Are Wool Gloves Good for Snow? (Which ones are best?)

There are two main reasons why wool gloves are a good choice for snow sports. First, wool is naturally very insulating, and wearing it will keep your hands warm in cold temperatures. Due to wools high insulation ability, gloves can be made thinner than other materials

Wool is a great material for gloves (my favorite!) because it is super effective at insulating it will keep your hands warm in cold temperatures even when a thin layer is worn.

Woolen gloves are great for snow, not only due to their warmth, but also because wool fibers insulate even when wet.

In warmer weather, wool allows your hands to breathe so you wont get sweaty. However, if you do, woolen gloves do not need to be washed very often as they are naturally antibacterial, so they won’t smell!

That’s especially useful if you need to work with your hands outside, whether it’s digging out the car from the driveway or taking care of a pet at the animal shelter.

Many manufacturers also make merino wool gloves that are especially breathable so they can be worn in warmer conditions as well as colder ones.

Do keep in mind though, that wool does wear down quicker than other materials like cotton or leather, so if you use them frequently for rough work there may be better options.

Read on to learn more about wool gloves and what makes them a good option for winter sports.

Why are wool gloves the best option for snowy weather?

Wool gloves are a good choice for winter sports because they can be made thin and lightweight without sacrificing insulation.

There are several benefits of wool compared to other fabrics, and I did write about these in more detail here, but here is a summary:

1. Wool is warm!

Probably something you have heard before is that wool retains body heat very well. This is due to its “fluffiness” or loftiness, which refers to its ability to contain air between its fibers.

Even thin wool gloves insulate well!

Because air conducts heat less than wool fibers, the thinner the fibers the more space for the insulating air that keeps you warm!

2. Wool is breathable and dries fast!

Because the wool fibers allow a lot of air to be trapped between your skin and the outdoors, it also optimizes the surface area from which water or sweat can evaporate.

This moisture transport helps not only to keep you dry but also to lead your sweat away from the body to cool you down when needed.

Contrary to synthetic materials or cotton, water does not stick to or collapse wool. When water is absorbed by wool, the hydrophobic fibrous mesh keeps its structure wide and open.

The wool fibers can bind water to a certain point (around 30%) after which it starts to saturate, collapse, and feel cold.

However, the immense surface area of the fibers and the lanolin content makes it dry quickly to regain its insulating capabilities.

3. Wool is soft and flexible!

Depending on the thickness of the fibers used, wool will be soft in its feel. Cashmere and merino wool has some of the finest fibers of any natural materials (although some beat them – see below!).

The thin flexible fibers of wool make it very comfortable to wear, especially if the wool fibers are straight and not too curved.

Thick and curved wool fibers lead to the itchy nature of cheaper, rough, wool yarns used to make thick sweaters, etc.

Wool is extremely flexible compared to the most flexible synthetic nylon and polyester fabrics that can only extend themselves around 26% and 15% respectively.

In fact, wool is one of the most flexible fabrics and can be stretched up to 40% longer than its original length!

4. Wool does not stink when you sweat!

Common for all lamb’s wool products is that they do not retain body odor to the same extent as cotton or synthetic fabrics do. This is partly because sheep cannot shower and therefore have evolved strategies to combat odor-producing microorganisms in their woolen coat.   

Sheep produce an oily compound called lanolin that is secreted from the skin of sheep and mixed into its woolen coat.

This compound is found in some form or another in all wool types and it has antimicrobial effects, a property partly mediated by keeping water away, and thus prevents the growth of bacteria and fungi that might otherwise infest the wool.

Bacteria are not only harmful and can make you (and sheep) sick, but the bacteria also convert the sweat produced by your body into smelly compounds.

Having antimicrobial properties, wearing cashmere or merino wool (that is not too processed and rid of lanolin) will therefore prevent bacterial growth and largely be devoid of body odor.

This, however, does not mean that wool is devoid of odor altogether as lanolin has its own distinct smell.
Lanolin smells especially discernable when rancid – the classical “sheep” smell and woolen clothes will therefore have a certain scent to it no matter what…

5. Wool is fire resistant

Another benefit of wool compared to its synthetic counterparts is its fire resistance. While wool can certainly burn, you do not risk getting “permanent” socks when warming your feet at the fireplace. Whereas polyester and nylon melt at around 250 degrees Celsius, wool does not melt and ignites only above 600 degrees Celsius!

Because wool does not melt as plastics do, it will not stick to your skin or produce toxic fumes when subjected to a naked flame. Instead of collapsing, its interlinked fibers extend and smolders, which help insulate deeper layers from the outside heat.

In this manner, wool can indeed protect against fire and is often used as part of security garments by firemen and race drivers!

Don’t worry about sitting near the bonfire with your woolen clothes. Sparks will not melt through as they would a synthetic fleece sweater.

6. Wool is sustainable

Finally, wool is a natural product which makes it somewhat more sustainable compared to synthetic products made from fossil fuels (read my post on nylon and polyester to find out why they are also not trivial to reuse).

Most wool producers in the western world are also quite conscious of the welfare of their animals as this ensures the quality needed to produce the finer cashmere and merino wool products that are in demand from their wealthier customers.

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What makes cashmere and merino superior to ordinary wool?

Wool is a broad definition and includes every type of animal fiber from which yarn can be made.

Whereas most wool products are made from sheep and have a fiber size in the range from 10-40 micrometers in diameter, merino and cashmere wool range between 10-20 micrometers in diameter.

The diameter of a human hair is around 70 micrometers in comparison.      

Whereas merino wool is made from the finest wool of merino sheep, cashmere wool is made from the undercoat of the cashmere goat.

Due to the fine size of the wool fibers used to produce the yarn of merino and cashmere wool, they both display extraordinary heat retention and moisture transport, which are the defining features of fine wool products.

These are two of the core features important for long-lasting outdoor activities such as hiking, trail running, skiing etc.

Merino and cashmere wool for winter gloves

If you are a returning reader of this blog, you might have noticed my love for the use of fine wools in outdoor garments!

Cashmere and merino wool are perhaps my favorite fabrics overall, and they provide excellent insulation and breathability at even thinner thicknesses.

Both wool types have their own unique benefits and differences, so it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each before making a purchase.

Merino wool is a type of wool that comes from the Merino sheep. It is known for its softness, moisture-wicking properties, and ability to regulate body temperature.

Merino wool gloves are perfect for snow activities because they will keep your hands warm and dry, even when you start to sweat.

They are also naturally odor-resistant, which is a great feature for gloves that may not be washed as frequently as other clothing items.

Cashmere wool, on the other hand, comes from the Cashmere goat. It is known for its luxurious softness and warmth. Cashmere wool gloves are perfect for colder temperatures because they offer extra insulation.

They are also lightweight, making them a great option for activities where you need to have dexterity in your fingers. However, cashmere wool is not as durable as merino wool, so gloves made of cashmere wool may not last as long.

Both merino wool and cashmere wool have their own unique benefits and are great options for winter gloves.

It depends on your preference and the activity you will be doing. Merino wool gloves are perfect for snow activities because they will keep your hands warm and dry. Cashmere wool gloves are perfect for colder temperatures because they offer extra insulation.

In conclusion, both Merino wool and cashmere wool are great options for winter gloves, and it depends on the activity and personal preferences.

Merino wool gloves are perfect for snow activities because they will keep your hands warm and dry, while cashmere wool gloves are perfect for colder temperatures because they offer a bit of extra insulation – albeit at a higher price tag!

Benefits of wearing wool gloves

The benefits of wearing wool gloves for cold weather are many. There are two main benefits to wearing wool gloves: warmth and breathability. But also the lack of odors building up.

Wool is a natural insulating material that keeps your hands warm in the cold, and it also protects your hands from moisture.

You can even wear them in warmer temperatures as they provide breathability to help keep you cool. In addition, they are resistant to abrasion and don’t stretch or lose their shape over time like other materials do.

Woolen gloves are also less likely to encourage the growth of nasty bacteria that make them smell. This is due to the presence of lanolin (an antibacterial compound) in wool, that makes them last way longer than other fabrics between washing.

Drawbacks of wool gloves

Wool gloves are not perfect! While they do insulate better than other materials, they do wear down faster, and risk shrinking when washing.

Wool gloves are a popular choice for keeping hands warm in cold weather, but there are a few drawbacks to consider before purchasing a pair.

One drawback is that wool is a natural material, which means it may not be as durable as synthetic materials like polyester insulation. Wool gloves may be more susceptible to wear and tear, and may not last as long as gloves made from synthetic materials.

Another drawback is that wool is heavier than synthetic materials like polyester insulation. This means that gloves made from wool may not be as lightweight or as easy to move in, which can be a disadvantage for activities that require dexterity in the fingers.

Wool can also be itchy for some people with sensitive skin, although this may vary depending on the quality of the wool and the manufacturing process.

Wool might easily shrink in the washer, which is something to keep in mind when buying woolen gloves!

Wool also requires special care and maintenance, as they need to be washed and dried with special care to maintain their shape and softness. They cannot be machine washed and dried, and need to be either hand washed or dry cleaned and air dried.

Finally, wool is more expensive than synthetic materials like polyester insulation, which makes it a less affordable option for some consumers.

Overall, wool gloves have many benefits, such as being a natural insulator, breathable and eco-friendly, but they also have some drawbacks such as being less durable, heavier, and requiring special care. Consider your needs and preferences when making your decision, and you’ll be sure to find the perfect pair of gloves to keep your hands warm this winter.

Wool vs. synthetic insulation (polyester) for winter gloves

Polyester insulation (such as Thinsulate) and wool are both popular materials used in gloves to keep hands warm during cold weather.

Polyester can be woven into numerous types of quite warm insulation materials, but polyester lacks some important qualities to rival wool.

Both have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each before making a purchase.

Pros of Polyester Insulation:

  • Lightweight: Thinsulate is a lightweight insulation material, which makes it a great option for gloves that need to have dexterity in the fingers.
  • Water-resistant: Thinsulate is water-resistant, which means it will continue to insulate even if it gets wet. This makes it a great option for outdoor activities in snowy or wet conditions.
  • Durable: Thinsulate is a synthetic material, which means it is more durable than natural materials like wool. It can withstand more wear and tear without showing signs of wear and tear.
  • Affordable: Thinsulate is more affordable than wool, which makes it a great option for those on a budget.

Cons of Polyester Insulation (e.g. Thinsulate):

  • Not as breathable: Thinsulate is not as breathable as wool, which means it may not be as comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
  • Not as eco-friendly: Thinsulate is a synthetic material, which means it is not as environmentally friendly as natural materials like wool.
  • Not warm when wet: The polyester fibers do not handle water as well as wool does. This is due to the lower water transport and breathability of polyester compared to wool.

Pros of Wool:

  • Natural Insulator: Wool is a natural insulator, which means it will keep your hands warm even when wet. This makes it a great option for outdoor activities in snowy or wet conditions.
  • Breathable: Wool is a breathable material, which means it will be more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
  • Eco-Friendly: Wool is a natural, renewable resource, which makes it an environmentally friendly option.
  • Soft and comfortable: Wool is soft and comfortable to the touch, which makes it a great option for gloves that will be worn for extended periods of time.

Cons of Wool:

  • Heavier: Wool is heavier than polyester insulation like Thinsulate, which means gloves made with wool may not be as lightweight or as easy to move in.
  • Not as durable: Wool is a natural material, which means it is not as durable as synthetic materials like Thinsulate. It is more susceptible to wear and tear.
  • Expensive: Wool is more expensive than synthetic materials like Thinsulate, which makes it a less affordable option for some consumers.

In conclusion, both polyester insulation and wool have their own unique benefits and drawbacks when it comes to gloves. Polyester insulation is lightweight, water-resistant, and durable, but not as breathable or eco-friendly as wool.

Wool is a natural insulator, breathable, and eco-friendly, but heavier and less durable than polyester insulation.

Consider your needs and preferences when making your decision, and you’ll be sure to find the perfect pair of gloves to keep your hands warm this winter.

How to choose the right pair of wool gloves for snowy weather

When choosing the right pair of wool gloves for snowy weather, it’s important to consider what type of winter you’re dealing with.

If you’re wearing your gloves in a cold climate, like most of America, you will want to make sure they are warm enough to keep your hands from going numb.

However, if you’re skiing or snowboarding and need to keep fingers nimble and dexterous, then choosing a thinner material is a good option.

A thin pair of cashmere gloves can be superior to thicker gloves from other materials.

Look for a pair that has leather on the palm so it will provide grip while still being comfortable enough not to get too sweaty. If you are doing work outside often, finding gloves with a stitched-in grip near the thumb is also an option for improved hand dexterity.

Also consider fit and size. A good choice for most people is gloves that are lined from fingertip to wrist where you won’t lose warmth but will still be able to move your fingers easily without having them slip off.

Smart Wool is known for its thin, agile, and durable merino wool gloves.

Should I use fingerless wool gloves in the snow?

Fingerless wool gloves may not be the best option for use in snowy weather. While fingerless gloves can be useful for activities that require dexterity in the fingers, such as texting or using a touchscreen device, they may not provide enough warmth and protection for your fingers in snowy conditions.

Fingerless gloves leave your fingers exposed to the cold, which can make them more susceptible to frostbite and other cold-related injuries. They also may not provide enough insulation to keep your fingers warm and dry in wet snow.

If you need to use your fingers for tasks in snowy weather, consider using gloves with removable fingertips or convertible mittens that can be easily converted to gloves.

In conclusion, fingerless wool gloves may not be the best option for use in snowy weather because they leave your fingers exposed to the cold, and may not provide enough warmth and protection in wet snow.

Consider gloves with removable fingertips or convertible mittens if you need dexterity in your fingers while in snowy weather.

Conclusion

In conclusion, wool gloves are a great option for keeping your hands warm during snowy weather. They are naturally insulating, breathable, and eco-friendly.

Merino wool and cashmere wool are two types of wool that are commonly used for winter gloves, and both have their own unique benefits and differences. Merino wool is known for its softness, moisture-wicking properties, and ability to regulate body temperature, while cashmere wool is known for its luxurious softness and warmth.

However, wool gloves also have some drawbacks. They may not be as durable as synthetic materials, and can be heavier than other types of gloves. They also require special care and maintenance to keep their shape and softness.

Therefore, it’s important to consider your needs and preferences when making a purchase.