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The best touchscreen winter gloves

Black Diamond's HeavyWeight ScreenTap fleece gloves are the best option for most people.
Wirecutter, @wirecutter
January 18, 2019
Sarah Kobos/Wirecutter

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By Nick Guy and Kaitlyn Wells

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. Read the full touchscreen winter gloves guide here.

After six years of testing, over the course of which we've examined 70 pairs of touchscreen gloves, we've found that though no pair is going to keep your hands warm and let you type as well as you can with your bare fingers, the Black Diamond HeavyWeight ScreenTap Fleece Gloves are the best compromise. They type pretty well, are warmer, and fit hands better than the competition.

We also have picks that will fit better if you have short fingers, want a thinner glove, or prefer the classic look of leather. Just keep in mind it may be easier to use voice commands and audio messages than trying to type in even the best touchscreen gloves.

The Black Diamond pair's stretchy fit hugs the hand like a second skin, making typing more accurate (keep in mind that you won't be able to type fluently, but these gloves work fine for making dinner plans while you're walking home from work on a chilly day). The fleece material also blocks out wind better than traditional knit fabrics, and is water-repellent, so drying time is just two hours. But these are designed to be liner gloves, so they're not very warm on their own—they work better with an outer glove, or solo when you're active outdoors. The stretchy material also means sizing is more forgiving than with other gloves we tested.

Sizes: XS to XL

Color: black

Materials: fleece shell; goat leather palm

The fingers of the Moshi Digits Touchscreen Gloves are shorter than other gloves', making this pair more suited for people with small hands who might otherwise have trouble finding a glove that fits. These gloves fit tightly thanks to their knit design, so typing is easier, and the microfleece lining is soft and cozy, making them a little warmer than our main pick. The gloves dry faster and have a better grip than other knit gloves. But they're available in only two sizes, so if you have large hands or long fingers, stick with our main pick.

Sizes: S/M and L/XL

Colors: light gray, dark gray

Materials: acrylic and nylon shell; microfleece lining

If you live somewhere with temperatures that rarely drop below 40 °F, you can get away with the less insulated, but more accurate Glider Gloves Urban Style Touchscreen Gloves. They're a little baggy, but you can easily size down for a tighter fit, and they're a good option if you work in a cold office and need something thin for all-day use.

Sizes: S/M to XL

Color: black with melange pattern

Materials: acrylic, nylon, spandex, and copper yarn

The Kent Wang Deerskin Gloves are our favorite fancy leather gloves to type in, thanks to their classic design, cashmere lining, and above-average touchscreen accuracy. Though not as good at typing as our other picks, they were better than other premium gloves. Our testers generally thought they were about as warm as the Black Diamonds, although some found them a bit warmer or colder depending on their particular hands. As expected with this kind of glove, they're expensive. The Kent Wangs are sold in fewer sizes than other leather gloves, but you can get a custom pair for $25 more.

Sizes: 7, 7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5

Colors: black, dark brown

Materials: calf leather palm, deerskin back, cashmere lining

Who should buy these

Regular gloves don't work with the capacitive screens on phones and smartwatches, so if you want to use your device when it's cold out you'll either need to take a glove off or use gloves that are designed to work with touchscreens.

Unfortunately, every touchscreen glove we've tested exists on a continuum of "warm but inaccurate" to "cold but good for typing", and no glove was truly good at both. Inaccurate gloves lead to incoherent text messages thanks to imprecise fingertips, and thin but accurate gloves left us freezing when we wore them in cold weather. In an era where voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant are increasingly accurate and useful, you may be better off using a normal glove and talking to your phone instead.

Touchscreen gloves also break down quickly—a pair of good touchscreen gloves will last you a full winter or two if you're lucky because the conductive material that enables touchscreen compatibility wears down over time.

How these gloves work

Touchscreen winter gloves

Touchscreen gloves are made with conductive materials, such as copper thread or silver nanoparticles, to transfer electricity from your fingertip to the glove's exterior. Photo: Sarah Kobos

For a capacitive touchscreen—the technology used in most touch-capable phones, tablets, and computers today—to register that you're interacting with it, you have to poke it with something that conducts electricity, such as a finger or a stylus. Touchscreen gloves are embedded with special materials to achieve the same effect.

Early attempts at touchscreen gloves used patches of conductive material sewn into the fingertips. Some manufacturers still do this, but gloves made using this method wear out quickly.

A more common method is to weave conductive thread (typically silver or copper; the two have about the same performance and durability) into the fabric, either just in the fingertips or throughout the glove. The thread conducts electricity from a finger to the tip of the glove covering that finger.

A third method, used in leather gloves, embeds leather with nanoparticles of silver, which produces full-hand conductivity. This technology is more forgiving of a loose fit than knit gloves with conductive thread, because the leather can conduct electricity from any part of your hand to any fingertip.

(You can make your existing gloves touchscreen capable by sewing special thread into them or treating them with special drops, but judging from the cost and reviews of those items, we recommend simply buying a proven pair.)

How we picked and tested

Touchscreen winter gloves

Over the years we've tested more than 70 pairs of touchscreen gloves. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Over the past several years, we've researched hundreds of gloves—most recently looking at 83 pairs, and calling in 23 in multiple sizes for testing with men and women. We chose these based on our previous picks, companies that had great reputations in outdoor wear, strong owner reviews, availability across major retailers, and a wide variety of styles and fits.

Touchscreen gloves have a trade-off between warmth and accuracy. Heavy-duty gloves aren't great for typing, and the thinnest gloves won't keep your hands much warmer than if you were wearing no gloves at all. So we focused mostly on the middle ground: gloves that are warm enough to get you through a commute.

Touchscreen winter gloves

For this update, we tested the gloves inside a walk-in refrigerator to see how they performed in the cold. Photo: Sarah Kobos

We had a panel of Wirecutter staffers with very different hand sizes and shapes test each pair of gloves for accuracy, fit, appearance and comfort, and ease of use (say, when pulling a key card from your pocket to enter a building). We tested the nine finalists in a walk-in refrigerator at a bar in Brooklyn, New York, at a consistent 30 °F. In the fridge, several Wirecutter staffers used each set of gloves while attempting to type on their phones, and we used a FLIR thermal camera to detect cold spots in each glove's construction.

Touchscreen winter gloves

We connected a thermal camera to a mobile phone to objectively identify which gloves kept our hands the warmest. Photo: Sarah Kobos

We also tested each glove's durability and drying time. We ran strips of Velcro across each pair 10 times to see how easily the fabric snagged. We also melted crushed ice on each pair of gloves and tracked the drying time. This told us how fast they'd dry after an afternoon snowball fight with the kids, or when commuting home on a sleeting day.

Our pick: Black Diamond HeavyWeight ScreenTap Fleece Gloves

Touchscreen winter gloves

Photo: Sarah Kobos

No pair of touchscreen gloves is going to let you type a message with flawless accuracy and keep your hands warm for hours on end. But if you need to type when it's cold out, we recommend the Black Diamond HeavyWeight ScreenTap Fleece Gloves. After six years of testing, these are the best touchscreen winter gloves we've found because they're easier to type in than the competition, are warm enough to use for your winter commute, and fit a wide range of hand sizes. They're also made by a large outdoor-gear company, which means it should be easier to find them in stock when you need them during the winter (we've run into issues with gloves from smaller companies selling out early in the season).

The Black Diamonds were among the most accurate at typing of the gloves we tested. The stretchy fleece material covers your hand nicely, and offers good dexterity that makes typing easier than the competition. All fingers are conductive—but it's easiest to type with your index fingers because the fit there is better (the gloves fit our testers either too long or a little too tight in the thumbs). When typing, the Black Diamonds required less pressure to type and we made fewer mistakes than with other gloves—including our previous top pick, the Moshi Digits Touchscreen Gloves. Most of the typing mistakes were due to seam placement on our fingers, which some panelists felt made typing uncomfortable and less accurate. Most panelists, however, didn't give a second thought to these seams, and overall we found they offered a good compromise between typing dexterity and warmth.

Touchscreen winter gloves

The gloves have a patch of goat leather on the palms that makes gripping slippery phones easier. Photo: Sarah Kobos

That said, although the gloves are decent at texting, they don't keep your hands very warm. The gloves are from Black Diamond's liner series (meaning you can wear them with an outer glove) and are recommended solo for temperatures from 25 °F to 40 °F. They received mixed reviews on how well they insulated during our walk-in fridge testing: Our panelists thought the elastic cuff prevented the 30 °F air from seeping into the gloves pretty well, but their fingertips were still cold. In real-world testing, these gloves kept our hands warm enough for a short dog walk in mid-30s (°F) temps—although we don't recommend them for standing around all night waiting for the Times Square Ball Drop. The manufacturer says these gloves will fight off the cold better when you're active rather than standing still, stating they're "ideal for skiing, trail running or hiking with your smartphone," and in a recent NYC snowstorm, our panelists said the fleece gloves kept them warm enough when they were running errands, but their fingertips felt cold while waiting for a bus or rideshare service to arrive. This is a point commonly made about softshell gear, that it'll keep you warm enough while active but you'll need something substantially warmer if you're staying still.

If you take part in a work-sponsored snowball fight (that's a thing, right?) or get splashed by a passing vehicle during your morning commute, these gloves will dry out by lunchtime. When we melted crushed ice on the gloves it took just two hours to air dry them, thanks to their DWR (durable water-repellent) coating. (The SmartWool Cozy Glove and Smartwool PhD Insulated Training Glove, which were just as thick, took more than six hours to dry.)

Touchscreen winter gloves

Our thermal-imaging camera caught the difference between the Black Diamond gloves (left) and Moshi Digits (right), which is evident in the knuckle and palm regions—the Black Diamonds kept more of the hand warmer for longer.

Of the gloves we tested, the Black Diamond HeavyWeight ScreenTap pair fit the most hand shapes and sizes. The stretchy fleece shell offers just enough give that the gloves were never too loose in the palms, nor too snug in the fingers. The stretchiness also made it easy for our testers with long fingernails to move up a size without compromising the overall fit.

The Black Diamonds are all about function, not fashion. They're available only in black, and the stretch-knit fleece design reminded one panelist of what thieves wear in heist films. (Testers' opinions fell across the aesthetics spectrum, from "sleek" to a "bit too athletic.") The only branding is a small Black Diamond logo on the back of the hand. A large patch of black leather on the palm makes it easy to grip slippery phones and metal railings. You can also connect the two gloves together with a tiny clasp, so they stay together at the bottom of your bag.

We know from our experience over the last six years of testing that it's hard to find a good pair of touchscreen winter gloves that are reliably in stock. If you can't find the Black Diamond HeavyWeights, and none of the other gloves appeal to you, consider a different model from the Black Diamond ScreenTap series, like the LightWeight or MidWeight. These other gloves are thinner so they're not as warm as our main pick—but they have the same design, so we're confident they'll provide the same level of dexterity and typing accuracy as the HeavyWeight version.

Warmer, but for shorter fingers: Moshi Digits Touchscreen Gloves

Touchscreen winter gloves

Photo: Sarah Kobos

The Moshi Digits Touchscreen Gloves were our previous top pick, and we still like them because they type pretty well and are cozy to wear. But the gloves are available in only two sizes and the fingers are short, so they won't fit a wide range of hands.

The typing experience with the Moshi Digits is pretty good. The knitwear pattern is taut and flexible, which is ideal for dexterity. And the seams are thin in the fingertips, which makes typing more predictable and reliable than with most other knit gloves. All fingers have conductive fiber sewn in, so you can type text messages with your thumbs or poke with your pinky. Half of our testers found typing easy because the thicker insulation reduced slack in the gloves' fingers. However, other testers had to press down hard on their screens to get a response, which is frustrating when you need to fire off an urgent email. (The single-layer gloves we tested, including those from Agloves and, offered more dexterity, but were less predictable at typing because the fingertips were too long.)

Touchscreen winter gloves

All our panelists loved the soft microfleece lining in the Moshi Digits. Photo: Sarah Kobos

The Moshi Digits were the coziest gloves we tested. Think of them as a mash-up of that fuzzy scarf Nana made you last year and the winter blanket that your pet hogs on the sofa. They have a knitted exterior and are lined in microfleece—and were the softest and one of the warmest gloves we tested (Most panelists said the gloves kept them warmer than our main pick, though our thermal camera didn't show much difference between them.) In previous years' testing, a panelist thought the gloves performed well during high-energy activities, such as snow shoveling, and they were "plenty warm" for a 15-minute dog walk.

Touchscreen winter gloves

The Moshi Digits gloves have rubberized grip lines and dots that help keep your phone from slipping out of your hand. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Although most knitted winter wear can be a pain to dry, the Moshi Digits dried quickly in our tests. It took an hour for these gloves to dry, compared with the equally thick SmartWool Cozy Gloves, which needed six hours. The Moshi Digits gloves' knit construction catches on Velcro easily—the snagging didn't tear the glove or do any other real damage, but it did lead to general fuzziness.

Touchscreen winter gloves

The Moshi Digits's short fingers don't work for all hand sizes—the finger seams run about an inch too short. Photo: Sarah Kobos

If you have short hands and fingers, the Moshi Digits will fit you better than any other pair. The fingers are about an inch shorter than most other gloves', and the palm and cuff area fall just shy of the wrist on long hands. Panelists who wear a size small or medium glove thought the "small/medium" gloves were too tight, but the "large/extra large" gloves fit well. Just keep in mind that Moshi measures hand size from wrist to fingertip, as opposed to palm width, so confirm your size before ordering.

A thinner pick for warmer climates: Glider Gloves Urban Style Touchscreen Gloves

Touchscreen winter gloves

Photo: Sarah Kobos

The Glider Gloves Urban Style Touchscreen Gloves were our original pick, several years ago, and we still like them. Their conductivity is great, and because they're thin, they're also very accurate if you get a good fit (we recommend sizing down if your fingers are shorter than average). But they're the thinnest gloves we tested, so they aren't ideal for colder climates.

The Glider Gloves are interwoven with conductive copper yarn, so the entire glove is touchscreen compatible. They're single-layer knitted gloves, so they're less resistant to wind than the Black Diamonds or Moshi Digits, and they stop being warm enough in the low 40s (Fahrenheit).

The Urban Style gloves are the thinnest ones we tested, and they fit a little baggy, so they don't trap body heat as well as our other picks. The manufacturer says the loose fit is normal, and in the size guide for the gloves, it states that the gloves "contain 2% spandex material that will conform to your hand the more you wear it"—we'll long-term test the Glider Gloves to see if this is true with regular use, but you can also size down to reduce bagginess. (Make sure you reference the company's sizing guide to find the right size before ordering.)

Touchscreen winter gloves

The Glider Gloves palms feature a silicone cluster of holes. Photo: Sarah Kobos

These gloves are slow to dry if you get them wet—they took five hours to dry during our tests, which was longer than most pairs we reviewed. (The SmartWool Liner Gloves and Target's men's and women's touchscreen gloves were equally thin and needed just an hour and two hours to dry, respectively.) The Glider Gloves are still a great buy if you live in a more temperate area or venture out into the cold for only short bursts at a time. Their low insulation also makes them a good choice for people who want to wear gloves all day—for example, in a cold office—but need normal dexterity.

The gloves are available in black with a striped, olive green design (aka a "neutral melange pattern"). The fingers and palm are covered in a cluster of small silicone honeycomb-style hexagonal holes to keep slippery devices from falling out of your hands.1 And the gloves are thin enough to roll into a bundle (like a pair of socks), so you'll spend less time digging through your bag to find them.

A premium leather pick: Kent Wang Deerskin Gloves

Touchscreen winter gloves

Photo: Sarah Kobos

If you prefer a more refined-looking leather glove, we like the Kent Wang Deerskin Gloves. They're a good option for people who want the look and feel of all-leather gloves while maintaining touchscreen compatibility. They're cashmere-lined, but like all of our picks, they won't keep you warm in frigid climates. And because they're leather and are sold in specific sizes, if you're between sizes, it's harder to get the proper fit than with a softer and stretchier material like our other picks'—but you can opt for a custom pair for $25 more.

The entire surface of the Kent Wang gloves is touchscreen compatible, and they were better at typing than the other leather gloves we tested for this update—though not as good as our other picks. The thick seams along the fingers meant we had to use our finger pads (not the tips or sides, which is a natural position) to type and swipe.

Like all of the gloves we tested, the Kent Wangs didn't keep our panelists' hands very warm—our testers felt colder faster than in the fabric gloves we tested. Still, the deerskin exterior wicked away moisture and prevented water stains better than the competition. (The Mujjo Leather Touchscreen Gloves were water-stained and the lining was cold after six hours of drying time.) If you drop your phone in the snow, you don't have to think twice about water damage to your Kent Wangs when you pick it up.

Touchscreen winter gloves

The Kent Wang gloves are lined in cashmere. Photo: Sarah Kobos

The Kent Wang gloves fit well, with a little more give in the knuckles and palms than other leather gloves that can be too constricting (like the Mujjo and the Nordstrom Cashmere Lined Leather Touchscreen Gloves). This helps with typing dexterity and means you're less likely to take them off when responding to a Slack message. They are sold in unisex sizes, from 7 to 10.5, but aren't available in whole sizes (they go from 7 to 7.5 to 8.5, and so on). People who wear whole sizes or have petite hands may find that the gloves have a boxy fit. (You can spend an extra $25 for a custom-sized pair.)

The gloves are made of calf leather and deerskin, and are classically designed. There's no way to tell them apart from a pair of traditional leather gloves, and they don't look "techy." (The conductive material is infused into the leather.) The cashmere lining is soft, although one of our panelists thought it was itchy.

What to look forward to

Mujjo released a new touchscreen glove in November 2018. It's made of a stretch-knit fleece fabric that conforms to your hand shape, and features three layers of insulation to protect them from the freezing cold. We previously reviewed Mujjo's knit and leather gloves, but found their fit to be too tight, which meant we made more typing mistakes. We'll see how this new pair compares with our current picks when we update this guide.

The competition

Touchscreen winter gloves

We tested a lot of gloves. Many of them were pretty good, but none of them were as good as our top pick. Photo: Sarah Kobos

2018 Update

The fit on the Black Diamond Midweight Softshell Gloves was baggy for all of our testers, which made typing nearly impossible.

The Columbia Ascender Softshell Gloves are available only in men's sizes, and our testers thought the softshell material crinkled too much. These gloves also fit too tight, which made typing uncomfortable.

The Columbia Trail Summit Running Gloves (men's and women's) were a strong contender for a cool-weather pick because they fit well and typed with greater accuracy than most thin gloves we tested. But they sold out in the women's sizes during our review, and the touchscreen ability didn't surpass that of our Glider Gloves pick.

The Columbia Thermarator Fleece Gloves (women's and men's) were thin and lacked a lining, which made them scratchy to wear. The fit was bulky, and only a conductive patch on the index finger and thumb pads were usable.

Target's Goodfellow & Co Men's Striped Touch Tech Gloves and Wild Fable Women's Tech Touch Gloves are inexpensive, but they're too thin to offer any type of protection from the cold, their touchscreen sensitivity is poor, and their one-size-fits-all design didn't comfortably fit all of our testers.

The Isotoner Women's smartDRI Chevron Shortie Touchscreen Gloves were too tight in the palms, and too long in the fingers. The poor fit made typing impossible .

We retested the Mujjo Leather Touchscreen Gloves and our assessment remains the same. The fit is tight, the buckle is a pain to use, and the gloves easily get water-stained.

The Nordstrom Cashmere Lined Leather Touchscreen Gloves are sold in a women's cut, so they fit petite hands better than our Kent Wang pick. But they fit a little tighter, which makes them harder to wear, and are thinner, so they're also not as warm.

The Ralph Lauren Wool-Blend Tech Gloves and UGG Shorty Shearling-Cuff Tech Gloves pilled easily, were a little itchy, and their touchscreen sensitivity was poor.

We tested three styles of SmartWool gloves: the Cozy Glove, Liner Glove, and PhD Insulated Training Glove. The touchscreen sensitivity was poor, and they fit baggy on most of our testers.

We retested a few gloves from The North Face, including the Apex+ Etip, the Commutr, the Etip Hardface (men's, women's), and the Pseudio Insulated gloves in men's, women's, and unisex sizes. Even with gender-specific sizing available, the fit wasn't ideal. (Our testers who identify as women thought the women's fit was too tight, and the unisex gloves were too boxy.) The arc of the gloves (which The North Face calls "radiametric articulation") left our hands frozen at an uncomfortable angle, and we couldn't flex our fingers. All of this made typing on our devices impossible.

2014–2017 Testing

We tested the following gloves for previous versions of this guide (discontinued models are not listed):

The Agloves Sport and Polar Sport gloves are thin, and just don't compare with the Moshi Digits in warmth or quality.

Burton's Touch N Go and AK Tech gloves are decent soft-shell options, but their fit was poor and the typing accuracy was abysmal.

Our previous main pick was the Glider Gloves Winter Style Touchscreen Gloves. They offered the best combination of warmth, touchscreen sensitivity, and grip at the time. In 2015, Glider added a longer cuff and an improved conductive mix. But in our tests, the touchscreen sensitivity got worse, not better.

The Cozy and Classic (now discontinued) designs were similar to their Glider Gloves counterparts, but they lacked any sort of grip on the palm or fingers. The company says grip marks look too "techy," but we'll take techy-looking palms over a dropped phone any day of the week.

The Isglove mittens failed to be a best-of-all-worlds option for people looking for warmth, weather protection, and touchscreen compatibility. The price is too high for a mediocre pair of ski mittens with a conductive liner, especially because the Glider Gloves are thin enough to use as liners under your favorite pair of waterproof, insulated mittens or gloves.

J.Crew's Wool Smartphone Gloves for men are warm and fit well, but you can activate a touchscreen only with your finger pad. The leather is also slippery, which isn't great when you're holding an expensive smartphone.

The Mujjo single layer, double layer, and leather touchscreen gloves were uncomfortable to wear and difficult to type in during our tests.

The North Face Etip gloves have clunky conductive panels, and the Denali Etip gloves (men's and women's) fit boxy—both of which made precise typing almost impossible.

This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

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