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Best Gloves for 14ers

Best Gloves for 14ers | My Advice & Recommendations

A pair of gloves can be very helpful while hiking or climbing a 14er, for a number of different reasons. First, most 14ers involve at least some sections of scrambling where you use your hands to move through rocks and boulders. Gloves provide important grip and protect your hands from cuts and scrapes. Secondly, the 14ers are a cold place to explore, with snow possible every month of the year. A good pair of warm gloves is often the difference between a fun day and frostbite. Here are some factors to consider when buying gloves for 14ers, along with some tips and a few suggestions from my experience.

The Debate over Gloves for 14ers in Summer

Not everyone thinks gloves are a good idea for scrambling during the summer – it is an open debate in the hiking and climbing community. Before you decide to buy gloves in the first place, here are the arguments for and against them.

The Argument for Using Gloves for 14ers

As I mentioned above, most 14ers involve scrambling over sharp and gritty rocks, which can easily cut or bruise your hands and fingers after a long day on the mountain. Gloves protect your hands without sacrificing much dexterity, especially on class 2 and 3 terrain where the climbing is not terribly difficult. They also help keep your hands warm, as the rocks are likely to be cold to the touch, even if you climb in July or August.

The Argument Against Using Gloves for 14ers

Some climbers argue that all gloves, even the best fitting examples, still slide around a bit over your hand, increasing the chance that you slip from a handhold. Instead, bare skin is the best point of contact while climbing because there’s nothing left to slip.

There is some truth to this point, which is why you should only use climbing gloves for class 4 peaks. However, for class 1-3 mountains, the climbing and scrambling is easy enough that slipping isn’t a significant concern. When in doubt, bring gloves with – you can always leave them in your backpack.

Best Gloves for 14ers

Gloves are Always Necessary for Winter

To be clear: If you are climbing 14ers between September and May, you absolutely need a warm, insulating pair of gloves with lots of dexterity and grip. Gloves are not optional in winter conditions. The snow, wind, and cold temperature can quickly cause frostbite if you are not prepared. I share my recommendations for winter 14er gloves further down below along with my other suggestions.

How to Pick a Pair of Gloves for 14ers

Different weather conditions and activities require different gloves to get the job done. A simple summer hike up Pikes Peak only needs a light pair of gloves, while a winter snow climb up Maroon Peak necessitates a tough pair of technical climbing gloves. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when picking out a pair of gloves for 14ers

Insulation and Warmth

The colder the weather is expected to be, the warmer your gloves should be. In June through August, a light pair of climbing gloves or fleece or nylon liners is more than sufficient. However, during the spring and fall you need thicker mid-weight gloves for below-freezing weather. In winter, you need serious insulation for below-zero conditions. A higher cost usually means the insulation used is lighter and more waterproof.

Grip and Dexterity

Because you will likely be using your hands to scramble while climbing a 14er, you need gloves with good grip and dexterity so you can move your hands as needed without constraints. For class 1 and 2 peaks, these issues are not as important. However, for class 3 and 4 peaks where a fall could be fatal, you should invest in better climbing gloves with better padding and an expert fit.

Weight and Bulk

Newer, more expensive gloves often use lighter, more compact materials that save weight and space in your backpack while on the mountain. Most beginners are fine with bulkier or heavier materials that bring down the price, but experienced climbers may want to spend the extra dollars to shave off a few unnecessary ounces.

Breathable Waterproofing

If you expect snow or rain on the mountain, waterproof gloves are a must-have requirement. Not all waterproofing is the same. Ensure your gloves use a breathable waterproof material like GORE-TEX so that sweat can still evaporate away while rain and snow is kept out. Even the most waterproof gloves get wet eventually, so always pack an extra pair for multi-day adventures.


As mentioned earlier, a higher cost usually means that a pair of gloves has more insulation, grip and dexterity, weighs less, and has better waterproofing, than the other options – but this isn’t always the case. Decide on your priorities and budget and then find the pair that best meets those goals.

The Best Gloves for 14ers: Seven Suggestions

Given these factors and the requirements for fourteeners, I put together some recommended gloves for 14ers considering a number of factors and categories. Here are the seven best gloves for the mountains, in my opinion.

Best Overall: The North Face Etip Recycled Gloves

The North Face Etip Recycled Gloves for men are a versatile and eco-friendly option for 14ers and similar adventures. Made with recycled polyester, these gloves feature a four-way stretch design for a comfortable fit and improved dexterity. The fingertips allow for use of touchscreen devices like phones or GPS units. The gloves also feature a silicone gripper palm for a secure grip, and a durable water-repellent finish to keep hands dry in light snow or rain. These gloves are ideal for those hiking 14ers during the summer, but probably aren’t warm enough for winter use.

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Best Grip and Dexterity: Black Diamond Torque Gloves

The Black Diamond Torque Gloves are a great choice for climbing 14ers and other alpine adventures. These gloves are made with a durable and breathable softshell fabric that protects hands from the elements while allowing them to breathe, keeping them warm and dry. The gloves feature a pre-curved construction for a natural fit and improved dexterity, allowing you to easily handle climbing gear and adjust your grip on the mountain. The gloves also feature a sticky rubber palm for a secure grip on rock, ice and other surfaces. The Torque gloves also have a reinforced and padded knuckle protection, a must-have feature when climbing 14ers with rocky terrain.

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Best Cost: REI Co-op Polartec Power Stretch Fleece Gloves 2.0

The REI Co-op Polartec Power Stretch Fleece Gloves 2.0 are great for climbing 14ers, made with warm and breathable fabric, durable reinforced palm and fingers, and an extended cuff to keep snow and cold air out. They also offer good dexterity. 

They are the most affordable pair of gloves for 14ers on my list, so they sacrifice grip and warmth for their low cost. That said, they provide a lot more value than you would expect at this price point, which is typical for REI Co-op brand gear. They’re a great value!

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Best for Technical Terrain: Black Diamond Punisher Gloves

If you plan to use an ice axe, harnass, and rope during your alpine adventures, you need something tough but dexterous to handle ice tools and hand holds. The Black Diamond Punisher Gloves are your answer for technical terrain adventures on 14ers and other mountain summits. These gloves have it all: Pertex® Shield breathable waterproofing, PrimaLoft® Gold insulation for warmth, goatskin leather patch palms that enhance durability and grip, and fleece linings to wick away moisture and keep your hands warm and dry. Reinforced knuckles, durability, and dexterity make these the best gloves for 14ers with advanced, technical terrain.

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Best for Wind: Black Diamond WindWeight Convertible Mittens

The Black Diamond WindWeight Mittens are gloves for 14ers if your goal is to stay warm and protected from the wind. These mittens feature a fold-back flap with a convenient magnetic closure, allowing them to convert to 3/4 fingerless gloves. The Polartec® Windbloc-ACT® fleece blocks cool wind to keep hands even warmer, making these mittens ideal for all kinds of weather conditions, especially windy days on the mountain. The durable Pittards suede palm patches provide a sure grip, making them perfect for hiking. Check out the price below.

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Best for Climbing: Metolius Half Finger Climbing Gloves

These cowhide gloves are ideal for rope climbing and rappelling 14er adventures. The half finger design leaves your fingers exposed for grabbing hand holds, while the leather palm protects you while scrambling or handling climbing rope. These gloves won’t provide a lot of insulation, but they’re fantastic for late spring through early fall when the weather conditions are right. Many users remark that they get better with use as they get broken in over time. If they don’t seem to fit well right away, wear them around the house for a day or two and they’ll improve.

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Best for Winter 14ers: Black Diamond Soloist Gloves

These heavily insulated, fully waterproof gloves are the gold standard for winter adventures in the mountains. Whether you’re summiting winter 14ers or skiing in the backcountry, these gloves can rise to the challenge. They have a removable liner glove that packs in plenty of warm with PrimaLoft Gold insulation, and specialty grip insulation on the inner hand. The exterior shell has a BD.dry waterproof insert and EMPEL durable water repellent finish to ensure your hand remains dry, while the goat leather palms and additional reinforcement layers stand up to rocky terrain and mountain use over time. If you’re headed out to the mountains this winter, do yourself a big favor: Buy these gloves below.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Gloves for 14ers

There are a lot of questions online on this subject. Here are some I’ve come across and my answers.

Q: Do I need gloves for scrambling?
A: You do not ‘need’ gloves for scrambling as many people choose not to use them. However, I recommend wearing climbing gloves while scrambling as the rocks can bruise and cut your hands and fingers, especially on longer 14er routes.

Q: What kind of gloves to wear for hiking?
A: While hiking you should wear a pair of light powerstretch or fleece gloves with pads on the inner hand surface for improved grip. This is more than adequate for most hikers unless you are planning on hiking during the winter months or in extreme conditions.

Q: What kind of gloves do mountain climbers use?
A: Most mountaineers use a glove system that involves several pairs used together. A base liner glove goes on first, followed by a warm, insulating mid-layer. Finally, a waterproof hardshell goes on top, sealing out snow and water and retaining heat. This allows gloves to be added or removed to respond to changing weather conditions on the mountain.

Q: How do I choose mountaineering gloves?
A: Pick a pair of gloves that fit the activity and weather conditions you plan to face. For example, if you are going to climb a winter 14er, you should get a pair of liners along with a heavy pair of thick winter gloves. If you are doing a summer rock climb, get a light pair of half finger climbing gloves that will improve your grip but protect your hands and knuckles.

Q: Are fingerless gloves better for climbing?
A: Fingerless gloves are thought to be the best for rock climbing because they leave your fingertips free to directly touch the rock and hold on to small hand holds. The rest of the glove keeps your hands warm and protects them from abrasion against rock and debris. Full coverage gloves reduce your grip and dexterity significantly compared to fingerless gloves.

Tips for Using Your Gloves for 14ers

If you want to get the most out of your gloves make sure you follow each of these four best practices.

Tip 1: Choose gloves that are appropriate for the weather and activity level.

No single pair of gloves will work all year-round and in all weather conditions. Select a pair of gloves or assemble a glove system that can balances the need for dexterity vs warmth for the conditions you will be facing. If you expect warm weather, you can buy light gloves with good dexterity. If a a winter storm is expected, you will need to sacrifice dexterity for thick, warm winter gloves. You can’t have it all.

Tip 2: Make sure the gloves fit well.

While all gloves reduce your grip and dexterity at least a bit, that becomes much worse if there is excess space between your hand and the glove. When you grab on to a rock while scrambling, the glove will shift and you may slip. Ensure your pair of gloves fits your hands tightly – but not so tight that they cut off circulation. If you order a pair online, don’t be afraid to exchange them if the sizing is off. It is worth it.

Tip 3: Take care of your gloves to extend their lifespan

Wear and tear on your gloves is inevitable if you bring them with you to climb 14ers. However, a little love and care will help your gloves last a lot longer and prevent a catastrophic failure in the mountains where you need them the most. Remove lose threads and try to secure or sew small rips and tears before they get bigger. Keep your gloves stored out of the sunlight and at room temperature if possible to maintain the best condition possible.

Tip 4: Store Your gloves somewhere easily accessible

When you bring your gloves hiking, you might not need them at the trailhead due to the lower elevation and warmer temperature. As you begin to ascend, the temperatures drop, and the winds start to pick up, you may find yourself putting them on again. Save yourself time and put your gloves in an outer pocket or let let them hang from your wrists from straps so you can put them on and off as conditions change – sometimes quite rapidly on a 14er.

13ers Near Denver

Leave No Trace While Wearing Your New Gloves!

I always make a point of mentioning leave no trace ethics when we are discussing outdoor recreation. The 14ers are busier than ever, so we all have a role to play in protecting the peaks we love for future generations. Follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace to keep the 14ers pristine and help the mountain ecosystem thrive. Here’s a quick reminder of them each:

  1. Prepare and Plan Ahead: Research local conditions and regulations to ensure you’re ready.
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Stay on trail and use established campsites.
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack out waste and dispose of human waste far from water.
  4. Leave What You Find: Don’t pick flowers or take souvenirs. Leave historical artifacts be.
  5. Minimize Campfire Impact: Keep fires small, put them out completely, or skip them entirely.
  6. Respect Wildlife: Give wildlife plenty of space and keep food secure so you do not feed them.
  7. Be Courteous to Others: Smile! Listen to music on headphones and keep your voice down.

Gloves for 14ers: Now You Know!

As you can see, a lot goes into picking the right pair of gloves for 14ers. You need to consider the weather conditions and activity you’re engaged in, and then pick the right insulation, grip, waterproofing and weight to meet your needs. The suggestions I shared above are all good options for hiking and climbing 14ers, but there are many other pairs available online as well that you might want to consider. I hope you found my guide informative and helpful – safe travels on the trail!

Additional Resources Related to Gloves for 14ers

Looking for more information about finding the right pair of gloves for 14ers? These are some resources and articles that I found helpful while writing this blog. If you have a suggestion or another link to add to the list, leave a comment below. We love to share insight from our community of readers!

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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