Like it or not, winter is coming and, with that time of year rapidly approaching again, we don't need any further excuses to hibernate but rather plan to get outside and ride. Whether it's winter training miles, commuting or simply getting your fix on the trails, the best winter cycling gloves play a pivotal role when it comes to keeping your hands warm and functional - after all, your hands are probably the most important touchpoint when it comes to bike control and handling.
It is not as simple as slipping your hands into the thickest and heaviest gloves as they are going to offer you zero feel for the controls. Investing in top-performing clothing designed to fend off the cold will go a long way to keeping you pedalling this winter. None more so than a pair of the best winter cycling gloves, giving you the dexterity needed to enable you to maintain control of your bike. As mentioned earlier, your hands are one of three key contact points with your bike so it is essential that you keep them at an optimal temperature, allowing you to grip the bars and feel the brake levers.
There is not a simple single solution to combatting the elements and much of it will come down to where you live and ride your bike. Our team here at off.road.cc has thoroughly tested and reviewed the best winter cycling gloves for mountain biking to help you decide which pairs will suit fit you best and how they match up to the conditions. Banish cold digits with a pair of winter cycling gloves from our list below, which offers a blend of the best fit, performance and value for money and all scored four out of five stars or higher.
Click the links of any that catch your eye for the full review. Further down we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you find which of the best winter cycling gloves are best for the type of riding you do.
The best winter gloves 2022
The Hydromatic from 100% is a thin waterproof glove that’s built to be light and dextrous. It does its job very well, but the fit isn't the best and it can absorb water. That said, the membrane is very effective and keeps things dry and moisture free. The cuff can, at times, let through a few drips but when actually riding and paired with a jacket, the gloves do a good job.
The Hydromatic Brisker from 100% combines all the good bits of the very well-reviewed Brisker Cold Weather, with some of the weather protection of the Hydromatic. The fit is excellent but because it's a pull-on cuff rather than the Velcro closure found on the original Brisker, it is a bit more of a task getting on. The cuff is reinforced with a synthetic leather strip, which helps you grip it and adds strength to stop it from tearing. The 100% Hydromatic Brisker scored well owing to its versatility, comfort and impressively waterproofing capabilities.
The Alpinestars Cascade is a warm and comfy winter glove that makes good use of its Primaloft insulation, and for cold and dry rides it's only let down by a slightly short cuff and the lack of a snot pad. It soaks through rapidly in rain, however, and while it stays fairly warm it gets heavy – and wearing wet gloves is never that pleasant. Sizing is good for a fairly close fit – size up if you want to run liners – and on dry days the Cascade keeps you warm while adding little-to-no bulk.
> Buy the Alpinestars Cascade Warm Tech gloves from eBay for £53 here
The snappily-named Cube X-Shell Long Finger X NF is a waterproof, windproof, and warm glove that effectively shields you from the grottiest weather. They have some impressive detailing and offer a good fit, all this packed into a competitive price. The breathable membrane is effective, the interior is warm, and despite the lack of any fancily-branded thermal fabric, it works really well. We found it gave enough space for movement and easy scope for adding liners for very cold days.
100% Brisker Cold Weather gloves use a decently chunky soft shell backing along with a thin, unpadded palm to offer loads of feel while also keeping your hands toasty warm, even when it's wet. They're excellent for keeping you comfortable without losing control in autumn or springtime riding and the price is very reasonable, too. Overall, these are a superb choice at a great price. They're warm, work well in everything apart from torrential rain and you get loads of cool colours to choose from as well.
The 100% Brisker women’s gloves are a great set of winter warmers for moderate to chilly days. The softshell backing keeps the worst of the wind at bay, they're hardwearing and a single-layer palm means there's still a great feel on the bars. There are also silicone strips on the forefinger for lever grip, and touchscreen-friendly thread in the fingertips. At this price, there’s no reason not to have a pair for winter riding.
The Crosspoint Waterproof Knit gloves from Showers Pass are a lightweight answer to a soggy hand problem. Ideal for those that don’t mind a slight loss of dexterity for the sake of warm digits. Lightweight and minimalist in design, there are no fancy velcro cuffs, panels or additional features but rather a really stretchy material meaning getting them on and off is a breeze and they contour to your hands perfectly. The palms and fingers have silicone grippers on them which come in handy when grabbing for a brake lever in the rain.
The Dissent 133 Ultimate Glove Pack really is just that, and will easily see you through an autumn, winter and spring of riding. Our tester never found conditions where these couldn't be used, making them excellent value compared with the three sets of gloves you might otherwise buy. In terms of value, it's a hard one to judge; £95 might seem a bit steep, but you're essentially getting three pairs of gloves with a liner pair. Overall, this is a brilliant set of gloves and well worth the money, especially if you suffer from cold hands.
The Fox Ranger Fire gloves come built with a bunch of features that make them a viable choice for riding when the temperature drops and the weather turns. As for waterproofing, it's pretty good for the most part, but Fox has built the gloves with webbing in between the fingers, which isn't waterproof at all. Overall, they're mighty comfortable but not ideal if you often whip out your phone for the mid-ride selfie.
> Buy the Fox Ranger Fire gloves from Tweek Cycles for £30 here
How to choose the best winter cycling gloves for mountain biking
This time of year, the trails are dark and often dank. Conditions in the winter can vary massively from one day to the next depending on your location. These conditions range from clear and crisp bringing freezing temperatures to the slightly warmer temperatures but with rain and mud thrown into the mix. The types of gloves you might choose depends on your budget, the conditions you ride in, the length of your rides not to mention how susceptible you are to the cold.
Do cycling gloves make a difference? (Obviously, in winter…..)
Riding without gloves when the mercury fails to reach double figures can be grim enough never mind barely notching above zero. On the coldest days, you will be lucky if your unprotected hands and fingers stay warm for more than a few minutes let alone hours.
Even if you are a hardy rider that is used to the harshest of conditions, some level of insulation and windproofing will greatly improve your winter riding experience regardless of the duration. You simply can't just wear wool gloves alone, for adequate warmth it is not only about insulation but layering, too. Your hands are positioned right out front taking all of the wind. Any glove warmth will be quickly whisked away as soon as you begin rolling without windproofing. Windchill will have a substantial impact on the comfort level of your hands, look for gloves with a good windproof rating.
Aside from keeping your hands warm, using gloves during the winter will offer far more grip on your handlebar than without, especially if they inevitably end up wet and clogged with mud.
Are winter cycling gloves waterproof?
More often than not wintertime means rain, rain, and more rain. We can have the best insulated gloves on the market to protect your pinkies, but once the clouds burst these are going to suck up water like a sponge and wet hands means cold hands. The best waterproof gloves will have a membrane and a waterproof coating on the outer material. The coating will cause the water to bead on the outer surface and run off avoiding the aforementioned sponge effect.
The other tactic is to employ the same technique as wetsuits by utilising neoprene material. This glove material traps water and air between the glove and your skin, then this is warmed by the body heat you generate while riding. So the idea is that although your hands feel damp they should remain comfortably warm. But be warned neoprene is soft and not the most durable material, they are not likely to shrug off many spills or falls.
How should winter cycling gloves fit?
Think of your winter gloves like a sleeping bag. The insulation traps heat generated by your body while you ride. If the glove is baggy it will allow this heat to quickly escape and if heat can escape then water will inevitably get in. But bare in mind that the gloves need to be comfortable and allow dexterity to operate buttons and levers so make sure that the fit is not so tight that you can't comfortably make a fist.
Pay particular attention to the length of the fingers - you don't really want excess at the ends. Also, it is worth thinking about how high the cuff comes up your wrist, whether it is adjustable and if it will fit with the rest of your riding kit, especially your outer jacket cuffs.
Do I need winter gloves with fingers or mittens?
Some types of cycling, mostly road or gravel rides allow the use of mittens. They are considered to be considerably warmer than fingered gloves but for winter mountain bike rides that feature more technical trails and terrain, gloves with fingers will allow you to utilise the one or two-finger braking technique to maintain a strong grip on the handlebar when you get into the gnar.
Why should I use gloves liners?
Liners are a great choice for adding warmth allowing you to quickly adjust to the conditions and sustain dexterity, providing your outer gloves are large enough for you to wear liners underneath. The Dissent 133 glove system is the best example. These are available with a thin silk liner, a wool warmer layer, and a choice of either a windproof or a fully waterproof outer shell, so you can tailor to the temperature and account for any forecasted precipitation and still remain breathable.
Is fit important for winter cycling gloves?
Having your digits free and flexible enough to pull on brake levers is crucial. If your gloves are too tight it can mean a lack of dexterity and impede comfort. At the same time, a glove that is baggy and too loose will be unable to lock in the vital warmth and can result in bunching up on the palm, curtailing your planned longer ride sooner than you might have hoped. You are looking for that happy middle ground between too tight and too loose this will ensure that they remain breathable and comfortable.
It is particularly important if you are using a layering system like deployed with the versatile Dissent 133 system. If the outer fits too snug you may encounter issues when it comes to adding thicker or more layers when the temperature plummets.