How to Weatherproof Leather Ski Gloves

We love leather ski gloves for their warmth, durability, water resistance, and stylish look. From expedition-ready gauntlets to repurposed chore gloves, the price and purpose of your gloves may differ, but caring for them is relatively the same.

The right pair can last you many seasons, provided you take good care of them. It’s relatively easy to know when they need the attention, too: if they’re overly damp during use or look cracked and dry when they’re back at home.

Treating the leather of ski gloves has the benefit of prolonging their life. Waxing leather gloves will also make them waterproof and more comfortable.
Treating the leather of ski gloves has the benefit of prolonging their life. Waxing leather gloves will also make them waterproof and more comfortable.

The more you use your gloves, the more often you should condition them using either the treatment that came with them or an alternative like Sno-Seal or Nikwax.

Treating a set of new gloves has its benefits too. You’ll see better performance results upfront while helping break them in a little bit too.

I broke out my old pair of Kinco Work Gloves along with a set of Hestra mittens, both desperately in need of some good TLC to showcase the process as the first big, wet storms of the season roll in.

What You’ll Need

Thankfully, regardless of how much you spent on your gloves, taking care of them is just a small investment in terms of both time and money, easily done with things in your own home.

Leather Conditioner/Wax Waterproofing/ Leather Treatment

There’s a good chance that your gloves came with a trial-sized packet of leather conditioner. This is probably enough to get your initial coat on for a new pair of gloves, though you will likely need a bit more if you’re retreating to an older, dried-out pair.

It's important to have an open surface to work on. Treating gloves isn't all that technical, but it sure does make everything go faster when there's nothing in the way.
It's important to have an open surface to work on. Treating gloves isn't all that technical, but it sure does make everything go faster when there's nothing in the way.

Nikwax and Sno-Seal are the two most common brands. People have their preferences, but I’ve found that the most significant difference is usually a slight difference in shade. A tube of Sno-Seal will generally run you a little less than 10 dollars.

Heat Source

Heat is essential for two reasons: it opens up the pores of the leather so the treatment can soak in more effectively, and warm leather will slowly melt the wax-based balm and make it easier to work into cracks and seams.

There are a few different means of heating your gloves, ranging from specialty shop gear to things you’ll find in your house. In order of effectiveness, a temperature-controlled heat gun, a blowdryer, and an oven are available options.

Heating up the gloves in a common oven will
Heating up the gloves in a common oven will "bake in" the wax so it doesn't easily get shedded when shredding through forest.

The aim here is to get your gloves warm enough to apply the balm effectively but not so warm as to burn or melt any parts of the glove itself. Sno-Seal’s instructions specify 120°F, while Hestra recommends temperatures around 150°F. Temperature accuracy and specific targeting make the heat gun and blow dryer are a little more practical- they save you the trouble of running back and forth from the oven in a race against time.

It’s important to note the instructions specific to the brand of treatment that you’re using. Nikwax leather conditioner is applied to room temperature gloves. It’s also helpful to keep some ventilation going through the process, so you don’t inhale a bunch of potentially dizzying fumes.


As a final detail, I like to have a rag and a piece of cardboard to help cut down on the mess and save me the trouble of using a solvent to clean wax slick off of my countertop when all is said and done. As far as the rag goes, you’re going to get your hands dirty despite your best efforts. But a scrap of cloth goes a long way for treatment into seams and tight problem spots.

How To Weatherproof Leather Ski Gloves Rag Surface

How To Waterproof your Gloves

Now that you have all of the supplies gathered, it’s time to get started. There’s no set time limit. How long it will take depends on the conditions of your gloves and the tools at your disposal.

Don’t be surprised if your gloves look slightly different after the process. These wax treatments are known to cause some discoloration. If you’re worried about how it will look, try spot testing a little bit before you commit to coating the entire glove. Also, consider this- dark-hued, well-worn gloves are taken as a token of devotion in the ski world. The more broken in, the better you look.

Step 1: Prep Your Station

Before doing anything else, make sure that your gloves are clean and dry. You’ll want to make sure that you clear dirt, grime, pine sap, and snack shrapnel from the leather so the balm can do its work.

If you’re like me and have neither the funds nor the hair for a heat gun or blow dryer, the first thing you’ll want to do is preheat your oven. The lowest mine will go is 170°F, but I accommodate for this by keeping a close eye on my gloves as they rest in there and keep the door cracked in strategic intervals.

How To Weatherproof Leather Ski Gloves In Oven

Ensure you have enough room to do some scrubbing and that you’re not working overtop anything you don’t mind getting a little messy. It’s also helpful to get a piece of aluminum foil to rest your gloves on so they aren’t in direct contact with your oven rack and don’t drip any solution onto the heating elements.

Step 2: Bake Your Gloves

Now that your oven is heated, your gloves are clean, and your weather treatment materials are assembled, you’re ready to throw your gloves in the oven and let them heat up. If you’re using a hairdryer or heat gun, go ahead and start blasting them.

In either case, your target temperature should be between 125-150°F, depending on the brand of treatment you’re using. Your gloves should never be too hot to handle but still warm enough that the balm spreads smoothly over their surface.

Keep your oven running. I mentioned above that watching your gloves closely and keeping the door cracked if in doubt is an excellent way to avoid overheating your gloves.

More likely than not, you’ll need a few coats to apply the wax all over the glove and have to reheat them several times during the process.

Step 3: Apply the Balm

Smear a liberal amount of the waterproofing of your choice on the leather portion of your glove. It should quickly start to melt into a warm butter consistency that you can then work around the surface section by section.

Even expensive gloves with higher quality leather will benefit from getting treated. No matter what, strengthening the waterproofing won't hurt. Quite the contrary.
Even expensive gloves with higher quality leather will benefit from getting treated. No matter what, strengthening the waterproofing won't hurt. Quite the contrary.

I use a rag and “polish” the gloves, making sure that I load all of the wax that I can into their porous surface and spending extra time around the seams and high wear points. Looking at my light-toned gloves, you can see the places that get a lot of use. The palms and fingers of my gloves are several shades darker than the backs.

How To Weatherproof Leather Ski Gloves Waxing

Step 4: Repeat Until Saturated

You’ll want to keep this process of heating, balming, and working the treatment into the gloves until the leather is totally saturated. At this point, you should be able to see and feel a clear difference in the tone and texture of the leather. What once was cracked and brittle is now swarthy and supple.

As mentioned above, it can take several repetitions before you end up with the best possible results from your efforts. Ultimately this can lead to a lot of running back and forth between the oven and your workstation, particularly if you’re tackling more than one pair at a time.

My sets were in pretty desperate condition in this most recent iteration, so it took me the better part of an hour between setup, conditioning, and cleaning. By the end of it, all your gloves should have a nice shiny veneer and feel just slightly tacky when you clack the fingers together.

Step 5: Wipe and Hang

Take your rag and wipe off the excess goop when your gloves are satisfactorily steeped in conditioner. Any you leave will crust up and make your gloves slightly adhesive, so it’s better to take care of the issue upfront while it’s still in semi-liquid form.

From here, it’s a simple matter of leaving your gloves hanging to dry so the treatment can set. Hang your gloves by a carabiner, clothespin, or whatever else you have handy- so long as they’re not touching each other or anything else.

It's a good idea to have a good place to hang the gloves after they've been waxed. They should have ample time to dry, preferably in a dry place.
It's a good idea to have a good place to hang the gloves after they've been waxed. They should have ample time to dry, preferably in a dry place.

You want to give them a little while to cool, so make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to finish your waterproofing before you head to the mountain.

Upkeep Guidelines

Now that you’re all slicked up and ready to hit the slopes, you’re probably wondering how often you’re going to need to repeat this process. Long story short, it entirely depends on how much you’re using your gloves and the kinds of things you’re doing with them.

Prolonged use under stressful conditions will work through the treatment faster than those who only occasionally get out for a run or two on the weekends. There’s no golden rule of time, but you should be able to feel it out pretty intuitively.

Noting that your gloves are starting to lose their water resistance is a great place to start. Anytime your fingers get wet is a good indicator that they could use some attention. Looking for cracking or dryness anywhere, but especially in high-use zones, can help you stay ahead of the curve a little bit.

Make Your Treatment Last

In terms of other tips and tricks that will help extend not only the effectiveness of your leather treatment but the life of your glove, you should follow the rules of most outdoor gear. Keeping it dry and being dutiful about hanging it up after big storm days is the biggest thing you can do, no matter how tired you are.

Using ski poles are an ideal way to hang gloves and let them dry with the wax freshly baked in.
Using ski poles are an ideal way to hang gloves and let them dry with the wax freshly baked in.

When things do get soggy, do yourself a favor and avoid using heat sources to speed the drying process up unless you’re desperate. I’ve lost many pairs of socks and other, more valuable pieces of gear by subjecting them to prolonged exposure to campfires and radiators.

Our Favorite Leather Gloves

With about $10 worth of supplies and clever use of household appliances, you should have everything you need to make a good set of leather gloves last for seasons on end. We’ve had the opportunity to test out quite a few great sets over the years, and leather is the way to go based on my preferences.

We demoed the treatment process on a pair of Kinco 1927KW Premium Leather Gloves and Hestra’s Army Leather Extreme Mittens in our guide. I’ve owned both sets for years and have put more days into them than nearly any piece of gear in my garage. Thanks to zealous upkeep, I expect many more.

Kinco gloves are dirt cheap and hardworking. They might not be the warmest gloves you’ll try- but they’re far from without their charms. On the other hand, the Hestra Mitts are top-of-the-line models built specifically with warmth in mind.

In a similar vein to the Hestra model, we’ve also tried out Black Diamond’s Guide Glove– which covers both bases regarding the toughness and the warmth it takes to tackle the world’s tallest peaks.

If you still have doubts that leather is the right choice for you, fear not. There are many other options available, and you can see how they stack up, leather or not, in our buyer’s guide.


Frequently asked questions

What are the best ski gloves?

The best possible pair of gloves for you depends on where, how, and how much you ski. With so many models, it can be hard to thin the pack down to a few workable options. That’s why we’ve narrowed down the pack to a few of our favorites- and if you still need help choosing, check out our buyer’s guide.
Best Ski Gloves

How to wash ski gloves?

Investing in a solid set of ski gear is expensive. With a lot of the top-rated options easily exceeding $100 dollars, you’re going to want to properly care for your new pair of gloves so they function to their fullest potential. As an across-the-board rule, make sure that you properly dry gear after each time you use it. Keeping things dry is 90% of keeping them clean and functioning well.

For leather gloves, keep an eye out for places on the shell where the shell looks dry and flakey. You should be prepared with some leather conditioner and expect to apply it around three times a season. For more answers on gloves and how to choose the right pair for your purposes, take a look at our best of list and buyer’s guide.

How to treat leather ski gloves?

It’s essential to keep up with wax treating your leather gloves to ensure they stay warm and dry regardless of how wet the snow gets. Using your oven or a hairdryer, gently heat your gloves and apply a generous amount of leather conditioners like Sno-Seal or Nikwax to all leather surfaces. Rub the treatment into the glove using a rag, and repeat this process until they stop absorbing the conditioner.

Ski glove upkeep can be complicated. For more on how to take care of your gloves, take a look at our buyer’s guide.

What is the best treatment for leather gloves?

You should always take a look at the manufacturer’s recommendation for the balms and waxes used to waterproof your leather gloves. Often, gloves will come with a sample sized packet of their intended formula.

When it comes down to it, outside of the proprietary blends made by glove manufacturers you have Nikwax and Sno-Seal. Skiers like each for different reasons, but we prefer Sno-Seal despite its more intensive application process.

For more on ski glove nuances, take a look at our buyer’s guide, and our waterproofing basics page.

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