The best material for winter gloves should provide ample warmth to shield you against very low temperatures. This is the reason why winter glove manufacturers use a combination of fleece, leather, foam, cotton, and more. Many glove makers also have the proprietary fabrics that they used to boost the protection of the gear against harsh conditions.
Below are some of the widely used materials in making winter gloves:
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Winter gloves shell
The shell of the winter gloves is your first line of defense against freezing temperatures. The material for this part should be durable, water-resistant, flexible, and grippy. Most of all, it should put up against wear and tear. The following are the most commonly used materials as a shell on winter gloves:
Leather is a popular option across glove types due to its pliability, durability, and chic look. It’s also great insulation that repels moisture while trapping body heat within the hands. Winter gloves made of leather may have the following leather types:
- Deerskin. Top-grain deerskin leather offers superior quality since it’s naturally resistant to extreme cold. It also remains pliable even if washed and dried repeatedly. However, this type of winter glove material is more expensive than synthetic or faux leather.
- Pigskin. If you’re handling wet or oily objects during winter, you must look for pigskin as a glove material. This is perfect for snowball fights while remaining soft and pliable.
- Cowhide. Cowhide is one of the toughest leather material you can ever find. It’s used on high-end winter gloves since it’s durable, pliable, and can take the beating of the toughest conditions.
Another popular winter glove material is very soft wool. Unlike leather, a wool glove shell offers decent warmth if you’re not going to touch wet surfaces.
The good thing about wool fabric is it tends to react to temperature fluctuations of the body. This means wool keeps your skin warm when it’s cold and cool if your skin is hot. It’s the reason why you will find wool in many gloves aside from winter types.
However, the only issue with wool glove shells is it’s prone to pilling. You also have to keep it away from Velcro as the fabric will snag badly.
Winter gloves made for skiing and snowboarding are often made with polyester. This material is durable, washable, and very soft. However, winter gloves with a polyester shell must be stuffed with efficient insulation as it doesn’t offer as much warmth as other materials.
The upside here is that polyester winter glove shells offer you the best control on your grip and finger movement. It feels like a second skin, unlike leather that tends to run stiffer. Aside from that, polyester winter gloves don’t require a break-in period as opposed to leather shells.
The polyester material used on winter gloves can be blended with cotton, thus the fabric called polycotton.
4. Synthetic fabrics
Synthetic winter glove materials like thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is used to create a base that’s water-resistant. It’s a high-performing material with the right softness to keep your hands dexterous.
Aside from that, TPUs are used to laminate other fabrics to give it a hydrophobic finish. Despite that, TPU has a level of breathability to keep you comfortable.
Aside from TPU, you can also find winter gloves with a faux leather shell. This is made of a plastic base covered with wax. It’s a cheap alternative to genuine leather while remaining aesthetic.
Winter gloves insulation
When it comes to winter gloves, one of the most important materials is its insulation. This is the part that dictates how comfy and protective the gloves are against very low temperatures. The following are some of the widely used insulation materials.
Thinsulate is probably the most popular insulation used not just on winter gloves but other winter protective gears as well. It’s actually a portmanteau of ‘thin’ and ‘insulate’ since this material is thin but still effective in shielding you against low temperatures.
Thinsulate is a patented material from the brand 3M. It works by trapping heat inside while allowing moisture to breathe out of your skin.
Moreover, Thinsulate is available in different versions. There’s the Thinsulate Original as well as Thinsulate Flame-Resistant, and Thinsulate Featherless. Other varieties include Water-Resistant, Odor-Resistant, Stretch, Footwear, and Window Film.
So far, Thinsulate is the warmest material you can ever find on winter gloves. Just note that each glove varies on the amount of Thinsulate used. It could be anywhere between 50 to 300 grams or more.
Another material used as insulation on winter gloves is foam. It makes the gloves lightweight and cheaper than those made of Thinsulate. However, foam is not suitable for sub-zero temperatures since it doesn’t give the same warmth that Thinsulate does.
Usually, foam insulation is paired with other warm materials to compensate for its low temperature protection.
Like foam, cotton is lightweight but not really excellent as standalone insulation. It only offers a decent level of warmth, something you can’t count on during sub-zero conditions. Gloves with cotton insulation are best used on chilly days.
The good thing about cotton insulation is that some of them are produced to recycle old clothes or fabric scraps. Also, gloves with a cotton insulation, as long as there’s no leather involved, can be cleaned using a washing machine.
Another popular insulation material for winter gloves is fleece. This material offers decent warmth and comfort since it’s soft and very gentle to the skin.
There’s also the so-called thermafleece made from sheep’s wool. It’s produced to boost the warmth of typical fleece material and to recycle wool scraps. However, this is mainly used for insulating a home, but some winter gloves also integrate this innovative material for added warmth.
Also, fleece is way warmer than cotton or foam insulation. It remains light and less bulky, too. Fleece is also soft and it doesn’t impede the dexterity of your hands.
Winter gloves liner
The liner of the winter gloves is the part that gets in contact with your skin. Although some insulation materials can be used as liners, many winter gloves use a separate material to keep the skin comfortable. These two are the most commonly used liners for winter gloves:
1. Synthetic fibers
Polypropylene or PP is a moisture-wicking fabric. It dries fast and comfortable to touch. It’s often used as an alternative to silk. As a synthetic material, PP has undergone the polymerization process to produce a non-polar substance.
Another common material is nylon due to its moisture-wicking characteristics. It’s also durable and offers added warmth to the user.
If you want a softer and lighter liner, you should opt for silk instead. This is more expensive than polypropylene but it offers the best comfort, especially for those with sensitive skin.
Aside from that, silk is a natural thermo-regulator. It traps heat between the skin and the fabric to keep you warm. It’s the reason why silk is the most preferred fabric for nightgowns during winter.
3. Merino wool
Lastly, there’s the Merino wool. This material is grown by Merino sheep, thus the name. It’s thinner and softer than regular wool, which is why it’s widely used as a winter glove liner. This makes Merino very warm and comfortable, perfect for the coldest winters.
Like regular wool, Merino wool is thermo-regulating so it stays warm during cold days and cool on hot days. This winter glove material also wicks sweat so your hands won’t feel clammy even if you wear the gloves all day long.
The best material for winter gloves will protect your hands from extreme cold and harsh elements. The likes of wool, leather, and fleece are some of the warmest options, but you can always explore synthetic options. What matters is that you will stay warm and comfortable at the same time.