Most people have no idea how to properly size and fit gloves, but finding the perfect pair can have a huge effect on how warm and toasty your fingers are (or aren't) in winter's chill. Here's what to look for.
Glove fit basics
First and most importantly, your fingers should almost, but not quite, touch the end of the glove—you want to preserve a small pocket of air around your fingertips to effectively trap warmth. Avoid gloves where your hands push against the material at the end of the fingertips. This compresses the insulation, eliminates heat-trapping dead air space, and often leads to painfully chilled digits.
Second, the gloves should not pinch or push against the webbing of skin at the base of your fingers, which can be both uncomfortable and chilling. Lastly, consider how far the gloves extend down your wrists—do they provide sufficient coverage to avoid gaps and exposed skin between your jacket and hands?
If the glove fits, wear it. Photo: Black Diamond
Matching hands to brands
Hands comes in a surprising variety of shapes and sizes—long fingers, short fingers, tiny palms, mega-palms, etc. There are also some common gender differences as well—women's hands tend to have smaller palms and longer fingers than men's, with corresponding differences between men's and women's styles.
Whatever your hand looks like, the key thing to realize is that every glove manufacturer designs their products for a slightly different hand shape—and that this cut tends to be consistent across most of a company's styles. For this reason, I highly recommend that you try on a variety of gloves from different companies to determine which brands best match your hand shape. (For example, if you have giant palms and long fingers like I do, Black Diamond, Swix, and Pearl Izumi tend to fit best.)
Gloves vary, of course, in many other important ways beyond fit. But all other things being equal, a properly fitting glove will always be warmer than one that fits poorly. Shop accordingly.