Hunting is a way of life in the United States, and we are here to help you be as successful on the hunt as possible.
When you buy a regular pair of gloves, there isn’t really a whole lot to think about. Mostly, you’re concerned with style and an appropriate level of thickness for the weather conditions and what you’ll be doing while wearing them. You can pretty much just drop by any store and grab whatever looks good.
More thought needs to be put into the selection of a good pair of hunting gloves, however. There are numerous different ways to hunt, and just as many types of gloves optimized for each method. Then you have to think about the conditions that you’ll be in and what materials are most suitable. And while it’s not a consideration for everyone, style may come into play too as you look for a pair that matches up with the rest of your hunting outfit.
In this guide, we’ll first cover the most basic factors to look at when deciding what gloves will work best for you, such as material and common designs. We’ll also give an overview of specialized gloves used for specific types of hunting, such as the tabs that bow hunters sometimes prefer to use. We’ll then finish by providing our recommendations on the best pair of gloves available on Amazon in six different categories — lightweight, bow hunting, duck hunting, waterproof, cold weather and the best overall pair of all-around gloves that everyone should keep on hand.
The natural fiber most commonly used in clothing, you’ll find that many types of gloves are at least partially made from cotton. Cotton is ubiquitous because it is soft, warm, breathable, strong and natural. It doesn’t cause allergies and won’t irritate the skin like some man-made materials can. The downside? For hunters, it’s that it sops up moisture and takes a long time to dry. If you find yourself in the rain or slip in a stream, you could be stuck with soaked gloves for a long period of time.
Gore-Tex is a man-made synthetic fabric that is a stretched version of the same material that makes up Teflon. It is waterproof, and it is technically breathable, allowing water vapor from the skin to pass through without allowing exterior water in. In practice, however, Gore-Tex has always had problems with ventilation. It is more prized for its use in repelling water than it is for its ventilation qualities.
Made from animal hide, leather is a fashion staple and is used in many different applications. As far as gloves go, they are a better choice for cold conditions as they are highly insulating and windproof. In warm conditions they may be too hot and have poor ventilation. They will also need to be kept up with leather conditioner if they are exposed to the elements and to game.
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that is highly flexible. It is also protective of the skin without being heavy, is an excellent insulator and repels water. It also holds up much longer than standard rubber does. The only real issue with it is that it is not at all breathable.
Polar fleece was developed specifically as a man-made alternative to wool. It uses synthetic polyester fibers to simulate the look and texture of wool. It repels nearly all water, holding only about 1% of its own weight, yet it is still machine washable. And it is made mostly from recycled plastics, making it a viable and eco-friendly alternative to wool for those with allergies and those who live a vegan lifestyle. The only real issues with it are that it is not at all windproof, and that it very quickly generates static electricity, meaning constant annoying little shocks if you are touching a rifle or other metal gear all the time.
Wool is very durable and flexible, is a great insulator, is protective against cuts and scratching and cannot light on fire. It would be the perfect natural fabric if not for the fact that it tends to be scratchy and uncomfortable. Most gloves will treat it to make it more comfortable to wear, however, as well as removing the sheep smell that sometimes accompanies it. But even with treatment, a number of people have wool allergies and cannot have it next to their skin. Special care must also be taken when cleaning it, as it shrinks easily and becomes brittle when it is wet.
The hardest job that a glove has to do is actually keeping your hands warm! This is because your extremities tend to be the coldest part of the body, as blood has to travel the farthest to get to them and requires the most effort from the heart to pump out. A “cold weather glove” can be defined simply as a glove that is designed to actually trap most of your emitted body heat and get your hands warm if you put them in cold. You will find that with most lighter gloves, if you put your hands in cold, they will never get adequately warm. It takes a thick material combined with a good thick liner to do that trick, but of course those two things come at the cost of hand mobility and dexterity.
Such gloves may be good for low temperatures, but that does not also automatically mean they are good in wind. Stopping wind is simply a matter of adding lightweight material, however, so if wind chill is a factor there is always the option of adding either a liner or something over top of the gloves.
One final consideration about cold weather gloves. The tightest fit does not necessarily guarantee the warmest glove. It’s more about the quality and thickness of the liner. You’ll want some space around the fingers not just for optimal heat retention, but also to ensure that circulation doesn’t get cut off to your finger. If there’s no blood in the area, you won’t generate any body heat there!
The standard falconers glove covers the fist and wrist at the very least, if not part of the forearm as well. You may see them referred to as a gauntlet if they cover a good portion of the forearm. These gloves are almost always made of a heavy leather, most frequently buckskin or moose. There are certain special parts to these gloves specific to handling birds that you won’t see on other glove types, such as a D-ring near the palm and a tassle by the wrist. It’s very important to clean and condition these gloves as they will become stiff with exposure to the bodily fluids from the kills of the falcon.
There is some overlap in this category with shooter’s gloves, although a shooter’s glove may very well have most or all of the fingers in place. Hunters generally choose these for enhanced finger dexterity in their various tasks and for handling and firing their weapon. The downside, of course, is exposure to the cold in such conditions. In cold weather, hunters may carry a pair of light fingerless gloves to switch to temporarily when needed, and wear a heavier pair of regular gloves at all other times.
These are general-purpose gloves that have full, insulated fingers. You’ll see an extremely wide variety of these, and they mostly differ in the materials used. They commonly combine materials so that the fingers are made of a lighter material to improve dexterity and the ability to feel things through the glove.
Lightweight gloves are generally made from cotton, fleece or neoprene. The focus here is on a less dense and heavy glove, but usually with the trade-off of being less protective and less warm. These generally do not have insulation and will not be well-suited to handling the bodily fluids of game, unless they are fully made of neoprene.
The classic mitten design is actually very popular among hunters who are in the colder climes. The ones specifically designed for hunters usually have pop-tops that allow you to quickly free your fingers without completely taking the mitten off.
Horseback hunters need their own special gloves adapted to both riding and shooting. Riding gloves are usually on the thicker side to prevent damage to the hands while holding reins, but the fingertips may be made from a lighter material to provide better dexterity and sense of touch with the rider’s weapon of choice.
Shooting gloves designed for different seasons will have different features, and you’ll also want different types of gloves depending on what weapon you are using. Warmer seasons call for lighter gloves that are well ventilated and have adjustable straps for the most snug possible fit. The cooler seasons add on insulation, but you’ll still want a flexible and responsive material on the fingers and thumbs.
As far as your choice of weapons go, bowhunting will always require a more flexible material, regardless of the weather conditions. These gloves are usually made of a particularly light and supple deerskin that are thicker on the three middle fingers so that an added tab is not necessary.
Some bowhunters prefer tabs to full gloves. These are a small protective device that covers only the needed fingers when shooting, and are usually made of leather.
Obviously, the major downside here is that this offers the hand no protection whatsoever in cold or wet conditions. While tabs are much more commonly found in competitive target shooting, some bowhunters do swear by them over standard gloves. The most common design of tabs is called “can’t pinch,” and as the name indicates it provides just enough friction between your fingers and the arrow to allow you to hold it without pinching it during the draw. There are more advanced tabs that add features such as Velcro finger straps and spacer pads. You can even get a hybrid tab-glove, usually called a “mitt,” which adds fingerstalls that replicate the function of fingers on a standard shooting glove.
Hunting gloves generally come in the generic range of sizes that other glove types do — small, medium, large, x-large and so on. To determine your glove size, simply wrap a tape measure around your hand just below your knuckles. For men, if the measurement is seven inches or less, you need an extra small set of gloves. For each added inch, step up one glove size. For example, eight inches would be a small, nine would be a medium, ten would be a large, and so on. For women, use the same standard, except each size is reduced an inch (so six inches for an extra small, seven inches for a small, and so on). Each glove manufacturer may have their own individual sizing chart which may be a little different, but you can use this as a solid rule of thumb to fall back on if they do not provide one.
Stretching and shrinking also have to be taken into account. A pair of cotton gloves, for example, may shrink when washed if they are not pre-shrunk by the manufacturer. On the other hand, a pair of leather gloves that are a bit too tight will eventually stretch to more comfortably fit the hand of the wearer.
One thing that hunters often overlook in a glove is scent. The smell of leather, for example, can provide a warning to an animal. However, the larger problem is with scent of both handled materials and handled game seeping into the glove. Some companies are now incorporating an activated-carbon odor eliminating system into their products. Materials that block scent are also usually anti-microbial to prevent transmission of disease or the attraction of bacteria by accumulated animal bodily fluids.
In cold weather, your first concern is keeping warm, and for that purpose mittens are by far the best as they tuck the fingers together for added heat. Of course, they’re also the worst option for dexterity. The Heat Factory Pop-Top Mittens with Glove Liners combine the best of both worlds with a pop-top that folds back into a Thinsulate glove liner when added precision is required. Need precision with added warmth? The killer feature of these gloves is that you can tuck a hand warmer into a special pocket underneath the fingers!
The gloves are made from fleece, with small magnets sewn on to hold the mitten top in place when it is folded back. The magnets are designed to make almost no noise whatsoever when they are attached and detached. If you buy the gloves new, they’ll come packed with one pair of heat warmers that are good for roughly 10 hours. The pocket is sized for the warmers that are manufactured by Heat Factory, but you may be able to fit other brands of warmers of a similar size in. Watch out for warmers that are too small for the pocket, however, as they will most likely bunch up and not provide even warmth across all the fingers.
The gloves are also sealed at the bottom with an elastic cuff to keep snow and rain out, and rubber on the palm improves grip. The mitten top repels water, and the underlying fleece on the glove portion will also naturally shed most water, so these are very good for wet conditions.
A great bonus of buying these gloves is that they are versatile enough to be used for a wide variety of outdoor activities in a different range of climates, from skiing to photography. One thing that they are not well suited for is riding a bicycle, however. As the base glove material is fleece, when the mitten top is pulled back there is very little protection from the wind. Expect the glove portion to be more like the thickness of a wool glove liner than of an actual full-sized glove. They’re also not made of the most durable and aren’t suited to rough applications where there will be a lot of constant friction. For most cold weather hunting scenarios, however, these gloves will cover all the bases for you.
With duck hunting, it’s all about handling decoys. This means placing them in and fishing them out of water repeatedly, which in turn means your primary concern is going to be a long, waterproof glove. You’ll also want something well insulated, as the water you are plunging your hands into is likely going to feel much colder than the ambient temperature.
Neoprene is the material of choice for the Glacier Decoy Gloves, and the 2mm thickness employed here will completely repel water. The design covers you up to the elbow to ensure that you stay dry when retrieving decoys. The Max 4 and Max 5 camo patterns give you a couple of different options that are both well-suited to the reedy waterside terrain. The gloves can pull double duty for a number of different tasks including ice fishing, or even old-school clothes washing if you’re in a rustic cabin or some other setting where you don’t have a washing machine available. Any task that requires submerging your arms in water up to the elbow is one that these gloves can potentially handle.
There are a couple of important points to consider about these gloves, however. The interior lining is very thin, so they are not the most well suited for extremely cold weather conditions, and it is difficult to warm your hands back up with these once they are already cold. You can always add your own liner of preference, however. And gloves made entirely of neoprene tend to be a bit smaller and tighter than other types, so you may want to go one size up from normal with these. For more temperate conditions where you will have your hands in water throughout the day, however, these gloves are tough to beat and are sold at a very modest price point. Hunters in the marshy and swampy Southern states will definitely want to take a look at these.
We talked a bit about waterproof gloves in the section for duck hunting, and those gloves are certainly going to be up to the task of keeping water out. But the needs of a general purpose waterproof glove are different than those of someone who is specifically duck hunting. The general waterproof glove is more for being in rainy conditions for an extended period of time rather than submerging your hands and forearms in water. So you’ll want a regular glove cut that doesn’t go much past the wrist, along with greater finger flexibility and improved touch sensitivity.
Fortunately, Glacier has another model that fits the bill perfectly. Their Premium Waterproof Gloves are naturally made from neoprene, since that’s the best possible material for repelling water. Glacier uses Yamamoto neoprene with these gloves, however, a special premium type that is made from limestone originating from the mountains of Japan rather than the usual foam rubber chips. It repels an estimated 99.7% of water it comes into contact with, which is considerably higher than the cheaper types of neoprene. You also get an adjustable wrist strap to keep the rain from seeping in down your arm.
Blind seam stitching adds to the water resistance, and precurved knuckles help to ease strain on the joints and keep you active longer. There’s a thin fleece lining for a little added warmth, but as with most waterproof gloves, it’s not really enough to warm your hands up if they go in already cold — an added wool liner or a hand warmer pack is advised if you have to take them off in very cold conditions.
These gloves are capable of pulling double duty for all sorts of outdoor activities as well, from outdoor work to skiing and snowboarding. Just bear in mind that you’ll really want an added liner of some sort if you’re out for an extended period of time in the cold.
One slight disadvantage with these gloves is that they are initially a little on the stiff side and do not provide good finger dexterity. They will break in and become more flexible with a couple of weeks of wear, however. This is common with neoprene gloves and is not unique to this model; the tradeoff for water resistance at this level is always going to be a loss of flexibility, so it’s not really a black mark against these gloves. It is advisable to break them in around the house before taking them out on an initial hunting trip.
Bow hunting gloves tend to go in the opposite direction of gloves that focus on keeping out the cold and the wet. You’ll want to maximize finger dexterity and your ability to feel what’s going on through the finger pads. Naturally, that requires thinner material that is going to provide less insulation and less abrasion protection. However, you actually don’t have to sacrifice too much on those fronts, as the Bow Ranger TouchTip Gloves by Manzella demonstrate.
These gloves not only provide heightened sensitivity to aid the draw and release, the finger material is also conductive to allow you to use a phone or tablet touch screen while the gloves are still on. A bow release collar also allows you to keep your preferred release right at hand. The Control Trax palm extends the flexibility and enhanced sense of touch farther down the glove. And the glove base is surrounded by a fleece shell that is antimicrobial for safe handling of game.
They aren’t the best choice for conditions that are consistently cold, but if you do most of your hunting in more temperate climes, these gloves really can’t be beat for the price point they are at.
A lightweight glove should offer a snug fit, excellent finger dexterity and palm responsiveness, and good protection from cuts and abrasions. The Primos Stretch-Fit Gloves do all this and they do it at a very affordable price.
The Inchdot system offers unparalleled grip, and there is a call pocket on the back of each glove for added functionality. Stretch fit gives you a very snug fit and an extended cuff of five inches helps to protect the wrist. These are exceptionally breathable gloves, but that also means they aren’t well suited for the cold. You’ll want these primarily for spring and summer hunts, and bow hunters will really like them during the early hunts of the year. Of course, given that these are snug, a larger and warmer glove or set of mittens are a viable option to simply put over them while not shooting or otherwise engaged.
The nylon provides some protection from abrasion, though you still have to be careful with heavy contact. One thing you will not have a problem with is grip, as the palm design wicks away sweat. Rifle users will also likely not need to take them off to shoot.
For an overall glove, we’ve decided to lean on the lighter and more flexible side, as you can always add on a thicker glove or a waterproof cover situationally as need be. In that light, we’ve selected the Trinity Glove by Scent Blocker, as it offers flexibility and responsiveness combined with great looks and some great added features.
First things first. The base of the glove is polyester, with a small percentage of added Spandex to allow for a snug stretch fit. A three inch cuff provides full wrist protection with a strap for securing it to the wrist. Silicone grips throughout the hand are arranged in a honeycomb pattern that provides superior traction. The thumb and forefinger are made from a lighter, more tactile material to allow you to use a smartphone or tablet as well as get added control and precision when firing your weapon.
The big feature with this one, however, is Trinity scent control. Not only do you have to worry about your own scent and the scent of the materials giving you away, the odors of the game will also sink into the glove as the game is being handled. Trinity is a trademarked scent blocking technology by Robinson that has been licensed out to all sorts of different lines of apparel. Here it both filters out skin odors coming from your hands and also neutralizes accumulated odors from everything your gloves come in contact with. This odor blocking technology also comes with the benefit of being antimicrobial, keeping dangerous pathogens from blood and animal material from finding purchase on your gloves.
As you can see from the information included in this guide, there are many different types of hunting gloves and many different circumstances that shape what glove will work best for you. The first step is to determine what your most common individual circumstances are and select a category of glove that is appropriate — for example, if you live in the South and bow hunt exclusively in the spring and summer, you’re really only going to be looking at lightweight gloves with great finger responsiveness. At the other extreme end, if all you do is hunt elk and moose in Alaska, you’re probably starting immediately with mitten designs and working down from there.
Not every possible category of hunting glove has been listed here, but this should get you off to a good start. Many people find they keep a wardrobe of a few different gloves around for different circumstances. And never forget that you can mix and match more inexpensive liners or covers with some of these climate-specific gloves to create your own custom all-purpose solution. Good luck and good hunting!