The first thing to hit the wind, if a cyclist’s hands aren’t kept warm any bits following behind are likely to be more miserable still.
Radiator-like in their surface area, your hands leak heat into the air at a rate that has an outsized effect on the temperature of the rest of your body. Add in the fact that a cyclist requires working fingers for tasks like operating the brakes, and keeping yours warm and comfy becomes an absolute priority.
The choices are fairly simple: do you value water resistance and warmth ahead of tactility and dexterity? For some, a very warm glove can also prove too warm in all but the most freezing conditions. Many brands offer a multi-layer solution – coupling a liner glove with a winter glove to offer carefully tuned temperature control for spring, winter and deep winter. We've considered all options below.
For an example of the importance of finding the right gloves, let’s take Andrew Hampsten’s win at the 1988 Giro d'Italia.
On discovering it was snowing on the Gavia, the morning before stage 14, while the other squads were in bed, his 7-Eleven team spent the morning dashing around the local shops looking for cold-weather gear. Among their finds was a pair of neoprene diving gloves.
Accessorised by a host of other odd-looking ski gear handed to him on the climb, by the time the storm hit on the descent, many of Hampsten’s more traditionally attired rivals, some of the hardest riders of a hard era, were weeping in their team cars.
For those that suffer from cold hands, to riders undeterred by storm conditions, or anyone forced to rack up kilometres in the polar regions, here follows the Rouleur team’s seven favourite deep winter gloves.
Castelli Perfetto RoS Glove
£75 | Shop Castelli
Bulk versus insulation is the balance that any winter cycling glove has to strike. Easily thin enough to be dexterous, Castelli Perfetto RoS gloves manage enough insulation for severe conditions while staying slimline. Made using Gore-Tex’s Infinium material, this is windproof rather than totally waterproof It’s also extremely breathable.
Preventing clammy hands, it’s paired to a fleece lining for extra insulation. Well utilised by a clever construction that uses a minimum of thermo-welded seams, this creates fewer areas where its properties are inhibited. Wearing their technical accomplishments lightly, overall, the gloves appear quite minimalist.
With a flexible cuff, they’re easy to pull on, while a minimum of panels doesn’t stop them from being any less well-fitting. There’s almost no additional padding, which will suit most roadies. Instead, grippier areas on the palm avoid any unwanted slipping. Another case of windproof being better than waterproof in most situations, they’ll suit athletic riders or those that tend to retain heat in their hands.
Cafe du Cycliste Classic Cycling Gloves
£69 | Shop Cafe Du Cycliste
More than any other item of clothing cycling gloves tend to subscribe to the cycling gear aesthetic. Making them a bit of a weird sartorial choice for any other activity, this isn’t a malady that affects Cafe du Cycliste Classic gloves. Their flexible and attractive mid-season weight gloves feature thermal and wind-resistant panels. Almost puffer jacket like on their reverse, their lack of logos and muted colour mean you’ll be happy to wear them hiking around town or in the hills. With a decent amount of insulation, they’re very breathable. However, with little in the way of shell-style protection, they’re probably best saved for conditions that are cool rather than cold and likely to remain dry.
ashmei Windproof Gloves and Merino Liners
£34 + £48 | Shop ashmei
These pleasingly low-key gloves from ashmei feature more technology than their spartan exterior suggests. With a windproof outer, this is treated twice with a durable water-resistant coating to keep the rain outside as long as possible. Brushed inside to offer both softness and insulation, the result is a glove that’s both flexible and low in volume.
Those who prefer to remain in touch with their feelings will appreciate the lack of padding on the palms, while extensive silicone strips covering the majority of the area in contact with the bar ensures a rock-solid connection. With a stretchy collar and pull tab, they’re designed to be worn over the brand’s Merino liners for really cold days, leaving them usable almost year-round.
Le Col Hors Categorie Deep Winter Gloves
£75, Shop Le Col
Pleasingly monotone except for a flash of reflectivity on the outside of the smallest finger, Le Col’s Deep Winter Gloves offer windproofing and water resistance. Made without excess bulk and designed to be as breathable as possible, they also feature a pre-formed cut and very high cuff to lock out the cold. Managing without padding on the palms in the interests of dexterity, they opt instead for control-boosting silicone chevrons.
Elsewhere, reinforcement between thumb and forefinger should allow you to swing from the hoods without fear of wearing out their seams. In the interests of convenience, once you’ve grimed them up, they’re also machine washable.
Assos Ultraz Winter Gloves
£95, Shop Assos
If you’re going to add a lot of insulation to a glove, it’s critical that it's both well-cut and put together. The warmest glove Assos makes, the Ultraz’ pre-curved, multi-panel construction lets it add material inside without rendering its wearer’s fingers so insensible to be of use.
With an outer layer of wind-proof and water-resistant fabric, the brand’s twinDeck double-layer fabric construction pairs this with a brushed Lycra interior. This pleasingly soft inner is then able to store large amounts of warm air next to your hands. Generally low in bulk, the simple neoprene cuffs are also excellent. Decently able to fend off rain, these gloves aren’t entirely waterproof. Still, unless you know for certain it’s going to hammer down, they’re a great choice for most cold days.
Hestra Windstopper Tracker
£55 | Shop Hestra
Founded in 1963, Swedish brand Hestra just makea gloves. It’s now super good at it. First up, they make each model in a huge range of sizes. Then there’s the fit. With no cuff fastening, they’re easy enough to pull on using your teeth when riding, yet magically remain the most ergonomic and dexterous we’ve used. Clever low-tech touches, like the way the tips of the fingers slightly overhang your digits to create a pocket of warm air, are also genius.
Quality in both material and construction, These windproof models use Gore’s superbly breathable wind to provide an all-over lining. With no slippage between it and the exterior, it’s disinclined to pull out, and renders the gloves useable in a wide range of conditions from around 10-degrees down to freezing. Although branded windproof, they’ll also keep out chunky showers, and even once soaked though they tend to remain warm.
Although it’s a personal thing, we think they look great too, plus they’ll also do for hiking or other sport too. In short, all-round excellent.
SealSkinz Cold Weather Fusion Control Gloves
£75, Shop SealSkinz
Like most gloves, these are made from multiple layers, but bonding them together allows Sealskinz to take a glove that might otherwise be bulky or prone to bunching, and make it far more slender. Mixing high-tech waterproofing and natural materials like leather and Merino, the result is a sandwich capable of keeping out the rain while insulating your fingers.
With little in the way of padding on the palm and a generous cut, these gloves don’t scream cycling. In fact, designed for multi-sport use, they’ll do just as well for gripping the handlebar of your bike as the paddle of your kayak. However, whatever you get up to, you’ll find your fingers wrapped in soft and warm Merino wool with the weather kept firmly outside.
Sportful Fiandre Gloves
£110, Shop Sportful
Unlike most gloves, these Sportful Fiandre models are fully waterproof. Remaining pretty breathable, if you’re looking for insurance against freezing rain creeping into your gloves, these could be the ones to go for. Covered all over by a taped Polartec membrane for impervious performance, the inside is then fleece-lined for warmth.
Surprisingly flexible to start with, a pre-curved bar-gripping shape further helps these gloves feel less bulky. Suiting them to slippery conditions, or anyone with butterfingers, their palm features extensive silicone printing for added grip. Held in place by an extremely long cuff, this is locked in place by a zipper that closes above the material, helping the entire assembly remain watertight.