The best gloves for warmth and dexterity: Hestra Fält Guide Gloves

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Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored
Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored

Just because winter has reared its frigid head doesn’t mean you need to stop doing your favorite outdoor activities — especially if you have the right gear. Whether you’re an avid backcountry skier looking for the best ski gloves, a snowshoe trekker that needs winter gloves or you simply want to walk your dog around the neighborhood in single-digit temps, I have good news for you: Hestra’s Fält Guide Gloves will allow you to conquer the cold without sacrificing dexterity.

Like much of the western United States, my hometown of Boulder recently got slammed with a polar vortex, and temperatures dropped down to -11 degrees Fahrenheit for a few nights in a row. As an apartment dweller with an active dog and no yard, staying indoors and lolling around wasn’t an option for me; I had to brave the goosebumps-inducing weather. These gloves were what saved my hands on those long walks (and poop pick-ups) in below-zero temps.

Over the last few months, I’ve worn these bad boys in -8-degree weather while walking my dog around town, on a chilly backcountry ski trip with Colorado Mountain School and single-digit days at Eldora Mountain, shredding fresh powder. They’ve captured a spot on the list of my favorite ski gear and are my new go-to for any cold-weather activity where I’ll need my grip and finger movement but also want the uncompromising warmth of an uber-cozy mitten. Let’s get into what makes the Hestra Fält Guide Gloves such a stand-out winter necessity.

Hestra Fält Guide Gloves


With their moisture-wicking removable wool liners, ultra-durable goatskin leather and flexible cowhide, Hestra has proven with its Fält Guide Gloves that you can have it all: an extremely warm and comfortable cold-weather glove that doesn’t sacrifice grip and dexterity when you need it most.

$175 at Hestra
$175 at Amazon
From $140 at Backcountry

What we liked about them

Extremely warm, for a glove

Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored
Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored

I know that the divide between mitten wearers and glove aficionados can be a polarizing topic (especially among the ski and snowboard community). Personally, I prefer gloves so that I can grip my ski poles, fiddle with my boot buckles, handle my car keys and schlep my groceries with ease all winter long. I don’t “run cold,” but I do tend to “run normal” when it comes to dressing for snowy weather. As such, the Fält Guide Gloves truly impressed me by offering all the warmth of a bulky gauntlet mitten with the grip and finger movement of a traditional glove. It’s the best of both worlds.

It wasn’t until an Alaskan backcountry trip leader from St. Elias Alpine Guides suggested these gloves that I started researching them in earnest, and it turns out that there’s a unique story behind their superior warmth.

Lars Fält, the founder of the survival school for the Swedish Armed Forces, wanted Hestra’s help in creating the ultimate cold-weather work glove, something that wouldn’t sacrifice warmth and grip for those who spend many long days outside in freezing weather. The result? The Fält Guide Glove.

The secret to these gloves’ holding and retaining heat better than your average leather ski glove is that they come with an attached wool pile and wool terry liners, designed to wick moisture and trap heat in their curly fibers. Even better is that these liners are removable, so you can layer them down on a warm day or swap them out if they get wet on a long day in the mountains.

Personally, I’ve taken these babies out to the resort in single-digit temperatures and fallen down in fresh powder multiple times without my fingers getting wet or going numb. They also proved incredibly useful to me as a new backcountry skier, because my transitions from skinning up to shredding downhill are still quite slow. Since they’re pricier than the average glove, it’s nice that they allow the dexterity required to walk my dog and cinch a waste bag closed, making them some of the best all-around winter gloves for those of us who live in snowy climates.

Great dexterity and grip

Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored
Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored

One of the coolest things about Hestra’s Fält Guide Gloves is that they boast a mix of goatskin leather and cowhide, with army goat leather on the gripping surfaces for its awesome durability and flexible, proofed cowhide on the back of the hand.

While testing these gloves, I tried to complete ordinary ski and city tasks in them when I was bopping around in freezing weather, from picking up dog poop to fiddling with my purse to buckling my ski boots. They aren’t as malleable as a thin pair of liner gloves, of course, but I’m happy to report that, even in -2 degrees F, I could safely walk my dog for 30 minutes around the neighborhood performing all the tasks I needed to, like holding onto the leash and buckling a collar without exposing my skin to the bitter cold.

Removable liners

Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored
Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored

I mentioned the Fält gloves’ liners before, but they’re seriously what makes these mitts shine. On top of helping with moisture-wicking and warmth, the extra-fine wool feels incredibly soft and cozy against your hand, meaning you’ll never want to take these babies off.

These liners can also be removed (if it’s too hot, for example) or replaced multiple times throughout the day if you happen to drench your hands on a big expedition. And yes, they are machine-washable (just hang or line dry them). Additional wool liners can be purchased from Hestra, should you want a spare ($50).

What we didn’t like about them

At this price point, there are a few bells and whistles we’d like to see included in the next iteration of the Fält Guide Glove. Read on for our hottest takes.

No wipe panel

Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored
Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored

Let’s be real: For most of us, our noses tend to run more when it’s freezing and windy outside. Many glove companies these days include a small fabric “wipe panel” on the back of the hand or thumb, even when the palm of a glove is made with leather to help users stay snot-free. Sadly, this is not the case with the Fält Guide Glove, so if you bring these dudes skiing, make sure you toss a few tissues into your pockets. Recreating in temperatures above 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit? Hestra makes lighter (and cheaper) gloves with a fabric backing that I also love, the Ergo Grip Active Wool Terry ($125).

No wrist leashes

Once again, at this high of a price point, there are a few things, like wrist leashes, that I wish Hestra had just thrown into the mix. Sure, the Fält Guide Gloves come with two reinforced grommet holes where you could attach an elastic wrist cord, so that you don’t lose your gloves, but the brand makes you purchase them for an extra $9.

How they compare

Yes, the Hestra Fält Guide Gloves are expensive ($175), but they are one of the best all-around gloves for extreme cold if you want to winter recreate and can’t hack it with a mitten. If you’re looking for more dexterity in a cold-weather ski touring glove and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of warmth, the Ergo Grip Active Wool Terry ($125) is also a fantastic (and cheaper) choice.

For a little less, Ortovox also makes an excellent pair of softshell ski touring gloves ($110) that come with waterproof Pertex covers for when the weather turns sour. This company, a leader in the backcountry ski world, also sells warmer leather gloves with a velcro wrist cinch ($140).

Simply looking for fantastic ski or snowboard gloves with a leather grip? Check out Dakine’s well-priced Leather Sequoia Gore-Tex Gloves ($100), which offer awesome wrist protection from errant spindrift. Don’t forget to check out our winners for the best ski gloves either, the Give’r 4-Season Gloves ($119). Lastly, if you need to save some money, but want super-warm winter gloves with good grip, try The North Face Montana Ski Gloves ($65), which are made with faux leather and recycled polyester.

And all you mitten die-hards out there should check out our picks for the best snowboard mittens we’ve tested. Or, if you aren’t planning on hitting the slopes anytime soon, we also love the Frost River Northern Pacific Mittens ($115).

Bottom line

Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored
Emily Pennington/CNN Underscored

Expensive? Yes. The best gloves for frigid weather that I’ve ever tested? Also yes. If you live in a cold, snowy climate or work outside in the mountains, there’s nothing better than the awesome warmth and grip of Hestra’s Fält Guide Gloves. Boasting removable wool terry liners that trap heat where you most need it and a durable goat leather grip, these babies are every bit as warm as your favorite pair of mittens, but with the awesome dexterity you’d expect from a pair of leather gloves. After a full month of skiing and four days of dog walks in subzero temperatures, I feel like they’re well worth the splurge.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed price at the time of publication.

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