No – there is no objective way to measure the warmest gloves ever, but that won’t stop us from trying. We suffer from chronically cold hands, to be honest, and the vast majority of gloves just won’t cut it when the temperatures drop into the teens or naughts. And in real cold weather – like -20F or below, frequently found when summiting some of the world’s highest peaks or in some of the more frigid corners of this country – let’s just say that pair of ski gloves isn’t going to cut it. It’s time for some real insulation.
Our search led us to two pairs of gloves that stood out from the rest: the Black Diamond Absolute Mitts and the Marmot 8000 Meter Mitts. Both cost the equivalent of an arm-and-a-leg in glove terms, but absolutely nail it where it counts: warmth.
They achieve this my packing massive amounts of insulation that lesser, mere-mortal gloves simply couldn’t. The Black Diamond’s sport 580g of PrimaLoft Kodenshi – a premium, high-tech blend where ceramic particles are embedded into down to reflect body heat back at your skin. The result is warmth, and a lot of it. The Marmot 8000 Meter’s counters this by cutting straight to the chase and loading up the inner liner with 700-fill down – so it’s almost like wearing a puffy jacket on your hands – while still shell has its own PrimaLoft Insulation.
It’s tough to really say which pair is warmer. Both hold up well in weather far below zero – toasty between -10F and -30F, and still comfortable at as it stretches down to -40F. We could test them below that if it got any colder, but to be honest we might not even be willing to venture outside in that kind of cold. So it’s kind of a tie here.
In terms of design and build, we prefer the Absolute Mitts, which feel nimbler and more dexterous; they’ve got a 4-way stretch nylon outer shell and a very supple goat leather palm, which is just fun to wear. A Gore-Tex lining keeps water out.
The Marmot’s similar, with a nylon ripstop shell, Armortan leather palms, and a DriClime 3-dimensional wicking lining for waterproofness and breathability. They don’t feel as agile as the Absolute mitts, but they aren’t far behind.
If one thing does set them apart, it’s packability. The Marmot are actually 3 ounces lighter – 12 ounces vs 16 ounces – but the Black Diamond pack down smaller and make a better backup glove in your pack. We attribute this mostly to the gauntlet – which is thinner and not as stiff. They’re great for stashing away in your pack for emergencies, when your other gloves get wet, or run into colder temps than expected at elevation.
So all in all, it’s a close match – if not a tie. Both the Absolute Mitts and the 8000 Meter Mitts are fantastic gloves that will keep your hands warm in the coldest of bone-chilling conditions, as well as keep them dry and let you use all your needed tools and ski poles. Our slight preference goes to the Absolute Mitts just due to comfort and brand reputation, but your mileage may vary.