Guide To Choosing The Best Touchscreen Gloves

The 2014 season marks a significant industry-wide improvement in the touchscreen glove market. Increasingly, companies are moving away from silly silver conductive patches and incorporating conductive material throughout most or all of the gloves they manufacture. With the dramatic increase of touchscreen glove options in just the past year, however, choosing the right pair can be an overwhelming process with underwhelming results.  Here, I go over some basic tips for what you should look out for in conductive gloves.

For a list of my favorite picks for 2014-15 click here

Fit

First and foremost, the gloves should fit.  Yes, this is obvious, but it’s important for a couple of reasons.  First, the functionality of the conductive areas can be dramatically affected if they don’t fit well (though getting gloves that are fully conductive throughout the entire body can reduce this issue dramatically).  Second, while there are a lot of great capacitive touchscreen gloves on the market now, as with any apparel, they don’t fit everyone the same way. Manufacturer sizing charts are reasonably reliable resources to base your decision on.  Where I’ve found these charts, I’ve included links in the reviews.

Activity

What do you plan to use your touchscreen-friendly gloves for?  Conductive liners that are perfect under conductive gloves for snowboarding and skiing are likely inappropriate for the fashionista strutting down Madison Ave (indeed, most things are) looking for stylish leather touchscreen gloves for around town.  Similarly, rugged utility gloves with a terrycloth thumb wipe are not the right choice for someone looking for ultra-light touchscreen friendly gloves to use on an over air-conditioned airplane.  Wonderfully, there is a wide range of options that span from multipurpose to niche activities.  Just remember to consider how you plan to use them before you buy them.

Conductivity

This is what separates the good from the bad.  The conductivity of a glove is affected by a number of factors including the type of material, the resistance of that material (i.e., how well it conducts), and the placement of the touchscreen-friendly material.

Type of Material: There are a number of different types of conductive materials on the market and this number keeps growing.  For the most part, however, the materials can be broken down into two basic categories: touchscreen compatible thread and conductive leather.  Both can be exceptionally effective, though the best results I’ve had has been with the touchscreen compatible leather.

Resistance: The ‘resistance’ of a conductive material simply refers to to how well that material will conduct the charge from your skin to the capacitive touchscreen of your device.  A high resistance means that it will be harder to complete the circuit, while low resistance means that the charge will pass more easily.  The resistance was more of an issue in the first couple of years when people were purchasing their own conductive thread in order to adapt their old regular gloves into DIY touchscreen gloves.  At this point, if a manufacturer has brought  touchscreen gloves to market, they are almost certainly going to be sufficient resistance and I’ve not seen a manufacturer that advertises the resistance of their product (measured in Ohms).  That said, some gloves conduct better than others, so you should make sure to test them out if at  all possible.

I no longer review gloves that aren’t full-glove or nearly full glove conductivity.

Placement of the Conductive Material:  The placement of conductive material varies widely from glove to glove.  Typical iterations include two-finger (thumb, index finger), three-finger (thumb, index, middle fingers), five-finger, and full-glove conductivity.  While for the first few years the two and three-finger patches were fine, I no longer review gloves that aren’t full glove or nearly full glove conductivity.  This is because (1) patches are quicker to fail (ie stitching can rip rendering them useless), (2) touchscreen devices have multi-finger gestures that require more than two fingers, and (3) there are simply too many gloves out there to review and it makes sense to focus on the ones I know will perform the best.

Durability

Durability should be something you consider unless you’re buying very inexpensive single season throwaways. A number of stretch, one-size-fits all gloves are now on the market for between $3 and $8 which are good enough to make it through one season, but would likely begin to fray and fall apart with any amount of sustained use and a couple of washes. For the rest of the gloves available, there is a very wide range of durability and manufacturer guarantees.  With regard to the latter, it pays off to look into the details – I recently tested gloves that are guaranteed forever!  Impressive, right?

What I look for in all gloves

Grip: This is a MUST on any active wear gloves.  I am a huge proponent of having some form of traction or grip material on the palms and/or the fingers of touchscreen gloves in order to prevent accidentally dropping your device.  Smart phones, tablets and e-readers are notoriously slick and it should be a no-brainer that apparel designed to handle them should include this safety feature. It should also be noted that with the variety of grip material available this needn’t be offensive, loud, or even obvious.  In the 2014 season, for the first time, most of the major manufacturers are actually incorporating grip material on the gloves and into the design.

Full-glove or 10-finger conductivity: Touchscreen phones and tablets are increasingly implementing multi-finger gestures (similar to the Mac trackpad), and as screen sizes get larger, this will only increase.  For this reason, and the fact that tablets have become massively popular, I now only review gloves that include conductivity in all ten fingers, if not the entire glove.  That said, there are some pretty decent gloves which are conductive in only two fingers.

Ease of Use:  Gloves range in their ease of use dramatically and price is no measure.  I have tested astonishingly expensive gloves from a very well-known manufacturer that looked great and fit wonderfully, but were terrible with regard to the conductivity.  Similarly, a $5.00 pair that I reviewed was terrific. Read reviews, remember to check the return policy, and don’t be afraid to use it if they don’t work for you.

You might also like:

  1. 2015-16 Top 5 Touchscreen Gloves for Holiday Gifts

  2. Your Electric: Why Normal Gloves Don’s Work on Touchscreen Devices

  3. DIY Style: What Type of Conductive Thread You Should Use to Make Your Own Touchscreen Gloves