Gear Review: Best Kids’ Gloves and Mittens for Outdoor Play

With the winter cold always comes the battle over wrangling my kids into gloves or mittens. Over the years, we’ve gone through countless pairs of kids’ gloves – from the cheap ones grabbed at my local Target to the expensive ones that I special ordered from the best gear companies. As you can imagine, not all gloves are created equal. Some actually keep my kids’ hands warm and dry, while others got tossed in the bin, never to see the light of day again. Today our Creative Team member and Ohio homeschooling mom of four, Leslie Alvis, is here to help you choose the best kids’ gloves or mittens for outdoor winter play. With some help from the rest of our team, she’s rounded up, thoroughly tested, rated, and reviewed a wide variety of kids’ gloves and mittens to help you get your crew dressed for the weather and outside to enjoy it.

Mittens Hero image

Glove and mitten season

For many of us across the Northern Hemisphere, it’s that time of year again: those days when the weather makes getting kids outside a lot more complicated. The colder temperatures of the winter months always seem to surprise us with their biting chill. Driving winds, cold drizzles, and icy snowflakes all add a unique challenge to getting kids outside.

Getting your crew dressed properly for winter weather can be overwhelming! But it’s also incredibly important. When it’s cold outside, your child’s head, ears, hands, and feet are most prone to cold exposure. Extremely cold weather can cause two potentially serious conditions: hypothermia and frostbite. To ensure they stay toasty and warm, make sure you have heavy socks, waterproof boots, waterproof gloves, a scarf, and hat, and/or ear muffs on hand depending on changes in weather. For older children and toddlers, gloves are needed when the weather is 40°F or lower. 

Kids Mittens

The battle over mittens

Getting mittens that fit to stay on a child can be a real chore. Finding ones that actually stay on a child’s hands and keep little fingers warm and dry is a super-parent challenge. I think covering my kids’ hands is the final and most important step to getting them out the door in cold weather, but sometimes it’s also the hardest one.

I can’t count the times I’ve had a toddler meltdown on the floor, fully dressed for the snow except for their hands, while I frantically try to find a pair of gloves that fits or that one missing mitten. Nor can I count the times a child has dissolved into tears outside because their gloves came off or got soaked through. Once their hands are freezing, my kids inevitably decide winter is for the birds. They’re ready to hibernate indoors by the woodstove with a cup of hot chocolate until spring.

And while hot chocolate by the fire is one of the great joys of winter, so is the magic of tromping through frosty woods, catching snowflakes on your tongue, or sledding down a snow-covered hill. But having warm, dry hands seems to be the key to kids enjoying the wonders of the outdoors world during the winter months!

So here’s our round-up of the best kids’ gloves and mittens to help you get your child geared up and outside for winter. We’ve tried and tested gloves from a variety of companies, price points, and materials to find all our favorites to share with you. 

kids gloves

Kids’ gloves vs. mittens

Before we get started, let’s take a minute to discuss the question of gloves versus mittens. Which is best for your child? I have to say, a lot depends on your child’s age and the activities they will be doing. For younger children (babies, toddlers, preschool-aged kids), I will always go with mittens. They are SO much less frustrating for both you and your child! Trying to get ten tiny fingers into the correct finger holes in a pair of gloves can reduce both a toddler and their parent to tears. I personally think mittens help keep little fingers warmer, too. Mittens are great for sledding, making snow angels, hiking, and generally running around outside in the cold weather. 

As your kids get older, it seems like gloves vs mittens choice becomes a matter of personal preference. Some older kids prefer gloves, and some prefer mittens. Sometimes, the choice depends on the activity. For instance, mittens might be better for skiing (when you just need to hold a ski pole), but warm gloves are preferable for an activity that requires a lot of finger coordination and fine motor skill, like making snowballs for snowball fights. 

Kids mittens

Features of kids’ winter mittens and gloves

When shopping for kids’ winter gloves and mittens, you’re sure to come across a variety of terms and descriptions. Some may be obvious, and others may be a bit tougher to know what they mean. Here’s a quick run-down of all the common terms you’ll see used to describe kids’ gloves and mittens. 

Convertible – We discussed the difference between gloves and mittens above, but convertible gloves give you the best of both worlds. This is a fingered glove with a mitten cover. The glove part is usually thinner, and not insulated. The mitten cover folds over the fingers for additional insulation, making it a versatile option for different types of weather.

Fleece-lined – Fleece-lined gloves provide a soft and comfortable interior. Fleece is lightweight insulation that adds warmth, but not bulk. It allows the digits to move with a great deal of freedom inside the glove or mitten. 

Shell mitts – These mittens aim to provide waterproof breathable protection in snowy/wet environments. Shell mitts are usually lightweight, flexible, durable, quick-drying, and compressible for easy storage. They are often layered over top of medium-weight gloves, glove liners, or thicker mittens.

Ski glove – Ski gloves are specially made for skiing. They are usually thicker, with more insulation than a regular winter glove. Ski gloves are usually made with a grippy material, such as polyurethane or leather, on the inside (palm) of the glove/mitten for help gripping ski poles. They stand up well in super cold wet weather and are usually waterproof with a lining (sometimes removable) that wicks moisture.

Synthetic materials – Synthetic materials are man-made materials such as nylon, polyester (including fleece), polyurethane, neoprene, and spandex. Man-made materials are lightweight and durable and these characteristics make them suitable for producing dependable winter gloves that are budget-friendly, waterproof, breathable, and insulated.

Waterproof Some gloves and mittens contain waterproof breathable membranes that make them either partially or fully waterproof. Waterproof gloves and mittens shield off rain and snow. Ironically, this may not be enough for keeping your hands warm and dry because if the material isn’t breathable enough, moisture may build up inside the gloves from body heat, which can make your kids’ hands feel wet and cold. The waterproofing of the outer surface of gloves can also be increased by the application of a hydrophobic coating. Waterproof is different than water-resistant (which won’t stay dry too long with kids playing in the snow). 

Glove and mitten care

One of the drawbacks of many waterproof gloves and mittens is that they require special care. While researching for this article, I realized that many of these products call for handwashing and line drying (or even dry cleaning) your kids’ gloves and mittens. At best, that’s a nuisance. At worst, it just won’t happen!

We’re all busy parents here. And while doing what’s “best for the proper care of the gloves” would be ideal, no one has time for that. I’ve often thrown all our gloves and mittens into the washer and dryer with the other snow gear without a second thought. The faster it’s clean and dry, the better, right? 

The reason why many waterproof gloves and mittens are labeled “hand wash” and/or “line dry” is to protect the waterproofing and material. While this is important, The good news is that sending your kids gloves and mittens through the washer and dryer won’t necessarily ruin them. If your kids’ mittens or gloves (or any of their other outdoor gear) are starting to lose their waterproof qualities, you can treat them with waterproofing spray and they’ll be good to go again! 

Wet kids Mittens

The best kids’ gloves and mittens for outdoor play

We had the opportunity to try out quite a few pairs of gloves and mittens this winter. We’ve already experienced quite a bit of snow this winter in Ohio, so we’ve been putting them all to the test. We also gathered a few kids’ gloves and mitten reviews from members of our Creative Team, in order to give you the most comprehensive gear review we could. Here are the brands that we tested and reviewed (more information and pros/cons of all of these brands below):

Winter Mittens

Reima Ote Mittens

If you’re planning to have your little one out for long adventures in the cold, this may be the one mitten you want. These mittens are waterproof, dirt-repellent, and fleece-lined. They slide on easily and stay on well. Designed and crafted by one of the leaders in European children’s outdoors gear, Reima clothing is created with children’s safety and comfort in mind.

What we love: These are definitely the best toddler glove we tried. With a wide long cuff for extra-long wrist coverage and a drawstring to keep snow and cold from sneaking in, these mittens keep kids’ hands warmer and drier than I thought possible. My preschooler has played directly in icy water in these gloves and not a bit of water penetrated through. Her hands were still snuggly warm and dry when we came inside—therefore, she was still happy. For a child who perpetually hates going outside in the cold, this was a major breakthrough!

What we don’t love: The price tag for a pair of mittens is steep. At $45 a pair, they may be too costly for many families—especially those of us trying to outfit several kids. On the other hand, the quality of these mittens promises durability and they’ll probably last quite a few seasons. 

The other problem with the Reima mittens is that their label reads “Dry clean only.” Since winter play here in Ohio doesn’t only involve fluffy white snow, but also a ridiculous amount of mud, our mittens get filthy on a regular basis. Sending kids’ mittens to the dry cleaners isn’t really practical for us. Instead of dry cleaning, I’ll try hand washing these when absolutely necessary.

Best Kids Winter Mittens for Outdoor Play - Veyo Mittens ReviewPhoto credit: @sara_mccarty

Veyo Kids Mittyz

Veyo Mittyz are a great mitten option for younger kids, babies, and toddlers. They’re some of the warmest mittens out there for little kids. Mittyz are a unique design and are high-quality, durable, and soft. With a variety of bright animal designs, different colors, and styles, they’re fun and exciting for kids.

What we love: They don’t have a thumb hole, which makes getting them on a toddler SO much easier. They are long and generous enough that they can be worn over bulky coat sleeves. They tighten in 2 separate places with adjustable toggles for extra protection from snow – a strap at the wrist and a cinch at the base of the mitten. For the most part, they stay on a toddler’s hands very well and will keep your kids’ hands very warm and dry (waterproof and fleece-lined).

What we don’t love: Our only issue with the mittens is that due to their thickness and lack of opposable thumb, there’s a loss of dexterity and fine motor skills when wearing them. It’s very hard for kids to do much with the mittens on – they can’t even hold a water bottle or pick up sticks. My older kids get very frustrated with wearing them and end up taking them on and off a lot (which defeats the purpose). This is less of an issue with babies, toddlers, or little kids that may not need to use their fingers os much. 

Best Kids Mittens - Veyo Mittyz ReviewPhoto credit: @sara_mccartyNorth Face Gloves - gear review - gloves for kids

North Face Osito Etip Glove

Cozy and flexible, these gloves are perfect for keeping hands warm but still usable. Sometimes kids need a glove that isn’t bulky and waterproof, but that will still protect their hands. These gloves definitely fit the bill and are a great option for kids that just need warmth. They’re so soft and warm, with palm grips and e-tips on the fingers. (Even though I’m all for keeping kids off devices to enjoy the great outdoors, we all know there are times when it’s handy to be able to make a phone call without freezing fingers!)

What we love: We’ve found these to be perfect for being active out in the cold, when not actually playing in the snow or water. My daughter loves these gloves for walks and bike rides. They’re easy to get on and off, without the thick lining that many waterproof gloves have that’s always getting tangled up. Unlike thicker gloves and mittens, they allow for a lot of finger movement, so there’s great dexterity. And they come in a variety of color options to match any outdoor ensemble.

What we don’t love: Since they aren’t waterproof, they aren’t a one-glove-for-every-occasion fix. Otherwise, their only drawback is their price. At a little over $40, they’re definitely on the pricier side for a pair of gloves. However, they are well-made, durable, and do a great job protecting small hands from cold and wind. With the solid North Face brand name and reputation behind them, you know you’re getting a quality product.

Kids Mittens

Snowstoppers Mittens

We tried out these popular mittens to see how they rank against more expensive brands. With a price tag of less than $20, they are decidedly more affordable than some of the others we’ve tried. They are made from waterproof materials and insulated, but the materials feel much lighter and less durable. When my daughter stuck her hands into an icy puddle (what is it about kids and water—even ice water?), she could feel the water seep through around the seams. However, they’re still reasonably warm and seem to hold up okay to the average snow day.

What we love: The price point of these mittens brings them into the price bracket I usually spend on a pair of kids’ mittens. They offer some protection against the wet and cold and might be ideal for a climate where snow days are only an occasional thing. They come in a variety of fun colors; here they’re pictured in fuchsia.

What we don’t love: The materials and synthetic insulation aren’t as strong and thick as some of the other brands we’ve tried. However, this brand does offer a ski and snowboard glove that is a heavier weight than the original.  Also, these mittens lose points in the “easy to get on” category. The extra-long cuffs, although designed to keep wrists warm, make these mittens a challenge to get on. I don’t know how getting on winter gear goes in your house, but in our home, it’s usually a tornado of misplaced hats, socks that need to be tucked in, and zippers that need to be zipped. Then finally, when we’re all sweating and about to cry, the mittens have to go on. I really, really love a mitten that goes on easily and independently. My seven-year-old can’t get these ones on by herself, which frustrates us both.

Putting on Mittens

Marmot mittensPhoto credit: RyAnn Peverley @mountain_mama4

Marmot Glade Mitts

by RyAnn Peverley

What we love: As a family from the PNW that basically lives in the snow during the winter months, we have tried so many brands and styles of kids’ gloves. And the pair I keep coming back to is the Marmot Glade Mitts (also available in a glove version for older kids). We think these are the best gloves for kids and the best ski gloves for little ones. They’re the only pair of gloves we have tried that actually stay on my son’s hands, keep the snow out during skiing and snow play, and breathe so his hands don’t get cold from sweat. They may seem a bit pricey at $36, but they are well worth it. 
We love the pull-on loop, the elastic wrists, and the glove clip to keep them paired up when not in use. The other thing I really appreciate about these gloves is the lifetime guarantee that Marmot offers for all of their products. These are hands-down some really great gloves. 
What we don’t love: These gloves are machine-washable but they need to be line dried, which can be a pain. It’s not always possible to wait for wet gloves to line dry before kids want to head back out into the snow to play. However, the natural dying ensures the longevity of the gloves, making them last much longer and ensuring you get your money’s worth. 
Columbia kids' gloves

Columbia Kids’ Core Glove

Columbia specializes in outdoor gear and they know how to do it right, while keeping things reasonably affordable.

What we love: The Columbia Core gloves are basic, durable, all-activity gloves to keep your kids’ hands warm and dry all winter. Warm and waterproof, these fleece-lined gloves have been a big hit in our house. They fall into the mid-range price point, selling for about $30, offering quality and durability.

What we don’t love: A common problem with waterproof kids’ gloves, the fleece fingers inside these gloves take a long time to dry out after washing. If they do get wet inside, you’re not going to be to able to get these dry and right back on your child’s hands. Otherwise, we haven’t had any reason to complain about these gloves!

N'Ice mittens

N’ice Caps

From Sara Lesire

What we love: We like the N’ice Caps mittens (also available in a glove version) as they offer warm mittens and waterproof gloves perfect for winter fun without breaking the bank. They offer a good mix of keeping hands safe and dry while at a price point that is affordable enough to replace when kids inevitably outgrow them. I think the gloves wash well. I wash them in the washing machine and air dry. They do take a little while to dry because of the inner lining though. 

These mittens also last well. My daughter has had hers for 3 years and they just now have some seams pulling loose. They also are sized generously and have adjustable wrist straps so they can fit well for growing kids for several seasons. 

What we don’t love: While the lower price point means that they aren’t quite thick enough for extreme cold, my kids have played happily in the snow for long periods. They’ve even worn them to visit the Lake Geneva Ice Castles in below zero temperatures.

Additional options: N’Ice Caps also makes a 3M Thinsulate-lined fingerless convertible glove/mitten. The gloves have fingers that are half finger length. There is a large fleece flap that can cover the half fingers, allowing the gloves to be converted into mittens. The thumbs are full length and are fully enclosed. This might be a nice super warm mitten option for older kids that want the warmth, plus the option to remove the mitten and have all the dexterity of a fingerless glove. 

Best Kids Mittens 2022Photo credit: @midwestnomadfamilyLL Bean Mittens

LL Bean Mittens

What we love: LL Bean has a long history of producing high-quality outdoor gear for kids and adults alike, and these mittens did not disappoint. They are warm and waterproof, even after playing in wet snow for a long time. No cold hands here! The insides are soft and they’re easy to put on. The adjustable wrist strap helps keep cold air and snow out. This series is available in both glove and mitten styles, too, for whatever your child prefers. At $25 a pair, they are also reasonably priced and a great value. 

What we don’t love: Once again, these mittens call for special care. The label instructs hand-washing and line drying. While this will lengthen the mittens’ life, it’s also a bit of a pain. 

Climbing tree

MCTi mittens

What we love: We found these MCTi mittens to be a durable and warm mitten option for a very reasonable price. At $20, they rate Amazon’s Choice for boys’ skiing and snowboarding mittens. They have a cozy fleece lining and waterproof outer layer with PU leather across the palm. They also have a handy clip-on string to keep them connected. 

What we don’t love: These mittens have an extra-long wrist coverage with elastic closure, but it isn’t quite wide enough to fit over some coat sleeves. It’s also too bulky to fit under coat cuffs. This is obviously very frustrating when you’re trying to get a small child dressed for an outdoor adventure. 

Magic Wool Gloves

Polarn O Pyret Magic Wool gloves

What we love: I gave these lightweight gloves a try because of their wool content. I was very curious how that would affect their performance and if it would provide more protection for little hands than your basic $2 pair from Walmart. (You know, the type kids layer two at a time when they’ve soaked through all their other gloves and don’t want to quit playing in the snow? Or the kind you toss into your bag for when someone inevitably gets to the hiking trail without any gloves?) We found them to be amazingly soft and reasonably warm. The 45% wool definitely adds some extra substance to them, but they’re still very lightweight.  

What we don’t love: These gloves are cozy but definitely not waterproof or thick enough for a seriously cold adventure. They do, however, provide a quick and easy-to-pull-on option to keep small hands protected for short periods of time. Polarn O. Pyret also makes a Waterproof Shell Mitten that can be worn over the wool gloves (0r on their own) to keep hands protected from getting cold from water and snow. They’re an additional $25-$28 per pair. 

Wool gloves

2022 kids’ mitten and glove reviews

Hopefully, these reviews give you a place to start in the vast market of kids’ mittens and gloves! There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to the best winter gloves for kids. With so many options, we hope we’ve given you a helpful gear review for some of the best kids’ gloves and mittens on the market. Having the right gear (and particularly a good pair of gloves) can help your outdoor adventures and activities be a whole lot more comfortable and enjoyable. If you live in an area that experiences a cold winter, investing in a solid pair of gloves can make all the difference.

Our goal here at Run Wild My Child is always to help you get your kids outside, no matter the weather. Because you know what they say: 

There’s no such thing as bad weather–only bad clothing.”

About the author

Leslie is an Ohio farm girl and chaser of light, children, and sometimes chickens. She’s a lover of Jesus, wife to her high school sweetheart, and a homeschooling mom of four wild rascals who love the great outdoors as much as she does. As a family, they love hiking, camping, fishing, and just about any outdoor activity. She and her husband are just beginning the process of building a homestead from the ground up, doing most of the work themselves. Leslie has a lifelong obsession with writing and capturing everyday life from behind the lens. Follow along with their homesteading, homeschooling, and everyday adventures on her Instagram account.

You can find more from Leslie in the following locations:
Instagram: @c_l_allofus
Client work: @lalvisphotography
Leslie’s RWMC posts: Leslie Alvis

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