If, like me, 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 I've ever tested.
The Deep Winter Gloves are part of Rapha's 'modular winter glove' system, which comprises the regular Winter Glove and the Deep Winter glove here, a Merino Liner and a lobster-claw overmitt. The idea is you layer up your gloves depending on the conditions. Most cyclists are au fait with the idea of layering up, and taking the same approach with gloves also works .
I tested the Deep Winter gloves with the Merino Liners and found the combination an unmatched pairing for the coldest rides I've been on this winter.
The Deep Winter Gloves are constructed with a stretch nylon outer that is both windproof and waterproof due to a durable water repellant treatment and an OutDry membrane bonded to the shell with an insulating tricot lining. Sandwiched between theses layers is the Primaloft ONE insulation that provides the warmth. It comprises microfibers that form tiny air pockets trapping body heat with little bulk -
The padded Pittards leather palm provides good grip on the handlebars and the fore and index fingers are compatible with touchscreen phones, so you don't need to remove your gloves to answer the phone. There are also some reflective stripes and a large nose wiping area on the thumb.
The fit of the gloves - I tested a medium pair - is really good, but they are big gloves and there's a bit of space between your hand and the glove liner compared to most other snugly fitted winter gloves. This is deliberately to allow space for that Merino Liner.
On their own the Deep Winter gloves are incredibly warm, as warm as the snowboard gloves I usually resort to on the coldest early morning rides. That slight amount of space between hand and glove also works well to prevent your hands getting clammy when the temperature rises or you're on a hard training ride, and acts to keep a nice layer of warm air circulating around your hands.
When the temperature plunges and you need more warmth, the Merino Liners come into their own. These are very slim and thin merino gloves with ribbed cuffs. They're not designed to be worn on their own, but with the Winter or Deep Winter gloves.
With your hands clothed in the Merino Liners they fit easily into the Deep Winter glove, but your freedom of movement is noticeable restricted. On the bike they're still comfortable but you don't quite have the same range of movement as without the Merino Liners.
The payback is incredible warmth, it's a combination that has kept even my hands and fingers warm (and I mean warm and not simply not cold) on the coldest morning rides I've so far experienced.
They're an expensive pairing, the Merino Liners are £40 and the Deep Winter Gloves are £110, but the unparalleled insulation, attention to detail in the design and the excellent fit makes them worth it. Out of interest I had a look at mountain outdoors gloves with a similar Primaloft insulation. The Rapha combination is about the same price, and actually cheaper than many.
You don't have to buy both though, and you could always add the Merino Liners at a later date. I've always struggled to find cycling winter gloves that can actually keep my hands warm and dry on the most horrid rides, but the Deep Winter gloves alone provide more than adequate insulation and rain protection.
The flexibility to adapt to changing conditions the pair offers is very appealing though. They're the first gloves I've tested that can really keep my fingers warm when the temperature is below freezing and there's a cold wind blowing through the lanes. Four hour rides with a sub-zero wind chill are no problem for these gloves.
It's not been cold enough really to employ the Merino Liners more regularly, but the Deep Winter gloves alone have kept my hands free of the cold that can frequently make longer rides in challenging conditions unpleasant.
Seriously warm gloves for the coldest rides those with poor circulation
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Deep Winter Gloves and Merino Liner
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Deep Winter Gloves are made from innovative technical fabrics and constructed for excellent protection without compromising control. The outer shell uses a windproof, stretch nylon with a Durable Water Repellent treatment, which is then filled with Primaloft insulation®. A waterproof and breathable OutDry® membrane is then bonded to the shape of the shell to give an excellent fit (as opposed to the 'floating' liners used in many gloves) and finished with an insulating tricot lining against the skin.
The inside of the palm features a different Primaloft® insulation, originally created for snowsports and treated with a resin so it won't slip against your skin when gripping the bars. The outer face of the palm is made from Pittards leather, features Rapha's trademark military-grade padding, and is reinforced in key wear areas. The fore and index fingers also work with touch-screen devices. The gloves have elasticated cuffs, with a velcro closure designed to fit snugly around a jacket sleeve. The gloves also have reflective stripes and logos, as well as wipes on both thumbs.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Windproof nylon outer
Primaloft® ONE insulation
Breathable OutDry® membrane
Brushed tricot lining
Pittards leather palm
Reflective stripes and logos
For the most horrid and challenging conditions, these are just about unbeatable. On their own the Deep Winter gloves offer incredible warmth and rain protection, and paired with the Merino Liners you're going to struggle to find cold enough temps to really do them justice.
Hard-wearing construction and the leather palm is durable, but they do need careful looking after to keep them at their best - you can't just chuck them in the washing machine after a ride.
A big and quite bulky glove but still enough dexterity and freedom of movement to control the bike.
Yes they seem expensive, but compared to similarly constructed outdoor and hiking gloves, they're actually on the money for Primaloft insulated gloves offering this level of warmth and weather protection.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The warmest gloves for the coldest days, reliably warm for people that really struggle - as I do - to keep their hands warm on longer rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The insulation, fit and attention to detail with the leather palm and durability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They're quite big, bulky gloves.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
If you're keen on heading out into the most horrid winter weather and want unbeatable insulation and protection for your hands, these are seriously worth a look.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.