Looking back at the years of winter hiking before I realized the benefit of glove liners – I can’t believe that I made do without them for so long. As a guide, I often have to help clients adjust their gear or micro spikes, or adjust my camera settings – and having a form-fitting glove liner lets me do all of that and more, without my hands touching cold air or gear.
Many hikers often set out with one set of gloves, many of which claim some level of ‘touch sensitivity’ so that you can still work your phone and have some dexterity for tasks. But, oftentimes, these gloves end up coming off to complete tasks such as operating cameras, opening zippers, adjusting gear, etc. And, when you’re handling these cold metal objects, your hands can lose heat incredibly quickly (especially if its windy or wet too).
I was guilty of this for quite some time, and always struggled with it. One time, when adjusting a tripod (which was made of aluminum), my hands became extremely cold to the point of doing some fine motor skills and needing the warmth generated from hand warmers. I almost turned back from the hike for fear of my fingers getting too cold.
And then I did some research, and found out I was missing something crucial – a glove liner. These ultra-thin, form fitting gloves can easily slide in and out of a bigger glove, and are perfect for adjusting camera settings, checking maps on your phone, or even sending a text message. And, once you have them on – you barely even notice that you’re wearing them. When temperatures are around freezing or below – the gloves generally stay on my hands for the entire hike.
When I’m out with guests during the winter, they’re often amazed at both how well a glove liner fits, and how well you can do just about every task while keeping them on. While guiding, I’ve come across quite a few hikers over the years who have mistakenly popped their gloves off for a few minutes and ended up with painfully cold hands that required heavy down gloves (which many hikers probably wouldn’t want to deal with carrying on a normal hike).
So – do your hands a favor this winter before setting out on your next hike, and get a pair of glove liners. There are a number of brands out there and I have tried quite a few, but the ones that I’ve found to fit the best have been made by Terramar. I typically order a size smaller than I would on a normal glove, as I know that they will stretch a bit over time. Keep in mind as well that if you’re doing things such as rock scrambling, dealing with velcro openings, or other abrasive tasks, the glove liners are not very durable due to just how thin they are.