Nothing ruins a ride so quickly as freezing, numb fingers but sweat-soaked palms aren't exactly an invitation to ride either. So how should you keep your hands happy this winter? Read on...
We doubt there are many people who don’t remember playing out in the snow as a child: the snowballs, the sliding, the sledging — undoubtedly happy memories. There was one thing we never liked, though. Badly fitting, loosely knitted woollen gloves that ended up sodden, with nuggets of snow hanging from the fingers.
Mercifully, fabric technology has come a long way since then. One major benefit of this progression is that gloves can now keep your hands (and more importantly fingers) warm in some pretty serious conditions.
Thermal fabric can now be made windproof while retaining its elasticity, and manufacturing and sewing techniques have also improved. Overlocking (the reinforcing of minimal seams) has improved the strength of stressed fabric joins while reducing bulk substantially and modern materials can be pre-shaped and expected to hold their form.
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 gloves. Seriously Baltic conditions might need something heavier (or pairing with a silk liner glove, see number 7) but for 90 per cent of the UK winter, these hand shoes will be more than adequate.
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.
As we mentioned in our introduction, glove performance has improved massively as fabric technology has progressed. The overall performance of every glove in this test is testament to that fact.
Some of the lower scoring gloves shouldn’t be dismissed if they suit your exact needs, but there were a number of gloves that scored well above the others. Pearl Izumi’s thin softshell glove is a great product let down by a slightly bunching palm while the Amberley 2, by online wizards dhb, is easily the best value, but for outright performance just didn’t quite cut it in the breathability stakes. If your budget can stretch to an extra £10, it’ll go a very long way.
The two winning gloves can be split by how they handle low temperatures. Cold-handed folk should run the Sealskinz as hot-handed riders will find them just a bit too much for all but the coldest days. Giordana’s Tri Season’s will suit them far better and tick every box just fine.