Winter Hats and Gloves Buyers Guides

Winter is on its way, and with it the snow, ice, and cold wind that marks the season. Some of us wait all year for this, counting down the days until we can hit the slopes, throw the first snowball, or sled the first frozen hill. Other people dread the winter, bundling up against blowing icy winds and slick roads on their daily commute. Whichever camp you're in, we're sorry to say, there's no avoiding it...winter cold is coming, and it's time to layer up and get protected from that biting chill or mountain cold.

Now, we've all been there...out in the elements, fingers numb, ears burning, nose red and dripping, face freezing as you make your way though the frozen tundra that has become your front lawn. You don a winter jacket, of course, but what about the rest of you? What about your hands, head, and face? Are they chopped liver? Of course not...that's why winter hats and gloves have been a staple of the season for generations. At Sports Unlimited, we know how important it is to protect yourself from the cold. That's why we stock some of the warmest, most element-resistant winter gloves, stylish and toasty winter hats, and sweet neck warmers, ear warmers, and headbands around. So whether you live to shred and sled, or are just looking to survive the winter months with some style, you've come to the right place my friend!

How do I protect myself from cold conditions?

When the body is subjected to cold, it naturally reacts by hoarding heat in vital areas to protect itself. Blood vessels constrict, and blood flow is restricted in the extremities to keep warm blood pumping to more vital organs. You experience this in a number of ways; numb fingers and toes, cold feet, numb ears, etc. To prevent this, your best bet is to simply keep your extremities warm, so the blood continues to flow and all stays right in your world.

To keep your body warm and feeling fine, it's best to wrap yourself in comfortable, soft insulation. That means a great pair of gloves, a soft winter hat, a neck warmer, and headband, to hold onto your body's natural heat and prevent numbness. We suggest covering all of your bases, and combining all of these accessories for a complete shield from the bitter cold and wind of winter. Mix and match winter accessories to get the most comfort, warmth, style, and performance no matter what outdoor activities you're heading out to:

If you're just out for a quick winter walk, or a fast errand, try wearing a pair of fleece gloves and a set of ear warmers. These will keep your hands dexterous and loose, and your ears cozy and comfortable, without weighing you down or holding you back.

If you are headed to the mountains for a weekend of skiing and snowboarding, you're going to need serious winter protection. Try combining a pair of ski gloves, for waterproof warmth, a knitted beanie, and a midweight neck warmer to protected your face and neck from driving ice and wind, as you fly down a run. A pair of ski goggles are also clutch!

When the blizzard hits and you need to run out into the whipping wind and extreme elements, it's time to bring out the big guns. Try wearing a balaclava to get complete protection and insulation for your head and face, as well as a pair of insulated gloves, and a winter hat to seal in the heat.

Which winter gloves are right for me?

Numb fingers are annoying and uncomfortable. They can also keep you from getting things done out in the cold, and are painful once the blood starts flowing again. Avoid all of that mess and get your hands on a great pair of gloves.
There are many different types of gloves, each suited for different conditions and needs, as well as styles and budgets. So let's explore each type of glove out there, to help you find the pair that fits you best:

Fleece Gloves

Fleece is an incredible insulating and element-resistant material that makes for some amazing winter jackets and accessories. It's naturally lightweight and breathable, and is great at sealing in heat while keeping your fingers free from moisture and sweat. Fleece gloves are low bulk, with a high warmth-to-weight ratio. This means you can still use your hands and fingers to get the job done, even in freezing winter conditions. Fleece can also be treated with water resistant coatings, or lined with wind-proof inserts, to keep your fingers and hands dry and comfortable when conditions get icy or wet out there. Suggested Activities: Casual wear or light outdoor activity in mild to cold temperatures. Fleece is not naturally waterproof, so these gloves are not recommended for use in very cold and wet conditions, such as snowboarding, skiing, ice climbing, etc.

Waterproof Gloves

Waterproof gloves are designed with advanced materials and durable shells to keep your hands warm and dry, even in rainy, snowing, or icy conditions. Using technical materials like GORE-TEX membranes, waterproof technologies, or special inserts, Waterproof Gloves prevent moisture from entering the material, while allowing water vapor (like sweat) back out through the gloves, so your hands stay cool and dry.

Most waterproof gloves are also windproof, preventing cold air from permeating the glove material to affect your hands. These gloves also use warm and lightweight insulation to seal in the heat and keep your hands comfortable and warm. Somewhat more bulky that fleece gloves or liners, waterproof gloves are great all-around winter gloves to stay warm and dry, while maintaining good dexterity. Suggested Activities: Anything from shoveling to sledding in cold rain, freezing rain, slushy, and snowy conditions. Great for changing temperatures and conditions on the mountain. Durable and stylish designs for casual, all-around use.

Insulated Gloves

Insulated gloves work to keep hands incredibly warm by sealing in heat with synthetic or natural insulations built into the gloves. Durable, tough shells hold the insulation in place to prevent cold zones, and block out the elements. The insulations used are usually quick-drying, and feature a high warmth-to-weight ratio, to deliver the heat you need without excess weight and bulk.

These types of gloves provide maximum protection from the most extreme weather and cold, and are typically designed with windproof or waterproof inserts and shells, keeping your hands safe and warm in a variety of conditions. They are also highly breathable, so while they seal in heat, the insulation allows sweat and water vapor to escape, keeping your hands and fingers warm, dry, and comfortable, instead of hot and sticky. Suggested Activities: Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, shoveling, winter sports, casual wear, commuting, etc., in extremely cold, wet, and windy conditions. Great all-around winter gloves, but due to their bulky design, do slightly reduce dexterity.

Ski / Snowboard Gloves

As their name would suggest, these gloves are best suited on the slopes. They are designed to keep the hands dry, warm, and loose, while providing a solid grip and good dexterity for holding ski poles, using bindings, or riding lifts.

Ski and snowboard gloves feature incredibly durable shells, to hold up to regular abuse. They are insulated, typically with quick-drying synthetic insulation, for a high warmth-to-weight ration, and are usually waterproof or water resistant, to keep hands dry on the mountain. These gloves are also typically designed with skiing and snowboarding specific features, like goggle wipes, shock cords, and moisture-wicking linings.

Ski gloves are insulated and built tough, to withstand regular and rugged use. This design also makes them more bulky than fleece or other thin gloves, so you will sacrifice some dexterity for added warmth and protection. Suggested Activities: Skiing and snowboarding, heavy outdoor activity in extreme conditions, ice climbing, winter hiking, etc.

Glove Liners

Layering clothing is one of the most effective methods of insulating and retaining heat. You do it with outerwear, layering sweatshirts and baselayers under shell jackets for improved warmth and protection on the coldest days. Well, now you can do layer your gloves. Glove liners are thin, form-fitting gloves made from stretchy material, that can be worn under your insulated, waterproof, or ski gloves, for added warmth and protection. Liners are also great on their own, on mild day runs or during other outdoor activities.

Designed to fit next to the skin, liner gloves wick moisture and breathe, keeping your hands dry and comfortable during aerobic activities or under shell gloves. They are lightweight and easy to store in your pockets, so they're ready whenever you need them. Suggested Activities: Layered under insulated, waterproof, or ski/snowboard gloves in harsh, extreme conditions on the mountain, or right outside the house. Wear them on their own during your early morning runs, or late night jogs to the gym.

Running Gloves

Lightweight and thin, with a streamlined design, running gloves provide adequate warmth with maximum breathability and moisture wicking properties, to keep your hands comfortable and dry during your cold weather, or early morning runs. Made of stretchy, durable materials like microfleece, running gloves are designed to fit snuggly, add warmth, and block wind and rain, without holding you back with added insulation and padding. Suggested Activities: Running, biking, or other aerobic activities, in cold, windy, or mild conditions.

Touch Screen Gloves

Designed to keep your hands warm and protected, while still allowing you to operate your touch-screen Smartphone or mp3 player, Touch Screen gloves are the latest trend and advancement in casual winter accessories. Using specially designed materials built into the fabric or finger tips, touch gloves mimic the natural conductivity of your skin, allowing you to manipulate the screen without having to take off your gloves. Suggested Activities: Casual, everyday wear. Travel, weekend getaways, business trips, daily commutes, etc.

Can I keep warm and still be fashionable when I'm outdoors in the winter?

You'd better believe it! Winter fashion has to be warm and cozy, but hey, it's still fashion! That's why we carry a huge selection of Knitted Beaniestylish, colorful, and interesting winter hats, beanies, headbands, and ear warmers.

Knitted hats and beanies offer exceptional insulation and comfort, and come in all sorts of cool colors, knit patterns, styles, and designs. We've got everything from your classic skull cap beanie, perfect for snowboarders, to big knitted beanies with earflaps and hanging pom poms. Whatever your style, there's something here for you.

Headbands and ear warmers are other good options for keeping warm and looking good all winter long. Comfortable fleece headbands from Under Armour, The North Face, and Turtle Fur keep your ears and forehead from suffering in the cold. Fuzzy fleece ear warmers hug your ears in heat and wrap around the back of head, staying hidden and out of the way. With plenty of interesting color combinations, you can match a headband or ear warmer to your outfit for really cool looks!

How do I protect my head and face from winter cold and wind?

If you live in an area that consistently gets hit hard by Old Man Winter, then you know what a harsh season it can be. You've headed outside to grab the paper and have come back wind burned, face numb, eyes red, searching for a deep breath. Well, thankfully, we've got something we think you'll love; a full collection of comfortable balaclavas! Balaclavas are cozy, element-proof sleeves that fit over the entire head, covering everything except your eyes and nose (although some do offer nose coverage). The thin material provides great insulation and protection from wind and rain, while allowing you to breathe through it comfortably, so you can trek through blizzard conditions safely and in style.

If you're an avid skier or snowboarder, and spend your winter carving up the mountainside, then you need some protection from all of that icy wind, snow, and rain that's flying at your face as you shoot down the run at break-neck speeds. For you fellows, we've stocked a sweet selection of neck warmers, face wraps, and bandanas, specially designed for snowboarders and skiers! These guys fit comfortable on the neck or tie easily behind your head, and protect your nose, mouth, and face from cold, snow, and ice as you shred. They also come in tons of sick colors and styles so you can keep your rep as the BA on the mountain while still staying comfortable and safe.