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OPINION

Coldfinger: the man with the Raynaud's touch

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A small breakthrough in the search for the perfect winter glove

For many years now I have been engaged in an epic quest to find the perfect winter glove. As you can see this mission has been going on for some time…

It’s never been formally diagnosed but I’m pretty sure I have Raynaud’s syndrome. When the temperature drops, one by one my fingers turn from a healthy pink to that horrible waxy white as the bloodflow stops. When I get really cold it extends to my feet too. As an aside, if there is anything in this world less attractive than a middle-aged man’s foot rendered soggy and lifeless by a winter ride I would be very happy never to see it.

Over the years I have tried many glove options, each costing a little more than the last. I was beginning to think the only solution might be to bite the bullet and shell out a three-figure sum for a certain high-end London-based company’s winter glove solution.

But now I believe I’ve at least partly cracked it at a fraction of the cost and I feel it’s only right to share my breakthrough with the road.cc massive.

My solution is simple, cheap and merino-based: skinny liners beneath woolly gloves. For me that means Rab MeCo liners beneath DeFeet DuraGloves but I’m sure there are other options. Total cost a tad over £30; warm down to pretty much zero (which is as cold as I ever want to be out cycling in) and dexterity maintained too, which is a bonus.

My hands still get cold eventually but the crucial – and unique, in my experience – thing about this combination is that they get warm again when I put some extra effort in or I stick my hands under my armpits. With the numerous other options I’ve tried, once my hands got cold I knew they’d stay cold until I got home and went through that slow, agonizing recovery process.

Job done then! Ah, if only life were that simple. Of course this solution is no use if it’s wet. When they get soggy these gloves stay that way and even though my hands never get as cold in them as they do in some ‘waterproof’ gloves once the water’s crept in, it’s still deeply unpleasant. When I know it’s going to be cold and wet from the outset I’ve taken to using a pair of old wetsuit gloves. They’re not as comfortable and I get sweaty and then clammy in them but at least my hands stay warm-ish.

I still live in hope that one day I’ll find a way of keeping my hands toasty whatever the weather. Until then, this’ll do.

Lifelong lover of most things cycling-related, from Moulton Mini adventures in the 70s to London bike messengering in the 80s, commuting in the 90s, mountain biking in the noughties and road cycling throughout. Editor of Simpson Magazine (www.simpsonmagazine.cc). 

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28 comments

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mostly | 7 years ago
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Just thought I'd bump this, my raynauds has been truely awful since October, so after a visit to the GP I've been prescribed nifedipine (quick release) and there has been a marked improvement. I just take one an hour before a ride and it works pretty well. Worth a go if your struggling this winter.

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1tal replied to mostly | 7 years ago
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mostly wrote:

Just thought I'd bump this, my raynauds has been truely awful since October, so after a visit to the GP I've been prescribed nifedipine (quick release) and there has been a marked improvement. I just take one an hour before a ride and it works pretty well. Worth a go if your struggling this winter.

I've taking Nifedipine for 3 winters now I take up to 6 a day, they do help but still get very painful fingers out on the bike. The best gloves I've come across are Sealskinz Extream Cold Gloves, not perfect but with glove liners I'm able to pull the brake leavers and change gears safely.

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oldmixte | 9 years ago
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From Sports Direct

Karrimor Liner Gloves Mens £3.99

Bought a pair of these and they are nice and toasty.

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Martin Thomas | 9 years ago
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Entirely accidental I assure you (ahem).

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scarletpumpernell | 9 years ago
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I noticed and assumed it was intentional !

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jacknorell | 9 years ago
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Am I the only one who noticed that the glove liner to the right is giving the finger?

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Anthony.C | 9 years ago
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I recently got myself some Mavic Inferno Thermo gloves and it is the first time I haven't had cold fingers at all on cold rides and they are not too bulky. It's not -20 here though but it's great to have warm hands when it's around zero.

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leqin | 9 years ago
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Like Martin and others - I have suffered terribly from this condition for years and, because of it, there is always a 2 pack of 'Little Hotties' or 'Hot Hands' hand warmers in a jersey pocket and I have a virtual library of gloves that I have tried out and discarded. Currently, depending on the weather each morning, its a choice between silk liners with my Seal Skinz Mitts which are wind and water proof and impervious to any downpour, or - if it is warmer - then my Prendas Ciclisimo 'Air Tunnel' gloves get worn and I am so glad I discovered them about 2 years ago, because - so long as it isn't a torrential downpour - they have solved every issue I have ever had with finding gloves that help me manage my Reynauds.

One thing that I do which makes a lot of difference is knowing what weather is forcast locally the evening before my morning commute and then take the gloves I am going to use the following day to bed with me - tucked up in bed they stay nice and toasty, so when I set out the gloves I am wearing are already warm. If I remove them for any reason then I always open my jacket and keep them warm next to my body ready for when I need them again.

On my carbon/campagnolo dream machine I use a double layer of Specialized S-Wrap Roubaix bar tape and on both my MTB and hybrid commuter I have some of the dirtest cheapest grips you have ever seen.

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Hot-selling-Free-shipping-Road-Mountain-B...

I bought mine on ebay a few years ago now, but I have tried all sorts of bar grips and always come back to the fact that for me these work perfectly by helping you maintain a grip that is not to tight and with the palm correctly supported.

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packboated | 9 years ago
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I'm from New Hampshire, U.S.A. and it can get very cold here (-20 degrees F). I too have had problems getting fingers warm, even when wearing silk under gloves, and water
resistant thick outer ones. My solution was purchasing a set of Bar-Mitts or (Pogeys} which are quite popular in Alaska, and northern USA. They live up to as advertised, in that they keep hands warm with only a thin layered glove
underneath them. For those who suffer from circulation problems in extremities, I would recommend carrying slightly thicker gloves with you on a ride. The Bar-Mitts are both wind resistant and waterproof, and despite lacking some aesthetic quality to the look of your bike, will undoubtedly solve the cold hands problem. Do some research and opt for a larger than usual size to facilitate shifting.

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Ross K | 9 years ago
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My two cheap solutions which both work very well:

12 degrees down to 5 degrees or so:
Normal track mitts then cheap thinsulate fleece gloves on top. Surprisingly windproof, quick-drying and super-breathable so not sweaty.

4 degrees down to minus 5:
Aldi waterproof cycling lobster mitts. First time I tried lobster type and very impressed. Each finger seems to keep its neighbour warm, simple but effective. At temps above freezing I get sweaty hands!

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Martin Thomas | 9 years ago
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That said, Jones the Steam, the sizing of the woolly combination I'm using at the moment is far less critical than it would be for a more substantial glove, with less give. The DeFeets in particular have a lot of spare room and will obviously expand loads so it might be worth giving them a go. I know if doesn't feel like they should be warm enough but they really might be...

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Jones The Steam | 9 years ago
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I too suffer from cold fingers. I don't seem to feel the cold anywhere else to the same degree - but at single digit temperatures I can be in trouble after as little as 10 minutes with my thickest winter gloves (currently Sealskinz Extra Cold!)
Unfortunately I have big hands, so I have struggled to find a glove that is big enough to allow the use of liners. I'm convinced "layering up" will help a lot, but not if the blood flow is reduced to the gloves being too tight!
Does anyone have recommendations for BIG gloves - i.e. where an XXL really is Extra Extra Large!

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Martin Thomas replied to Jones The Steam | 9 years ago
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Jones The Steam wrote:

I too suffer from cold fingers....
Does anyone have recommendations for BIG gloves - i.e. where an XXL really is Extra Extra Large!

I was going to suggest this site http://www.bikeglovestore.com/ but they only seem to suggest Sealskinz for long fingered road gloves.

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lucyR | 9 years ago
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Hi there.

I work for a national Raynaud's charity. We sell silver gloves which a lot of Raynaud's sufferers seem to love, have you tried them? Or would you like to?

Thanks!

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Martin Thomas replied to lucyR | 9 years ago
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lucyR wrote:

Hi there.

I work for a national Raynaud's charity. We sell silver gloves which a lot of Raynaud's sufferers seem to love, have you tried them? Or would you like to?

I've not tried them but now I've read up on them I'm intrigued! I might try them - thanks.

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lucyR replied to Martin Thomas | 9 years ago
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If you drop me an email at lucy [at] rayanuds.org.uk I can arrange for some to be sent. Thanks!

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Welsh boy replied to lucyR | 9 years ago
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lucyR wrote:

Hi there.

I work for a national Raynaud's charity. We sell silver gloves which a lot of Raynaud's sufferers seem to love, have you tried them? Or would you like to?

Thanks!

I bought a pair of these liners last week, wore them on the bike for the first time today. First observation was that they are very comfortable. Second observation was that they didnt make my hands feel hot (like i hoped they would), I rather hoped that they would be like putting a hand warmer on! On they went under my usual gloves and off I went. 3 1/2 hours later in temperatures of 4-5 degrees and my hands were still at body temperature. Normally a ride like this would go something like: 1st hour, hands OK, 2nd hour, hands getting chilly, 3rd hour, hands cold and the last 30 minutes fingers almost numb.
What a revelation. £10 well spent, I will probably save that much by not having to buy hand warmers to slip in between my glove like I have been doing recently.
And no, i have no association with Lucy or the charity, just a happy customer.

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Martin Thomas replied to Welsh boy | 9 years ago
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Welsh boy wrote:
lucyR wrote:

Hi there.

I work for a national Raynaud's charity. We sell silver gloves which a lot of Raynaud's sufferers seem to love, have you tried them? Or would you like to?

Thanks!

I bought a pair of these liners last week..[...] What a revelation. £10 well spent, I will probably save that much by not having to buy hand warmers to slip in between my glove like I have been doing recently. And no, i have no association with Lucy or the charity, just a happy customer.

I've been meaning to add a note to this after Lucy very kindly sent me a pair of silver gloves to try out. I too thought they were comfortable and I was relieved to note that they weren't too thick so I could use them as liners. 1st time I wore them I had them on under my merino Duragloves. Temp was about 4 or 5C but it was damp and windy so probably felt more like 1 or 2. It was hard to tell whether they were doing a better job than the Rab liners I mention above. Then it started sleeting and my hands got wet and painfully cold so I swapped the gloves for the other two pairs I had with me that day (yes, I went out with 4 pairs  1 ) the Rab liners under a pair of SealSkinz lobster gloves. Toasty all the way home. Result!

The 2nd time I wore them it was dry and breezy and about the same temperature. Same deal: silver liners under Duragloves. I think my hands got colder quicker than they would have done with the Rab liners and then they didn't get warm again. I think the reason is that they are a bit thicker than the Rabs so there's less room for warm air to circulate around my fingers. So I'm reverting to plan A.

I'm still really pleased with the silver gloves because for general, off-bike use they're great but for me they're not for cycling.

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ianrobo | 9 years ago
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Been out today, average temp 2.5C and lovely, got some Gore-Tex ones on sale from Wiggle for £40

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userfriendly | 9 years ago
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Thanks for that, Martin. Have just ordered a pair of those Rab liners to go with my not quite 100% warm enough Castelli gloves.  4 As if I needed to spend any more money this month (note to self: stop it!)

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Martin Thomas replied to userfriendly | 9 years ago
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userfriendly wrote:

Thanks for that, Martin. Have just ordered a pair of those Rab liners...

Always a pleasure to persuade people to spend money on cycling! You won't regret it though (unlike those gleaming carbon wheels that cost a couple of months' mortgage payments...)

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CXR94Di2 | 9 years ago
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It's the same principle with body clothing. Wear a lycra wicking layer under a cotton /wool fleece top. Moisture moves away from skin surface, evaporates from the upper layer. Warmth held in by fleece layer.

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dottigirl | 9 years ago
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I use these merino liners from EDZ:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00FJ3HGAA?ie=UTF8&camp=3194&creative...
Only a tenner, also come in red, blue and green, and they immediately make any glove more comfortable. If I have to take the glove off for any reason, I usually keep these on. Have bought them as presents for more than one person, and they love them.

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racingcondor | 9 years ago
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My hands don't suffer too much but I can add a bit I think.

1) Did your fix a few years back so that I could retain dexterity for racing the winter series. Icebreaker merino liners and DeFeet Dura wool is a great combination.

2) I bought Craft lobster mitts 3 years ago and I've only worn them 3-4 times since. I honestly find them too warm above -2C when I wear them with their liners (and at that point my feet are a much bigger worry).

For feet Woolie Boolies and toe covers do me most of the time. Toe covers fix the problem of sweaty feet in neoprene over shoes (i.e. cold after 1 hour) because your get still breathe (no sweat build-up, no cold feet). I just need a way to keep my ankles warm now...

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Argos74 | 9 years ago
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Am in the same position. My mam's got Raynaud's, my granddad has it, and when it gets very cold (or very hot) I suffer bad.

My solution was not dissimilar - motorbike glove liners. Cheap and cheerful, and saved much pain and 10 minutes waiting for my hands to defrost after any sort of serious ride in cold weather. And when it's hot, water and electrolyte supplements, cause I sweat like a very sweaty thing. Bathtowels under the turbo sweaty.

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David Arthur @d... | 9 years ago
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Those Rapha Deep Winter gloves are the first cycling gloves I've tested that actually keep my fingers and hands warm, and I suffer from crippling circulation, and it doesn't even need to be that cold. Expensive though.

The other gloves I use in the winter are snowboard gloves, they're massive, but do provide good insulation. At this time of year, the bigger the glove, the more chance of staying warm

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arrieredupeleton | 9 years ago
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I suffer with this too. Aldi winter gloves (with or without a silk liner glove) are excellent. Just tried their lobster mits last weekend too and they are good also. They'll be sold out for this year now but there's always some floating around on ebay. You get all the benefits of your solution and they are pretty water proof unless its a deluge.

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Wooliferkins | 9 years ago
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Martin,
Just the dread glove disease Ergo Finger to cure now. I've lost count of the pair of gloves replaced as the finger used for changing gear wears through long before the end of the winter.

Liners worked for me as well, silk in my case courtesy of HM's finest aircrew.

I found DeFeets Wooliator socks a revelation for my feet. Loosened the shoes a little to allow the wool to do its thing and found my deep sea diver neoprene overshoes consigned to the bottom drawer for a considerably less bulky pair.

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