There’s a lot to consider on the quest for the best winter cycling gloves, so we’re breaking it down for you. Here’s a guide to what to look for, and highlights from the Terry collection to keep your hands toasty for many winter miles to come.
How to choose the best winter gloves for cycling
The best winter cycling gloves for you will be the ones that give you the warmth and comfort you need to enjoy the ride, and give you the grip and dexterity you need for the kind of riding you will be doing. That might mean more than one pair of winter gloves. Having a few options in different weights and materials, maybe worn in layers, lets you choose the best combination for the conditions you will ride in.
What to look for in a winter cycling glove.
Key Features of Winter Cycling Gloves
Cuffs and closures
The length and closure of the cuff can make a big difference to both your comfort and how practical a glove is for you. A long cuff keeps the wind from blowing up your sleeve, but whether it is close-fitting and meant to go under the sleeve, or looser and worn over the sleeve, can make a big difference. I often remove my glove while riding to grab something from a pocket, so I prefer over the top gloves with no closure. If you ride with a smart watch you might like the same approach. Others might like a snugger fitting cuff with a secure velcro or zipper closure.
It can be very convenient to pull off the trail and answer a call, or navigate with an app, without taking your gloves off. Look for this feature especially in lighter gloves.
Fit versus insulation
Look out for fit notes to see if a particular glove runs true to size of if you’ll need to size up or down. The goal is a snug fit without constriction. Loose or oversized gloves reduce your control over the handlebars and shifters. Undersized gloves are uncomfortable of course, but can also reduce circulation and make your hands colder.
Bulk is also part of the fit equation for cold-weather cycling gloves. Winter gloves for skiing and more general uses rely on thick layers of insulation to make them warm. Cycling gloves have to keep the bulk down to allow enough sensitivity for effective control of the bike. Finding the balance between warmth and dexterity that works for you is the trick to choosing your best winter bike gloves. Bear in mind that good wind blocking and water resistance can make a glove with less insulation feel warmer.
Fabric Choices for Winter Bike Gloves
If you prefer natural or sustainable fibers, there are good options with merino wool, especially in lighter gloves. Synthetic fibers are more often used in heavier cycling gloves, especially when the essential combination of water resistance, windproofing and breathability come into play. Fabrics like GoreTex, Gore Windstopper, and WindTex are well known choices, other brands may offer similar properties.
Are neoprene gloves good for cycling?
Neoprene might seem like a good option since it’s used for water sports in cold, wet conditions. It can be a good solution in pouring rain in warmer weather, but not so good in the winter. Although it is completely waterproof, is is not breathable at all. It will likely make you sweat more and then trap the moisture, which can lead to uncomfortable chills.
How Warm Do your Winter Cycling Gloves Need to Be?
Do your hands get cold during other activities in winter? What is the range of conditions you expect to ride in? The answers will give you a good idea of how much protection from the cold you need to look for.
The challenge is knowing which of the many materials will give you the amount of warmth you need. One important thing to bear in mind is breathability. A breathable glove allows moisture from sweat to evaporate, so the insulation can work as intended. A non-breathable glove with the same insulation will trap chilling dampness next to your skin. One fabric to avoid in the quest for warmth: cotton tends to hold moisture and lose any insulating value. Avoid cotton in any gloves and clothing you will use for strenuous activities in the cold.
Do you need padding in a winter cycling glove?
Padding helps reduce soreness by softening pressure points as well as absorbing shocks and vibrations from the road. Padded palms also reduce numbness by relieving pressure on the ulnar nerve in your hand. Different riders will have different sensitivities and tolerances around these issues, so it will take a little experimentation to find what works best for you.
Gloves made for mountain biking and road cycling will tend to have padding in different places, as your hands rest in different spots on flat versus drop handlebars.
What’s Best For Cold Weather Cycling – Gloves, Mittens or Both?
This comes down to how cold your hands get, what kind of conditions you will ride in, and the bike you will be riding.
For really cold conditions, mittens are warmer than gloves, because when your fingers are clustered together they do not lose heat as quickly as they do in gloves. On the other hand (pun intended), with mittens you give up dexterity and sensitivity, which can make it harder to use some brake and gear shifting setups.
“Lobster claw” mitts, or “lobster gloves,” allow a good compromise between warmth and finger movement for cyclists. Fingers are clustered together as in mittens, but there’s a split to allow some of your fingers to move separately. Some split mittens contain the first two fingers separately from the others, some contain only the pointer finger so the other three can huddle. Both styles make it much easier to use normal hand positions on the hoods, and operate brakes and gears with good control, while keeping fingers and hands warmer.
For those who are comfortable cycling in mittens, a great combination is an insulated glove inside a wind and waterproof shell mitt. You can add or remove the shell any time needed, and slip a hand warmer inside the shell next to your fingers when it gets really cold. My hands stay comfortable down to zero with a combination like this, but it wouldn’t allow enough dexterity to work the shifters well on a road bike.
Glove layering can also work to give additional warmth without losing too much control over shifters, similar to wearing a baselayer under a shell. A close fitting glove in a lightweight microfleece fabric, or a glove liner, inside a wind and waterproof glove, can actually be warmer than a heavier glove on its own.
Cycling Gloves For Cool Conditions – 60° to 45°
Just keeping chilly air off your fingers can be enough to keep you comfy in this temperature range. A thin glove or liner can do the job. Insulation and wind blocking are not so important, so look at features like grip, padding, touch screen friendliness.
Full fingers give more warmth than fingerless gloves, but these are breathable enough to stay comfortable for just the padding benefits on warmer rides.
More padding in a lightweight full finger cycling glove, great fit and feel.
Designed for rides above 50°, good padding with more fun color options.
Cycling Gloves For Chilly Rides – 45° to Near Freezing
Windblocking starts to make a real difference at these temps, and some insulation will be helpful if your hands tend to get cold.
Great padding and fit preserve dexterity with wind proofing, water resistance and breathability.
Merino wool blend, good grip, touchscreen compatible, and a stow-away windproof back when you need it.
A glove that converts to a mitt, and has a great set of features. Good grip, wind proofing, water resistance, breathability, touch screen friendly and great visibility.
Another convertible glove/mitten with great reflectivity.
Superior dexterity in a windproof, water-resistant, lightly insulated glove.
Windproof, water-resistant, lightly insulated with easy on/off and great comfort.
Cycling Gloves For Cold Rides – Freezing or below
Look for well insulated gloves with good wind blocking fabric. Layering gloves can keep you riding happily when it’s this cold, and switching to mitts if they work for you.
Half glove, half mitten, with wind proofing, water resistance, breathability, fleecy insulation and great padding.
Windproof, waterproof, insulated, mitten like warmth with added dexterity.
Designed to excel for cold wet rides, this glove may also reach below freezing with wind and water proofing, plus good insulation and breathability.
Cycling Gloves For Serious Cold – Well Below Freezing
Down in this temperature range we would look for heavy insulation, multiple layers, supplemental heat. However, there’s an option that does an end-run around gloves altogether: bar mitts.
The ulitmate deep winter cycling option. Almost like keeping your hands indoors while you’re out for a ride. If you ride in the deep cold often you will love this upgrade. Only works with flat bar setups.