The Cold-Weather Fishing Glove Torture Test

We put 10 new pairs of cold-weather gloves through the paces to see which would serve winter anglers best

man holding fish
We decided to help save your hard-earned dollars by pushing the newest winter gloves to their limits.Mark Modoski

There’s constant chatter amongst devout cold-weather anglers on message boards regarding what gloves are warmest and driest while still providing the ability to cast, feel your line, and detect bites. The fact is that price doesn’t matter as much as you’d think, and a $15 bargain rack purchase may serve you better than the latest, greatest, and priciest five-finger offering. We decided to help save your hard-earned dollars by pushing the newest winter gloves to their limits. To gauge feel and functionality, we cast lures, opened split rings, and riggedrods in frosty 25mph winds. An extreme bucket test in which each pair was worn and submerged in near-freezing ice water for 10 minutes provided the ultimate look at waterproofing and warmth. Gloves were also judged on their quality and construction in addition to their looks and price value.

Fish Monkey Tundra Ex
Fish Monkey Tundra Ex
Fish Monkey Tundra Ex • $70Fish Monkey
  • Windproof: Excellent
  • Waterproof: Fair
  • Warmth: Very Good
  • Dexterity/Functionality: Fair
  • Quality/Construction: Good
  • Aesthetics: Fair
  • Price Value: Fair

The Tundra Ex from Fish Monkey had an identical problem to CLAM Neoprene gloves. Although supposedly waterproof, the right middle finger of the Tundra Ex immediately began to leak when submerged. The left hand remained completely dry and both hands were warm aside from the water that crept halfway up the finger. The gloves have a seam at the very tip of the digit, which may have created the problem. The 260g Thinsulate cotton insulation and polar fleece lining otherwise make these warm gloves. The gloves are a bit bulky and would be cumbersome to wear while sitting over a hole and jigging. Other pluses are a PU Leather Palm that provides a non-slip grip and neoprene cuffs for a secure fit.

Editor's Choice: Orvis Outdry Waterproof Hunting Gloves
Orvis Outdry Waterproof Hunting Gloves
Orvis Outdry Waterproof Hunting Gloves • $110Orvis
  • Windproof: Excellent
  • Waterproof: Excellent
  • Warmth: Excellent
  • Dexterity/Functionality: Excellent
  • Quality/Construction: Excellent
  • Aesthetics: Very Good
  • Price Value: Very Good

At first glance, the Outdry Waterproof Hunting Gloves do not scream “warmth.” That’s because the super-thin construction provides a level of dexterity that just doesn’t jive with what you’d expect to see in a warm glove. But after 10 minutes in ice water, our hands were bone dry and a comfortable temperature. Orvis incorporated Pittards WR100X waterproof sheepskin on the palms, first two fingers, and thumb, which allowed us perform all outdoor tasks while remaining impervious to the wind. These gloves are constructed with a nylon shell that offers abrasion resistance without detracting from the fit and feel. They look incredibly well made with even stitching and tight seams. And although they’re the best performing gloves in the test, one can easily wear these sharp-looking gloves off the water. Although they’re the priciest gloves in the test, we can’t knock them too much for price value, as you won’t find many (if any) gloves of this caliber.

SIMMS Guide WindBloc Flex Gloves
SIMMS Guide WindBloc Flex Gloves
SIMMS Guide WindBloc Flex Gloves • $65SIMMS Fishing
  • Windproof: Excellent
  • Waterproof: Fair
  • Warmth: Good
  • Dexterity/Functionality: Very Good
  • Quality/Construction: Very Good
  • Aesthetics: Good
  • Price Value: Good

The Guide WindBloc Flex Gloves are not submersible due to an exposable thumb, index, and middle finger, but the bucket test revealed the material is adequate enough to repel water. The gloves are intended for wind protection more than water, so they’re better suited for dry days. The Polartec Windbloc material stops 100% of the wind, and zoned insulation provides maximum warmth. The gloves are flexible and provide plenty of dexterity and functionality. The seams are flawless and overall construction is solid. Another plus is that finger covers have a snap on the back of the knuckle to hold in place while exposing fingers. The gloves are moderately priced when compared to the other gloves we tested, but still have a good price value if used in their intended conditions.

SIMMS Prodry Glove Plus Liner
SIMMS Prodry Glove Plus Liner
SIMMS Prodry Glove Plus Liner • $120SIMMS Fishing
  • Windproof: Excellent
  • Waterproof: Good
  • Warmth: Excellent
  • Dexterity/Functionality: Good
  • Quality/Construction: Very Good
  • Aesthetics: Good
  • Price Value: Good

The 100% Merino wool liner of the Prodry offered a substantial extra layer of warmth without making them cumbersome or non-functional. Being a bulkier glove, these are not going to be the gloves you wear with a rod in your hands, but offer more than enough freedom for rowing, throttling, or hauling gear in extreme conditions. They repelled water during the duration of the ice bucket, but the interiors of the gloves were damp 30 minutes after the test. The middle fingers became moderately cold in the first couple minutes of being submerged in ice water, but did not become bothersome and actually seemed to improve as our hands adjusted to the temperature.

KAST Black Ops Steelhead Gloves
KAST Black Ops Steelhead Gloves
KAST Black Ops Steelhead Gloves • $100KAST
  • Windproof: Excellent
  • Waterproof: Good
  • Warmth: Good
  • Dexterity/Functionality: Very Good
  • Quality/Construction: Very Good
  • Aesthetics: Excellent
  • Price Value: Good

KAST Gear crafted the Black Ops Steelhead Gloves with new textiles and a one-piece membrane. The gloves held water out the entire time they were submerged during our test, but we noted that the liners were fairly damp 30 minutes after the test and the outer shell was still completely saturated. They weren’t the warmest gloves in the test, but retained enough heat to enable them to be worn all day in cold conditions. The Black Ops Steelheads are functional to the degree they performed all tasks, but with less efficiency than the top gloves in the test. They appear to be very well constructed and stood out as the sharpest-looking gloves we tested.

CLAM Neoprene Fishing Gloves
CLAM Neoprene Fishing Gloves
CLAM Neoprene Fishing Gloves • $16CLAM Outdoors
  • Windproof: Excellent
  • Waterproof: Fair
  • Warmth: Excellent
  • Dexterity/Functionality: Fair
  • Quality/Construction: Good
  • Aesthetics: Fair
  • Price Value: Excellent

Neoprene would normally be a lock for resisting water, but the right middle finger of CLAM Neoprene immediately began letting in water from an apparent imperfection in the gloves. Although the left hand was completely dry, the right was filled to the palm with water after 10 minutes and we can’t say with confidence the same issue will not surface in other pairs. Despite the waterproof issues, the gloves were completely windproof and an inner fleece lining made them the warmest gloves in the test when not submerged in water. The other downside of neoprene is that these are not the most functional gloves, and would be more appropriate worn when pulling your sled or drilling holes in the ice and not threading maggots onto a hook. That being said, the price point is unbeatable. We’d like to assume that most pairs are void of the fingertip imperfection.

AFTCO Hydronaut
AFTCO Hydronaut
AFTCO Hydronaut • $59.99AFTCO
  • Windproof: Very Good
  • Waterproof: Good
  • Warmth: Very Good
  • Dexterity/Functionality: Good
  • Quality/Construction: Good
  • Aesthetics: Good
  • Price Value: Very good

The Hydronaut is a completely windproof glove that also kept our hands dry the entire time they were submersed. However, like other gloves in the test, the interiors were fairly damp 30 minutes later, making us question how waterproof they would remain over the course of the day. Both outdoors and in ice water, the 3M Thinsulate insulation retained heat and kept our hands comfortably warm. The Hydronaut is a bulkier glove and better suited for tasks that do not require a high level of dexterity. Although they retained a fair level of functionality, the wrist straps were not secure despite the gloves being appropriately sized. The elastic cuffs provided a better fit and somewhat alleviated the strap issue.

AFTCO Thermaflex
AFTCO Thermaflex
AFTCO Thermaflex • $29AFTCO
  • Windproof: Very Good
  • Waterproof: N/A
  • Warmth: Fair
  • Dexterity/Functionality: Very Good
  • Quality/Construction: Fair
  • Aesthetics: Fair
  • Price Value: Very Good

The other glove in our test geared for blocking wind and not water is the Thermaflex from AFTCO. They have no waterproof qualities and immediately soaked through in the bucket, so you’ll want another option in wet weather. They did offer adequate wind protection, and with a slimmer profile are one of the more dexterous and functional gloves in the test, easily accomplishing all of our outdoor chores. They appear to be well made, but the lack of more rigid material would prevent the Thermalflex from surviving abrasion and any coarse applications. The gloves can be worn while casting and retrieving lures, and are best suited for moderately cold and windy days that require a practical glove that can be worn for the duration of time on the water.

Great Buy: Bass Pro 100mph Gore Tex
Bass Pro 100mph Gore Tex
Bass Pro 100mph Gore Tex • $59.99Bass Pro Shops
  • Windproof: Excellent
  • Waterproof: Excellent
  • Warmth: Excellent
  • Dexterity/Functionality: Very Good
  • Quality/Construction: Very Good
  • Aesthetics: Very Good
  • Price Value: Excellent

Bass Pro Shops offers a high-quality glove at a great price with the 100mph Gore Tex. Despite being one of the more moderately priced sets we tested, it was the overall runner-up, which in turn landed it as our best buy. The gloves have 40 gram Thermolite Insulation and a GORE-TEX membrane that completely sealed-out water and held-in warmth in the ice bucket test. They're form fitting, comfortable, and maintain dexterity and functionality. Although they're a thicker glove, a stretch panel on the back of the hands and flexible fingers offered ample movement for casting, handling split-ring pliers, and rigging rods. They have a firm grip and even transmit vibrations well. The 100mph GORE-TEX are well-constructed with clean seams and a polyester/spandex construction that is durable, machine washable, and has anti-microbial Odor X protection. It's also worth noting these gloves dried incredibly fast after being completely submerged.

Ice Armor Waterproof Tactical
Ice Armor Waterproof Tactical
Ice Armor Waterproof Tactical • $39.99CLAM Outdoors
  • Windproof: Very Good
  • Waterproof: Good
  • Warmth: Good
  • Dexterity/Functionality: Very Good
  • Quality/Construction: Good
  • Aesthetics: Fair
  • Price Value: Excellent

Though the Ice Armor Tactical gloves were touted as 100% waterproof, the interiors were entirely saturated 30 minutes after removal from the ice bucket. The exterior of the gloves also retained a substantial amount of water and appeared not even to begin drying. The “mechanic style” cut of the glove did provide a snug fit and enabled the gloves to be utilized in all of our outdoor tasks. The cut also maximized grip when combined with a Pittards leather reinforced palm. The same leather has been woven into the knuckles as well to offer abrasion resistance and durability. Despite less than perfect performance, the price point on the gloves makes them affordable and a great bargain.