By Pink Sherbet Photography from USA (Snow Covered Mittens) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A Kilimanjaro climb takes you through five fully distinct climate zones; it only stands to reason that you’ll need multiple glove/mitten options on your trek.
We recommend three pairs for any high-altitude climb: one lightweight, one midweight, and one seriously heavy-duty option. Not all gloves are created equal, though. If you want to stay comfortable all the way up the mountain, make sure to pick up some of our favorites:
A lightweight glove is invaluable during your trek; on the lower slopes, liner gloves offer sun protection and help prevent blistering from your trekking poles. As you climb higher, they can serve as an additional layer underneath heavier gloves or mittens.
You may already have a pair of lightweight athletic gloves, but if you don’t, we recommend:
The North Face FlashDry Liner Glove
Anyone athletic would do well to buy a pair of these durable, comfortable gloves. Their special wicking fabric helps keep fingers dry even when you’re exerting yourself, which will ultimately keep you warmer (remember, sweat is your enemy in cold weather; as soon as you cool down, it’s like a layer of ice on your body).
SmartWool Liner glove
We love that these gloves stretch for a snug fit, are surprisingly warm but still lightweight, and best of all, are just as good off the mountain as on! That’s because they’re made to work with smartphones (a serious plus if you’re Boston-based, like Thomson).
As you approach the summit, you’ll need serious insulation for your hands. We prefer mittens, especially if your hands tend to get cold; the greater surface area on gloves, and the fact that fingers can’t “share” the warmth they’re giving off, means they’re inherently less warm. We’ve including one of each option, though, in case you’re a die-hard glove-lover!
Outdoor Research Flurry Mittens
Like both liner options, these mittens were made to dry quickly and wick away sweat, a useful capability since their fleece interiors keep fingers toasty-warm! Flexible and stretchy, they offer great dexterity for a mitten. Though they’re not quite as warm as mittens, these gloves use wicking fabric, pre-curved fingers, and goatskin palms to offer superior dexterity and grip. And they’re stylish enough to be a good “cold-weather” option once you get back home!
Maximum Warmth: Shell Mittens
For harsh conditions, mittens with a wind and waterproof outer layer, as well as a removable insulation layer, offer maximum protection against the elements. Our favorites don’t come cheap, but remember, a really good shell mitten not only keeps you warm no matter what, its interior layer can double as your mid- to heavy-weight option! Outdoor Research Alti Mitts Made to withstand Arctic expeditions, these mittens feature a waterproof GORE-TEX outer layer, leather palms for easy gripping, wicking fabrics, removable liners, and even Kevlar stitching on the outer mitten. They’ll hold up to anything long after you return from Kilimanjaro!
Marmot 8000 Meter Mitt
It’s right in the name: these were made with high-altitude climbs in mind. The mittens feature GORE-TEX shells for weather resistance, wicking fabrics on the liners, and fully removable 700-fill goose-down mittens inside. They also boast an additional liner layer (that’s not removable), likewise made with GORE-TEX fabrics; if Kilimanjaro is one of many planned high-altitude adventures, they’re definitely worth the investment!