Best winter cycling gloves
Cycling gloves are a year-round staple in a cyclist’s wardrobe, but which are the best gloves for winter? Our guide reveals all.
A good pair of cycling gloves can help you enjoy your rides in the colder months of the year. As the first body part to freeze on a ride, it’s crucial you keep your hands warm in winter for the safe operation of your bike.
The best winter cycling gloves balance bulk and dexterity. While you might think you need the thickest cycling gloves available, remember you need your hands to grip the handlebars, change gears, and operate the brakes. And how would you fix a mechanical in winter without your fingers freezing in the process?
As a crucial piece of winter clothing, gloves are one of the best investments you can make when it comes to cycling kit. Think about it: is there anything worse than cold hands when you’re riding? While feet have socks, shoes and overshoes to protect them from the cold, hands are a little trickier to keep warm.
Can I just use winter gloves I already own?
If you enjoy hiking, skiing and other outdoor pursuits, you might already own some pretty good winter gloves. You can always try these on your bike, but there is a reason cycling-specific winter gloves exist.
Cycling is different to other sports. Your hands are in regular contact with the handlebars and you have to control your bike using levers and buttons. For this reason, bulky ski gloves will be too cumbersome to use if you’re switching gears, especially electronic gears. Thinner hiking or generic outdoor gloves may not stand the test of time with the frequent pressure of your hands gripping the bars.
Different winter conditions require different winter gloves
Not all cycling gloves were created equally. If you live in a temperate part of the world where the worst winters temperatures are somewhere between 5°C and 10°C then a thick pair of gloves is probably unnecessary
If you live closer to the poles or in the mountains, more insulation is a great idea. Long Alpine passes in winter or riding in bitterly cold winds require thicker gloves to keep the chill out.
Another factor to bear in mind is how much you personally feel the cold. Not all of us feel the cold to the same degree (pardon the pun) as each other. Research shows women feel the cold more so than men, so you may find yourself wearing thicker gloves than some of your riding friends as a result.
Finally, if it’s also raining or snowing, you need to look for gloves that offer a balance of the best waterproofing properties and insulation.
What are winter cycling gloves made of?
A lot of cycling gloves are predominantly constructed from synthetic materials. Occasionally you’ll find leather on the palms due to its hard-wearing qualities. Synthetic materials tend to resist moisture better than natural fibres and also have quick-drying properties. The latter is particularly useful if you’re on a multi-day bikepacking trip, when you need your gloves to dry out ready for the next day.
The materials on the palm are designed to help you grip the bars no matter the weather. You may also find extra padding to absorb vibrations from the road or trail. Extra padding can be useful for long-distance rides when you know you’ll spend a lot of time on the bike.
The top of the glove is where you’ll find windproof and water-resistant fabrics. It’s the most exposed part of the glove while you’re riding, so it’s important to create a solid barrier between your hands and the elements. Be aware that waterproof fabrics aren’t as breathable as water-resistant fabrics, which can result in sweaty but warm hands.
Other neat features on some gloves include a touch-screen-friendly pointer finger, so that you’re still able to use your GPS device and phone. The thumb area of the glove is sometimes made from towelling material to wipe your face easily.
Extra silicone grips on the fingertips is also common particularly for ensuring you hit the brakes when you need to when you’re out on your mountain bike or road bike.
Well-designed gloves take your whole journey into account. If you’re out on your city bike running errands around town, you need to be able to pack your pannier bags or lift your bike onto the train without fumbling around with your gloves - or worse, taking them off altogether.
Add warmth this winter
Don’t leave the house without a pair of winter cycling gloves even if the weather forecast reports mild temperatures. The wind and rain soon change how that feels in reality. Our advice: wear a great pair of winter cycling gloves and you’ll never dread the sub-zero temperatures again!