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Best winter cycling gloves 2022: Warm, comfortable and waterproof gloves for cycling

Peter Stuart Gareth Thomas
11 Jun 2021
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Here's our pick of the ideal cycling gloves for warmth, grip, dexterity and more

Any fool can be uncomfortable and anyone who has ridden a bike in heavy rain or chilly temperatures will know all too well that it’s the hands that pay the price. As an extremity, and the first point of contact with the wind, the hands are the most vulnerable to the elements. However, technology has come on substantially over the years, bringing us wind-stopper fabrics, neoprene and water-resistant Gore-Tex membranes.

When it comes to cycling, though, being warm is not enough. Cycling requires grip, dexterity for gear changes and braking, and occasionally a touchscreen-sensitive finger to answer a call, look at a map or take a quick picture. Equally, even the warmest gloves can be rendered useless if they become saturated and there are some materials that work far better than some rivals when there’s a torrential downpour.

So, what sort of gloves do you need, and how much should you spend? Here’s our guide to the best winter gloves on the market.

Best winter cycling gloves: At a glance

  • A great value all-rounder: SealSkinz Waterproof All Weather Cycle Glove | Buy now
  • Best overall winter cycle gloves: Castelli Estremo Glove | Buy now
  • Best budget winter cycle gloves: Altura Microfleece Gloves | Buy now
  • Best wet weather gloves: Assos RainGloves_evo7 | Buy now
  • Lightest gloves: DeFeet E-Touch Dura Wool Gloves | Buy now
  • Warmest gloves: Specialized Element 2.0 Long Finger Gloves | Buy now
  • Best gloves if money is no object: Rapha Deep Winter Gloves | Buy now

What should I look for in a glove?

First and foremost, you need a glove that fits... like a glove (sorry). Make sure you either try one on or are familiar with the sizing of a brand – many offer sizing charts online.

When buying gloves for cycling, it’s important to consider what technical elements you’ll need them to exhibit. For serious road riders, grip and tactility will be necessary, as well as more packability, since you may want to tuck them into a back pocket after 20 minutes of exertion.

For many, though, finding the right temperature range for riding will be the most important consideration. Following that, it’s essential to consider what level of protection from wind and rain you need.

Depending on how cold and warm your hands may get, it’s necessary to think about how many sets of gloves you might want. If you can only fork out for one set, make sure you set some priorities. Would you prefer to be warm in cold weather but too hot when it’s mild, or comfortable when it's mild and get slightly chilly when the temperature approaches 0°C?

How warm do my gloves need to be?

Everyone is different, and one person’s cold day could be somebody else’s scorcher. You need to consider how good your blood circulation and natural hand warmth is before deciding how heavy-duty a glove needs to be.

From a thin glove or liner to ultra-thermo lobster gloves with electrical heating, there’s a whole spectrum to pick from when it comes to warmth. Electrical heating may be wise for motorbikes, but cyclists will rarely brave cold weather at sufficient speed to justify that level of warmth. Some brands offer it nonetheless.

Thin cotton gloves are best used in spring as, while they may feel warm when tested indoors, the effect of wind chill will quickly render them useless in temperatures under 10°C.

If a glove is too warm, though, your hands will take a beating as the temperature creeps up, especially given how body temperatures increase during a tough commute.

The warmest deep-winter gloves are usually thick and multi-layered, often employing split-finger designs to retain heat. These can make it difficult to shift gears or find a good place to rest your hands, but for anyone who naturally has very cold hands, they could be a necessity.

Normal winter gloves can put in good service at a variety of temperatures but will only be useful if they can retain heat in wind or rain.

What material do I need?

Neoprene is something of a wonder material where cycling gloves are concerned. A set of neoprene gloves works with moisture, rain and sweat to trap heat on your hands, just like a wetsuit. The disadvantage is that your hands can remain wet and sweaty for an entire ride, and once taken off, the gloves can be horrible to put back on.

Wool gloves are generally much more durable, lightweight and more pleasant to the touch. However, they offer much less protection against the wind, as wool is naturally porous.

A combination of polyester, nylon and Lycra is common for the outer, but some gloves use neoprene to preserve warmth in wet conditions, and some use PrimaLoft for extremely high insulation. Equally, for many gloves, a soft polyester inner liner is key to comfort. A separate polyester or Merino wool liner is also a common add-on to increase warmth and comfort.

What features should I look out for?

Grip can be a big issue on a bicycle, so look out for a special treatment or material on the palm of the glove. A phone-screen touch-sensitive finger – usually courtesy of a conductive material on the fingertip – can also prove surprisingly useful over time.

Pay attention to the design of the cuffs, as a multi-layer transition at the cuff and a decent strap or elastic retention can be very important for water resistance in larger gloves. For the safety-conscious, high-visibility colours or a reflective treatment can make a big difference to overall visibility.

Finally, consider what happens with runny noses in deep winter. Some gloves feature a soft, absorbent patch on the thumb that can act as a wipe guard, and for many that can be a real gamechanger.

READ NEXT: Stay safe on the road with our pick of the best cycling helmets

The best winter cycling gloves to buy

1. SealSkinz Waterproof All Weather Cycle Glove: A great value all-rounder

Price: £45 | Buy now from Evans Cycles

As far as waterproofing is concerned, SealSkinz has a great reputation, and these gloves are a decent affordable pair for all-weather protection, whether that be rain, wind or cold.

Designed with a three-layer construction, they are warm and durable, yet breathable enough that they don’t become uncomfortably clammy inside (though we don’t recommend them for warmer months). The practical foam pressure point padding is good for grip, and you also get a PU suede thumb wiper.

Key features - Sizes: Small, medium, large, XL, XXL; Colours: Grey, navy blue; Touchscreen compatible? Yes

Buy now from Evans Cycles


2. Altura Firestorm: Best gloves for warmer winter days

Price: £26 | Buy now from Tredz

They’re not as thick as some gloves, which is why they’re our pick for warmer winter days where there’s no risk of a frost but, in many ways the Firestorm’s lightweight design works in their favour. For starters, they feel nice and dexterous, which comes in handy when it comes to answering a phone call or taking a quick snap using their touchscreen compatible fingertips.

As for performance, the softshell design does a relatively good job of keeping the wind at bay while remaining breathable, and it’s also emblazoned with a rather distinctive reflective pattern that makes them well suited to cycling at night or during twilight. You’ll have no problems getting a good fit with the Firestorm, since they’re available in a wide range of sizes from XS to 2XL. In fact, besides not being a great choice for the very harshest of winter conditions, these Altura gloves are a very good all-rounder indeed.

Key features - Sizes: Extra small, small, medium, large, XL, XXL; Colours: Black; Touchscreen compatible? Yes

Buy now from Tredz


3. Altura Microfleece Gloves: Best budget winter cycle gloves

Price: £30 | Buy now from Altura

With a cheaper pair of cycle gloves, you’re not going to get the waterproof, deep winter protection that other more expensive options offer. But if you’re the type of cyclist who would rather not brave torrential downpours in sub-zero temperatures anyway, then the Altura Microfleece gloves are a comfortable and affordable option.

Lightweight and windproof, they’re made from an insulating thermal material to keep your hands warm and, generally, they do the job. There’s no padding, but you do get a silicone layer on the palm for grip, and the lack of bulky protective features means you get more dexterity.

The Altura Microfleece gloves are obviously not designed for the most freezing conditions (as the price should reflect), but they’re a modest and decent pair of gloves for the casual or commuting cyclist.

Key features - Sizes: XS, small, medium, large, XL, XXL; Colours: Black, hi-viz yellow; Touchscreen compatible? Yes

Buy now from Altura


4. Assos RainGloves_evo7: Best wet weather gloves

Price: £50 | Buy now from Wiggle

Neoprene gloves are the outliers in the world of gloves. Made with wetsuit material, they stay very warm in extremely cold conditions, and wet weather won’t affect them as they use moisture and water to trap heat next to the skin. They do all that while being extremely svelte and light.

The catch? As with a wetsuit, you’ll be constantly moist and sweaty as they intentionally don’t let moisture escape. That can make them a little smelly and damp when you put them on again after a stop.

Assos’ RainGloves_evo7 cleverly draw on these benefits while offering practicality for cyclists. The design has minimal seams and the fingers are carefully 3D-constructed to ensure that they offer comfort and grip, accompanied by very subtle microgrippers.

Key features - Sizes: XS, small, medium, large, XL; Colour: Black Volkanga; Touchscreen compatible? Unspecified

Buy now from Wiggle


5. DeFeet E-Touch Dura Wool Gloves: Lightest gloves

Price: £29 | Buy now from Wiggle

Defeet gloves are as simple as gloves can get, as they use just a single layer of wool fabric. However, where a normal set of wool gloves would prove far too susceptible to wind and likely to tear to pieces under gripping palms, Defeet uses Merino wool, which has a naturally high thread count that repels wind, and pairs it with an abrasion-resistant Cordura gripper lining to protect against wear and tear.

They are then blended with Lycra to improve the fit and feel. The crowning touch is the e-touch fingertips, with which you can use a phone’s touchscreen, rather than resorting to swiping it with your nose.

They won’t do well in very cold or wet conditions but are very light and comfortable when the temperature is right.

Key features - Sizes: XS, small, medium, large, XL; Colour: Charcoal; Touchscreen compatible? Yes

Buy now from Wiggle


6. Specialized Element 2.0 Long Finger gloves: Warmest gloves

Price: £44 | Buy now from BikeInn

Split-finger gloves tend to be the warmest option. Grouping the fingers together lets the digits share warmth and allows them to be wrapped in a greater amount of insulating fabric. The conventional two-finger design, often called “lobster gloves”, does sacrifice dexterity and make it difficult to grip the handlebars. However, by only binding the fourth and fifth digits, Specialized’s Element 2.0 gloves are a fantastic compromise.

The gloves boast a Gore wind-stopper upper that repels wind chill while still letting perspiration escape, combined with 200g of PrimaLoft insulation. While cold-handed sorts may still need a liner for added warmth, these are as warm as it gets without the use of electric heating or bulky lobster designs.

They also have a conductive hydrophobic palm material, reflective details and a thumb wiper for sweat and runny noses.

Key features - Sizes: Small, medium, large, XL, XXL; Colour: Black; Touchscreen compatible? Yes

Buy now from BikeInn


7. Rapha Deep Winter Gloves: Best gloves if money is no object

Price: £140 | Buy now from Rapha

Rapha is the original cycling fashion brand, often bought for its looks as much as its performance. However, the brand has always strived to innovate with the best fabrics available to produce highly technical but attractive cycling kit. These gloves embody that combination of looks and function. Boasting a totally waterproof membrane alongside a DWR treatment that stops the exterior layers retaining water, these are thoroughly capable in rainy conditions. An internal fleece lining and thick insulation on the back of the hand make them exceptionally warm, too.

Nothing has been spared in their construction, with a fully leather palm for grip and comfort, softened by a gel insert. At £140, with a £40 add-on for a Merino liner, they are certainly more expensive than even their most technical rivals, but they are extremely warm while also being great to look at.

Key features - Sizes: XS, small, medium, large, XL; Colour: Black; Touchscreen compatible? No

Buy now from Rapha


8. Castelli Estremo Glove: Best overall winter cycle gloves OOS

Price: £95 | Buy now from Wiggle

They aren’t cheap, but for serious cyclists, the Castelli Estremo gloves are a worthwhile investment – especially when it comes to the coldest winter environments.

The Estremos utilise a stretchy and breathable “Windstopper X-Fast'' material, and are finished with a DWR (durable water repellent) treatment, in order to protect and insulate against harsh weather conditions. But despite all this, the gloves remain dexterous enough that you’re not struggling to use your hands while wearing them, and the brushed fleece inner keeps them comfy and warm.

Key features - Sizes: XS, small, medium, large, XL, XXL; Colour: Black; Touchscreen compatible? No

Buy now from Wiggle


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