Over the past four winters, we've tested more than 30 pairs of touchscreen gloves while moving half a ton of tree stumps, ice climbing, standing in a walk-in fridge for nearly three hours, and simply walking and biking around town. The Moshi Digits are easy to type with and should keep most people's fingers toasty, though we also have picks for more extreme climates since using touchscreen gloves involves a trade-off between manoeuvrability and warmth.
AU Editor's Note: While some of these gloves aren't available in Australia, we've checked and they're easy enough to buy and ship internationally via Amazon, as long as you don't mind the slightly higher cost and longer wait for shipping. -- Cam
After testing so many gloves over a span of years, we've found a few pairs that hit most of the important requirements, so long as you have realistic expectations. A lot of gloves lack enough conductive material in them to activate the touchscreen reliably, or use low-quality conductive thread that degrades quickly. And some have no rubber grip to speak of, which makes for a losing combination when paired with a slick smartphone. Basically, a lot can go wrong in a pair of touchscreen gloves.
Our picks are better than most other gloves, but they're not perfect. Since they need to be thick to keep you warm, you can't expect to type as well as you would without gloves, and they won't last forever. Even high-quality conductive thread and nanoparticle treatments will degrade over time. You can expect a good pair of conductive gloves to last at least a winter -- anything after that is gravy.
For most hands: A warm tactile middle ground: Moshi Digits
Moshi's Digits gloves, which offer the right combination of warmth, dexterity, and grip, are our favourite touchscreen gloves for most people. First and foremost, they're very good knit winter gloves, as they kept our hands pretty warm in even subfreezing weather. On top of that, we found ourselves able to thumb-type with little issue; with autocorrect turned on, we had zero typos in our typing tests. The Digits are warmer than anything that's better at handling touchscreens, and better at handling touchscreens than anything that's warmer.
The typing experience with the Digits is excellent because their material and construction offer good dexterity, and they have a nice gripping compound on the palms and fingers to prevent accidents. Furthermore, they have no seams in the fingertips, which makes typing more predictable and reliable than with most other knit gloves. All of the fingers on both gloves have conductive fibre sewn in, so you can type text messages with your thumbs or poke with your pinky. We were very impressed with the responsiveness in our testing. Despite the gloves' slightly bulky feeling, we found typing easy, even with our thumbs.
The Digits aren't the warmest gloves you can wear, but they are a lot warmer than single-layer models. It's like upgrading from a thin sweater to a fleece jacket. During our testing in below-freezing temperatures, the level of insulation was perfect when we kept warm with high-energy activities such as snow shoveling, but it didn't get so hot that we started sweating. Walking the dog didn't generate much heat, but the Digits were plenty warm for 15 minutes at a stretch.
Also crucial, a rubberised grip on the palm helps to keep your phone from slipping away, and the light grey (in small/medium size) and dark grey (in large) colours won't clash with most outfits.
We have much more information about the Moshi's Digits in our full guide.
For colder hands and climates: The North Face ThermoBall Etip gloves
If you live in a climate where the temperature or wind chill consistently stays below 20˚F, you might consider grabbing The North Face's ThermoBall Etip gloves (available in both men's and women's sizes and styles). While this pair's full-finger and palm touchscreen technology (licensed from U|R Powered) works very well, the insulation makes the fingers a bit stiffer, so these gloves are not the best for detailed tasks -- you'll be happier when you're checking a bus schedule than when you're typing emails.
Like the popular North Face Denali, the ThermoBall Etip is a thick, fleece glove design. Unlike the Denali, it actually offers a decent amount of accuracy for typing. In addition to a fleece exterior and interior, the ThermoBall Etip gloves feature a layer of ThermoBall down-alternative insulation. This material not only makes the gloves warmer but also gives them a snugger fit that makes typing surprisingly predictable and accurate considering how thick the gloves are. Unfortunately, they aren't waterproof, but they are the only non-knit gloves that proved to be anywhere near as precise in our testing as the Moshi Digits. Though they still aren't as easy to type in as our top pick.
We have much more information about The North Face's ThermoBall Etip gloves in our full guide.
For warmer hands and climates: Glider Gloves Urban Style Touchscreen Gloves
On the other hand, if you live in a warmer climate where temperatures rarely drop below 40˚F, or if you're looking for a touchscreen-compatible glove liner, you could get away with the cheaper, less insulated Glider Gloves Urban Style Touchscreen Gloves. These gloves are basically the same as our previous favourite, the Glider Gloves Winter Style, but they lack a fleece lining. That means they fit a bit more loosely if you have shorter fingers, and they can stretch a little better, so consider sizing down if you're not sure which size to get. The Urban pair is also a better option than our other picks if, for instance, you work in a cold office and need something thin for all-day use.
We have much more information about the Glider Gloves in our full guide.
For stylistas: Aiden Leather & Tech Stretch Gloves (for men)
If you're willing to pay for a more stylish glove, we recommend U|R Powered's Aiden Leather & Tech Stretch Gloves (for men) and Sasha Leather & Tech Stretch Gloves (for women). They look like normal leather gloves at first, but they're actually made of a warm, spandex-like material with real leather stitched onto the back. This design gives them the warmth and the tight fit of a technical glove and the exterior appearance of a classy leather glove. They also feature traction lines on the palm to keep you from dropping your phone, whereas all-leather gloves can be a bit slippery.
If you examine them closely, the Aiden and Sasha styles aren't as fancy looking as our previous all-leather pick from Glove.ly, but chances are, most people won't notice the difference unless you point it out to them, since the fleece is colour-matched to the leather. We think the increased warmth and the improved grip and touchscreen controllability give the U|R Powered designs the edge. We have more information about these leather touchscreen gloves in our full guide.