Photograph courtesy Outdoor Research
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Outdoor Research Men's Olympus Sensor Gloves

Photograph courtesy Outdoor Research
AdventureGear Review

Screen Savvy Gloves for the Great Outdoors

Protect your hands from the elements while using your favorite touch screen electronics.

The technology that makes gloves touch screen compatible has been around for some time, but manufacturers have only recently implemented it. Outdoor Research (OR) was an early pioneer in this market, making gloves with TouchTec Leather, a material that simulates the conductivity of skin, thus enabling it to work on touch screens. The company now lists 51 styles of gloves that are touch screen compatible. Other brands are getting on board as well. Longtime Italian glove maker Gordini has 22 models, the British waterproof brand Sealskinz has 46 models, and the triathlete-focused Pearl Izumi has 10 models. All of these brands make it easy to shop for touch screen gloves on their websites. Other brands like Columbia, The North Face, and Eddie Bauer make touch screen gloves, but don’t have a filter on their websites, forcing shoppers to search and weed out the feature themselves.

Types of Gloves

Touch screen compatible gloves come in all sorts of styles. There are a few brands that offer mittens, but that usually means they come with a fingered liner that is touch screen compatible. Otherwise, standard fingered touch screen gloves (as well as some lobster claw styles) range from heavy ski gloves for big days on the mountain to soft knit gloves for cruising around town. I am a big fan of the gloves that offer touch screen compatibility on all the fingers. These are handy when things get a little wet and the water on the glove and screen can prevent taps and swipes from going through. If one finger doesn’t work, the second or third just might. Another trick to maximize the potential of your gloves is to utilize the soft nose wipe patch on the back of the thumb. Squeegee the screen with that soft patch to dry off the screen before touching it with the fingertips. If you get caught in a downpour, hopefully you have a LifeProof case or a water-resistant device.

Types of Coverage

I’ve already mentioned that I like having touch screen compatibility on all fingers, but not just when I’m caught in wet weather. Touch screens are now able to recognize multi-touch gestures. From starbursts on the screens to complex finger swipes for different commands, we’re beyond just the tap, swipe, and pinch actions. On the other hand, if the commands you need to carry out while wearing gloves are limited to those simple gestures, then just having a touch screen compatible index finger and thumb will do just fine. The one thing these gloves won’t do—and hopefully never will do since it would threaten the security function—is to recognize your fingerprint authentication for access to the device. That means you’ll have to punch in your security code if you want to do more than answer a call or use the camera.


There are ways to use your touch screen device without using the touch screen. For example, there are usually some voice commands that can be used while the phone is locked. Bluetooth headsets can also be inserted into ski helmets or ear warmers so your phone can be stashed away completely. These usually have physical buttons on them to control answering a call, adjusting volume, stopping music, and more. On the other hand, if what you’re doing requires interacting with the screen—like using navigation or GPS apps, shooting photos or video, or documenting a snow pit dig—those touch screen gloves are going to come in handy.

Adventure correspondent Cameron Martindell travels the world seeking beautiful destinations and amazing adventure to document in photos, prose and video. He maintains his own adventure website at and can be followed on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat as @offyonder. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.