If you’re a hiker and you work outdoors, even if it’s just around the house, you know that you can buy perfectly good winter hats and gloves at Home Depot, Lowes, or Amazon that cost a fraction of the gloves you can buy at REI.
For example, these insulated Firm Grip Blizzard Gloves cost $10 bucks a pair at Home Depot (also sold as Big Time Blizzard Gloves on Amazon.) They’re insulated with 40 grams of Thinsulate and have a high degree of dexterity, something that you’ll want for colder weather hiking and snowshoeing. They also have a small pocket over the back of the hand where you can insert an air-activated hand warmer, which significantly extends their comfort range in colder weather.
These Blizzard gloves are not waterproof, but you can easily cover them with a waterproof shell mitt if that’s necessary. I’m a big advocate of winter glove systems, where you carry lots of different gloves that are optimized for different functions, but can be worn together. For example, I routinely wear high dexterity wool or fleece gloves inside waterproof mittens so I can pull out my hands when I need increased dexterity.
When I saw these Blizzard gloves at Home Depot, I bought 3 pairs, and then I went back the next day and bought 3 more. They’re all identical and black, so I can mix and match gloves across pairs if I lose one. If they get wet, they’re still soft when they dry, and you can wash them as well (although I recommend air drying.) The faux-leather palms make them quite durable and you’ll probably lose them before you wear them out.
I wear these gloves by themselves, when snowshoeing or winter hiking down to about 20-25 degrees. Below that I pop a chemical hand warmer into the back pocket. They’re not wind proof, which is why I carry a shell mitt in my pack as an add-on layer if needed. They’re also great gloves for outdoor work, like chopping firewood, or running the chain saw. The fit is true to size and they breath well.
I’d encourage you to look beyond the expensive gloves, hats, and and underwear sold by outdoor retailers and experiment using less expensive alternatives. People were hiking and backpacking before all the high tech gloves at REI were available and they managed just fine. If you hike and backpack a lot, be sure to check clothing and gear used by people who hunt or work outdoors all day. A lot of it is functionally identical to what you can buy at an outdoor shop and you’ll be surprised at the price difference.
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