Given comparable contstuction and insulation betwwen a pair of gloves and pair of mittens that are designed for winter / below 0C conditions, at what temperature range would mittens be preferable to gloves for the same level of activity.

For example both Hestra and FreeThePowder make both gloves and mittens with removable insulated liners, leather forehand and breathable fabric backhands. In other words the same amount of insulation goes into the construction of both the glove and the mitten models.

At what approximate temperature would a glove become too cold for standing around in, compelling one to switch to a mitten??

At what approximate temperature would a glove become too cold while doing aerobic excersize such as snow-show walking or cross-country skiing, compelling one to switch to a mitten??

  • 3
    I would say it is very subjective, some people feel the cold worse than others.
    – Paul Lydon
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 12:01
  • 1
    Any semi coldish temperature at all, really, if you don't have use for the finger dexterity a glove gives you
    – Stian
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 13:03
  • This is a manifestation of the x-y problem. Gloves VS mitts of the same construction and insulation aren't about temperature but about dexterity. Backcountry skiing (putting climbing skins and fiddling with bindings) or ice climbing with mitts (manipulatings protection equipment) just doesn't work at all.
    – Gabriel
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 19:37
  • I used to like mittens in Cleveland winters. If they are slightly oversized, you can usually fit in an extra liner layer. Any time you are getting freezing finger tips, you really need as much protection as you can get. Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 22:01

1 Answer 1


As @Paul Lydon said, it is subjective because some people feel the cold more than others. Plus some people who are otherwise relatively unaffected by cold may, because of circulation problems, feel the cold in their hands more than others.

The answer to the OP's question also depends on the length of time he will be outside, and the wind, and whether his hands are free to put them in his pockets from time to time, and the likelihood that he will get his gloves or mittens wet.

Thus, the best solution to the OP's uncertainty is layering. When it becomes too cold for warm gloves, put a thin glove under a pair of mittens. This has the added benefit that if one needs to fiddle with something delicate in the cold, one doesn't have to do it with bare hands.

As for the specific question, when to switch to mittens, I speak only for myself. I will switch to the thin glove plus mitten combo if I am going to be out for a prolonged period well below freezing -- probably in the high teens/low twenties F. (23 degrees F is minus 5 degrees C.) (If I am going to be out in those temperatures for only a short period, I will go out with bare hands and use my pockets if necessary.)

  • 2
    I find that wind (or windchill) also has a great influence. (Although I do prefer mittens in almost all weathers that require something around my hands.)
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 19:30

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