Snowmobiling is a great recreational sport, but it can get very cold on those trails.

In fact, hands get colder while snowmobiling than other outdoor sports, like cross-country skiing … because you don’t generate as much internal heat.

Heated grips help … but even with heated handles your palms can stay warm and the backs of your hands and fingers can get cold.

Today, we explain the options — snowmobile mittens, gloves, or hybrids — to keep hands warm while snowmobiling.

What’s the best solution for warm hands? The answer … as with most things … is it depends.  

Snowmobile Mittens

First things first:  Mittens are warm! 

To be exact, studies have shown that all things being equal, mittens are 25% warmer than gloves, for a few reasons:

  • Less surface area is exposed to the elements
  • The construction of a mitten allows for thicker insulation 
  • There’s more room to wear a liner in mittens than in a glove

Well if mittens are so warm, then why aren’t they the most popular option for snowmobilers? The biggest issue is dexterity …

Gloves allow for more hand function. If you have ever tried to shift or signal while motorcycling, or to buckle your (ski) boots with mittens, you know what we mean.

The other reason is the “macho factor”. We love mittens, personally, so we hate to even bring this up. But the fact is that 85-90% of mittens are sold to women, while only 10-15% are sold to men!

Snowmobile Gloves

Most snowmobile enthusiasts prefer gloves. In fact, 95% of snowmobilers wear gloves for a few reasons … but the main one, other than style preference, is dexterity. 

In fact, we’d go so far as to say that dexterity is a safety issue. Your responses have to be lightening quick, so you want as much movement and control as possible.

Snowmobile gloves give you that … an important edge over mittens. So the challenge becomes, how to choose the warmest glove possible?  Here is what to look for to keep hands warm and dry::

Leather or Fabric: Snowmobile Gloves can be made out of leather or rugged fabric. THe most important thing for warmth is that they are waterproof, and that the insulation and contruction is designed for snowmobiling, as noted below.

Waterproof and Breathable: Hands have to stay dry to stay warm. Look for waterproof gloves with sealed seams and a high quality waterproof liner sewn in between the shell and the interior of the glove.

Better waterproof systems also “breathe” (keep water out, and perspiration away from you skin). Look for high quality waterproof breathable components like Gore-Tex® or AquaTex.

Insulation and Construction: The other factor, when it comes to warmth, is how snowmobile gloves are constructed.  Warm gloves keep body heat close to your hand, in very specific places.

Instead of just a certain gram weight of insulating material like Thinsulate® or Primaloft®, gloves should be designed with more insulation at the back of the hand, less on the palm, more at the finger tips, better layering to trap air, etc. It’s not simply the weight of the insulation, but the overall construction that matters most.

3_finger_gloveA Hybrid Solution: “3 Finger Gloves” and “Lobster Gloves”

As with most things, it’s not an either/or decision.  There’s a third “hybrid” option:

3 Finger gloves: 3 finger gloves are gloves where the first (index) finger is separate from the other 3 fingers.  This allows for more dexterity, although you lose a little warmth vs. a full mitten.

Note:  3 Finger gloves are not the same as “trigger finger” gloves. Trigger finger” usually refers to a zippered index finger that allows the index finger to come out of the glove, usually for hunting.

Lobster gloves: Lobster gloves look just like a lobster claw! The pinky and ring finger are in one space, and the 1st and 2nd finger are in another.  Lobster claw gloves offer more warmth than 5-finger gloves, and a little more dexterity vs. mittens. Butter on the side, optional:)

Which Will You Choose?

So there you have it: Mittens have the edge, as far as warmth is concerned. Gloves have better dexterity. And there’s a hybrid solution, too. Choose a reliable brand, and ALL will keep you warm.

Note:  Look for features like built-in goggle wipers, smart phone touch-enabled fingertips, warm gauntlets  … and more …  a matter of budget and preference.
Which is your preference and why?  Leave a comment … we’re interested in hearing what you think, and which gear improvements would improve your enjoyment of the sport.

Here’s to a snowy and fun winter. Happy Snowmobiling! 

P.S. Visit your favorite powersports dealer, or check out 14 snowmobile styles in our online store, many with FREE shipping


While we don’t have as broad a selection of mittens and “hybrids” as gloves … over 95% of our online customer reviews are 5-star, so riders and sportsmen like you do like our gloves!