Sometimes, when the cold seeps and sets into your hands, it can feel like they’ll never be warm again. The freezing temperatures seem to penetrate your body, so even your bones feel cold!
Having cold hands can make your favorite winter activities less enjoyable but it’s also annoying in day-to-day life. Trying to find your car keys in your bag can be difficult at the best of times but with freezing, painful hands, it can be near impossible!
Having your hands stuffed into your pockets all the time just isn’t practical and mittens and gloves have both had a place in the hand warming market for many years, but which is better? Are mittens or gloves warmer? We will answer that question, tell you why your hands often feel so cold, and a top trick on warming them up.
Are Mittens or Gloves Warmer?
The weird thing is that many of us associate mittens with kids. When you reach a certain age and your hands are big enough, you get gloves while your younger siblings or children wear the mittens.
In reality, we start wearing gloves because of the dexterity they allow, and the increased responsibility we have in doing things for ourselves (buttoning up our own coat for example).
As it turns out, mittens are for grown-ups too! Gloves are best used for practicality and dexterity, and mittens are in fact warmer than gloves. Let's have a quick look at different ways to keep your hands warm, to see where each type of hand warmer stands out from the crowd:
With individual finger and thumb sections, gloves allow for better handling of objects, equipment, and generally, dealing with any task at hand without having to remove them. They’re the number one choice for any kind of aerobic activity where your body will be generating a lot of heat anyway.
Also, the number one choice when it comes to outdoor sports when you have more of a need to buckle some things, zip other things, and generally handle even more things such as ski passes, car keys, and cash.
Mittens have all of your fingers clasped in the same enclosure with your thumb in a separate section. Maintaining your opposable thumb action, you’re able to pick up large objects still, as well as hold onto things, but you will miss out on the finer movements that gloves offer.
Having your fingers all together in the same space will encourage more heat production and retention over time. As compared to gloves where your fingers are separated by layers of material which may protect them from the elements, you won’t experience the heat exchange and retention as they would when contained within the same unit.
3. Lobsters Gloves or Mittens
Lobster gloves or mittens are newer to the market and have been invented to give you a halfway house between the cozier mitten and the more dexterous glove. It may be called a lobster glove or lobster mitten depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty.
Lobster mittens (glass half full) join your index and middle fingers together in one section, and your ring and pinkies in another, with another separate thumb enclosure. They offer more dexterity than mittens but will be somewhere in between the two in terms of warmth.
Many manufacturers these days are offering even more versatile hand warmers in the shape of 3-in-1 gloves. They often have a dexterous glove lining which can be worn solo, or with an outer mitten shell, or as the third option, you can wear the mitten shell on its own.
Depending on the warmth and dexterity you need, you can wear the inner glove, outer mitten, or both, to suit your needs. You can even just make your own 3-in-1 design by combining your favorite gloves and mittens and wearing them both in extreme temperatures!
Cold Hands Science
Ever wondered why you feel the cold in your hands before any other part of your body? Well, you’re not alone, as your hands are often the first place you start to feel cold from the inside out and there is solid scientific reasoning behind this.
When the temperature outside drops, so too will your body temperature. Your body and brain’s natural reaction to this sudden decrease in heat will be to conserve more heat in the trunk of your body to protect the vital organs. This will involve withdrawing some, and eventually all, blood flow and heat from your extremities.
While this is great for potential life-threatening situations, it can leave your hands feeling bitterly cold, and even painful sometimes, as your body focuses its attention for heat elsewhere. Not only do your hands quickly become one of the coldest parts of your body, but they also actually feel the cold more than other parts of your body as they have loads of tiny heat sensors in them.
The best way to keep your hands warm is to stop your body from withdrawing the blood and heat from them in the first place by fooling it into thinking it’s warmer outside than it really is. This means ensuring the sensors around our vital organs are telling our brain that it's warm. A large amount of body heat is lost through the head so wearing a hat and a warm coat can significantly affect how warm your hands are, with or without gloves.
If you’re undecided on whether to invest in a pair of mittens or gloves this winter, then the best thing to do is to first consider what you will be doing when using them. Gloves can’t be beaten when it comes to retaining dexterity and movement in your fingers and hands, but when it comes to the warmth factor alone, mittens rule supreme.
When it comes to the question “Are mittens or gloves warmer?”, mittens will win every time because your fingers have a heat exchange while enclosed in the same space. If you really want to keep your hands warm this winter then the best thing you can do is to not only invest in a pair of really cozy mittens, but team them with a warm winter coat, and most importantly, a hat!