ORbike Guide to the Best Winter Bike Gloves
Disclaimer: Winter cycling gloves are an extremely subjective matter. For those of us who have poor circulation, no glove will ever keep our poor hands warm enough, and heat packets are worth every penny on long rides.
We’ll cover a range of options below, and we definitely want to hear from you. What’s your favorite winter glove?
Here’s the good news: more brands than ever are making fully waterproof gloves to get you through the rainy months. There are plenty of options out there for a simple glove to keep you dry, so we won’t get into the specifics, other than to mention two styles that are notably different.
Neoprene – Neoprene is 100% love/hate. You might hate that your hands get clammy inside, you might love that you can wring them out. You might hate that sweat gets trapped inside and you have to turn them inside-out to dry them. You might love how they keep wind and rain out. You might hate that they develop a stink rather easily. You might love that they’re very inexpensive. Take it or leave it – it’s your call.
Shell – A thin shell (not a soft shell) is basically a rain jacket for your hands. It will keep the rain and wind out. Vary your under glove based on the temperature. We love that these are light weight, versatile and bullet proof on even the rainiest of days.
Stay Warm – Mild Days
DeFeet Duraglove Wool – These gloves have abrasion resistant Cordura® nylon and combined with the highest quality American Merino Wool in a knit that blocks enough air to keep you warm, while still allowing hands to breathe during aerobic activity. These are durable gloves that will hold up well over time. If you don’t need a lot of warmth or wind blockage and it’s not raining, these are a nice lasting option at a good price. And, maybe best of all, they have an “Electronic Touch” feature that allows you to navigate devices without removing your gloves. [info]
Stretchy Gloves – Keep a pair everywhere! We’re not really sure what the official term is for these because there probably isn’t one. These are the type of one-size-fits-all glove usually found on the endcap at the grocery store for about $4. They come in a wide variety of fun colors and designs. These gloves won’t last you more than two seasons and the index finger will probably wear out first, but they’re a great light weight option for those slightly cool days. If you don’t have large hands, they usually fit just snugly enough to feel cozy but not tight. And, at that price, you can store emergency pairs at work, in your bag, etc. They also work well as a liner under a loser glove on the days when you need a little extra warmth.
Burton Liners – These comfy liners are perfect for mild days. With their touch screen functionality and reasonable price point, these durable gloves are a good buy. [info]
Stay Warm – Cold Days
Arcteryx Zenta LT – Some of the best gloves for winter riding come from other sports. This model is made for backcountry ski touring. A waterproof Gore-Tex insert keeps you dry, the leather palm is tough and maintains adequate dexterity, and a Polartec insulation provides warmth, making these ideal for subfreezing rides. These are fancy and expensive. That luxury item that’s either a complete waste of your cash or an indulgent treat. [info]
Bar Mits – Do you stuffer from always-cold hands, poor circulation and crappy winter rides as a result? Bar Mits look clunky and goofy, but they work. If cold hands are getting in the way of your ride, bite the bullet and invest in these badboys, then ride blissfully all day long. [info]
Lobster-style – A variety of brands make a lobster style glove that allows fingers to help keep each other stay warm. These are perfect for long rides without a lot of stopping to use devices. They have little dexterity, so if that’s a concern you could opt for a hybrid option that basically only unifies the smallest two fingers. We’ve heard good things about Planet Bike’s Borealis lobster and liner. [info]
Ski Gloves – Omni-heat gloves from Columbia are an excellent option for those of you with poor circulation who need the extra warmth.
Rain and Cold
It used to be there were very few options for waterproof winter bike gloves that are truly warm. When we last reviewed gloves in 2007 (!!) Pearl Izumi’s Amphibs won by a landslide. Their waterproofing was good for a few hours of rain, and ultimately they leaked through – at the time this was the best we had. These days, there are plenty of options for the discerning cyclists who wants to be both dry and warm (is that too much to ask?) while biking in rainy climates like our own (gorgeous) Pacific Northwest.
SealSkinz – These guys specialize in making solid gloves that are 100% waterproof, breathable and warm. The gloves are extremely flexible and cozy, with a nice soft liner. The fit was great on my long-fingered hands (women’s style) and they’re easy to slide on and off.
Showers Pass Crosspoint – Fully waterproof and highly breathable, the Crosspoint Hardshell bike gloves with merino-wool linings keep your digits dry and comfortable as you ride in the worst weather. [info]
Endura Lumenite – Endura makes great gear – solid, long-lasting with a good fit and smart features. Their Lumenite gloves are no exception. These fully waterproof warmers come in either black or neon yellow. Both have a soft snot pad (let’s be honest about it) and reflective features. They’re flexible enough to allow for grabbing keys out of your pocket, etc. [info]
Custom Combo – A favorite custom combo of ours is a waterproof shell mitten (like a rain jacket for your hand) and the Columbia Omni-Heat liner with touch screen functionality. This combo is great if you have a mitten can be slipped out of easily if you only need to be using your hands periodically. [ liner info / shell info]
There are a variety of features that may drive up the cost, but are often worth it.
Touch screen compatible – we’d pay good money for this feature.
Reflectivity – perfect for those dark early morning or evening rides.
Soft inner hand – This is where you wipe your nose. You want it to be soft and cozy or you’ll be Rudolph and sore by the end of your ride.
Adjustable wrists – It’s nice to be able to cinch down the wrists to keep wind out on cold days.
Grip – We’ve never really cared for the grip that a lot of gloves seem to have these days, but if you like it, you have plenty of options.
What to Buy
If a lot of the options above sound like they’d suit your needs on different days, don’t be afraid to by multiple gloves. There’s no reason your hand should be unnecessarily sweaty, or cold. We talk a lot about rain jackets but not enough about gloves, yet they’re equally important for a comfortable ride.
Start with one solid cold/rain combo and one light weather combo and go from there. A good pair of gloves, well maintained, should last you for 3-5 years.
Start with warm hands. Keep your body moving and your blood flowing before you put your gloves on. Good gloves will retain that heat.
Suck it up and buy disposable warmers for long rides, especially if you’re in it for the long haul on a bike tour or extended adventure. Buy them in bulk for the best prices. Unactivated they last forever.
Treat your gloves well. Follow the washing instructions. Allow them to air out and dry out regularly.
Clip your gloves together and weave them around your helmet strap to prevent losing them. If they don’t have a built-in clip, use a binder clip.
If you’re riding day in and day out, consider a glove dryer. It will help prevent stink, warm your gloves and prep them for a cozy ride. [info]
What do you wear?
What did we leave off this list? What are your favorite gloves for wintertime rides? What feature do you look for when buying winter gloves?