snowboard gloves vs mittens

Gloves vs Mittens: What’s the Best Choice for Snowboarding?

by Fraser

Snowboarding isn’t just about the boots, boards, and bindings – mittens and gloves are key players!

The right pick here will really make or break your time on the slopes. Which brings us to the gloves vs mittens debate…

The Short Answer

Gloves offer better dexterity for snowboarding, useful for adjusting your gear and using touchscreen devices. On the other hand (pun intended) mittens group your fingers together which is generally warmer. The choice between the two depends on your personal preference and the snowboarding conditions. In my experience, Trigger Mittens offer the best of both worlds.

Of course, each offers their own unique set of advantages. Certain designs cater to factors like durability and warmth. Other options might be lighter and offer better breathability. It’s certainly a tough choice!

In this article, I’ll take a deep dive into the differences between the two options, and evaluate which one is best for you.

But I have much more to say on the matter. If you’re interested? 

Introducing The Gloves vs Mittens Debate

Mittens and gloves both make suitable options for skiers and snowboarders. Determining which is truly better depends on a whole bunch of factors, including need for dexterity and warmth.

gloves vs mittens for snowboarding

From a baseline perspective, snowboarders and skiers agree on a few things (for once!).

  • Gloves win in terms of dexterity. They are the ideal choice if you find yourself handling lots of gear, unzipping often, or holding poles.
  • On the other hand, mittens are the go-to choice for warmth. The single cavity of the mitten allows for shared internal heat, ensuring that all your fingers stay nice and toasty.

But more recently, there’s a new contender on the scene. I’m talking of course, about the fabled Trigger Mitten!

What Are Trigger Mittens?

The trigger mitten is a “best of both worlds” option. Their unique design takes on the profile of a classic mitten, but with a free moving, separated index finger.

Sometimes referred to as the “lobster” mitten, they therefore combine the warmth of mittens with the dexterity of gloves.

what are trigger mitts

Sounds too good to be true? Possibly. Let’s take a closer look. 

Gloves vs Mittens vs Trigger Mittens 

Gloves, mittens, and trigger mittens each come with their own distinct features and advantages.

But the question we’ve all been waiting for… which option is better for snowboarding?

Well my patient friend, let’s dive in with a handy table. 

Comparison Table

Editor's Choice
Trigger Mittens
Glove Type
Glove Type
Trigger Mittens
Ability to move fingers freely; full range of motion.
Limited mobility and dexterity with your fingers.
Free-floating index finger allows for intermediate dexterity.
Insulation (Warmth)
Insulation (Warmth)
Warmth varies, depending more on materials than anything else.
Generally considered the warmest option.
For the most part, warmth matches that of a classic mitten.
Depends mostly on the material and design; moisture can penetrate seams.
Design usually caters both to warmth and moisture prevention.
Waterproof in likeness to the glove.
Most breathability and room for comfort.
Can become claustrophobic and hot.
In-between option; notably more breathable than mittens.
Usually the best, with grippy material on the fingers and palm.
Clumsiest, least coordinated and versatile.
Claw-grip, suitable for most snowboarders needs.
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Gloves offer the ability for all fingers to move freely, and are the superior choice when it comes to dexterity. Handling gear, putting on goggles, adjusting boots and bindings will all be easiest with gloves.

gloves vs mittens vs trigger mittens

Gloves offer the ability for all fingers to move freely, and are the superior choice when it comes to dexterity. Handling gear, putting on goggles, adjusting boots and bindings will all be easiest with gloves.

Mittens are certainly bulky and more inefficient in this category. It’s undeniable. 

However, snowboarders looking for a middle of the road option will love the added range of motion in a trigger mitten. The free-moving index finger makes grabbing zippers and straps that much easier.

Winner: Gloves

Insulation and Warmth 

The classic mitten will offer the most sustainable comfort in terms of warmth and insulation. The shared finger pocket fosters and retains more internal heat than gloves.

It should be said though that most glove options on the market are also well insulated. But it helps to know which insulation materials your gloves are designed with:

  • Down: Lightweight and highly efficient. Down is the best insulator on the market, but loses some of its ability to retain warmth once compromised by water.
  • Synthetic: Less expensive. Readily available. Synthetic insulation is the most popular choice for skiers and snowboarders alike. It’s slightly bulkier than down, but dries a lot faster and will usually last a little longer in your gear bag.

The best all-around choice in insulation material – be it for gloves or mittens – is a synthetic insulator.

It’s the clear winner in terms of durability and versatility. However, down gloves and mittens make for a fantastic choice on cold, dry mountains.

Winner: Mittens
Runner Up: Trigger Mitts


All glove and mitten options should be waterproof when you buy them.

Levels of waterproofing will vary significantly according to design though. Most options will be created with a breathable barrier (like Gore-Tex) to prevent moisture from entering, as well as heat from leaving.

However, mittens might have a slight edge in terms of waterproofing. Because they have fewer seams than gloves, there are fewer potential entry points for water. But again, the quality of construction and materials is the main factor.

Winner: Mittens


If you’re somebody who tends to have sweaty hands and fingers, gloves may be the ideal choice. With minimal skin-to-skin contact, your fingers will feel less cramped and generally more comfortable.

Because they’re designed more for warmth, mittens fall a little short in terms of breathability. Of course, trigger mittens offer an in-between level of comfort and are a great option if you are trying to purchase based on this factor.

Winner: Gloves
Runner Up: Trigger Mitts


Unsurprisingly, gloves are the clear winner in terms of grip. Not only do they have better dexterity, but most gloves will have a more grippy material on the palm and fingers.

If you want the most versatility when it comes to ratcheting bindings or boots, or the handling of any gear for that matter, gloves are the right move.

gloves vs mittens vs trigger mittens grip

Certain trigger mitten options may also provide enough grip-support to handle all of your gear, zippers, and straps.

Because they are a little clumsy, mittens aren’t usually a primary choice in this category. With that being said, they handle most bindings well, and can be taken off easily enough when it comes time to hassle with other gear.

Winner: Gloves
Runner Up: Trigger Mitts

The Case for Gloves

Gloves are the ideal choice for most skiers.

Because of the great grip, dexterity, and general mobility, gloves make it easy to handle poles, back-packs, and other gear.

Considering this, snowboarders who regularly ride with gear such as a back-pack, avalanche shovel, emergency kit, or radio may prefer gloves over mittens.

gloves or mittens for snowboarding

The range of motion is mostly unlimited with gloves, making them the best choice in terms of functional versatility.

If you are someone who requires touch-screen compatibility, gloves are your friend there too. It should be said that trigger mittens and certain 3-in-1 shell mitten designs are also compatible with touchscreen and offer similar range-of-motion capabilities.

The Biggest Problems with Gloves

If you are an exceptionally mobile boarder and find yourself regularly handling gear, gloves are likely the best choice. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a few disadvantages too:

  • Warmth: Because the fingers can’t share heat, finding well-insulated and waterproof gloves is a must. Heated gloves or hand warmers are always an option.
  • Moisture: As their design includes more material and seams around the finger openings, gloves are more prone to moisture penetration and can wear out quicker.
  • Durability: Grabbing sharp snowboard edges takes a toll. I’ve ripped the fingers off several pairs of gloves during particularly gnarly grabs (okay, maybe it was during falls). This has never happened with mittens.  

The Case for Mittens

The sleek and simple design of mittens makes them the best choice for most snowboarders.

Mittens’ design allows your four fingers to share and retain heat. For concern of the cold, you really can’t go wrong with mittens.

are mittens better for snowboarders?

While they are certainly bulkier than their five-fingered counterpart, mittens still offer quite a bit in terms of mobility. They are beginner-friendly, and can be taken on or off easily enough to handle gear.

Mittens are also the superior choice for shaping perfect snowballs – just saying. 

Biggest Problems with Mittens

At first glance, mittens can seem like the best choice for snowboarders. They are great not just for functional design but for style too.

Even then, consumers have their concerns:

  • Dexterity: Ratcheting bindings is one thing. It can be especially tough to navigate coat pockets or a backpack with mittens on.
  • Touchscreen: Without the singular finger, most mittens aren’t equipped to handle touchscreens.
  • Overheating: Sometimes mittens can get a little too hot. They aren’t usually the best choice for warmer, spring days. 

Bonus: The Case for Trigger Mittens

As discussed, there’s also a third option, known as “trigger mittens” or “lobster gloves”.

These combine some of the benefits of both gloves and mittens. They have a separate compartment for the index finger and thumb, improving dexterity, while the remaining fingers are grouped together for added warmth.

mittens vs trigger mittens

They can therefore offer a good compromise between warmth and dexterity.

Biggest Problems with Trigger Mittens

There’s not a lot to dislike about trigger mitts. But here are some of the concerns I’ve heard on the mountain:

  • Some people don’t like the feeling of separating their trigger fingers (you get used to it pretty quick, I promise). 
  • They can look a little bit funky.
  • They can be more expensive than traditional gloves or mittens. 

So, Are Gloves or Mittens Better for Snowboarding?

The choice between gloves and mittens for snowboarding depends on personal preference…

Wait, scratch that!

You came here for an answer. You better believe I’m gonna give you one!

Mittens are better for snowboarding than traditional gloves. They are warmer, allow thicker insulation and are often more durable. 

There, I said it!

Will your dexterity suffer slightly? Sure. But you’re hardly going to be solving Rubik’s cubes on the slopes. 

If you’re super worried about dexterity, trigger mitts are the obvious middle ground. But mittens are just fine for most folks. 

How to Choose Snowboard Gloves and Mittens

Whether you’ve landed on mittens, trigger mittens or gloves, the next step is to choose a specific pair. 

Take a look at the type of snowboarding you plan on doing and consider the following:

  • Environment – Do you normally snowboard in cold, dry conditions? Or typically ride in wetter, warmer climates? 
  • Size and Fit – Everyone’s hands are built different. Comfort should be your number one concern when it comes to finding the right gloves or mittens. 
  • Materials – Ideally, your glove/mitten materials will match your boarding style and climate. 
  • Functionality – Do you usually carry a backpack and/or other gear? Consider what you’ll be doing with your hands while on the mountain before making a glove or mitten purchase. 

Other factors to consider are zippered pockets, wrist loops, nose wipes, squeegees, and padding.

These additional features are available from most premium glove and mitten brands. You’ll also want to take a look at cuff style (over or under) before choosing any glove or mitten. 

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to consider when it comes to gloves vs mittens. With so many options on the market, it can be pretty damn difficult to choose. 

Ultimately, finding the right gloves or mittens will be entirely dependent on your own needs and uses.

If you are a gear hound, constantly in and out of backpack pockets, or find yourself struggling with straps, then gloves are likely your best option.

Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with a pair of insulated and waterproof mittens. Their comfort, warmth and durability is unmatched. 

Whichever you choose, invest in a high quality pair. Your digits will thank-you (and you won’t end up buying another pair next season). 

Happy riding!  

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