To maintain comfort once the cold wind starts to bite, a quality pair of winter gloves are essential. The extremities feel the cold first, so good insulation is critical, but breathability is also important, as nobody enjoys sweaty hands

Numb fingers are one of the worst afflictions facing cyclists hammering out the miles over winter. Losing the feeling in your digits due to the cold is unpleasant, and can be dangerous if your braking speed is affected. A good pair of cycling gloves can go a long way to reducing, or completely eliminating, this loss of feeling and will certainly make you more comfortable.

Cycling gloves have come on a long way in the last fifty years. Thermal fabrics can now be made windproof, whilst retaining elasticity and manufacturing methods have also improved.

Overlocking (the reinforcing of minimal seams) has improved strength whilst reducing bulk. Reducing bulk is important in gloves, as bulkier gloves sacrifice dexterity.

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Waterproof membranes are more fit for purpose than before, being thinner and more permeable to water vapour. All in all, great news for maintaining body heat.

One major benefit of all this progression is that gloves can now keep your hands (and more importantly fingers) warm in some pretty serious conditions.

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We’ve assembled our best reviewed winter cycling gloves. There are options to suit a vast range of conditions.

The three key variables when creating a winter glove are weather proofing, breathability and dexterity. In most cases, where the former is beefed up, breathability and dexterity suffer.

However, some brands have found ways around this – for example in incorporating the highly flexible fabric Neoprene, often used in wetsuits, as per the Endura FS260. This isn’t breathable, but the moisture generated by your sweat is kept warm. Another common technique is combining some fingers into pockets, which means warmth is shared and empty (cold) airspace limited.

If even the warmest of deep winter gloves don’t seem to be enough for you, then it’s possible to purchase thin gloves to use as a liner – like the DeFeet E-Touch Dura Gloves – these are usually fairly inexpensive and can be used alone between seasons.

Our pick of the best winter cycling gloves

Endura FS260-Pro Nemo Gloves – £27.99

Endura FS260-Pro Nemo Gloves

Endura FS260-Pro Nemo Gloves

Review score: 9

Constructed using Neoprene, these light and flexible gloves keep moisture generated by your own body in and rainwater out. The idea is that whilst breathability is low, your body heat warms sweat and keeps your digits toasty. Such a glove isn’t for everyone, but if you get on with the concept they could be your perfect match.

Read our full review of the Endura FS260-Pro-Nemo gloves here

Specialized Element 2.0 gloves – £45

Specialized Element 2.0 gloves

Specialized Element 2.0 gloves

Review score: 9

Don’t want to go ‘full lobster’ (eg all fingers bunched in one pocket)? Then this semi-lobster creation from the big S might suit. Your brake/gear operating fingers stay separate, but little finger and its neighbour are in one, spreading the warmth.

Windstopper fabric keeps the breeze out, and these are touch-screen friendly.

Read our full review of the Specialized Element 2.0 gloves here 

GripGrab Polaris gloves – £60

GripGrab Polaris gloves

GripGrab Polaris gloves

Review score: 9

Using 4mm of insulation and a single gel pad over the base of the palm, these gloves are warm without being too bulky. The long cuff keeps the chill out, too. A bit pricey at RRP – but these do combine a high level of warmth with a low level of bulk which makes for comfortable riding.

Read our full review of the GripGrab Polaris gloves here 

Gore Universal Windstopper Mid Gloves – £49.99

Gore Universal Windstopper Mid Gloves

Gore Universal Windstopper Mid Gloves

Suited to autumn, spring and early winter – when you don’t quite want a thick pair of gloves, but need a little more protection than cycling mitts can offer. These are well insulated, but not so thick that you lose the feel of the handlebars.

Review score: 9

Read our full review of the Gore Universal Windstopper Mid Gloves here

DeFeet E-Touch Dura Gloves – £17.99

DeFeet E-Touch Dura Gloves

DeFeet E-Touch Dura Gloves

Review score: 9

A lightweight pair of autumn to early winter gloves, designed to be compatible with touch screen devices. Come winter-proper, these can be used as liner gloves beneath a more heavyweight pair, too.

Read our full review of the DeFeet E-Touch Dura Gloves here

SealSkinz Ultra Grip Hi Vis Gloves – £35

Review score: 9

Waterproof, windproof and comfortable – the ‘Aqua Dynamic design’ keeps the conditions out whilst remaining stretchy and breathable. For £35, we think SealSkinz is doing well to offer that they call ‘complete wet weather and wind proofing’ protection.

Read our full review of the SealSkinz Ultra Grip Hi Vis Gloves here

What to look for

Thermal and Wind Protection

There’s nothing worse than finding yourself in the middle of a long ride in the depths of winter, miles from home, with blocks of ice on the end of your arms where your hands used to be, making it all but impossible to brake, let alone change gear.

So with this in mind, finding a pair of winter cycling gloves with good protection against the cold.

capo winter gloves

Look for an outer layer that will keep the wind at bay

The first layer of protection should be an impermeable windproof layer designed, as you can guess from the name, to keep cold air and wind away from your hands.

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One of the most popular fabrics for this is Gore’s Windstopper fabric, something that is used in the winter cycling gloves of many brands aside from Gore itself, although there are plenty of other options that work just as well.

These fabrics should work to keep the elements out while still being breathable enough to prevent your hands from overheating and getting sweaty.

rapha winter gloves red

You’ll want gloves with a good layer of thermal protection to keep warm air in

The second line of protection is a thermal layer designed not only to keep the cold air away from your skin, but also to make sure that any warm air generated by your hands is maintained and not allowed to escape.

>>> Buyer’s guide to arm warmers

What’s important with the thermal layer is that, unlike with skiing gloves for example, it can’t be too thick, as you need to maintain your dexterity to be able to feel which lever your finger is on to change gear and to be able to manipulate the brake lever.

Waterproof Protection

No one like riding in the rain, but if you’re going to keep your training up through the British winter (or summer for that matter), then you’re going to want some decent gloves for the weather.

gripgrab neoprene gloves

Neoprene gloves, such as these GripGrab ones, are good options for wet but mild weather

In mild weather it’s not actually necessary to have completely waterproof gloves. The saying goes that your skin is waterproof, so as long as you have gloves that keep your hands warm, they don’t necessarily need to keep you dry.

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pearl izumi softshell winter gloves

If you’re heading out in really grim weather, you’ll want some winter cycling gloves to keep you dry as well as warm

However when the temperature drops a bit more, and the rain (and even snow) begins to fall, then you’re going to want some more serious winter cycling gloves with an outer layer that will keep the precipitation at bay.

Like any windproof outer layer, a waterproof layer should be impermeable to the outside elements to keep your hands dry, but should also be breathable to prevent your hands overheating, particularly over the course of long rides.

Cuff length

Particularly if you’re heading out in breezy conditions, you’re generally going to want your winter cycling gloves to have nice long cuffs to help keep that chilly north easterly out of your sleeves.

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However it’s not just a case of the bigger the better, and you’re going to want to get a pair of gloves that complement your choice of jersey or jacket if you’re going to be nice and cosy while putting in those long winter miles.

specialized deflect winter glove cuff velcroThis means you’ve got a decision to make as to whether you wear the cuff of the gloves over the top or underneath the cuff of your jacket.

If you’re jacket has loose sleeves then it may well be worth getting a pair of gloves that with a tight cuff over which you can pull the sleeves of your jacket.

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However if you’re wearing a long sleeve jersey or tighter jacket, particularly one without elasticated cuffs, then pulling this over the top of the gloves might be difficult.

In this case look for gloves that have a looser cuff into which you can tuck your sleeves, and ideally try to find ones with a velcro strap to enable you to tighten the cuff around the jacket once the gloves are on.

winter glove short cuffThat said, if you’re more of a fair weather rider who isn’t best keen on cycling through Arctic conditions, or just a rider who is prone to overheating during riding, then slightly shorter cuffed winter cycling gloves may be better.

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Because your blood runs so close to the skin at the wrist, this can be an excellent place to control your body temperature.

So if you find yourself getting a bit hot in the middle of a winter club run, then pulling down some low cuffs can be a good way to cool off relatively quickly.

Palms

Riding on wet or even icy roads can be treacherous, so being completely in control of your bike is more essential than ever.

The bad news is that if your handlebars are wet then it can be difficult to keep a secure hold on the bars, particularly if you’re using smooth bar tape.

specialized element winter glove palm grip

With this in mind you want a little bit of a tacky surface on the palm of your winter cycling gloves to make sure you can maintain a secure grip on both the bars and the brake levers.

Other Features

If you feel the need to upload a gritty Instagram selfie to show your mates just how hard you are for heading out when its blowing a gale and hammering it down with rain, then you’re going to need to be able to prod away at your smartphone screen.

With this in mind many winter cycling gloves now come with fingertips specially designed to be used with touchscreens.

winter glove palm grip touchscreenFor when the temperature rises, it’s useful to have a sweat patch, usually located on the thumb with which to mop your brow and stop sweat from dripping into your eyes.

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Another important thing to have to keep your hands comfortable is minimal seams. The last thing you want is big seams on the inside of the gloves that will dig into your hands and could prove to be an irritance after a few hours in the saddle.

You could also find them unravelling after a few months of use.

How we score

10 – Superb, best in its class and we couldn’t fault it
9 – Excellent, a slight change and it would be perfect
8 – Brilliant, we’d happily buy it
7 – Solid, but there’s better out there
6 – Pretty good, but not quite hitting the mark
5 – Okay, nothing wrong with it, but nothing special
4 – A few niggles let this down
3 – Disappointing
2 – Poor, approach with caution
1 – Terrible, do not buy this product

  • Jens Fournais

    What is the warmest shoe cover & gloves in the market ?

  • wesawithappen

    I agree! I still haven’t found a solution for places where it actually gets cold enough to snow in the winter. Lumping 3C in with -10C (still very doable if conditions are dry) isn’t very helpful at all.

  • Nicklas

    What about rating the nice Assos gloves, that you pictured on the link on Facebook to this gloves-test??

  • Andrew Bairsto

    After some advice I started to use Aldi waterproof mittens and cotton gloves underneath never had cold hands since even here in Germany where it reach -20 grad regularly.

  • Nic Lowe

    The 3 finger gloves or layered mitts are the best way to go when it’s properly cold.

  • Johannes_O

    Heh 3°C is seriously cold? That’s spring-time warm weather to me. Any glove can handle that. When it’s 25 degrees below freezing, then it’s a bit cold. Give me gloves that handle that 🙂