Choosing Rain Mitts

Hikers often use rain mitts on top of a pair of insulating gloves or mittens to increase warmth and comfort in cold, wet conditions. These lightweight, breathable rain shells are more comfortable and warm than insulated glove systems, and can help hikers save time in emergency situations where they need to get out of the weather as soon as possible.

Choosing the Right Rain Mitt

A good rain mitt is a critical piece of gear for backpackers and thru-hikers. They offer the best protection for hands while hiking in stormy, wet conditions. The following features should be considered when selecting the right pair for you:

Body Fabric

The primary body fabric of a rain mitt is generally a 2- or 3-layer waterproof-breathable, ripstop-nylon sandwich with fabric weights from 1 to 4 oz/yd2. Some are fabricated with a stretchy material that gives a little give when gripping trekking poles and layered over a thicker glove (i.e., when space gets a little tight inside the mitt).

Gauntlet Length

Gauntlets may be elastic-bound or drawcord-closure, and are generally less durable than their elastic-bound counterparts due to the fragile and abrasion-prone nature of elastic binding. A drawcord-closure gauntlet with a single-hand use toggle is the best option, since it keeps the hem snug and secure in the worst weather.

Palm Fabric

The palms of rain mitts may be reinforced with thermally-fused patches of grippy material, or made with an additional layer of grippy fabric (usually textured polyurethane, referred to hereafter as TPU). These feature add water resistance and warmth, improve the handling of tools like trekking poles and ice axes, but compromise articulation.

Articulation and Fit

A comfortable, ergonomic design is essential for a good rain mitt. It should conform to the natural curve of the hand and thumb and be comfortable and easy to grip. It should also allow the fingers to flex easily while doing fine-motor tasks like operating a stove, using your phone or camera, zipping a small zipper, or tying your shoe.

Patterning/Thumb Articulation

Articulated patterns that match the natural, relaxed curvature of the hand and thumb are more comfortable and provide better motor control, especially for rain mitts with heavier fabrics. Less sophisticated patterning is generally found in cottage industry rain mitts.

Wrist Adjustment

A rain mitt with a wrist adjustment mechanism will be the most secure and keep your fingers where they are supposed to be in the mitt, rather than sliding around. Some feature a strap (adjustable and secured by a hook-and-loop patch or ladderloc buckle) or an adjustable drawcord and toggle at the wrist to secure the rain mitt in place.