The Best Rain Mitts for Backpacking

Rain mitts provide a lightweight, waterproof shell for your hands. They can be used alone or layered over a mitten, insulated glove, or liner to help keep your hands warm and dry in cold and wet weather.

They are more versatile than gloves because they can be worn over a range of outer layers without restricting your movement. They also offer better warmth and protection than thin insulating gloves or mittens.

The body fabric of a rain mitt is typically a 2- or 3-layer waterproof-breathable, ripstop-nylon sandwich. Fabric weights vary from 1 to 4 oz/yd2, depending on their water resistance and breathability.

Articulation/Thumb Patterning

Thumb articulation patterns are designed to align the natural curvature of the hand and thumb for ease of use and better motor control. They are generally more common on heavier fabrics than those made from ultralight materials.

Articulation is especially important when using trekking poles, operating a headlamp, zipping a small zipper, or opening a zip-closure plastic baggie. The same is true of tying a shoe.

A long wrist cuff adds warmth and water resistance. It can also be helpful if you have to reach or scramble while wearing your rain mitts. It should be tall enough to overlap with your rain mitts jacket’s cuff, though a shorter cuff can improve this seal.

Gauntlet Length

Gauntlets that are too short will not seal properly between your rain jacket cuff and the mitt cuff. They may also trap moisture or cause chafing.

Palm Fabric

Many rain mitts feature palms that are reinforced with thermally-fused patches of grippy material or made from an additional layer of textured polyurethane (referred to hereafter as TPU). This increases the durability of the palm and adds some water resistance, but it reduces articulation.

Some of these fabrics also have a lining that is made from stretchy fleece or a similar wicking fabric. These features are usually not required for a good rain mitt.

Comfort and Durability

The durability of a rain mitt is usually assessed by subjecting them to long-term use. This can be measured by how well the mitts retain their color, shape, and feel over time.

For example, if you’ve been hiking for a year and the mitts are starting to show wear and tear, it is probably time to replace them.

The best rain mitts for backpacking are those that fit the user well, are easy to handle with a pack and that are made from lightweight fabric. Some of these mitts are also breathable, which can help prevent overheating when used with a liner glove.

Articulation & Thumb Patterning

A key benefit of a rain mitt is its articulation, which allows your fingers to move easily while performing fine motor tasks. In particular, it helps when operating a stove, using your phone or camera, or zipping a small zipper or tieing your shoe.

For a more sophisticated articulation design, look for one that matches the natural curvature of your hand and thumb. This allows your fingers to easily slide up and down, maximizing the space available inside the glove.