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 winter cycling gloves are a must for comfortable cold weather riding – here's what to look for.
The best winter cycling gloves keep your hands both warm and dry however nasty the weather gets, but there are usually trade-offs in bulk and dexterity as protection increases
Look for windproof and waterproof outer shell fabrics, combined with soft, warm liners that keep you comfortable even if the weather seeps in
You want some reflective patches too for signalling and general visibility
Other useful features include a long cuff to overlap your jacket and touchscreen-friendly fingertips for operating your phone.
Let's get straight into it with some of the best winter cycling gloves we've reviewed and rated highly over the last few years.
Stolen Goat's Climb & Conquer 4 Seasons gloves look like a middling, not-that-cold-out affair – but don't be fooled. They are a properly capable design for riding fast in near-freezing temperatures, but are still comfy as things warm up.
Tester Mike writes: “The feel on the gloves once on is that of a mid-weight glove you'd expect to wear an outer barrier glove or mitten over, and I was rather sceptical as I rolled out on my first ride into about 2°C degrees and a biting wind. I'd packed a few pairs of backup gloves, knowing my tendency for frozen paws and the neighbourhood's propensity for random snow/sleet any time between the months of August and May inclusive. The first ten minutes or so, the feeling was that these would need something over the top soon – but that moment never came. Over the next three hours, with the temperature climbing to a balmy 5 or 6°C, my hands were quite happy. The dexterity was fine, and I was able to shift and operate my computer's buttons with no issues.
“All in all, for £35 I highly rate the Climb & Conquer gloves. I was sceptical at first, but a month or so's rides in a range of pre-spring temperatures has me thinking these will remain close to the front of the gloves shelf for some time to come. As a confirmed glove aficionado, I speak with some authority on what's hot and what's not – and these are quite the business. Yes, the lack of wipe patches or phone control is a niggle, but their main purpose is to keep hands happy, which they do brilliantly.”
The Bontrager Circuit Windshell Cycling Gloves are effective and comfortable in typical spring or autumn conditions, keeping out the worst of the weather while still offering impressive grip.
Tester George writes: “As you might expect from a pair of gloves with 'windshell' in the name, their key selling point is their windproofing and it is impressive. Despite having minimal insulation, the gloves keep cold air out very effectively, and I found that with a thin pair of liner gloves underneath they were fine for rides that started at near-freezing, then I could remove the liners once the temperature began to rise.
“These are very good gloves for typical spring and autumn conditions, with very little not to like. The only criticism I can really think of is that the label inside that you cut out is huge – with 15 languages on it. Aside from this, the Circuits are windproof, practical, grippy, and work well with touchscreens. They do everything you need transitional season gloves to do, without fuss or fanfare.”
Tester Liam writes: “The Bontrager Velocis Softshell Cycling Gloves are fantastic for the depths of winter. They are incredibly warm, block all wind and stand up to some pretty heavy rain. The dexterity is decent too, and the fingertips work well enough on a touchscreen. I'm almost looking forward to next winter.
“Bontrager uses 200g Thinsulate for a recommended temperature range of -7°C to 7°C, and I did get to use them on sub-zero days – if not right down to minus seven. Certainly I never reached their lower limit. Even when stopped or descending long hills, I never felt any sense of my hands getting cold. The warmth is impressive, though once it turns mild they can get a bit sweaty.
“At £59.99 they're a decent amount of cash to put down on a pair of gloves but for me, it's well spent if you're looking for warmth above all else. All in, with the excellent warmth on sub-zero days, decent breathability, good resistance to rain and excellent comfort, the Bontrager Velocis Softshell Cycling Gloves are a great buy for the deepest of winters.”
Castelli's Mortirolo gloves are a mid-weight design for milder days when deep winter gloves can get a bit sweaty. They're pricey, but they work very well, and do so for the majority of our British winter days and well into spring.
Tester Liam writes: “The Mortirolos are perfect for those days when it's hovering below 10°C. Castelli gives them a temperature range of 7-15°C, but I'd go a little lower: I found their effective temperature range to be between 5°C if I was on a harder ride – therefore keeping myself a bit warmer – and about 14°C on easier days and especially, for that upper range, the roll down the hill to the office. The exact range the gloves are best in will depend on your own personal thermometer, but to give you a guide, my hands suffer from the cold in anything below about 5°C.
“With these Castellis, the question will be whether you have the cash to throw at them. They're great gloves, minus a few frustrations with the zip, and the temperature range means you'll get a lot of use out of them.”
The Velotoze Waterproof Gloves are an excellent option for early-season racing where rain, cold temperatures and bitter winds are common. The slim design and stretchy material result in exceptional dexterity and feel of the bar. Hands do become very sweaty in milder weather, though.
Normal neoprene gloves keep your hands warm in the rain by trapping a layer of water and letting your body heat keep the water warm. This provides a barrier between you and the cold. That's the theory, anyway.
Velotoze has added a waterproof outer layer to its version of neoprene cycling gloves. This creates a glove that is both waterproof and windproof, while still being incredibly close-fitting and lightweight. It does make for sweaty hands when temperatures rise, though.
This latest incarnation of Decathlon's top-model Triban 900 Winter Cycling Gloves features a few handy (sorry) improvements over the previous version that makes them among the best winter gloves for the money – and they stand comparison with gloves costing twice as much.
Decathlon says these gloves are designed to keep your hands toasty down to zero Celsius, and that's exactly what they do. They also do a surprisingly good job of fending off the wet for gloves that make no claim to being more than 'water-repellent'.
What we have here is a softshell outer glove with a fleece lining sewn in, and a soft, flexible palm in Chicron synthetic suede. The fleece lining keeps your hands warm, the softshell stops the wind dead in its tracks and fends off showers, while the palm provides decent grip, and the fingertips have patches of conductive stuff so you can operate a touchscreen.
The 100% Brisker women’s gloves are a great set of winter warmers for moderate to chilly days. The softshell backing keeps the worst of the wind at bay, they're hardwearing and a single-layer palm means there's still a great feel on the bars. At this price, there’s no reason not to have a pair for winter riding.
The softshell back of the hand feels a bit like neoprene and is pretty windproof, although it doesn’t claim to be, and it stays pretty warm even when soaked through. Better still, the palm is a single layer of suede-like material, for a feel on the bars that's like wearing a summer glove, despite the extra protection.
These gloves are an extremely hardwearing addition to any winter cycling wardrobe, give good protection in typical UK winters and don't interfere with control. They're tester Rachel's ‘go-to’ winter glove and she says she can’t see them being beaten any time soon – and at £27 they're a bargain too.
The Bioracer Glove One Tempest Pixel Protect winter gloves are excellent when the mercury heads south, insulating your hands from the cold and doing a great job of keeping out rain, but they also perform really well as the temperature rises, stopping your hands from overheating and getting sweaty.
Tester Adam used these gloves in the middle of winter on both longer group rides and shorter training rides, with temperatures around 8°C to 2°C. Bioracer's Tempest Protect insulation works really well, and kept his hands warm no matter what the weather threw at them. However, what really surprised was how well they handled warmer temperatures.
Often in the winter, a ride will start off fairly chilly but as the sun comes up the heat also rises. This typically results in sweaty hands and having to choose between keeping your gloves on or bracing the cold. The Bioracers, though, are surprisingly breathable for such a well-insulated glove, managing to wick sweat away and keep your hands comfortable throughout the day. Not having sweaty hands by the end of a long ride was fantastic.
Tester Emma Silversides described the Castelli Perfetto RoS Women's Gloves as "excellent, fleece-lined winter warmers with impressively little bulk." They might be pricey, but for your £65 you get a dexterous pair of mitts that stay warm even when they're soaked through. The recommended temperature range is from 10° down to 6° C, but our tester went as low as 3° and found things largely fine. The Gore-Tex Infinium outer shell is plenty windproof, and light persistent rain is no problem. The fleece lining isn't the cosiest but it does a good job of retaining heat – despite it being so thin you hardly lose any dexterity.
Overall, these gloves are a luxurious option for those mornings that start out cold, or afternoons when temperatures quickly fall away.
With a few clever details that really help them do their job well, Galibier's Barrier Deep Winter Gloves ensure toasty hands when temperatures drop to low single figures and below, and at a very very reasonable price.
The warmth comes from the combination of a fleece internal glove and windproof layers over the top to keep out the chill. That's enough to keep your hands toasty even if things get a bit damp. The softshell outer layer resists water for a while, but if it's really bucketing down it eventually gets through.
The Dissent 133 Ultimate Glove Pack really is just that, and will easily see you through an autumn, winter and spring of road and commuter riding. We never found conditions where these couldn't be used, making them excellent value compared with the three sets of gloves you'd otherwise buy.
You get a silk liner glove, knitted thermal layer, a windproof shell layer and finally a waterproof shell layer. All these layers can be worn individually, and Dissent 133 provides a guide of what to wear in specific conditions.
Endura's Pro SL Primaloft Waterproof Gloves are warm enough even for freezing temperatures without being bulky, and they live up to their billing by keeping the rain out. Tester Mat Brett made these his favourite gloves last winter; they were the gloves he used day in and day out and they never let him down.
For a start, they're warm, and you really don't want to make any compromises there. You know that person who always gets cold on a ride before everyone else? That's our Mat, but he suffered no numb fingers in these gloves and his hands only felt the slightest bit cold in freezing temperatures. Being waterproof, they're also windproof so cold air can't blow through, and Primaloft Gold insulation keeps the warmth in.
Giro's Proof 'freezing weather' cycling gloves provide windproofing, comfortable palms, decent dexterity and, most importantly, warmth down to below zero. They are pretty much perfect for winter riding.
My issues this winter have occurred on my sub-one-mile ride to work. The issue is, it's all downhill and my hands have frozen on any day that isn't above 5°C. So when, on my first ride in the Giro Proof gloves, I arrived at the office with working hands, I was rather impressed.
Altura's Micro Fleece Gloves feature a very simple design that works very well. There's fantastic grip, a windproof back and soft fabric. I've used these for road riding, cyclo-cross and mountain biking. They've impressed me every time.
Altura seem to have gone back to basics with the Micro Fleece gloves. The cheapest in Altura's glove range, they come in at £16.99 and they Just Work™. There's no fancy frills to be found here. That's not to say that they felt cheap, or poorly constructed. I've put these through some very muddy abuse causing no issues with premature wear.
Link above is for extra-extra-large gloves. Sizes small to extra-large are £15.99.
If total thermal comfort is the name of the game for you when temperatures dip below freezing, the Giro 100 Proof gloves have to be right up there on your shortlist.
You'll notice from our images that the glove is lobster-like, grouping two fingers together into each compartment. The design has a clear advantage over individually fingered gloves, allowing the circulation and resulting heat that gets to your fingers to build more effectively in a closed system.
Of course, this comes with the obvious downside of loss of dexterity, although with these it's still fairly easy to actuate mechanical shifts, as long as you're not in a hurry to get them. Spend a split second longer to find the shifter, and 99 times out of 100 you shift slickly and relatively precisely. Electronic shifting is another matter, though.
When the temperature reaches freezing the Gore Wear Gore-Tex Thermo Gloves keep on going, keeping out the best that Mother Nature can throw at them. Truly awesome!
It was -6°C according to my Garmin, and my evening's ride was being cut short as my leg muscles, feet and face weren't really feeling the love. My hands, though, they were toasty as hell. Normally at this temperature I'd be using a pair of liners but the Gore Thermos weren't even struggling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
GripGrab's Windsters are good quality, wind and water proof gloves that allow for lever grip combined with smartphone usability.
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.
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.
The goal of winter cycling 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.
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.
Winter cycling 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 cycling 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There's a lot of choice in gloves. Here's a look at the full spectrum:
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.
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.
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.
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 come with varying amounts of insulation, with that being a trade-off between warmth and bulk.
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 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.
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.
In previous editions of this article, lots of you have offered your tips and tricks for preventing numb hands on chilly rides. Here are some of the best:
michophull said: "No matter what sort of gloves you use, before you go out, give them 20 minutes on the radiator to warm up. I did this today for my 0 degrees commute and it prevented my usual experience of frozen fingertips upon arrival at work. It's also worth getting some of those single use toe-warmers to stick in your shoes for longer rides."
riotgibbon added: "I got the Rapha deep-winter+ liners in the sale off the back off this piece and comments, I lost my old Thinsulate ones last year, so needed a new pair of something substantial, and they were excellent this morning, 1.5 hours in -5 to -2. My other fallback is a Prendas roubaix glove inside old Castelli neoprenes. That seems to do the trick too."
deborah commented: "Only lobster gloves will work for me in cold temperatures, meaning less that 5C. Otherwise, my fingers freeze, get numb and then can't work the gears or brakes. Feel get frozen but they numb it so somehow not as bad."
LastBoyScout said: "I've been using Sealskinz gloves for the last couple of winters - both a pair of road ones that I can't remember the name of and a pair of the hi-viz all-weather XP ones. Both great, use a liner when it's really cold.
"I struggle to find gloves where the fingers are the right length and my thumbs aren't rammed into the ends - going up a size generally ends up as too baggy all over.
"Other top tip for warm fingers is keeping your arms and wrists warm. Both my softshell jackets have a stretch panel on the forearms which seems a good idea for fit, but means I can get cool forearms and therefore cold fingers. One is worse than the other for it."
Ozpedal advises: "Winter glove recommendations are subject to numerous variables, hence my only advice is to make sure your hands and gloves are warm before you ride, in the belief that if you put cold hands in cold gloves, there will be only one result. So I preheat my gloves in the oven, and if I can't do that (for example if I'm driving to a ride start point), I'll stuff them in my jersey against my body, or next to the car's heaters."
johnmarchment said: "Firstly I must declare a vested interest, I helped design the Dissent 133 products from TheRiderFirm (Hunt Bike Wheels). However, I have suffered from cold hands for years and found that this system is always able to keep my hands warm, even down to an admittedly dry, minus 7degC on two rides last winter.
"They work really well in dealing with the curse of wet plus cold, which usually tests any gloves to the limit especially on a road ride. The waterproof outer has a one-piece breathable membrane which avoids the problem of the liner pulling out when you take the gloves off. The full system has four gloves, two outers and two liners. Unlike the lobster claws they still work with electronic shifting.
"You can buy the items individually or in three different pack combinations, which include a case (which doubles as a laptop case if you do not use it for the gloves) and a set of drying hangers to make it easy and quick to dry the insides. One of the guys at Hunt has what is verging on Reynard's desease and he uses them on his 15 mile commute from Brighton every day all year round."
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