Are leather gloves warmer than wool?
Are leather gloves warmer than wool?
Winter is coming. You have to make sure you have your winter clothes ready.
A woolen base layer? Check.
An insulated hoodie or mid-layer? Check.
A weatherproof puffer jacket? Check.
Woolen socks? Check.
Warm hand gloves for winter? Umm, yea I have my leather gloves.
Okay?! But I have heard that woolen gloves keep you warmer.
Oh, is that so? Yea I guess. But I have also heard that leather is better than wool. So how do I choose?
This is a common dilemma while choosing gloves. Do I go for leather or wool? What will keep me warmer? What will I wear when I am going outside for winter sports? Or what to wear for running in winter? To answer this question, we spoke to some winter recreational experts on their thoughts about the same and through this article, you would get an overview of woolen and leather material and which gloves would be perfect for you.
Let’s start with the basic getting to know.
What is leather? What is wool?
So, let’s start from the beginning. Before we start the ultimate leather v/s wool battle let’s dive a little bit deeper on what is leather and what is wool. Both leather and wool are fabrics obtained from the animals and that is the only thing they both have in common.
Leather is a material that is obtained from the hide or skin of animals after tanning and dyeing (if required). It is believed to be the oldest clothing material discovered by mankind to cover their body and protect themselves from different elements. Even though it can be obtained from almost any animal like pig, goats, sheep, or even snakes and crocodiles, the most popular leather sources are the cattle. They are used mainly because of their availability. The hide of the livestock that are used for meat and dairy are removed from their flesh and skin to be processed for a tough durable material that is used in a variety of industries like footwear, clothing, bags, automobile, books, fashion, and furniture.
Wool is another useful material that is obtained from animals. It is a fine fiber that is obtained from the wool of goats and sheep. The first known wool garment dates to 4000 BC. Wool during the medieval era, was considered to be a social status with only the crème of the society getting to don them. Wool has the property to blend with any synthetic material easily and hence is a sought-after fabric for clothing. The sheep or goats are sheared off once a year to collect the wool. This collected material then undergoes a number of technical processes like sorting, carding, cleaning, spinning, and weaving to finally reach us as the product we see. Wool from the merino sheep is one of the most sought-after woolen fabric and is commonly used in merino wool thermals, t-shirts, jackets, and other winter apparel.
Is leather really warmer than wool?
The answer is no. Leather is not warmer than wool. But the natural heat absorption property of leather keeps it a wonderful companion for the outdoors especially wind and snow proof. Wool on the other hand has inherent insulation properties. The finesse of the woolen threads trap the heat from the body and ensures that it does not escape, hence providing an insulation layer.
Then why are leather gloves and jackets in demand during winter?
Leather by itself is not that insulating but most of the leather apparels have an insulating layer sewed to the inside of the material. This acts as a double layer, the outer layer made of leather which offers excellent weather protection, and the inner layer that offers insulation and keeps the body warm. Usually, the insulation layer is fleece, wool, or wool blend.
So, what does a 100% leather gloves do?
A pure or 100% leather gloves are compatible when you are riding or traveling, but it would not trap heat much without an inner lining.
According to Mr. Sajid Cougle, who is an expert base jumper and snowboarder,
“Woolen gloves act as amazing insulators that trap heat, they’re great in dry or powder snow conditions. But them getting wet can be an issue. Leather gloves are great windbreakers, but don’t retain heat that much. So unless they’re insulated from inside, one might feel chilly.”
Mr. Akshay Kumar, Founder of MHE Adventures, national-level skier, trekker, and a rafting guide, who has rafted down over 30 rivers in India and Canada looks at it from a different point of view.
“For standard winter gloves, for a leisure trip, one could just focus on warmth and waterproofing. No padding required. Leather is great but tough to maintain. I know skiers (professionals) who swear by leather but I think we should stay away from leather for price and ethical issues.”, he explains.
Now, what is this ethical issue?
The ethical issues mentioned by Mr. Akshay revolves around the controversies about the production of leather. Since leather is obtained from tanning the hide of the animals, the leather gloves are usually not considered animal-friendly winter wear. The animals are generally killed to obtain their hide. Many brands, especially the ones who believe in cruelty-free and eco-conscious clothing in India have come up with alternatives that can be used instead of leather.
What are some of the alternatives I can use for leather winter gloves?
For a long time, leather was the dominant fabric in the market for weatherproof apparel but now with the marvelous innovations that are happening in the textile world, there are many alternatives for leather gloves that can keep your hands warm. One of the brilliant innovation that I absolutely love is the synthetic leather gloves with fleece lining. This provides all that you want from leather gloves with its weatherproof outer layer and insulating and warm inner layer, these work as a perfect combination for winter outdoor activities.
“I prefer waterproof synthetic gloves because it’s quick-drying and lighter. 100% Leather gloves can have waterproof membrane but they need regular waxing else they get soaked and take a long time to dry.”, explains Mr. Huzefa Siamwala, Founder of Blue Bolt Gear. I couldn’t agree more. For someone who is not looking forward to high maintenance products, synthetic gloves are a blessing in disguise. Also, the fact that the synthetic gloves can be waterproof makes it more attractive. Leather as such is not waterproof. Even though they can be exposed to water, after frequent exposure to the wet weather, leather gloves get spoiled. With synthetic gloves, there is nothing to worry on this front.
“With advances in material technology, we finally have new materials that offer comparable grip to leather and are animal friendly. These are PVC leather, PU Leather, and Silicone leather.”, Mr. Huzefa expands further on the various synthetic leather choices available in the market.
Where can I buy animal-friendly synthetic leather gloves?
In India, Kosha develops winter gloves for men, women, and unisex products, that are waterproof, insulated and touch screen efficient. Since the motto is on sustainable innovation, all products are animal friendly and cruelty-free.
As Mr. Jayesh Morvankar, Founder ODATI Adventures, a veteran trekker who has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains including Mt.Elbrus and Kilimanjaro says, your winter gloves depends on your activities.
Now that you know the pros and cons of leather gloves and some of the alternatives that you can look for while buying, go ahead and make an informed decision. You no longer have to cling on to those confusing rumors. You have answers from the experts directly 🙂