Laid out on the bars for long periods of time like some kind of sacrificial offering to the weather gods, your hands probably suffer more than anything else on winter rides, and as they’re pretty essential for controlling your steed, keeping them warm, or at least functioning, is pretty important. Trying to operate gears, brakes and dropper post with numb hands is not only difficult, but also pretty painful. Believe me, I know. And as you can’t exactly stuff them into big mitts like you can with many other winter activities, finding the perfect balance between warmth and dexterity is key.
As someone who suffers from really bad circulation (I have Raynaud’s) and has experienced the pain and discomfort of cold hands on countless occasions, I have tried and tested many pairs of gloves in a quest to find the perfect ones for winter mountain biking.
A good fit is obviously also essential, and a pair that fit me like a, well, glove, may not be the best for someone else. Fortunately there are several different brands on the market with similar specs, even for us ladies, so you should be able to find the perfect pair.
To help point you in the right direction, here are the results of my hunt for the holy grail…
Milder winter weather
When temperatures start to dip and the sun becomes increasingly elusive, there comes a time when thin summer riding gloves just won’t cut it anymore and your hands start to need a bit more protection from the elements. If it’s still not super cold I find that a pair of windproof gloves, like these Altura Women’s Night Vision Windproof Gloves (RPR £29.99, but currently available for £20.99 from Wiggle) are enough to keep the chill off, whilst still giving you all the grip, padding and dexterity that you get from a thin summer glove. I also often wear a thin pair of silk or merino liner gloves underneath for a bit of added warmth.
They also have nice soft, absorbent panels that are supposedly for wiping away sweat, but we all know are actually for wiping snot, which is much more prevalent on cold winter rides.
The only downside to this kind of glove is that they’re not waterproof, and if they get wet, your hands get cold.
Cold winter weather
On days when it’s bitterly cold and/or raining, a pair of waterproof insulated gloves will keep your hands both dry and warm. These Seal Skinz Women’s Brecon XP gloves (RPR £45.99) have been an absolute godsend for me on several occasions this winter. Although more bulky than a straightforward windproof glove – closer to a ski glove than a traditional cycling glove – the stretch fabric and articulated joints in the fingers mean that you don’t have to compromise on dexterity for the extra warmth that they provide.
They also have grips and extra padding where you need it to improve functionality.
Although I’ve worn them in some quite heavy showers, my hands haven’t got wet once, and there have even been occasions when my hands have been warm, which is almost unheard of for me!
My only complaint, which might sound a bit gross, is that they don’t have an absorbent panel for “sweat” (nose) wiping, which is something I really need on cold days, ‘cause let’s face it, there’s only so many times you can stop to get a tissue out on a ride!
Gore Countdown Gore-Tex Women’s gloves (RPR £59.99, but currently available for £41.99 from Evan’s Cycles)
Endura Women’s Strike Gloves (RPR £29.99)
What gloves do you find best for winter riding? Leave a comment below…