I have a pair of nubuck leather mittens that are nice and warm but do not last very long when cycling in the rain in autumn/winter or when building snowmen and throwing snowballs.

So now i'm looking for a waterproof replacement. The mittens should be able to withstand rain for about 45 minutes while cycling. In addition, for a short time a year i would use them daily in the snow while throwing snow balls and building a snowman.

For this reason i think expensive gore-tex (like) fabric is less suited, because gore-tex stops being waterproof when dirty. Also i think the water-resistant layer would not last very long. Is this correct? And is leather a better solution? Is it feasible to clean/dry leather mittens in the evening, apply cream/grease and use them again the following day?


3 Answers 3


I spend a lot of time in the snowy wet Sierra's and the only way I know to have a dry pair of mittens at the end of the day is to have two pairs of mittens.

Goretex et al can help, but only if the mitten is constructed such that the WB layer is one piece insert between the outer and inner layers of the mitten. Even then you can wear gaps in the WB layer. The other problem is that water is always going to get in by running down your arm into the mitten. So waterproof tends to mean that the water that gets in never gets out.

A lot of skiers like the low budget insulated work mitten solution( google wells lamont insulated work mitten). They have fabric backs and leather palms and waterproof treatments like NixWax work well on them. They are cheap enough that you can always have a spare dry pair.

I think it's much more important to finding something that will be warm after it gets wet than to chase the impossible dream of dry hands. Waterproof stuff helps in that it tends to keep the same water near your hands so you can warm it up.

Cycling in the rain and messing around in the snow are so different, that you should focus on finding solutions that work for each rather than one for all. You don't need to spend a lot of money, simple latex gloves under cycling gloves can help a lot biking in the rain.

  1. For extended outing using an antipersperant on your hands helps.

  2. Overmitts plus fleece liners is my goto. I have a pair of leather cowhide overmits that I use when working -- leather takes the abuse of moving firewood. I ahve a nylon pair with duraflex (breathable coating applied directly to fabric.) for use in bitter cold weather.

  3. On extended trips (multi-day winter trips) I carry both. Leather ones around the fire, nylon ones on the trail.

Having separate liners makes them much easier to dry. Since the outers don't actually hold much water, cold hands are a matter of changing liners. And liners are light.


I can't answer the specifics of mittens, but I can answer in terms of leather and cleaning/drying.

Artificial fibers materials can be very hard wearing, if you get the right ones - gloves designed for mountaineering will be tough and designed for snow/ice use. However, I have found that leather ones for biking are great - provided they are looked after properly.

Leather is a very hard-wearing material if looked after properly. This means regular cleaning and treatments. You should never dry leather with a high heat, such as in front of a fire or in a clothes drier; it should always be dried with low temperatures (i.e room temp) and out of direct sunlight. You should also avoid wax and oil based products like dubbin as these tend to clog the natural pores in the leather that allow it to breathe and act as a barrier to water (i.e. sweat) escaping the glove. They do completely water-proof the leather though.

For drying you can get boot dryers that come with attachments for gloves, like these ones (I have no affiliation with this company or any others in this post), which basically blow cool or slightly warm air through the boots/gloves and should be easily capable of drying a pair of gloves in an hour or so.

For leather the best advice I have come across is to use a water-based conditioner such as Nikwax or the Lowa brand stuff. These should be applied when the leather is damp and allowed to absorb. They will add water repellent properties, keep the leather supple and prolong the life of your gloves.

  • How long would it take to dry leather mittens at room temperature? I have to confess i dry mine on the heater to be sure they are dry the next day. A boot dryer is pretty cool but not the kind of thing i'd put in my backpack when going for a winter holiday.
    – Ivana
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 22:45
  • 1
    They'll dry faster if you fill them with loosely crumpled newspaper.
    – csk
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 22:47

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