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Winter Riding Gear Guide: Gloves

Posted by Steve on 02/16/22
Last modified: 02/16/22

Choosing the Best Winter Cycling Gloves header image

We hate cold hands. They’re uncomfortable. They sting. They make it hard to unwrap your favorite ride snack or text your friends to tell them you’re running late (again). Frozen, stiff hands can even make it dangerously difficult to control your bike. Yet cold hands are one of the most common problems for people who ride in the winter.

The solution is a good pair of gloves, but we’re not talking about your ski mittens or dog walking gloves. If those work for you, then great. If not, read on to learn about the advantages of biking-specific winter gloves.

We can’t tell you exactly which gloves will work for you — we all ride in varying circumstances, from climate to ride intensity to off-the-bike activities, and more. But we can help you figure out where to start.

In this article, we’ll outline our guide to finding the magic pair of gloves that will lead you to happier and safer rides when cold weather sets in.

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The Necessities

There are five traits that every winter riding glove should have:

Warmth: Bike-specific cold-weather gloves use softshell outer fabric to block bone-chilling wind. Warmer gloves will have insulation in strategic areas to prevent heat loss from cold air and the cold metal of your handlebars.

Water-Resistance: Rain, sleet, or snow can make cold rides miserable at best and dangerous at worst. Look for gloves that have softshell outer fabrics with water-resistant properties to keep the moisture out.

Breathability: Moving your body’s sweat away from your skin is vital — sweating too much inside your gloves can actually make you colder. Choose a glove with a liner made of Merino wool or other moisture-wicking materials, and avoid heavy outer materials that breathe poorly, such as rubber.

Dexterity: Gloves that restricts finger movement are no better than having numb hands. Make sure that you feel comfortable and confident shifting and braking with your gloves before using them on the trail or street.

Grip: Control is important! Good winter riding gloves should have grip sections in the palm and fingers to help you hold onto the handlebars and use your shift and brake levers, especially in wet conditions.

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The Little Things

Factor these details into your glove choice:

Time of Day: When do you ride? Morning and evening rides are typically chillier than afternoons, so you might opt for a warmer glove than your average daily temperature would suggest. If typically enjoy midday rides, the sun’s warmth may let you get away with a lighter glove.

Intensity: The harder you ride, the more heat you generate. If you prefer cruising bike paths and stopping frequently, you’ll likely want something on the warmer side. But if your routine involves lots of deep snow, elevation gain, or all-out training efforts, a lighter glove can help you shed excess body heat to avoid sweaty hands.

Extracurriculars: Do you stop to take lots of pictures or play music on your rides? Make sure your gloves are touch-screen compatible — no one likes taking off their gloves for a subzero selfie.

Gloves vs. Pogies

Pogies are another option for winter riding. Pogies fit over the handlebar and offer all the cold-shielding comfort of an insulated glove. The advantage is that they let you shift and brake with bare hands or a thin liner glove. They also often have vents and pockets for hand warmers to help you manage temperature

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Starting Points

Now that you know what to look for in pair of gloves, our lineup can give you a place to start your search. Compare the temperature ratings of our gloves to your typical riding conditions. Extreme winters may warrant two or more different pairs of gloves, starting the season with a lighter-weight pair and bringing out the warmer ones when temperatures drop.

Shoulder seasons and mild weather (35°F+)

Risør or Nøkken gloves*

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Cold weather (15°F – 35°F)

Sturmfist 5 gloves or Draugenklaw pogies

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Extremely cold weather (0°F – 15°F)

Sturmfist 4 gloves or Cobrafist pogies

*Risør and Nøkken gloves also work well as extra insulating layers inside of pogies

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45NRTH is Winter Riding

Every glove we make fits the criteria laid out in this article. We put hundreds of hours of work into each glove design and test everything right here in Minnesota. If a glove doesn’t meet our standards, we don’t sell it. Even minor details, such as a cuff that doesn’t play well with jacket sleeves, can prompt a redesign.

“We go to the drawing board with a few different designs in mind. From there, we sample and test to see how each design addresses the problems we’ve identified for our riders. We look at how people are riding and how the gloves can ‘disappear’ while keeping the rider effortlessly warm. We want the gloves to be trusted right out of the gate so the rider can go out in the snow with confidence and not worry that they’ll be cold,” says 45NRTH Product Manager Laura DuSchane.

We hope that you’re well on your way to finding the gloves that will see you through many seasons of riding to come. If you have questions, feel free to contact us or get in touch with your local bike shop to ask what they wear.

winter cycling gloves