As all cyclists know, in winter it’s the extremities that freeze first. No matter how warm the rest of your body, if your hands become too cold, it’s game over on enjoying your ride. Getting a pair of the best winter cycling gloves to keep your fingers functioning, will make a world of difference in the colder months.
Do cycling gloves make a difference?
Unlike ski gloves, the best winter cycling gloves cannot depend on super-thick padding because we need to retain sensitivity so that brakes, shifters and Di2 buttons can be operated and cycling computer screens swiped.
So keeping out the wind is crucial: fabrics such as Gore Windstopper and the similar WindTex will do this, and feature on the best winter cycling gloves, as well as offering water repellency and breathability. The inner padding and/or membrane varies from glove to glove and on what sort of temperature the glove is aimed at, whether deep winter or chilly and wet.
Cuff design is also a key element of the best winter cycling glove design, not to mention its performance, and the sort you go for depends on personal preference. Some have zips, others have Velcro, some have an elastic gathering and it’s common for a glove to have no mechanism at all, relying on the stretch of the cuff fabric.
In many ways, this is the best and most user-friendly method. But if you wear a watch or on of the best smartwatches for cycling: wrist based performance pushers , the cuff can make it awkward to wear and use.
Best winter cycling gloves
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Castelli Perfetto RoS gloves
Using the latest Gore Infinium Windstopper fabric, the Castelli Perfetto RoS gloves manage that difficult balance between adequate insulation, water repellence and windproofing on the one hand and bar feel and ride comfort on the other.
With a light fleece lining, there’s enough warmth to keep the hands warm and even after hours of light rain, they stay dry. Once the water does make it in, your hands stay warm and there’s enough dexterity to work the controls and keep yourself fed as you ride.
Read the full review: Castelli Perfetto RoS gloves
See more UK: Castelli Perfetto RoS at Tredz for £65.00
Altura Firestorm Reflective Gloves
Price: £39.99 (UK only)
Softshell main body fabric, and an Amara suede palm, the Firestorm gloves provide plenty of protection from the elements. They’ll not be a total barrier in downpour, but they will keep the worst off and ditto for windchill and the ‘Altura Dry Technology’ fabric is true to its word in being quick wicking.
On test these gloves have kept my hands warm and mostly dry throughout the harsh winter months, and they’ve remained in good condition proving their durability. A great pair of gloves for the money, but watch the sizing on this unisex pair.
Read the full review: Altura Firestorm Reflective gloves
See more UK: Altura Firestorm at Cycle Store for £27.99
Santini 365 Origine Long Finger Gloves
Price: £30/ $TBC
On test the Santini 365 Origine Long Finger Gloves get the balance exactly right between low bulk, warmth, light weight and good dexterity. They are also comfortable thanks to stretchy fabrics, a smooth construction and a good fit.
In showers they’re pretty good thanks to the lack of synthetic suede, although the Windstopper fabric does eventually wet out in heavy rain.
Read the full review: Santini 365 Origine Long Finger Gloves
Lusso Windtex Thermo Stealth Gloves
Price: £57/ $40.32
Lusso’s gloves look, feel and perform in a way that’s very much on par with gloves twice the price. They’re warm, breathable and comfortable to wear. The primary material is a Windtex Membrane Thermal fabric, which extends from the high cuff all the way to the fingers on the outside. It’s stretchy and the high elasticity means this fit close to the skin without needing to be so tight they’re hard to remove.
The windproof gloves are water repellent and come with a snuggly fleecy liner for great warmth. The padding might be a little excessive for some, but then riders who struggle with numb hands – via cold or pressure on the handlebar – will take this as a plus.
Read the full review: Lusso Windtex Thermo Stealth Gloves
Sealskinz Waterproof Cold Weather Gloves with Fusion Control
Price: £75.00/ $95.00
Sealskinz describes its trademarked Fusion Control technology as revolutionary. It consists of three layers: a merino wool inner layer, a hydrophilic waterproof membrane, and a durable goatskin with soft-shell outer layer.
On test these provided very good protection on a cold and windy day, with a secure, but not overly tight feel. The goatskin palms were great for control of bars and shifters too. The triple layers are bulky, so best to crack out when the temperatures really plummet.
Read the full review: Sealskinz Waterproof Cold Weather Gloves with Fusion Control
Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves
Price: £80/ $110
The Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves are priced high but they’re comfortable, stylish, low-bulk and perform exceptionally well at temperatures down to just above freezing.
In rain, the backs keep out the water thanks to a DWR coating that makes raindrops bead off, but the synthetic suede palms absorb it.
Great for chilly days with minimal rain, perfect for a winter league racing.
Read the full review: Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves
See more UK: Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves at Rapha for £80
See more US: Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves at Rapha for $110
Assos Assosoires Winter Gloves
Price: £70/ $89
The Assos Assosoires Winter Gloves have all the quality and style you’d expect at this price and from this brand, but they are not for the very coldest days or the very rainiest days – Assos has specific gloves for those conditions. Instead they are versatile all-rounders that should get a lot of use in milder winters.
The offer great dexterity, workable touch screen fingertips and great wind blocking, but the palm foam and gel paddling arrangement might not be to everyone’s taste.
Read the full review: Assos Assosoires Winter Gloves
See more UK: Assos Assosoires Winter Gloves at wiggle for £70
See more US: Assos Assosoires Winter Gloves at wiggle for $89
Specialized Prime Series Thermal Gloves
Price: £40/ $45
More of a mild winter option, the Specialized Prime Series Thermal Gloves have about a 5°C lower limit, ideal for the majority of chillier autumn and spring riding.
The Polartec Neoshell backs are as totally waterproof as Polartec claims, but as the AX suede palms are ‘hydrophobic’, they’re not waterproof, so badged as water resistant. On test we found they can happily withstand a light shower or drizzle no problem.
Breathability is good for the upper temperatures – but if your hands do get hot these gloves are light and packable enough to stash in a pocket.
Read the full review: Specialized Prime Series Thermal Gloves
Gore C3 Gore-Tex Infinium glove
Price: £50.00/ $52.46
The all-encompassing ‘Gore-Tex Infinium’ is a direct replacement for Gore’s venerable Windstopper range of fabrics, creating a weather proof and breathable technical kit.
The Gore C3 Gore-Tex Infinium glove utilises a couple of variations of this material for its construction in order to provide protection without packing on the bulk of a ‘typical’ winter glove.
We found there was no denying that the Gore C3 Gore-Tex Infinium glove is completely windproof, with its fleece backing able to help your hands cope with some serious biting winds. The only downer was that the fit wasn’t perfect for us, but might be for you.
Read the full review: Gore C3 Gore-Tex Infinium glove here
GripGrab Ride Waterproof Winter cycling gloves
The gloves from Danish company GripGrab are well suited to UK conditions. The Ride Waterproof Winter gloves feature a breathable membrane, and retain heat when it’s cold. The long cuff extends some way over the wrist and uses a Velcro tab to close.
The company’s DoctorGel pad features at the heel of the palm, and it’s in just the right place when riding on the hoods. The palm, forefinger and middle fingertips use silicone for grip and there’s a touch screen tip on the thumb as well as a terry back. There’s a reflective dot pattern on the bottom half of the back.
These gloves balance warmth with breathability well and the waterproofing is effective.
Read the full review: GripGrab Ride Waterproof winter cycling gloves here
See more UK: Grip Grab winter cycling glove at Wiggle for £58.95
Buy now in the US: Grip Grab winter cycling glove at Wiggle for $78.99
Endura Deluge II winter cycling gloves
These gloves from Endura use 40g Thinsulate padding for insulation and a single panel of durable windproof fabric on the back, with a terry nosewipe. There’s a reflective fabric between the fingers and on the thumb and palm outer.
A soft, synthetic suede covers the palm, with printed silicone lines for grip – plus gel pads at the heel of the hand. Elastic and Velcro control volume at the cuff.
These are lightweight compared to others on test, and aren’t designed for the coldest weather – but at 5°C are perfectly adequate. As the name suggests, they really perform in wet weather – the insides feature a (truly) waterproof, breathable membrane. You could virtually wash the dishes in the Enduras.
Endura FS260-Pro Nemo winter cycling gloves
We saw these a while ago now, but are still a popular choice for their simple but effective design. Constructed from neoprene, these waterproof gloves keep cold moisture out, but aren’t the most breathable.
Padding gives way to a silicone print on the palm, so a true minimalist construction, but the unhindered flexibility means these are a great grab and go winter glove.
Read the full review: Endura FS260-Pro Nemo Gloves
DeFeet E-Touch Dura winter cycling gloves
Great lightweight glove for autumn/ fall and early spring. The DeFeet E-Touch mean using your touchscreen device no longer require glove removal. They are reasonably bulky, but if you can get them below a pair of deep winter gloves for a liner, it will help keep your hands functioning when you have to use your screen.
Read the full review: DeFeet E-Touch Dura winter cycling gloves
See more UK: DeFeet E-Touch Dura Gloves from Wiggle from £17.99
Loffie Adult 2.0 cycling gloves
It’s hard to miss what sets these gloves apart. The massive silicon smile on the palm – matched with a reflective one on the back – makes friendly waves more meaningful.
Our reviewer also found that the comic absurdity of carrying around a massive smiley face made it easier to not get riled up by inconsiderate motorists.
In terms of performance, the gloves did a good job of warding off the winter chills and, although only rated as water resistant, they coped well with light showers thanks to the DWR coating.
They are a little roomy, but there is a liner that these gloves can be paired with which takes up some of the space and also provides a little extra warmth. For those with particularly small hands it could be worth giving the children’s version a try though.
Read the full review: Loffie Adult 2.0 cycling gloves
See more UK: Loffie Adult 2.0 cycling gloves at Loffie for £35
See more US: Loffie Adult 2.0 cycling gloves at Loffie for $46.76
What are the best gloves for cycling?
Finding a pair of the best winter cycling gloves with good protection against the cold is essential. 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 gears.
The best winter cycling gloves are crucial in order to maintain warmth and keep the dexterity required to ride a bike safely.
Here’s what to look for in the best winter cycling gloves
Thermal and Wind Protection
The first layer of protection on the best winter cycling gloves should be an impermeable windproof layer designed, as you can guess from the name, to keep cold air and wind away from your hands.
One of the most popular fabrics for this is Gore’s Windstopper fabric, or Infinium as it’s also known as, something that is used in the the best winter cycling gloves of many brands aside from Gore itself, although there are some other options that can 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.
The second line of protection in the best winter cycling gloves 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.
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.
No one like riding in the rain, but if you’re going to keep your training up through the winter, then you’re going to want the best winter cycling glove for the weather.
In milder 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.
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 on the best winter cycling gloves 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.
Particularly if you’re heading out in breezy conditions, the best winter cycling gloves will have long cuffs to help keep that chilly north easterly out of your sleeves.
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.
If your jacket has loose sleeves then it’s worth getting a pair of gloves with a tight cuff, over which you can pull the sleeves of your jacket. This is also the case when it’s raining. If your jacket is waterproof, then the rain bead off the arms and end up filling the gloves from the top like a bucket. Velcro straps or zipps will help mitigate this slightly, but tucking in is the best form of rain defence.
When the weather is dry, then running cuffs over sleeves is by far an easier option, especially if you have to remove your gloves to use a touchscreen.
If you do find yourself running hot in the middle of a winter club run, pulling down cuffs can be a good way to cool off relatively quickly as your blood runs so close to the skin at the wrist, this can be an excellent place to control your body temperature.
Riding on wet or even icy roads can be treacherous, so being completely in control of your bike is more essential than ever. Even holding on to the handlebars in the wet can be difficult, particularly if you’re using smooth bar tape.
With this in mind the best winter cycling glove will have a slightly tacky surfaces on the palm to make sure you can maintain a secure grip on both the bars and the brake levers.
If you feel the need to upload a gritty Instagram selfie to show your mates just how hard you are for heading out when it’s 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 some of the best winter cycling gloves now come with fingertips specially designed to be used with touchscreens.
The best winter cycling gloves will also have an absorbent patch, usually located on the thumb with which to wipe your ever running nose, and it’s also useful for wiping rain and road grime off cycling glasses.
Another important thing the best winter cycling gloves will have, or not have in this case is seams. The last thing you want is big seams on the inside of the gloves that will dig into your hands or between fingers, which could prove to be an irritating after a few hours in the saddle.
How to keep your hands warm when riding a bike:
If your fingers are frozen, it’s vital to get them warm and functioning again asap. As one of only three touch points with your bike, loosing radio communication with your hands is not only painful, but it can be dangerous too. Investing in a pair of the best cycling gloves for winter will not only make your rides in the coldest temperatures more enjoyable, but also much safer for you.
There are also some good to know ways of keeping hands warm when riding other than just your bike gloves:
- Pump it up: The best way to warm up it to get the blood pumping with some extra efforts. Knock it down a gear and up the pace.
- Shake it out: Your hands are pretty static when riding, which minimises the blood flow. Giving the a shake out, flist clenching and finger wiggling from the off will help blood reach them.
- Stay dry: Wet hands mean cold hands. If you’re heading out in the rain opt for waterproof gloves, and pack a spare pair in a waterproof bag for a glove change at the half way point. Your fingers will love you for carrying the extra load.
- Block the wind: Choose wind blocking fabrics and ensure your gloves and jersey have a windproof transition to prevent chilly gaps.
- Decaffeinate: Caffine can constrict the blood vessels and trigger an attack of Raynaud’s if you’re a sufferer. So avoid too much coffee, tea and chocolate.
- Stop: Toughing it out can make things worse. A quick pit stop with your hands under your armpits can help get them back up to temperature and home much faster than trying to continue slowly with painful hands.
- Add warmth: Add a heat pack, take a thermal water bottle and glove liners (as long as you still have space to wiggle fingers).
Finally, if none on the above helps your hands stay warm, consider other factors such as your handle bar set up, read more in our Expert bike fit advice and no how pages. You might find that a tweak in your front end set up is enough to regain the blood flow to your hands.
Combined with the best winter cycling gloves, these tips should keep you pedaling through even the coldest of months, and enjoying cycling 356 days of the year.