During deep winter, it can get cold, very cold and when the icey wind starts to bite, it is your extremities that are first to feel it. Good insulation is critical, but breathability is also important, as nobody enjoys sweaty hands. To maintain comfort a quality pair of winter gloves are essential.
Fabrics have improved vastly over 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.
One major benefit of this progression is that gloves can now keep your hands (and more importantly fingers) warm in some pretty serious conditions. 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.
We’ve assembled our latest reviewed winter cycling gloves. For seriously cold conditions (below 3ºC) we would suggest a deep winter glove, such as the Mavic Inferno Extreme. Gloves such as these are designed to be worn in sub-zero temperatures, potentially the coldest road cycling conditions. However, deep winter gloves are often too sweaty in warmer weather and suffer from decreased dexterity.
What to look for
Any exposed skin will do a great job of radiating body heat to the external environment. The more you suffer with cold hands, the more you’ll need to ensure you’re completely covered. Conversely, hot-handed riders can use exposed wrists to regulate body heat. Make sure that you’re able to marry jacket cuffs with the glove where necessary for optimal heat retention.
As we mentioned, technology has reduced the size of the seams required to keep the strained seams of gloves in one piece, but you still need to keep an eye, or feel, out for them. Too big and they can either rub the fingers or even constrict the digits, robbing them of blood flow — the major enemy of warm fingers. You should simply forget you’re wearing the best gloves — it’s the biggest compliment you can give them.
With bigger gloves comes extra fabric.With gloves for winter use however, you need to balance their capabilities to insulate your hands from the cold bars with both dexterity and excess bulk. Too much padding, in the form of gel or foam pads, will result in a lack of flexibility in the palm. This can actually lead to bunching in the palm in use, causing at best a reduction in comfort, and at worst chafing or blisters.