Keeping your hands warm is important. When your hands get too cold you lose dexterity in your fingers, and simple things like setting up your shelter, tying your shoes, and cooking a meal can become difficult. Usually a single pair of weather proof gloves or mittens will suffice to protect your hands. Some hikers bring one pair of gloves for warmth, and one pair of thin, waterproof glove covers for protection from the rain. Whatever you decide, remember to avoid cotton.
Mittens share the heat between your fingers more than gloves do, so your hands may stay a warm a little longer with mittens. Gloves allow your fingers freedom of movement, so doing camp chores with gloves is much easier than with mittens. One choice is not better than the other, but you should know the pros and cons of each.
Lightest option: Weight will vary by thickness and style of the gloves or mittens, and the differences aren’t substantial. Thin fleece gloves will be among the lightest.
Cheapest option: Trail-worthy gloves can be purchased at Ross or a thrift store for just a few dollars.
There is no perfect handwear, but you can choose your handwear based on your greatest need. Neoprene gloves will be waterproof, but heavier an less flexible. Vapor barrier gloves will be very warm, but expensive and bulky. We recommend that you not stress on it too much. A cheap pair of simple, weather resistant gloves will perform just fine on the trail.
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Are you all set on gear for the Pacific Crest Trail? Check out our Ultimate Gear Guide for the PCT ->