Anatomy of a Glove

By Tele Tony Jan 27, 2020
Hestra and Skiers: A Glove Story.
Anatomy of a Glove

Do you know how many parts a glove is made of? Of course, you don’t. Looking at the photograph above I went bleary-eyed counting 109 different pieces that make up a single pair of Hestra gloves. The good news is you and I needn’t have the faintest idea of how many unique components go into keeping our hands warm. Because Lars-Olof Magnusson and his family have been sweating the small details since they started Hestra in the 1930s.

Lars-Olof’s father, Martin, founded Hestra while making gloves for lumberjacks in the Swedish highlands of Småland. Between the daunting task of trying to keep lumberjacks’ hands warm and his prior field service on skis during WWI in Jämtland, Martin came to understand that a glove is more than just a glove. Certainly not in practice, anyway, and that includes for skiers and snowboarders today. Take for instance a backcountry skier trying to quickly zip a jacket and perform a necessary binding adjustment atop a sub-zero, wind-scoured ridgeline as darkness approaches. What about a ski patroller working to stabilize and transport an injured skier from treacherous terrain during a ferocious January storm? In cases like these, a high-performance glove is imperative to maintain fine motor skills. A glove is a lifeline.


With Hestra, our hands remain in good hands. Well into his 90’s Lars-Olof still arrived early to open the doors to the Hestra office each morning. Lars-Olof’s grandchildren Anton and Niklas—fourth generation at Hestra—are two of only a few hundred professional glove cutters in the world. The pair apprenticed for years with some of the world’s most skilled glove cutters, mastering a rare traditional art that allows them to take advantage of the intricacies unique to each piece of leather when producing gloves that follow the movement of the hand naturally to become a “second skin.”

What does this glove-making legacy mean for skiers and snowboarders? Wonderful gloves crafted specifically for the way we work and play in the outdoors. Thankfully we don’t have to spend hours poring over technical manuals or years apprenticing with master glove cutters to keep our hands warm and comfortable. Because Hestra has conveniently categorized gloves and mittens for specific outdoor scenarios and user types. Among the population likely to be reading this website, most would be well served with products from one of the categories listed below.

  • Alpine Pro: For free-riders, professional mountain guides, ski instructors with high demands on function, fit and durability.
  • Alpine: Warmth-focused models developed with recreational skiers in mind.
  • Outdoor: Gloves for your outdoor adventures such as ski touring, hiking kayaking and running.
  • Cross Country: Gloves designed for both track skiing and ski touring, for elite athletes as well as recreational skiers.

Whichever category’s description sounds like it fits your typical Saturday. The fundamental concepts and components underlying Hestra gloves’ performance remain the same. Warm hands come down to layering with a moisture-wicking base, an insulating mid-layer, and a protective shell. This allows you to moderate warmth depending on the temperature and your activity level.

  • Layer 1: Liner — The Liner is a base layer for your hands, wicking moisture away from your skin. This creates a warm layer of air, allowing you to avoid contact with cold surfaces while performing fine motor tasks. Liners increase hand warmth by approximately 20%.
  • Layer 2: Base Glove — The base glove is your go-to layer. Protecting against wind and moisture to keep your hands warm in normal cold conditions. Base gloves also have superior fingertip sensitivity so you can perform essential tasks without fuss.
  • Layer 3: Shell Glove — Shell gloves are the reinforcement layer you wear for extra protection from severe cold and wet weather. When used in conjunction with a liner, shell gloves increase hand warmth by approximately 50%.


For every combination of glove layers you choose, materials matter. Hestra uses leather in most of their gloves because it’s supple, durable, adaptable and is a natural byproduct of the food industry. Some leathers are better at withstanding moisture while others are softer, more elastic, or provide superior insulation. Hestra’s gloves are made from carefully selected materials like Army Goat Leather, vegetable-tanned goatskin, cowhide, elk leather, deerskin, peccary, and Ecocuir© (a trademarked cowhide saturated with fat to repel moisture and tanned without using synthetic dyes). Don’t lose sleep over which leather is best for you. From professional guides to one-week-per-year vacation skiers, the Magnussons have taken the guesswork out of it by choosing the best leather for each specific application.

All the layering, craftsmanship, materials and attention to detail in the world won’t keep your hands warm if the fit isn’t right. Hestra likes to say “fit is a feature,” and I can vouch for the veracity of that sentiment. I typically steer clear of product content as I’m often skeptical of the outdoor industry’s consumerist underpinnings but I’ve had significant difficulty in finding gloves that fit me well before Hestra. Hestra gloves come in a far wider and more specific size run than competitors’ gloves do. Simplifying things when choosing what’s right for you, 85% of people wear the same US shoe size and Hestra glove size. If you’re still unsure what size is right for you, do the pinch test while trying on gloves and it will give you an answer. Proper fit for winter gloves leaves about ¼ inch of material at the end of each finger.

Four generations of refining mean Hestra gloves simply leave skiers and snowboarders with warm, comfortable, happy hands. The Magnusson family have devoted more thought and energy to gloves and mittens than most of us will to any topic in our lives, and it shows. Check out their products, take a deeper dive into the anatomy of their gloves and find the right gloves or mittens for you. Your fingers will thank you.