With winter approaching fast, Rutland Cycling staff rider Adam outlines the benefits of a good pair of cycling gloves, and reviews some of the best cold-weather gloves on the market.
Cycling gloves are one of the first items I reach for when planning a ride. Not only because I like to keep my hands warm, but also because if I was to fall, the first thing that’s likely to hit the ground is my hands.
All weather cycling gloves are an absolute necessity at this time of year, due to the cold and often damp weather conditions. Anybody who has ridden a bike in cold weather without a pair will no doubt understand what I mean. It’s hard to enjoy a ride when all you can think about is the lack of feeling in your fingers.
DIY MTB Recommendation: If you want a value packed pair of gloves that grip well, are waterproof, windproof with 3M Thinsulate check out the -40F Kingsbom (link to Amazon for price and thousands of reviews)
With that in mind, I have written this blog post to help people choose which gloves they need. It’s worth commenting that while all gloves essentially serve the same purpose (to protect your hands), some gloves are better designed for warmer weather and others for wintery conditions.
When buying winter gloves, it’s all about keeping your hands warm, while not restricting movement. Winter in the UK is often laden with rain, wind and freezing temperatures, so your cycling gloves need to be able to combat these. Here’s some tips to help you decide on the right gloves this winter:
Decide The Type of Winter Riding You’ll be Doing
The UK weather is notoriously fickle and winter can range from sub-zero temperatures, through to sunny and moderate in a short space of time. You need to factor in the conditions you’ll be riding in to your choice
– you may be able to get away with light-weight gloves for most of the winter, but make sure you don’t get caught out in the cold without a proper pair of winter gloves. If you’re doing a lot of winter riding, it may even be worth investing in a couple of pairs, so you’ve got all bases covered.
Cold or Warm Blooded?
It’s often overlooked but you should definitely factor in your own circulation to this choice. Do your hands and feet typically get cold in chilly conditions? Or do they tend to remain warm? The answer could
make a big difference in terms of choice of gloves. If you’re warm blooded, you might opt for more breathability at the expense of insulation; if you’re cold fingered, you’ll want to choose warmth over breathability.
DIY MTB PRO Tip: I’ve got a whole article about keeping your hands warm riding in the winter. Here’s a link – 10 Tips to Keep Your Hands Warm Winter MTBing
Make Sure They’re Windproof
Winter cycling gloves appear in many different fabrics, both man-made and natural, including Nylon, Lycra, Polyester, Gore-Tex, merino wool…in fact, they often use a combination of fabrics to ensure warmth, fit and performance in all weathers.
If you are cycling short distances, you may get away with just a thick warm glove, but if you plan on spending considerable amounts of time in the saddle, you’ll require a pair that is fully waterproof. I’d recommend you always go for a windproof glove – after all, if it’s an unseasonably warm day and your hands are overheating, you can always whip the gloves off for a few miles.
Consider Padding and Grip.
Winter cycling gloves should have a good level of padding and grip to ensure that you are comfortable whilst in the saddle. Anybody who has ridden without a pair of gloves will know exactly what I mean.
Blisters will ensure that you won’t be doing it again in a hurry. The padding acts as an absorber to stop the bumps of the road or trail running up the fork and through your body, and the grip does exactly what it says on the tin.
Getting comfortable grips that support your palm can make a big difference. For years I’ve been using the Ergon GP1 Grips (link to Amazon) The wide palm area distributes the load on my hands. More comfort = better circulation = warmer hands.
All-Weather Riding? Choose a Long Cuff!
The cuff on a winter glove is normally longer than a summer glove or mitt. This is beneficial for cases of more severe weather, as it should cover the arm of your jersey or jacket – this ensures that the elements are kept away from your skin.
Check Sizing and Range of Movement.
Cycling gloves need to be comfortable, and you should ensure they’re not too tight. A great tip for choosing the right size: when you have the glove on, close your fist and grip a bar (ideally, grip your actual handlebars). Check you can comfortably operate your brakes and gears – you’ll have to pretend obviously if you haven’t got a bike to hand!
Questions and Answers About MTB Glove
Are MTB Gloves Supposed to Be Tight?
In winter circulation is key for your hands to stay warm. Tight gloves reduce circulation. The perfect fit allows full range of movement and still great grip on the handlebars. Winter gloves will have insulation on the back to protect from the wind.
Can You Bike with Mittens?
Yes, in fact look for 3-finger mittens. The mitten has the index finger separated so you can shift and use the brakes. Check out the EXski Winter 3-Finger Gloves (link to Amazon for current prices)
How Do I Measure my Hand for Gloves?
Measure all the way around the palm of your hand with a tape measure. Place the tape measure in the middle of your palm as shown by the picture below. Gloves come in half sizes so cut the difference to 9 ½ if you want the gloves a little loose.
David Humphries is the creator of DIY Mountain Bike. For me a relaxing day involves riding my mountain bike to decompress after a long day. When not on my bike I can be found wrenching on it or casting a fly on a small mountain stream. Read more about David HERE.