Gloves keep our hands warm and cozy, protecting them from frostbite and UV rays. They also prevent scratches from branches and thorns, and blisters when using hiking poles. Some styles provide extra grip when scrambling up rocks. But people often avoid buying wool gloves, fearing they’ll be scratchy and itchy. However, thanks to ultra-fine merino, that’s no longer true, making wool a fantastic choice.
Wool gloves are breathable, water-repelling, odor resistant, fire-resistant, providing slightly more warmth than fleece, and are a natural material that won’t release microplastics into the environment. Thus, wool gloves offer superior performance from a sustainable material.
Hiking safety depends on synthetic materials. After all, as any outdoor enthusiast knows, “cotton kills.” There is no better moisture-wicking fabric out there than technologically advanced synthetics. Except, that statement isn’t 100% true. Wool is the champion of breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics. However, with old fashion processing and varieties, it used to be scratchy. It’s time to think again.
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Wool Gloves Vs. Fleece
Wool gloves are amazing but often overlooked. For starters, it’s seen as old-fashion. It’s been around since humans managed to domesticate sheep. Where fleece only arrived on the scene in the late 70s and, in the 90s, boomed. It was inexpensive, warm, lightweight, soft, and oh, so cuddly. Thus, wool was essentially abandoned in both fashion and outdoor gear.
Advantages Of Wool Gloves
But the wool in gloves of yore is not today’s merino wool. It is soft, itch-free, with all the advantages wool brings:
- Free of microplastics and nanoplastics
- Fire resistant
- Still provides warmth if soaked
- Odor resistant
- Water repellent
- Warm (slightly more than fleece)
- Won’t melt to the skin if burnt
Advantages Of Fleece Gloves
Admittedly, wool isn’t perfect as an outdoor material. Fleece still has some advantages:
- Easier to wash, harder to ruin
- Dries faster
- Less weight or bulk
- More durable
- Usually softer than wool
However, while wool isn’t perfect, it’s making a comeback as people become more aware of the need for sustainable fabrics and the harms of microplastics.
Wool Gloves Are Safer
Wool gloves are also safer than fleece. Hands are typically not covered by rain jackets, and they are the part of the body that gets closest to a campfire: lighting it, adjusting the coals, and adding wood.
Wool has superior water resistance to fleece, and even in the event wool is soaked, it still does its job as an insulator. There are similar advantages when it comes to fire. Wool is much harder to set alight than fleece. But even when fire does manage to burn wool, it won’t melt to skin. Synthetic fabrics, however, do melt to the skin, compounding the damage to the body.
10 Best Wool Gloves For Winter Outdoor Adventure
Wool gloves are an easy way for people to begin reducing synthetics in their outdoor gear. Their superior warmth, especially in damp conditions, makes them a smart choice, too. Thus, we’ve gathered our top 10 favorites. However, we have included some mixed with fleece as we know some people do have wool sensitivities.
1 – Bodvera Fingerless Wool Gloves
Bodvera Fingerless Wool Gloves are a versatile compromise for people who love wool but want extra durability. These soft and comfortable gloves come with a pop-top, so you can have the advantages of mittens when you’re just hiking along but can easily access your fingers when you need them.
2 – Bruceriver Wool Knit Gloves
Bruceriver Wool Knit Gloves are an attractive and cozy option for people with wool sensitivities. The outer layer provides the advantages of wool, with a fleece lining to keep sensitive hands from becoming irritated.
3 – Dachstein Four Ply Extreme Warm Mittens
Dachstein Four Ply Extreme Warm Mittens are a miracle for anyone who struggles to keep their hands warm when trying to enjoy the outdoors in winter. Not only are mittens a warmer design than gloves, these high-quality, tight knit, multi-layered pair are made for ultimate coziness.
4 – Icebreaker Merino 200 Oasis Gloves
Icebreaker Merino 200 Oasis is an excellent liner, providing outstanding warmth without feeling bulky or restrictive. These are so thin they take up a breath of space in your pack and are perfect worn on their own in warmer weather or for sleeping when you need fewer layers.
5 – Hestra Merino TouchPoint Liner & Glove
Hestra Merino TouchPoint is a lightweight glove that can be used as a liner. The index finger is designed to work on a touch screen, too. These are soft and thin, making them easy to pack and look nice enough to wear off the trail, too.
6 – Öjbro Vantfabrik 3-layer Merino Wool Mitts
If you loved Bernie Sanders’s mittens, then Öjbro Vantfabrik is a perfect choice. Approved by the Raynaud’s Association, these thick, soft, and incredibly warm mittens come in many patterns, from colorful and cheerful, to more understated tones and design.
7 – Outdoor Research Fairbanks Fingerless Gloves
Outdoor Research Fairbanks Fingerless Gloves are fantastic for those that need to type in the cold, be it for research or stuck writing in a cold cabin or tent. They’re also an excellent choice for hikers that struggle with having their full hands encased. Cute, too, making them a nice option for urban winter commutes.
8 – Smartwool Cozy Mittens
Smartwool cozy mittens are a non-bulky and multifunctional choice. They are excellent for hiking, backpacking, cycling, running, ice skating, and wearing on your commute to work. This wool is soft and light, making them a pleasure to wear.
9 – Smartwool Ridgeway Leather & Wool Gloves
Smartwool Ridgeway Gloves are hardwearing, perfect for rugged outdoor activities. These can be worn while pitching tents, collecting firewood, shoveling snow, snowboarding, and skiing. The design is attractive, and the cut makes them flexible, keeping the leather to where you need it most.
10 – Smartwool Merino 250 Wool Gloves
Smartwool Merino 250 looks classy and is touchscreen compatible. But despite their sleek, more urban look, they’re excellent liners for hardcore winter hikers and backpackers. In addition, their lack of bulk makes them easy to pack when not on your hands.
Wool gloves are incredibly warm and keep your hands cozy even in the damp. They help you cut down on contributing to harmful microplastics in our environment. They are also a safer choice when hanging out by the campfire. Best of all, wool gloves come in a wide array of styles, including thin and elegant, fingerless, and fat and comfy mittens.