The BEST Way to Keep your Hands Warm At Any Temperature
If you want to keep your hands warm this winter, you could just carry around a cup of hot coffee or tea. This isn’t the ideal setup while you’re running. Turning your wrist over to look at your GPS will result in the tragic spilling of your portable heat source.
Ok, so the next best option is either gloves or mittens… but what is the BEST way to keep your hands warm?
This past weekend, I conducted a highly scientific experiment. Cold fingers are the absolute worst, so I wanted to know, once and for all, what was warmer in near zero temperature conditions.
On my right hand, I wore an inexpensive, light weight C9 brand running glove from Target.
On my left hand, I wore a more expensive “wind mitt” similar to this one.
My experiment was to determine if a cheaper glove, was as effective as a warmer mitten. It was about 7 degrees in Minneapolis, not much wind (when leaving the house) and I had a five mile run planned, which included parts of Uptown and Lake Calhoun.
Almost immediately after leaving the house, I regretted this scientific en-devour. Deciding to give myself more time to warm up, here’s what happened (with some internal dialogue).
- After 5 minutes my right hand, the gloved hand, was already colder than comfortable. This is going to be a long run…
- At 10 minutes, the mitten hand was nice and cozy, but the fingers on my glove hand were going numb. Should I turn around and go home?
- At 15 minutes, the wind dramatically increased at the southern end of Lake Calhoun. I pulled my Polar Buff over my face (which I only do in extreme circumstances), and my gloved fingers were starting to hurt a lot. This is so stupid…
- At 20 minutes, I felt slight cold on the mitten hand, but was too focused on the other to notice. I need to cut this run short…
- At 25 minutes, I decided I to just do 4 miles. I couldn’t believe how cold my one hand was. Dramatic? Syure, but if you’ve had cold fingers, you know what I’m talking about. This stupid experiment is going to permanently cost me the use of my right hand.
Back inside, I immediately put my right hand (the glove hand if you’ve lost track), onto the radiator. The mitten hand was totally fine.
The Results and Lessons
Every 3rd grade child growing up in the Midwest knows that mittens almost always warmer than gloves. Keeping your fingers connected allows them to magically work together to stay warm.
Wind blocking fabric is always worth the price. Spend the money! It’s unlikely you’ll get in from a run and think, “I’m such a sucker! I spent an extra $20 to keep my fingers warm.”
I’ve never tested running gear in that way. It was interesting to be able to test two different things under the exact same conditions. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to test your gear when the stakes are low so you understand how your body reacts to different elements.
BEST Way to Keep your Hands Warm at Different Temperatures
I have five pairs of running gloves I rotate through all winter. My hands tend to sweat if I wear them above 40 degrees. I’ve spend some time figuring out what I wear for different conditions. Here is a quick breakdown.
Usually wear cheap knit gloves from a dollar store. Can be easily carried if it’s too warm. Since they’re so cheap, I’ve even tossed them during a race or other time when I am sick of carrying them. They key here is usually just something to take the edge off that is highly breathable.
30 - 40 Degrees
This is a little tricky. On the high end of this scale, I wear these UnderArmour ColdGear gloves. They do a pretty good job taking the chill off, but approaching 30, they leave my fingers a bit chilly. If I’ve misjudged, I just ball my fingers up inside for warmth.
10 - 32 Degrees
On a sunny day with little wind, I can probably get by with those UnderArmour gloves. Below freezing and I switch to my 2:1 glove/mitten combo. Closer to 32 degrees, I use them in glove mode. Near 10 (or if it’s really windy) I switch to mittens. In this range is where wind blocking technology earns its keep.
Below 10 Degrees
Under 10 degrees and my hands can’t tell a difference. Cold is cold. This is the danger zone, and I need hard core mittens. I wear my wind mitts, with a liner, or just go with any of these mega warm mittens. At a certain point, you need to balance sweaty hands with frozen ones.
A small thing that I often forget, is to put my gloves/mittens on before going outside. This is hard because you may need to lock the door on your way out. If there’s anyway you can help exposing your skin to the cold air, you’ll be more likely to keep your hands warmer, longer.
If your hands get wet (for whatever reason), if they are really soaked, take off your gloves/mitts and tuck your hands into your sleeves. This is often better than running with sopping wet hands.
Reusable hand warmers are nice, but not a good long term solution. One helpful application is to take one or two with you on a longer run, and only use once you’ve been out for awhile. You can crack them open and add to your. I’ve never actually done this, but in theory, it seems like it should work. Right?
The Best Way to Keep YOUR Hands Warm
How do you keep your hands warm when you run outside in the winter? Short of just experimenting with different glove and mitten combinations, have you found any other tricks to be really helpful? Share them below.