I’m a big advocate of layering with winter gloves and mittens. My go-to winter combination is a fleece glove for warmth and dexterity combined with a waterproof/breathable mitten for warmth and wind protection. The two insulate well when it’s cold and the mitten shells are easy to remove if you feel your hands getting starting to perspire. You can also regulate the degree of warmth by using a thinner or thicker fleece glove.
The problem is that winter gear manufacturers don’t sell standalone, uninsulated waterproof/breathable mitten shells and if they do, they insulate the shells or bundle them with Primaloft liners that are too warm to wear in anything except the most extreme cold.
With the exception of Ragged Mountain Equipment, a small cottage clothing manufacturer in Glen, NH, just outside North Conway. They make several different grades of Gore-Tex mitten shells for a fraction of the price of mainstream manufacturers.
I recently purchased a pair of the Ragged Mountain’s Gore-Tex Trail Mitts, which are barebones waterproof/breathable mittens shells that are perfect for winter hiking and only cost $19.50/pair! These are very basic mitten shells with Cordura palms for enhanced grip. They weigh just 3 oz per pair and they are 14″ long in a size XL, so they extend way past your wrist and up your arm for better heat retention. The seams are not taped, but they’re tight enough to prevent snow from melting through. They don’t have idiot cords or cord locks at the ends, but the back of the hand has an elastic gather to keep them from flopping around.
When my hands get cold, I pull these Trail Mitts over my fleece gloves to retain more warmth and prevent the wind from chilling them. And vice versa if my hands feel like their overheating and perspiring. The breathability is quite good and I don’t feel any perspiration buildup inside them when I’m working hard.
While Ragged Mountain Equipment makes really unique clothing for hikers, skiers (XC, backcountry, and downhill), and climbers they have a sucky website that doesn’t list most of the clothing or skiing gear they sell in their brick-and-mortar store. If you’re in the area though, I recommend stopping by and checking out their men’s and women’s clothing as well as these Trail Mitts. They’re a remarkably good value and form the basis for a highly functional but relatively inexpensive winter glove and mitten system.
Disclosure: The author purchased this product.