Nothing kills a great day trekking to Everest Base Camp like cold fingers. So it’s very important that you choose the best quality gloves or mittens for your next Everest Base Camp trek.
On an Everest Base Camp trek, there are times when you need to wear gloves and there are times when your hands will be warm enough without them.
Normally, during Spring and Autumn, the temperature is lovely and warm as you trek from Lukla to the village of Dingboche. However, from here on to Everest Base Camp, the temperature drops considerably and the wind increases. This is when you’ll need to wear gloves to keep your hands warm.
In this article, we will focus on the best gloves and mittens you will need for an Everest Base Camp trek. You will learn how to choose the best gloves to suit different purposes for your trip.
The Effects of Chilblains on an Everest Base Camp Trek
It is quite common to experience chilblains when you are trekking to Everest Base Camp. This happens when your fingers or toes thaw out too quickly (when they go from freezing to warm).
The sensation you get in your fingers (mostly) and toes is a tingling sensation that feels like pins and needles. While this sensation goes away after a few minutes, it is avoidable if you don’t allow your fingers to go from freezing to warm in a short amount of time.
There are a couple of situations when chilblains can occur.
- When your fingers are icy cold, you sit in front of an open fire in a teahouse to warm them up.
- When you go from sedentary to trekking and you’re wearing gloves when you start off.
While it’s not harmful, the best way to avoid getting chilblains is to gradually allow your fingers to warm up.
Types of Gloves for Everest Base Camp Trek
Layering is the best method for keeping warm as the heat emitted from your body gets trapped between the layers. It’s quite common for people to wear layers over their body. You can do this for your hands too.
The best way to keep your hands warm is to wear two layers of gloves, an inner liner and an outer gloves.
The inner glove should be a thin liner such as a fleece or merino wool glove.
The outer layer should ideally be waterproof mittens. Mittens are better than gloves because the bigger area traps the heat inside keeping your fingers warm.
Depending on the weather, you can either wear the inner glove lining, or both liner and gloves during freezing temperatures.
I find that wearing the inner glove works well when there is a strong wind blowing. However, when the temperature plummets to near 0°C or below, it’s time to put on a double layer.
Best Inner Gloves for an Everest Base Camp Trek
There are two materials to choose from when buying inner gloves for your Everest Base Camp trek – fleece or merino wool.
Merino wool is the best material for inner gloves as it has the highest warmth to weight ratio. It also has a very snug fit and molds well around the fingers. However, it’s an expensive option. Smartwool or Icebreaker are the best brands for merino wool gloves.
Fleece, on the other hand, is affordable and very warm too. Being a lower price point, it’s more commonly available than merino gloves. However, it’s thicker than merino wool and can be a little bulky, especially if using it as an inner lining.
It pays to get a higher quality fleece glove which uses thinner but warmer material so that it’s not just less bulky, it also molds well around your fingers and palms.
Whichever fabric you choose, your inner gloves will be your go-to gloves for the majority of your trekking to Everest Base Camp.
Best Outer Gloves for an Everest Base Camp Trek
Known as winter gloves or ski gloves, these gloves will be used sparingly on your trek to Everest Base Camp. For this reason, you can get away with not having a pair at all.
I carried a pair of winter gloves with me to Everest Base Camp; however, I did not use them at all. On the other hand, my husband did use his winter gloves when he trekked to Kala Patthar at 4am in the morning and the temperature was -10 degrees C.
Ski Gloves vs. Mittens
If you plan on packing outer gloves for your Everest Base Camp trek, you need to decide whether to get ski gloves or mittens. While mittens definitely keep the hands warmer than gloves, there are some advantages to wearing gloves such as improved dexterity and more varieties on offer.
So, it comes down to what you’ll be using them for.
If you’re planning on using the gloves during trekking, you will want ski gloves rather than mittens. It’s easier and feels far more natural to retain a good grip on a trekking pole or adjust your boots or bindings with gloves. Taking photos is another consideration. You simply couldn’t do it with mittens.
However, if your number one concern is warmth, then choose a pair of mittens. There’s simply no replacement for a heavily insulated mitten. They offer unbeatable levels of warmth.
Leather vs. Synthetic (Nylon and Polyester)
Leather ski gloves are durable, extremely comfortable, and on occasion cheaper than synthetics.They have a much more natural feel and are usually more flexible and dexterous than a comparable synthetic.
A good glove needs to have good waterproofing. While leather has its advantages, synthetic gloves offer the highest levels of waterproofing.
However, stay away from cheap synthetic versions that use a less flexible polyester shell that doesn’t hold up as well to moisture and can feel bulky.
To get the best of both worlds, many synthetic gloves add leather or synthetic leather on the palm and fingers for grip and dexterity.
When buying a pair of gloves or mittens, choose a good brand name such as Black Diamond, Outdoor Research or Hestra. While they might be more expensive, they will offer the warmth needed for an Everest Base Camp trip.
Gloves are insulated in a wide range of ways, from fleece to synthetic fill, so it’s hard to establish exactly how warm a glove will be without trying it on first.
PrimaLoft is the leader for lofty warmth and is popular on many high-end gloves. Some of the warmest designs use a mix of insulation.
The cuff length is another factor to consider when buying ski gloves. Longer gauntlet-style gloves extend well beyond your wrist covering the cuff of your ski jacket. Generally, they are warmer because they have more insulation and seal out the cold very effectively with a draw cord.
Last but not the least is the fit and size of the gloves. A proper-fitting glove helps maximize everything from warmth to dexterity, so it’s worth the time to nail down your ideal size.
There are a lot of factors to consider when buying gloves. The easiest way to get the best gloves for your Everest Base Camp trek is to try them on first. This will help you decide if they are the right size, fit, warmth, dexterity and comfort.