Leather by itself will not keep you warm but because of the layers underneath that serve as insulators, they help you get through the cold season.
Whenever winter is coming what is your warm outfit checklist? Puffer jacket, woolen clothes, insulated hoodies, and woolen socks. How about gloves? What do you use? Do you prefer leather or wool? There has been an ongoing conversation that will keep you warmer, leather or wool. So, to help you decide, here’s what we know.
Leather vs Wool
Leather and wool are fabrics that both came from animals. So, how do they differ?
Leather is produced from the skin or hide of an animal that is tanned and dyed (some but not all). This is considered the oldest clothing material made by men to cover and protect themselves against various elements. Although you can make leather through almost all types of animals, the most popular is cattle because they are widely available. The meat and dairy are separated from the flesh and the skin is made into a tough material suitable for the production of bags, clothes, shoes, etc.
The wool comes from the fibers you get from the wool of sheep and goats. It’s around 4000 BC when the first wool garment is made. During the medieval era, wool is considered a status symbol and only the best of the best can acquire them. Wool can blend well with any synthetic material that’s is why it’s one of the most sought-after materials for clothing.
Is leather warmer than wool?
Leather is not warmer than wool. Leather is the perfect companion for the outdoors especially when there is wind and snow. But wool has an inherent insolation property making them naturally warm. The thread of the wool traps heats thus keeping the body warm.
Why is leather gloves and jackets popular during winter?
The leather alone is not warm enough that will get you through the cold. But because of the insulating layers sewed underneath, they provide the lacking insulation that will keep you warm. Usually, fleece, wool, or a blend of wool are used for those.
So, what is a 100% leather glove for? These types of gloves are used for riding and traveling. However, it would not trap much heat if it does not have an inner lining. A popular snowboarder said that woolen gloves are great and provide excellent insulation but they can get wet. On the flip side, leather gloves are the perfect windbreaker but without a lining, you’ll feel cold.
So, if you’re planning on getting your gloves for the cold season, it’s better to get a leather glove if you’ll be encountering a lot of wind and snow. Just make sure that it has an insulated lining to keep you warm. If you’re just going for a walk in the part with your dog and want to keep your fingers warm, a wool glove can do the trick. Just make sure that you avoid touching snow or it will defeat the purpose of using a glove once it starts absorbing water.
What is the best material for warm gloves?
Fleece, microfiber, and wool linings are the best materials for warm gloves. They wick away moisture and sweat keeping your hands warm and dry.
There are tons of winter gloves available in the market right now. But why is it that some are not as warm as the others? One of the reasons is the materials used to make the gloves. So, when you head out to the store to buy your gloves should look for these types of materials.
Outer Glove Shell
The shell of your gloves is your first line of defense against the winter breeze. The material that you should be looking for in this part should be durable, flexible, water-resistant, and grippy. On top of that, it should be able to go against wear and tear. Here are some of the most common materials for the shell:
This is a popular choice because of its durability, pliability, and classy look. They also have excellent insulation that repels moisture while maintaining the heat within the hands. Here are some leather types that are used for winter gloves:
- Deerskin. A top-grain deerskin leather provides top-notch quality since they are naturally resilient through extreme cold. In addition, they remain pliable even if you wash and dry them repeatedly. However, this kind of leather glove is far more expensive than faux or synthetic leather.
- Pigskin. If you’ll be handling oily and wet materials with your gloves during winter, better look for pigskin leather. This is perfect when you’re having a snowball fight as it’s pliable and soft.
- Cowhide. This type of leather is one of the toughest materials that you’ll ever find. High-end winter gloves use this type of leather because its pliable, durable, and can withstand even the toughest conditions.
Another popular shell material is extremely soft wool. Similar to leather, wool can provide ample insulation as long as you do not touch a wet surface. One impressive feature of wool is that it can adapt to the temperature fluctuations of your body. It means that when it’s cold, it’ll keep your body warm and when it’s hot it will keep your body cool.
The only issue with this type of glove is it’s susceptible to pilling. You have to keep it away from rough surfaces like Velcro or else the fabric will snag terribly.
Skiing and snowboarding winter gloves are mostly made with a polyester shell. This kind of material is washable, durable, and super soft. Though, winter gloves with a polyester shell should be stuffed with good insulation since it does not offer that much warmth as it is.
The best thing about this type of material is it offers you sufficient grip and finger movement. It’s like having a second skin, compared to leather that makes your fingers stiff. In addition, polyester shells don’t need a break-in period, unlike leather shells.
Polyester in winter gloves can be blended with cotton, producing the fabric called polycotton.
One of the most important factors of winter gloves is insulation. They will determine whether or not your gloves will be comfy and can protect you against the cold weather. Here are some of the most popular insulation materials:
This material is one of the most popular winter insulations and is not only used in gloves but other winter clothing as well. It’s a portmanteau of thin and insulates since this material is super thin but can effectively protect you against the cold.
Thinsulate is a patent product of 3M and works by trapping the heat inside which allows moisture to be released from your skin. Furthermore, this material is available in different versions. You’ll find Thinsulate Original, Thinsulate Featherless, and Thinsulate Flame-Resistant. Others include Odor-Resistant, Water-Resistant, Window Film, Stretch, and Footwear.
Up to date, Thinsulate has been crowned the warmest material you could ever find in a winter glove. Do take note that the amount of incorporated insulate in each glove may vary and it could be anywhere between 50 to 300 grams or even more.
Another well-known material used for insulation is foam. They make the glove feel lighter and are far cheaper compared to those with Thinsulate. Though the foam is not ideal for sub-zero temperatures since they do not provide the same warmth that gloves with Thinsulate do.
Normally, foam is partnered with another warm material to compensate for their low-temperature protection. So, if you’re using a foam insulated glove make sure that it’s not entirely freezing outside.
Similar to foam, cotton is also lightweight but not an impressive standalone insulator. This material can offer a decent amount of warmth but you cannot count on it for a sub-zero temperature. Gloves with this type of insulation are best worn during chilly days.
What’s fantastic about cotton insulation is they are produced using recycled old cotton or scrap fabrics. Also, gloves with a cotton insulation, as long as it does not have any leather, can be thrown into the washer. If it’s not going to be that cold, this insulation will keep you warm enough to get you through your errands.
Another famous insulation material for winter gloves is a fleece. This kind of material offers enough warmth and comfort since it’s incredibly soft and fluffy against the skin. There is also a material called thermafleece which is made from sheep’s wool and they boost the warmth of the usual fleece material. However, this is usually used for home insulation but some gloves have them.
Furthermore, fleece is way warmer than cotton and foam insulators and is less bulky too. It’s soft and it does not hinder the dexterity of your hand. So, if you want to use comfortable gloves that are not going to make your fingers immobilized and will not let your hands freeze, this material is perfect.
The lining is the part that gets into contact with your skin. While some glove uses the insulation as the lining, most have a separate material to keep your hands comfortable. Here are the most commonly used liners:
PP or polypropylene is a moisture wick material that dries quickly and is comfortable to touch. It is often used as a substitute for silk. This synthetic material has undergone polymerization to create non-polar substances.
Another type of synthetic fiber that is usually used as the lining is nylon. It has a moisture wick material, similar to PP, offers additional warmth, and is durable.
If you’re looking for a smooth and soft liner, you should go for a glove that has silk. Although this is more expensive than polypropylene, it offers extreme comfort especially if you have sensitive skin. In addition, silk is a natural thermo-regulator. This material traps heat between the skin and the fabric to keep you toasty. This is also the reason why nightgowns are made with silk as they produce a cozy warm feeling while you sleep.
This type of wool comes from Merino sheep (as the name entails). Compared to regular wool, this is thinner and softer which is why they are mostly used for glove liners. They are very warm and comfy and are the perfect pair for the coldest days.
Can I wash leather gloves in the washing machine?
You can wash your leather gloves by hand or through a washing machine but it’s mostly recommended to just do it by hand. With this kind of material, it’s best to be very careful not to ruin them.
If you are frequently using your leather gloves, it’s bound to get dirty. Since leather is skin, it is susceptible to absorbing oils from your hands and other particles and liquids. If you noticed that the dirt has already accumulated and your gloves are starting to look unpleasant, it’s time to wash them.
Before washing your gloves, make sure that you only use mild soap. Harsh chemicals strip away the natural oil of the leather making it stiff and uncomfortable. Also, removing the oils will shorten your leather’s lifespan. The best products that you can use are saddle soap or Marseille soap.
It’s easier to clean the external of your leather but the lining can be a bit difficult. To remove the stain on the outwear part, you can mix (in equal parts) vinegar and water, and with a cotton ball dab it onto the problematic area. Then remove the solution off with a damp cloth and let it dry. After you can head on with lathering the soap and gently wiping it off with a damp cloth until the soap is gone. Let it dry and you’re good to go.
When it comes to the lining, it’s best to get it professionally washed since it can be a bit complicated. You cannot submerge leather into the water for a long time so it needs to be done quickly. So, to not ruin it, you should get the help of someone who knows what to do.