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If it's cold out your fingers will feel it first; here's what to look for in winter gloves + the best choices

Hands have a hard time on winter rides. They're stuck out in front of you with nothing much to do beyond braking and shifting, spending long periods of time largely still but bearing the brunt of cold winds, not to mention rain and spray. It's no wonder that they tend to get cold. Good gloves are a must for comfortable winter riding – here's what to look for.

What to look for

The goal of winter gloves is to keep your hands warm. Fighting back against the cold is a two-pronged attack. First your gloves need to keep potentially chilling outside factors out, which essentially means wind and rain. Second they need to prevent heat escaping.

Louis Garneau Lathi Gloves

 

>>Read more: the full road.cc long-fingered gloves review archive

Fabrics

You'll find the usual range of wind- and waterproof fabrics on offer in the glove market, including Gore-Tex and other waterproof/breathable fabrics. Much as with jackets, windproof fabrics with water-resistant coatings are becoming more popular thanks to lower bulk and a softer feel. Gloves often have reinforced areas of heavier-duty fabric at key points – between thumb and forefinger, on the palm, at the fingertips. Inside, some form of synthetic insulating fabric is the norm, although you'll also find natural materials like Merino wool and silk.

Fit

Winter gloves present a particular challenge to designers. Layers of insulation and heavy-duty waterproof fabrics tend to be bulky, but gloves have to permit you enough finger mobility to shift and change gear. These demands mean that glove shape is more critical on a winter glove – there's more fabric to potentially bunch up.

Full winter gloves generally have long cuffs to make sure there are no gaps before your jersey or jacket sleeves arrive. Have a think about how well these are going to work with the tops you're likely to be wearing – ideally they'll be generous enough to fit over snug-fitting jersey sleeves but sufficiently low-profile to tuck neatly inside jacket sleeves.
Many winter gloves have insulated liners that are only stitched in at the cuff. This is handy when you want to turn them inside out to dry but can be annoying when the whole thing prolapses out of the glove when you take your hand out and then has to be persuaded back in – potentially tricky if it stuck to your hand enough to come out in the first place.

Features

Adjustable Velcro cuffs are pretty much de rigeur with gloves, and full-on long-cuffed winter gloves will often have adjustable drawcords at the base of the cuffs too. These can be useful (pull in for extra snugness, let out for ventilation) but can get tangled up with jacket sleeves. You'll often find gloves that concentrate insulation and weatherproofing on the back and keep the palm thin.

DeFeet Duragloves

This works well for dexterity. Most manufacturers have their own variant on ergonomically-designed padding, with pads positioned to align with common pressure points. Watch out for gloves designed for flat bars, though – different bits of your hands take the weight on drops and you can find that what would be a useful pad on flats becomes a slightly annoying lump on drops.

Choosing gloves: Things to consider

How wintery is my winter?

Even if we're just looking at the UK, winter varies quite a lot. On any given day the weather in Banff is likely to be somewhat different to that in Bournemouth. But even in one place the British winter is not a consistent beast. While some parts of the world will reliably deliver many weeks of sub-zero temperatures, in the UK it could be wind and driving rain, or precipitation-free but frosty, or actually quite moderate. Have a good think about the conditions that you're going to be riding in – across a lot of the country you can get away with surprisingly lightly-insulated gloves for quite a lot of the winter.

How warm are my hands?

Not all extremities are created equal. Some people are naturally warmer than others and this is particularly noticeable when it comes to hands and feet. For a given ambient temperature and degree of exertion one rider might be happy in thin, lightly-insulated full finger gloves while another is going numb in thick Arctic explorer gauntlets.

Craft Siberian Split Finger Glove

Only you know how much the cold gets to you, and this will inform your glove choice. If you run hot then you'll be wanting to go for less insulation and better breathability, while the cold-fingered will be able to sacrifice breathability for the sake of warmth. Keeping the wind out is always a good idea, though.

How many gloves am I willing to buy?

Given the huge variation in what constitutes “winter”, it's easy to end up with a whole bunch of slightly different gloves and the associated decision-making headache every time you want to go for a ride. Some people revel in having just the right bit of kit for all occasions – if that's you then feel free to go crazy. If you prefer to keep your gear cupboard under some sort of control, though, then think carefully about the range of conditions that you're actually going to be riding in, look at what you've already got and then see what's out there that'll cover the rest. There's a fair chance that a single pair of gloves will do the job.

A feast of fingers

There's a lot of choice in gloves. Here's a look at the full spectrum:

Thin or liner gloves

If it's merely a bit chilly out, you may need no more than a full-fingered summer-weight glove – it's amazing how much difference just covering your fingertips can make. Moving a step beyond that is a whole range of thin, lightweight insulated gloves that typically lack much in the way of weatherproofing but will keep fingers warmer than summer gloves in autumn or spring conditions.

Castelli Prima Glove

While some thin gloves feature closely-woven fabric and a water-resistant coating to extend their capabilities, usually they're overfaced by strong winds and proper rain. But they're useful things to have in your glove armoury for less chilly days. Some gloves can double as (or are marketed specifically as) an extra insulating layer under a wind- or waterproof pair. If you're looking for gloves to do only this job, the thinner the better – silk is a good option.

Windproof gloves

The advantage of windproof gloves over fully waterproof ones is that they usually breathe a bit better, keeping your hands from getting all clammy. They're also often less bulky and with a softer feel than full waterproof gloves.

Sportful WS Pursuit Tech Glove

The obvious disadvantage is that rain can get in, although most windproof gloves have a water-resistant coating that keeps rain at bay up to a point. A good choice for cold but dry days, and the naturally warm-handed will benefit from the better breathability.

Waterproof gloves

Waterproof gloves come with varying amounts of insulation, with that being a trade-off between warmth and bulk.

Altura Thermastretch Gloves

Many riders will find that keeping wind and water out means that they can get away with less insulation, while others will need all the help they can get. Bear in mind that you can always boost the warmth of gloves by adding liners, but it's usually trickier to cool them down.

Two-part gloves

Two-part gloves are exactly what they sound like, with an outer shell glove to ward off wind and rain and an inner liner glove contributing thermal insulation.

Phew Lobster Outer Shell Winter Cycling Gloves

You can of course assemble a glove “system” like this from separate bits, but an off-the-shelf two-part glove will have components that are designed to work together – you can be sure that there'll be enough room inside the shell for the liner and that the shapes of the two layers are complementary.

Two-part gloves are a great, versatile choice but if you're a warm-handed person then you may be paying for extra insulation that you'll rarely need.

The best winter gloves

Now you know what to look for, and hopefully you have a clearer idea of what type of glove is right for you, here are 17 gloves we've reviewed and rated highly over the last few years.

Madison Avalanche Men’s Gloves — £21.99

madison-avalanche-mens-gloves-crop.jpg

The Madison Avalanche Men's Gloves do the basics well. It would be nice to have the touchscreen element work a bit better, but for keeping your hands warm and dry in showers, if not heavy rain, they don't disappoint.

The primary function of any full-finger winter glove is to keep your hands warm. To help with this, the Avalanche gloves have a micro-fleece lining and a fully windproof upper. This combination creates a good barrier against the cold.

Although not totally waterproof, the Avalanches have a decent level of protection against rain – Madison describes them 'shower proof'. They kept our hands dry in moderate rain, and it was only really in driving rain that we noticed anything getting through, and even then it was only after about 20 minutes or so.

Read our review of the Madison Avalanche Men’s Gloves

Find a Madison dealer

Gore Bike Wear Element Urban WS Gloves — £27.49

gore-element-urban-windstopper-gloves-crop.jpg

If you're willing to pay for top quality and performance, the Elements are a great option for all but the coldest or wettest days.

The love-it-or-hate-it camo design matches Gore's Urban Windstopper jacket, which is great, but if you don't have/want the jacket you can also get these in plain old black. You don't then get the flashes of fluoro yellow for extra visibility, but you won't be wearing gloves that might look seriously out of place with the rest of your kit either.

The Windstopper technology is expertly integrated into the wind-facing parts of the glove, keeping all the chills out yet allowing your hands to breathe. In air temperatures of around 10-14°C, you get enough breathability that your hands don't boil, while in single figures my hands stayed very pleasantly warm.

Read our review of the Gore Bike Wear Element Urban WS Gloves

Find a Gore Bike Wear dealer

Gore Bike Wear Road Gloves GTX-1 — £39.00

Gore Bike Wear Road Gloves GTX-1.jpg

The Gore Bike Wear GTX-1 gloves are very well made and provide excellent protection from the cold and wet, though on longer rides in the rain they can get saturated and your hands a bit sweaty.

Gore describes them as a lightweight, unisex design. The soft and breathable material is very comfortable, providing a warm cocoon for your hands during winter rides.

Read our review of the Gore Bike Wear Road Gloves GTX-1

Find a Gore Bike Wear dealer

Bontrager Stormshell — £56.99

Bontrager Stormshell Glove.jpg

Bontrager's heavyweight and durable Stormshell gloves provide a solid layer between your hands and the stormy world outside, but they miss the mark if you want toasty warmth too.

As the name indicates, these gloves are designed for stormy conditions, so first and foremost need to be competent at dealing with lots of wind and rain for prolonged amounts of time. It was our dubious pleasure to ride in such conditions recently, and the gloves impressed.

Read our review of the Bontrager Stormshell

Find a Bontrager dealer

DeFeet Duragloves — £15.29

DeFeet Duraglove

DeFeet's Duragloves are simple, hardwearing gloves with a good amount of grip, for those days when it's not cold enough to need a windproof option. The latest version has fingertips that work with touchscreen phones.

Read our review of the DeFeet Duragloves
Find a DeFeet dealer

Galibier Roubaix Vision Gloves — £16.00

Galibier Roubaix Vision Gloves

The Galibier Roubaix Vision gloves fill that gap in your cycling wardrobe between winter gloves and short fingered mitts, around the 8-15°C range for me.

Read our review of the Galibier Roubaix Vision gloves

Giro DND Junior Gloves — £14.99

Giro DND Jr gloves 01

These bright and cheery DND Junior full finger gloves from Giro are super-comfy and as technically competent as their adult parents.

Read our review of the Giro DND Junior Gloves
Find a Giro dealer

Altura Thermastretch gloves — £26.99

Altura Thermastretch Gloves

Altura's Thermostretch gloves take a simplified approach to winter hand protection. Made from a single material - neoprene - and with no layering, they a worthy addition to your wardrobe.

Read our review of the Altura Thermastretch gloves
Find an Altura dealer

Castelli Prima Gloves — £14.30

Castelli Prima Glove

Castelli's Prima gloves are a grippy option for spring/autumn and you can operate all kinds of touchscreen with them.The gloves are made from Coolmax polyester with long cuffs to keep your wrists draught-free. They're fairly warm but not windproof.

Read our review of the Castelli Prima gloves
Find a Castelli dealer

Phew Early Winter Windster Cycling Gloves — £25

Phew Early Winter Windster gloves

Great value midweight wind-resistant gloves with excellent fit and grip.

Read our review of the Phew Early Winter Windster Cycling Gloves

SealSkinz Ultra Grip Gauntlets — £35.99

Sealskinz Ultra Grip Gauntlet

SealSkinz Ultra Grip Gauntlets have been designed to cope with cold and wet conditions, offering protection from water and wind as well as being breathable, all in a knit, stretch glove. They deal with the elements competently, keeping your hands protected and dry. They can get a little warm on the inside but rather that than cold, wet hands.

Read our review of the SealSkinz Ultra Grip Gauntlets
Find a SealSkinz dealer

Phew Lobster Outer Shell Winter Cycling Gloves — £25

Phew Lobster Outer Shell Winter Cycling Gloves

Neat, comfortable, windproof and showerproof over-gloves, ideal for cold weather. They're designed to fit over a pair of gloves to provide a second layer of protection and the design keeps three of your fingers together for increased warmth.

Read our review of the Phew Lobster Outer Shell Winter Gloves

GripGrab Insulator Long Finger Gloves — £26.96

GripGrab Insulator Hi-Vis gloves

GripGrab's Insulator gloves are a great option for layering – they can be used on their own but are still slim enough to be worn inside most winter gloves for when it gets really cold.

Read our review of the GripGrab Insulator Long Finger Gloves

Craft Storm Gloves — £24.99

Craft Storm Glove

Craft's Storm gloves lack the bulk of heavier duty winter gloves but despite that provide impressive insulation, striking a good balance that makes them pretty much spot on for most typical British winter days.

Read our review of the Craft Storm Gloves
Find a Craft dealer

Craft Siberian gloves — £30.00

Craft Siberian glove

The Craft Siberians are well-made mid-weight gloves that provide decent warmth without being too bulky.

Read our review of the Craft Siberian gloves
Find a Craft dealer

Pearl Izumi ELITE Softshell Gloves — £39.99

Pearl Izumi ELITE Softshell Gloves

Excellent gloves for really cold weather, with a great fit and padded palm. Pearl Izumi ELITE Softshell Gloves are stupendously warm thanks to the Primaloft insulation, which provides good insulation for sub-zero temperatures without being too bulky.

Read our review of the Pearl Izumi ELITE Softshell Gloves
Find a Pearl Izumi dealer

GripGrab Windster Gloves — £36.15

GripGrab Windster Glove

GripGrab's Windsters are good quality, wind and water proof gloves that allow for lever grip combined with smartphone usability.

Read our review of the GripGrab Windster Gloves

Showers Pass Men's Crosspoint Softshell WP gloves — £58.00

Showers Pass Men's Softshell WP Gloves

Showers Pass Crosspoint Softshell WP gloves will keep your hands dry and toasty even in a hard winter, but if it's mild they might be a shade too warm.

Read our review of the Showers Pass Crosspoint Softshell WP gloves
Find a Showers Pass dealer

Rapha Deep Winter Gloves and Merino Liners — £150.00

Rapha Deep Winter Gloves

If you really struggle with poor circulation, and keeping your hands from getting cold on a ride is a perennial challenge, then you'll be very interested in Rapha's Deep Winter Gloves. Yes they're very expensive but they're among the warmest winter cycling gloves we've ever tested.

Read our review of the Rapha Deep Winter Gloves and Merino Liners

1 comments

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jasecd [334 posts] 1 day ago
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You should include the excellent BTwin 500 Winter Gloves. They're only £13 and are warm, reasonably waterproof and not too chunky. They even have the touchscreen fingers - bargain.