloves?
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 20:28
  • The accepted answer to your linked question more than adequately answers this question as well. It covers layering mitts and gloves.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 20:32
  • I have read both, and this doesn't feel like a dupe to me, especially since the OP went to the trouble of explaining why Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 22:03
  • 1
    I've been wearing a "lobster claw" liner (thumb and index finger are separate; other fingers are together) under a windproof shell mitten in cold weather, and my index finger feels noticeably colder than the other three. That doesn't happen with a regular mitten liner. So I think a liner mitten really is warmer than a liner glove.
    – Jordan
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 2:32

2 Answers 2


I think, that whether you have a shell mitten or not, the main argument is the same - inside a mitten, you have one space for a whole hand, so small distant parts like the fingertips could get missing heat from the palm.

From personal experience - when my hands get cold in both shell and liner gloves/mittens, I usually try to make a fist inside a mitten to warm the fingers and it doesn't work that well with the gloves, because cold fingers are trapped inside their own cold glove fingers - so, when the warmth is really important, the mittens are hard to beat.


I've found the best luck with a combination of having gloves with an attached pull-over cover or shell that creates a mitten to hold in heat from the multiple layers of fabric between each finger. If only there was a way to keep the thumb in with the rest of the hand.

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