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The best mittens have been providing heat to cold hands during freezing winters for centuries. After all this time, though, people still get mittens mixed up with gloves. The two are hardly interchangeable. Gloves are designed in the shape of hands, with spaces for each individual finger, so you can continue to perform certain everyday activities that require the use of your digits while wearing them. For those who value style over warmth and vice-versa, gloves run the gamut from purely functional to drop-dead gorgeous. Mittens, on the other hand, are more basic visually, but they will keep your paws warmer than gloves.

Since they don’t have finger compartments, mittens allow your fingers to share body heat with each other. Of course, this open set-up also makes mittens easier to put on and go about your business on the coldest winter days. Since you don’t have to worry about accommodating the length of each finger, you’ll have an easier time finding mittens that fit.

Even if you don’t end up winning any fashion awards while wearing yours, the best mittens can help ensure that your hands remain toasty and unchapped all winter long.

Features to consider when shopping for the best mittens

Finding the best mittens isn’t as simple as slapping on a pair that covers up your hands and calling it a perfect fit. As with any fashion decision, there are both practical and aesthetic factors to consider. Before you begin your search, let’s consider some of the variables.

How to find the best mittens for the whole family

The best mittens for one family member won’t necessarily be the best mittens for every family member. When shopping for mittens for the entire clan, resist the urge to buy them in bulk and tailor your selections to the individual needs of each family member. Men and women will likely want to rock different mitten styles. Meanwhile, the freedom to drive easily and make phone calls while wearing a pair of mittens will be more important to adults than to children.

Speaking of kids, since mittens slide off more easily than gloves, you’ll want to pay closer attention to fit. Wrap-style mittens are actually a good choice for young children. When you undo the foldover flaps, the mittens open up, which makes them easier for toddlers to put on. When you flip them over again, you can create a custom fit that accommodates the size of your little one’s hands. Mittens with zippers will also be easier to put on and take off, and extra-long cuffs that fit under the jacket will help them stay in place. Velcro and mitten clips can be used to keep them in pairs of two.

Best women’s: Alepo Winter Wool Mitten Gloves For Women



These are some of the best women’s mittens, which are simultaneously practical and attractive. The furry cuffs serve as excellent wind and snow blockers while stopping cold outside air from getting through to your fingers.

Best men’s: Carhartt Men’s W.P. Waterproof Insulated Mitt



From a trusted brand, these are the best men’s mittens, great for a variety of cold-weather situations, from walking to driving to performing manual labor. Although they’re utilitarian and durable, hand-washing is recommended over tossing them in the laundry machine.

Best kids’: Thinsulate Winter Waterproof Gloves



These kid’s mittens are made for little ones but strong enough to wear to a snowball fight and warm enough for skiing and snowboarding. Oversized cuffs keep cold air out, and they easily snap together when they’re not in use.

Should you go for fingerless mittens?

When dealing with freezing hands, the fingers are generally the first part to go numb, so fingerless mittens might seem like a complete waste of time and fabric. But hear us out. If you’re not going to be performing activities that require a great degree of dexterity, it’s OK to keep your fingers out of circulation. Fingerless mittens make things like driving and using your phone a lot easier when it’s freezing outside.

Naturally, you won’t wear them while building a snowman. But if you find yourself in a place or situation where it’s not frostbite cold, like a chilly office, a supermarket, or seated under a heating lamp in an outdoor restaurant, fingerless mittens will allow you to maintain a degree of hand warmth while letting you perform whatever task is at hand, like typing, or shopping or eating. And for recent mitten converts who miss the versatile stylishness of gloves, fingerless mittens can make a bit of a fashion statement to compensate for the loss of overall warmth.

Best fingerless: Blulu Fingerless Warm Gloves with Thumb Hole



These fingerless mittens may not be enough to stop your fingers from shivering in sub-zero conditions, but in a milder chill, they’ll allow for greater dexterity during the day, and in the evening, they can moonlight as a chic accessory. They’re also stretchable for enhanced comfort.

Will you be using mittens for snow sports?

Engage in snow sports with bare hands at your own risk. The best mittens, though, can help your hands survive rugged winter activities. Skiing requires a certain level of dexterity and agility, so gloves might be more suitable on the slopes. That doesn’t mean ski mittens must be off the table. Lobster mittens have separate compartments for your thumb and index finger, which will enhance your dexterity on skis, since you can use your first two fingers independently of the other three.

Snowboarding requires less dexterity than skiing, and since mittens are warmer than gloves, they are the way to go. If you opt for the mitten route when performing snow sports, be sure to get a waterproof pair so that your hands remain dry when you land in the snow. A breathable fabric will help your hands stay warm and dry, especially when fear-factor sweat kicks in.

Best for skiing: Kinco – Lined Premium Pigskin Leather Work and Ski Mitt with Nikwax Waterproof Wax



These look like ski mittens on the outside, but on the inside, they fit like gloves. Internal compartments insulate each finger, trapping heat and wicking away moisture in the process.

Look for heated mittens if you experience harsh winters

Although the best mittens come with a built-in warmth boost, in certain conditions, that might not be quite enough. If you experience especially brutal winters, consider heated mittens. They might be the next best thing to rubbing your hands together over a roaring fireplace. These are usually heated through rechargeable batteries, so you will have to remember to keep them loaded up with an adequate amount of power.

Always have extra rechargeable batteries on hand for long trips where you might be spending lots of time outdoors without access to a power station. If you don’t have extras, you can conserve energy by keeping the heat to a low setting. Naturally, heated mittens will be more expensive than regular ones, especially if you spring for a pair with a longer battery life. But you get what you pay for—which, in this case, will be more durability and warmth.

Best heated: SAVIOR HEAT Heated Ski Gloves



These heated mittens are made of insulated cotton and breathable fleece, which provide added heat even before you even turn them on. From a full charge, the batteries will keep your hands warmed up for between two to five hours, depending on the setting.

You can find warm mittens that are also stylish

The best mittens may never look quite as stylish as a fierce pair of gloves, but you can still come pretty close. One way is to move on from the old-timey knit style and get mittens made of leather or suede in a color that matches your favorite jacket. For another alternative, wool and cashmere will make your hands look posh and expensive.

You can also opt for interesting patterns and colors rather than basic brown and gray. A little color coordination goes a long way, so getting a pair that matches your best scarf can give a winter outfit an extra bit of oomph. If you’re feeling really adventurous, an interesting graphic or perhaps your initials stitched onto the fabric in an eye-popping color can liven up an otherwise drab pair of mittens.

Best leather: Harssidanzar Womens and Kids Lambskin Leather Winter Mittens



These soft leather mittens have a warm lining and elasticized cuffs for a snug fit and better protection against wind and cold. They come in five colors, including black, brown, red, burgundy, and mustard.

Best mittens for under $20

The best mittens come in a few basic shapes, but you can get them for a seemingly unlimited range of prices, from single-digit dollars to over a cool hundred. But let the buyer beware: Cheap mittens might keep your hands warm today, but they might not last longer than a season. That doesn’t mean the best mittens need to cost a fortune. If you do want to splurge on heated or leather styles, though, your hands will be warmer and more likely to still be benefitting from the heat pricier mittens provide several winters from now.

Best budget: Fox River Ragg Mitt



The great thing about wool is that it easily fits the shape of your hand, and it allows for greater flexibility of movement. Though these wool mittens aren’t waterproof, they will absorb 30 percent of their weight before they start to feel damp.


Q: Why should you consider convertible mittens?

If you can’t decide between the added warmth of mittens and the dexterity gloves offer, convertible mittens give you the best of both hand coverings. You can wear them as mittens when it’s excruciatingly cold, and if you need to use your fingers, one tuck of a flap or pull of a zipper can turn them into fingerless gloves.

Q: What are the warmest mittens on the market?

Every brand will claim bragging rights to offering the best and warmest mittens money can buy, so it’s hard to come up with a specific definitive answer. In general, thickness and certain materials, like leather and fleece, will provide more warmth. Also boosting the heat index: certain relatively basic features, such as waterproof shells and interior insulation.

Q: What is the most important thing to look for when choosing mittens?

First and foremost, it’s all about size and fit. If they’re too small, parts of your hand may be exposed, and if they’re too large, valuable heat will escape. Mittens that fit properly will extend about a quarter of an inch from your outstretched fingers and allow you to comfortably make a fist.

A final word on shopping for the best mittens

There are a number of reasons to look for the best mittens to take you through a cold winter. They keep your hands warmer than gloves (especially if you get heated mittens), and they’re easier to put on and take off, which will be especially welcome if you have young children. For those who want added versatility and the ability to perform tasks that require a certain amount of dexterity, a pair of convertible mittens can easily snap into fingerless gloves.