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Winter Cycling: How To Keep Your Hands Warm

Note: This is the fifth installment in a series of articles on winter cycling. I hope to have the entire series finished by November and then publish it as a free PDF book that you can download from this website (the working title is, “A Guide To Winter Cycling”).

One of the hardest pieces of winter gear to find is the right pair of cycling gloves. Some cyclists try to use gloves that were designed for hunting or skiing, but most of the time they are disappointed—those gloves are insulated to keep your hands warm, but they are usually not windproof and as soon as your hands start to sweat the inside of the gloves turns to ice. I own more than twenty pair of full finger cycling gloves and in this article I want to highlight my favorite gloves for fall and winter cycling. I have included the temperature range that I recommend for each of these gloves, but your personal preferences might not be the same as mine.

Planet Bike Orion Gel Full Finger Cycling Gloves

Planet Bike Orion Gel Full Finger Cycling Gloves

50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 16 Celsius): The Planet Bike Orion Gel Glove is intended to be the first full finger glove you use in the fall and the last one you use in the spring before your regular summer gloves come out. However, this temperature range will vary depending on the type of cycling you do. A commuter or mountain biker might be able to wear these gloves in slightly cooler temperatures because they are generally moving slower and the wind will not impact them as much as a roadie riding along at 25 or 30 MPH. The palm of this glove is made of terry and the body is made of a four-way stretch woven spandex—these two pieces are held together with a thin strip of woven Lycra. This glove also has a large Velcro closure, so you can either keep the glove tight or loosen it up a bit as the temperature rises. Planet Bike Orion Gel Full Finger Cycling Gloves retail for $26 and they come with a limited lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship.

Gore Bike Wear Men's Alp X III Windstopper Gloves

Gore Bike Wear Men’s Alp X Windstopper Gloves

40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 10 Celsius): For this temperature range I prefer the Gore Bike Wear Men’s Alp X III Windstopper Gloves. My fingers do get cold in these gloves when the temperature drops into the 30′s. However, they are highly breathable and block the wind like no other gloves I’ve ever used. They have a bit of reflective trim on the fingers, but not enough to make them stand out much in low light conditions. The Gore Bike Wear Men’s Alp X III Windstopper Gloves have a list price of around $70. I often use a very thin liner under these gloves and that allows me to use them in even cooler weather. As for sizing, these gloves run a bit tight. If you are ordering these online make sure you order them at least one size larger than normal.

Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Gloves with removable fleece liner and windproof fabric

Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Gloves

30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to 4 Celsius): The Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Glove is absolutely the best winter cycling glove I’ve ever owned! Planet Bike advertises the Borealis as being a “3-in-1″ glove. The glove itself consists of a windproof outer shell and a removable fleece liner. You can use this glove wearing just the shell, or on a mild day you could ride with just the fleece liner, or put them together to have the best winter glove on the market. This glove also has a Neoprene cuff and pull tab with a Velcro closure. The cuff on the glove is big enough that you can pull it over the ends of your jacket to keep the heat in. There is also a fair amount of reflective piping on the back of the glove so motorists can see your hand signals at night. The Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Glove retails for $42 and this has to be the best value you will find in a winter cycling glove.

Quick Tip #1: The best way to find the right size for your winter gloves is to go into a bike shop and find one that fits you hands, then buy the next size larger glove. You always want your winter gloves to have a loose fit—the air pocket between the glove and your skin provides excellent insulation. Tight gloves in winter leads to frostbite (or worse).

Quick Tip #2: Many winter cyclists, runners and skiers leave their wet gloves sitting on top of the heat register on the floor to dry out—and this is certainly a lot faster than just leaving them on a table to dry. However, forced air has a tendency to not only dry gloves, but shrink them as well. If you exercise outdoors in the winter your gloves are going to get wet inside and a thermal convection boot and glove dryer will dry your gloves out in just a few hours, but will not cause them to shrink. Thermal convection boot and glove dryer are available at most sporting goods stores and retail for around $45.

There comes a time when even the best winter cycling gloves just can’t keep your hands warm anymore. Fortunately, there are mittens that attach to the handlebars on your bike that allow you to wear lightweight gloves in even the coldest of weather while your hands stay toasty warm—and they also block the wind better than any glove can. The three best-known brands of these handlebar mittens are Bar Mitts, Moose Mitts and Bike Poagies. I own a few pairs of each of these brands and use all of them (but not at the same time).

One of the biggest mistakes people new to winter cycling make is wearing clothing that is too tight—this impedes blood circulation and ends up making your colder. Layered, loose clothing allows warm pockets of air to form around you and give an extra insulating layer (it works on the same principle as a sleeping bag). If you ride in temperatures below freezing you really need to buy one (or more) of these products—there is no reason to have cold fingers on winter rides! I usually start using these mitts when the temperature is around 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 Celsius).

Bar Mitts For Mountain Bikes

Bar Mitts For Mountain Bikes

0 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 to -4 Celsius): Bar Mitts attach to your handle bars with a simple Velcro cinch and can stay on all winter long without any problem. Once installed you can put your gloved hands into the mitts and ride in some of the worst weather possible without worrying about frostbite. I ride with my “fall gloves” (gloves I use when the temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees) even when the temperature is in the teens. Bar Mitts give you much more control over your bike since you are wearing thinner gloves (plus you can actually find your energy bars and gels by touch). Getting out of the mitts while riding is no problem.

Bar Mitts are made of 5.5mm thick neoprene (a synthetic rubber used in wetsuits) and has nylon laminated on each side. Bar Mitts are available for both road and mountain bikes and retail for $65 a pair (with free shipping within the contiguous United States). The folks at Bar Mitts ship their products out very quickly—I’ve ordered twice from them and both times the items arrived within five days after ordering.

Bar Mitts For Road Bikes for cold weather cycling

Bar Mitts For Road Bikes

The mitts for flat bars fit most mountain bikes, commuter bikes, and Townies. They also have a style available for road bikes with drop bars—one style is for the older Shimano style (externally routed cables), and another is for Campy, SRAM, the newer Shimano style (internally routed cables). The drop bar version of Bar Mitts only protects your hands when you are riding with them on the hoods (you have no protection when you hands are on the drops or flats). Bar Mitts retail for $65 a pair and the company offers free shipping within the contiguous United States (International shipping is also available).

Hunter Orange Moose Mitts

Hunter Orange HiVis Moose Mitts

-20 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 to -9 Celsius): Moose Mitts for Flat Bars (most mountain bikes) are made of thick 1000 denier Cordura, a sturdy and abrasion resistant material, and are lined on the inside with heavy fleece. The outside is coated with a windproof and waterproof membrane—it also has a decent amount of reflective material so cars can see you better at night. On the inside of the Moose Mitts there is a small internal pocket where you can put chemical hand warmers or use them as a storage area for your energy bars. One nice feature of Moose Mitts is the Velcro closure on the bottom of the mitts that allow you to close the mitts and keep the heat in if you stop to take a photograph or “nature break.”

Moose Mitts for winter cycling with your hands on the drops, flats, or hoods

Moose Mitts For Road Bikes

Moose Mitts also come in a road bike version for drop bars and, like the MTB version, are made of thick 1000 Denier Cordura and lined on the inside with heavy fleece. They are both windproof and waterproof. These mitts are attached to your handlebars by an elastic ring that goes over the bottom of your drops, a strip of Velcro on the top, and another strip of Velcro around your cables. There is also a strip of 3M reflective tape on the top of the mitts. The drop bar version of Moose Mitts allow you to ride your road bike with you hands in any of the three standard positions (on the drops, hoods, or flats). At first glance Moose Mitts look about as aerodynamic as a bookcase. However, I’ve ridden with them into 30 MPH headwinds without any trouble. In fact, and this is a very subjective opinion, I think the Moose Mitts create less drag than you would have with a pair of lobster gloves on.

Moose Mitts are hand-made in the U.S.A., but they are only manufactured during the winter months, so if you want a pair you need to order them soon—shipping can be a little slow if everyone decides to wait until the first snowfall to order. The mountain bike standard black sells for $70. The drop bar version of Moose Mitts sells for $75. They offer free shipping in the United States (Shipping to Canada is available).

Bike Poagies, manufactured by Dogwood Designs

Bike Poagies For Mountain Bikes

-40 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 to -12 Celsius): Bike Poagies are manufactured and sold by Dogwood Designs, a small business in Fairbanks, Alaska (and those folks know what cold weather is really like). Bike Poagies fit over standard straight bar bicycle handlebars and allow you to slip your gloved hands in and ride in warmth and comfort. They have a durable nylon shell on the outside, polyester insulation in the middle, and a nylon taffeta lining. There is also a lightweight internal skeleton to make sure the Poagies hold their shape.

To attach Poagies to your bike you just slide them over your handlebar and then cinch them down around the bar with the attached elastic strap. There is also a gusset where you put your hands into the Poagies that you can close to keep the cold air out. However, I leave mine open most of the time because my hands get too warm when the Poagies are sealed up too tightly. If your bike has bar ends (like the Ergon GC3 Handlebar Grips) these Poagies will fit over them perfectly and allow you to still use several different hand positions. Bike Poagies are roomy enough that you can store a couple of energy bars or gels in them to keep them warm (or a chemical hand warmer if needed).

Standard Bike Poagies are good down to around -15 Fahrenheit. Dogwood Designs also offers Poagies Plus which are supposed to be good down to around -40 (I’ve never had a chance to try these out for myself). Both versions of Poagies are available with an optional reflective trim if you have to share your route with either cars or snowmobiles.

Bike Poagies sell for $98, and the Poagies Plus for $150. The optional reflective trim is an additional $12. Both versions of Poagies are available in an unbelievable seventeen different colors: Red, Royal Blue, Yellow, Neon Green, Hot Pink, Safety Orange, Electric Watermelon, Purple, Gold, Forest Green, Charcoal, Light Gray, Navy, Kelly Green, Chocolate Brown, Olive Green, and All Black. The cost for shipping to U.S. addresses is around $12 ($25 to Canadian addresses). The folks at Dogwood Designs do not have a Website. However, you can email them at dogwooddesigns@gci.net for a current brochure (they will send it to you as a PDF file).

Quick Tip #3: If you store your bike in an unheated garage (like most of us do) you can quickly warm up the inside of the mitts with a handheld hair dryer before you go on your ride (it just takes about 30 seconds per mitt). I bought a cheap hair dryer for a local drug store for under $10.00.

Quick Tip #4: If it is really cold outside you can toss disposable chemical hand warmers into any of these mitts and they will do an even better job of keeping you warm.

 

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Serfas RX Short Finger Cycling Gloves

I always suggest that cyclists buy their gloves one size larger than what feels comfortable when they are trying them on at the bike shop. In the winter you need a larger glove because the extra air space in a full-finger glove provides a micro-climate of warm air that will keep your hands warm (tight gloves in winter will also reduce the circulation in your hands and make them very cold). On hot and humid days you need larger gloves because after a few hours on the bike your hands will swell and the fabric in the gloves will be soaked with sweat and the gloves will be very difficult to get off your hands. Fortunately, Serfas has the RX Short Finger Gloves that are not only easy to remove (even when totally saturated with sweat), but also provide a very comfortable grip! While I’ve bought at least six pairs of these gloves in the past five or six years, the folks at Serfas were kind enough to send me a new pair for review (I needed a new pair for the photographs—no one wants to see my well-worn gloves).

Serfas RX Short Finger Cycling Gloves

Serfas RX Short Finger Cycling Gloves

Serfas RX Short Finger Gloves were designed by physicians to reduce the pressure on the nerves and arteries in the hands and they succeeded in their goal! As far as I am concerned the gel padding in these gloves is perfect. I know a few cyclists who prefer gloves with little or no padding, but I ride over a lot of rough roads and without gel padding my hands will start to cramp after a few hours on the bike.

Serfas RX Short Finger Cycling Gloves

“Easy Off Loops” on the Serfas RX Gloves

One of the coolest things about these gloves is the “Easy Off Loop” that allows you to slide the gloves off easily, even when they are soaking wet from a long ride in the rain. The Serfas RX Short Finger Gloves are machine washable and I have been able to get nearly 2,000 miles of use with every pair. These gloves also have two pieces of reflective piping on the fingers—if you are riding at night and use hand signals for your turns the headlights of cars behind you will reflect off of this piping and make it easier for motorists to see you.

Serfas RX Short Finger Cycling Gloves

Note The Reflective Piping On The Fingers

I’ve gone riding with these gloves when the temperature was over 100 degrees (with a heat index of over 115 degrees Fahrenheit) and these gloves never made me feel like they were heating up my hands. In fact, my hands are cooler with these gloves than just about any other glove I’ve tried. I use these gloves with both road and mountain bikes, and in sunny weather or rain.

Serfas Men’s RX Short Finger Gloves are available in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL) and come in four colors (Black, White, Blue or Red). Serfas Women’s RX Short Finger Gloves are available in four sizes (S, M, L, XS) and come in either Black or White. These gloves retail for $29 and I buy mine from the local bike shop, but they are also available from the Serfas website and from Amazon.com.

One last thought: If you live in an area with high humidity you really need at least two pairs of cycling gloves so you can wear one pair while the other is drying out.

 

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Best Gloves For Winter Cycling

Judging from the search engine terms that people are using to find this blog it seems as though many folks are already looking for winter cycling gear. One of the hardest pieces of winter gear to find is the right pair of cycling gloves. Some cyclists try to use gloves that were designed for hunting or skiing, but most of the time they are disappointed—those gloves are insulated to keep your hands warm, but they are usually not windproof and as soon as your hands start to sweat they turn to ice. I own more than twenty pair of full finger cycling gloves and in this article I want to highlight my favorite gloves for fall and winter cycling. The links in this article will take you to detailed reviews I have published in the past. One note about sizing: you always want your winter gloves to have a loose fit—the air pocket between the glove and your skin provides excellent insulation.

Planet Bike Orion Gel Full Finger Cycling Gloves

Planet Bike Orion Gel Full Finger Cycling Gloves

The Planet Bike Orion Gel Glove is intended to be the first full finger glove you use in the fall and the last one you use in the spring before your regular summer gloves come out. These gloves are great for temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees. However, this temperature range will vary depending on the type of cycling you do. A commuter or mountain biker might be able to wear these gloves in slightly cooler temperatures because they are generally moving slower and the wind will not impact them as much as a roadie riding along at 25 or 30 MPH. The palm of this glove is made of terry and the body is made of a four-way stretch woven spandex—these two pieces are held together with a thin strip of woven Lycra. This glove also has a large Velcro closure, so you can either keep the glove tight or loosen it up a bit as the temperature rises. Planet Bike Orion Gel Full Finger Cycling Gloves retail for $26 and they come with a limited lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship.

Gore Bike Wear Men's Alp X III Windstopper Gloves

Gore Bike Wear Men’s Alp X Windstopper Gloves

When the temperature is in the 40′s I really like the Gore Bike Wear Men’s Alp X III Windstopper Gloves. My fingers do get cold in these gloves when the temperature drops into the 30′s. However, they are highly breathable and block the wind like no other gloves I’ve ever used. They have a bit of reflective trim on the fingers, but not enough to make them stand out much in low light conditions. The Gore Bike Wear Men’s Alp X III Windstopper Gloves have a list price of around $60. I often use a very thin liner under these gloves and that allows me to use them in even cooler weather.

Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Gloves with removable fleece liner and windproof fabric

Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Gloves (Fleece Liner In Middle)

The Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Glove is absolutely the best winter cycling glove I’ve ever owned! Planet Bike advertises the Borealis as being a “3-in-1″ glove. The glove itself consists of a windproof outer shell and a removable fleece liner. You can use this glove wearing just the shell, or on a mild day you could ride with just the fleece liner, or put them together to have the best winter glove on the market. This glove also has a Neoprene cuff and pull tab with a Velcro closure. The cuff on the glove is big enough that you can pull it over the ends of your jacket to keep the heat in. There is also a fair amount of reflective piping on the back of the glove so motorists can see your hand signals at night. The Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Glove retails for $42 and this has to be the best value you will find in a winter cycling glove.

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves

If you enjoy hardcore winter cycling then you are going to love Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves! These gloves are waterproof, fully insulated, comfortable and insanely well made. These gloves are so warm that I would never wear them in temperatures above 25 degrees (Fahrenheit). I’ve used these gloves on many two-hour rides (or longer) when the temperature was in the single digits and they kept me toasty warm the whole time. Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves retail for around $70. Pearl Izumi has recently changed the appearance of the gloves, so if you order a pair they might not look exactly like the ones in the photograph above.

If you really enjoy winter cycling (and who doesn’t?) then you might be better off with thinner gloves used in conjunction with Bar Mitts, Moose Mitts or Bike Poagies.

 
 

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Microflex Diamond Grip Powder-Free Gloves

I enjoy working on my bikes, but I hate it when my hands look like I repair diesel engines for a living (no offense to anyone who repairs diesel engines). Bicycle repair usually involves grease and even the best of cleaning products won’t get all the grease and oil out from under your fingernails. Therefore, when I have a messy job planned on one of my bikes I always wear Microflex Diamond Grip Powder-Free Gloves (and since I am writing about latex gloves I will pause for a moment to let all the men make some juvenile comment about them before I continue).

Microflex Latex Diamond Grip Powder-Free Gloves

Microflex Diamond Grip Powder-Free Gloves

Microflex Diamond Grip Powder-Free Gloves are both thicker and more durable than standard latex gloves, and they are even thicker in the fingertips to prevent ripping and tearing. Microflex markets these gloves for use in “mid to heavy-duty environments,” and in my experience they are perfect for bicycle repair. They are also recommended for automotive repair, EMS and healthcare services, laboratory and law enforcement use.

One of the nicest things about these gloves is the texture pattern on the fingertips—it provides fantastic grip even when the glove is wet or greasy. You might think the only reason to wear these gloves is to keep your hands clean, but the added grip they offer during use is another great reason to use them.

These gloves are available in six sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL) and the interior is both powder-free and chlorinated. A box of 100 Microflex Diamond Grip Powder-Free Gloves retails for $17, but I doubt if you ever see them for sale at your local bike shop. The best place I’ve found to purchase them is from Amazon.com where they sell for under $12 a box (and they offer free shipping on orders of $25 or more).

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Bicycle Repair, Product Reviews

 

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Moose Mitts For Winter Cycling On Road Bikes

Those of us who enjoy winter cycling on our road bikes know that one of the hardest things to do is to find a way to keep our hands warm when the temperature outside is below freezing. When the temperature drops below 25 degrees you almost certainly have to wear heavy gloves, like the Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Gloves. Lobster gloves will keep your hands warm, but they also limit your dexterity and you have to take them off every time you try to reach into one of your pockets. A better alternative for roadies is the Drop Bar Version of Moose Mitts from Trails Edge.

Moose Mitts drop bar version for road bikes

Moose Mitts drop bar version for road bikes

Moose Mitts are best described as large mittens that fit over your handlebars so you can slip your gloved hands into the mittens and stay warm. Moose Mitts are made of thick 1000 Denier Cordura and are lined on the inside with heavy fleece. They are both windproof and waterproof. These mitts are attached to your handlebars by an elastic ring that goes over the bottom of your drops, a strip of Velcro on the top, and another strip of Velcro around your cables. There is also a strip of 3M reflective tape on the top of the mitts.

The drop bar version of Moose Mitts allow you to ride your road bike with you hands in any of the three standard positions (on the drops, hoods, or flats). I need to point out that there are some competitors to Moose Mitts and most of them limit your hand positions.

Moose Mitts for winter cycling with your hands on the drops, flats, or hoods

You can use Moose Mitts with your hands on the drops, flats, or hoods

In my experience Moose Mitts warm your hands up by about 15 to 20 degrees. If you are riding with a pair of gloves that are only good down to 35 degrees, you will probably be able to wear them with Moose Mitts all the way down to 15 or 20 degrees. I have one pair of gloves that would normally have my hands freezing at 35 degrees, but with Moose Mitts those same gloves had my hands sweating at 23 degrees.

One of the questions you are probably asking yourself is, “What about the aerodynamics?” At first glance Moose Mitts look about as aerodynamic as a bookcase. However, I’ve ridden with them into 30 MPH headwinds without any trouble at all. In fact, and this is a very subjective opinion, I think the Moose Mitts create less drag than you would have with a pair of lobster gloves on. Riding with a 30 MPH crosswind didn’t create any problems either. Because the mitts are open in the back to accommodate a variety of hand positions, a strong tailwind can cool your hands down a bit (but your hands are still much warmer than they would be otherwise).

My only criticism of Moose Mitts is the location of the 3M reflective stripe—the reflective tape is on the top of the mitts so I don’t think it does much good (unless you ride in an area with a lot of low-flying aircraft). If you ride during the day it really doesn’t make any difference where the reflective tape is at. I ride a lot at night I always try to buy products with reflective tape. However, I realize that sewing reflective tape on something like thick Cordura is probably not very easy. Mike Flack, owner of Trails Edge, told me they are working on a Super Hi-Vis version of Moose Mitts that employs additional reflective stripes and is made of a Hunter Orange color fabric.

Moose Mitts are hand-made in Michigan by the folks at Trails Edge. These mitts are only manufactured during the winter months, so if you want a pair you need to order them by mid-February at the latest. The drop bar version of Moose Mitts sells for $75 and I think they are well worth the money. Trails Edge also makes Moose Mitts for mountain bikes (or any flat bar bike) and for hiking and cross-country skiing poles as well. The flat bar version sells for $60 a pair.

 

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The North Face TNF Apex Gloves

If you ride your bike the rain you really need to buy a pair of The North Face TNF Apex Gloves. While these gloves are not cycling-specific, they will do what very few cycling gloves can, i.e., keep your hands warm and dry in the pouring rain.

The North Face TNF Apex Gloves

The North Face TNF Apex Gloves

The North Face TNF Apex Gloves are the best gloves I’ve ever owned for riding in the rain. They are highly water-resistant, breathable and windproof. The first time I rode with these glove the temperature was around 45 degrees (Fahrenheit) and the rain didn’t let up during the entire three-hour ride. I was simply amazed at how comfortable my hands were during the ride—they were warm, but they never got wet and there was no moisture build-up in the gloves when I got home.

The shell for this glove is made of TNF™ Apex ClimateBlock with DWR (durable water-repellent). The interior lining is brushed tricot. The palm has silicone grippers that are fantastic for allowing you to grip the handlebars even in a heavy downpour—I don’t know of any cycling glove that has as good a grip in the rain.

Since The North Face TNF Apex Gloves are not specifically made for cyclists they do have three slight problems. First, you will not find a strip of terry cloth on the thumb to wipe off your sweat. More importantly, they do not have any padding in the palms. However, even after several hours in the saddle with these gloves my hands did not go numb. In addition, they lack any reflective piping like you would normally see on winter cycling gloves.

These gloves are available in four sizes (S, M, L, XL) and The North Face has a sizing chart available on their Website (see link above). The gloves seem to be true to size, but I would suggest you get them in one size larger than you normally wear just to allow a little more air to circulate around your fingers.

You will probably not find The North Face TNF Apex Gloves at any bike shop, but they are available at most sporting good stores, like Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and REI. These gloves retail for around $40, but you can buy them from online merchants like Amazon.com for around $28.

 

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Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Gloves

This past April I picked up a pair of Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Gloves on clearance at a brick-and-mortar REI store. However, before I got a chance to use this glove Planet Bike updated it so I bought a new pair a few weeks ago for review purposes. To call this glove an “update” doesn’t do it justice. About the only thing the 2011 Borealis glove has in common with the older version is the name. The older model of this glove appeared to be OK, but the new version is absolutely the best winter cycling glove I’ve ever owned!

Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Gloves with removable fleece liner and windproof fabric

Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Gloves

The Borealis glove has a windproof back panel that works incredibly well. Some cyclists try to ride in the winter with a warm pair of gloves they bought at a sporting goods store. However, a glove that was created for a hunter walking through the woods is not designed to block the wind like a glove made for cyclists. It doesn’t matter how warm the glove is if it can’t block the wind your hands are going to freeze.

The first time I rode with these gloves was on a 29 degree day with the wind blowing at 29 MPH. Since I was on my road bike the first 15 miles of the ride was directly into the wind. If you have ever cycled on a day like that you know there are very few gloves that could keep your hands warm. The Borealis glove functioned perfectly and kept me warm the entire ride.

As you can see in the photo above, the Borealis is a lobster claw glove, i.e., both your little finger and ring finger are in the same opening. This arrangement is meant to keep your fingers warm (and it works).

Planet Bike advertises the Borealis as being a “3-in-1″ glove. The glove itself consists of a windproof outer shell and a removable fleece liner. You can use this glove wearing just the shell, or on a mild day you could ride with just the fleece liner, or put them together to have the best winter glove on the market.

Personally, I would never ride with just the fleece liner since it does not have gel padding on the palms (plus I have a lot of other cycling gloves at my disposal). I think the best thing about this glove is that on a cold day you can stop and take the outer shell off as you grab a bite to eat or adjust your bike and still keep the fleece liner on. The ability to remove the fleece liner will really make a difference in the way you cycle in the winter. When you get home from a ride you can easily pull the liner out of the glove which will allow it to quickly dry. One of the biggest problems with most other winter cycling gloves is that they take forever to dry out (unless you use a boot and glove dryer).

This glove also has a Neoprene cuff and pull tab with a Velcro closure. The cuff on the glove is big enough that you can pull it over the ends of your jacket to keep the heat in. There is also a fair amount of reflective piping on the back of the glove so motorists can see your hand signals at night.

If I could change one thing on this glove it would be the lack of gel padding in the palms. This is not going to be a problem for most people since the fleece liner does cushion your hands, but for those of us who spend a lot of time riding in the winter extra padding would be appreciated. The glove does have a reinforced Serino palm, but it lacks gel padding. This glove is water-resistant, not waterproof (unless you are trying to make snowballs it won’t make any difference).

The Planet Bike Borealis Winter Cycling Glove retails for $42 and this has to be the best value you will find in a winter cycling glove. If you choose to order this glove from an online retailer make sure you ask for the new 2011 glove with the removable liner, not the model from last winter.

When the temperature drops down to below 25 degrees I would suggest the Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Gloves, or better yet, buy a pair of Bar Mitts that fit over your handlebars so you can ride with the Borealis glove all winter long.

 

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North Face Montana HyVent Gloves

Last winter I purchased a lot of winter cycling gloves in the hope that I would eventually find a pair that could keep my hands warm. Along the way I bought a lot bad gloves, but I also found a few products that you probably won’t see in any cycling catalog. The North Face Montana Gloves are designed with snow skiers in mind, but mountain bikers and commuters could also benefit from them.

North Face Montana HyVent Winter Gloves

North Face Montana HyVent Gloves

North Face Montana Gloves are well insulated, waterproof, and very breathable. The outer shell is made of HyVent and the lining inside is made of brushed tricot. This glove has a “Storm Door” cuff gasket and a ladderlock wrist cinch that seals up the glove to keep the heat in and the cold out. There is also a soft chamude nose wipe on both thumbs.

I used these gloves last year for riding off-road trails in temperatures from around 25 degrees to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. While these gloves are great for off-road use or commuting, I think roadies should stay away from them because they are not windproof. Since you are generally moving a lot faster on the roads than on the trails the wind has a greater impact on roadies.

On the back of this glove you will find a zippered stash pocket where you can insert a chemical hand warmer. Most chemical warmers cost around a dollar a pair and last for up to eight hours each. This zippered pocket is what drew my attention to this glove in the first place. I buy chemical hand warmers in bulk and use them all winter long. Sometimes I put them in my jacket pockets to keep my carbohydrate gels from freezing when I am out on long rides.

As with all winter cycling gloves I would suggest you buy these in a size larger than you would normally wear. Not only will loose gloves keep you warmer that tight ones, but the extra space will allow you to wear a thin pair of glove liners so you can venture out in even colder temperatures.

Like all winter gloves the Montana will soak up perspiration on the inside of the gloves and will have to dry out before you can use them again. The best way to take care of this problem is to buy a boot and glove dryer so your gloves can dry out overnight. Just a bit of moisture in your gloves can ruin a ride!

I purchased my pair of North Face Montana HyVent Gloves at Dick’s Sporting Goods (a brick and mortar store). You can also find them online at numerous sites, such as REI.com, Moosejaw.com and BackCountry.com. The gloves retail for around $60 and if you can work them into your training routine I think they are worth the price.

 

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Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves

If you enjoy hardcore winter cycling then you are going to love Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves! These gloves are waterproof, fully insulated, comfortable and insanely well made. When you look at the photograph below you will understand why they are called lobster gloves—your first and second fingers are in one opening and your third and forth fingers are in the other (this arrangement keeps your fingers very warm). Lobster gloves do make shifting gears a little harder to do, but you will get used to it rather quickly and after a ride or two you probably won’t even think about it any more.

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves have a Pittards Carbon Leather palm and a lightweight ripstop fabric shell. As bulky as these gloves look, you can still easily grip things with them. They have a large microfleece wiping surface on the thumb area and close with a sturdy strip of Velcro. These gloves also have reflective piping and logos for low light visibility.

These gloves are so warm that I would never wear them in temperatures above 25 degrees (Fahrenheit). I’ve used these gloves on many two-hour rides (and longer) when the temperature was in the single digits and they kept me toasty warm the whole time.

Like every pair of winter gloves I’ve ever purchased, the inside of these gloves will be damp when you get home after a long ride. Since these gloves are rather thick they will not dry out overnight, so I hang them on a “boot and glove dryer” overnight and they are always ready to go the next morning. If you ride much in the winter you really need to buy a glove dryer—it will make your life a lot easier!

In my opinion these gloves run about a size smaller than advertized, so I would order them in a size larger than you normally wear. Wearing tight gloves in the winter is a terrible mistake that a lot of newbies make. Tight gloves impede blood circulation to your fingers and this will make you hands feel a lot colder.

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster Cycling Gloves retail for around $70, but you can find them on Amazon.com and several other online retailers for around $60. I know this is a lot of money for a pair of gloves, but it is certainly a lot cheaper than a trip to the hospital so you can get treatment for frostbite.

 

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Planet Bike Aquilo Windproof Spring-Fall Cycling Gloves

If your goal is to find one cycling glove that will work in any weather condition you are out of luck. It has been my experience all cycling gloves are meant to function within a fairly narrow temperature range or within a specific weather condition. The Planet Bike Aquilo Windproof Cycling Glove is no exception, and I think the ideal market for this glove would be a commuter riding on windy days when the temperature is between 40 to 55 degrees (Fahrenheit).

Planet Bike Aquilo Windproof Spring-Fall Cycling Gloves

Planet Bike Aquilo Windproof Cycling Gloves

The Planet Bike Aquilo cycling glove is very comfortable and the gel padding on the palm works extremely well at reducing road vibration. The outer shell is made of a windproof four-way stretch material and the fingertips are reinforced. There is a bit of reflective piping on the back of the glove that should help motorists see your hands when you are signaling for a turn (you do use hand signals don’t you?). Since fall and winter bike rides often lead to riding in the dark, I wish all fall and winter gloves had a lot of reflective piping.

These gloves also have a soft fabric (80% cotton, 20% polyester) that runs along the index finger and thumb area that you can use to wipe away sweat or to wipe your nose (if you chose not to use the air hanky). Fortunately, these gloves are also machine washable.

The Planet Bike Aquilo cycling glove has a similar comfortable temperature range to that of the Planet Bike Orion glove, but the Aquilo is meant to protect your hands on windy days. If you are unaccustomed to riding on windy days this might not seem like a big deal, but to those of us who live around Chicago (AKA, the Windy City), this is very important. A bike ride on a 50 degree day with high winds can just about make your hands go numb!

I am not really sure why, but the Aquilo glove has a lobster claw, i.e., both your little finger and ring finger are in the same opening. Normally, lobster claw designed gloves are meant for extremely low temperatures, but this glove is not since it has no insulation. The lobster claw on this glove is not necessarily a bad thing, but it was not exactly needed either.

The sizing on the Aquilo gloves seems to run about one size smaller than advertised. The Aquilo glove does not have a liner, so if you buy a glove liner somewhere else you can wear it under this glove and extend the comfortable temperature range down to at least 35 degrees.

Sometimes people confuse windproof with waterproof, and hopefully you know that these two features are not the same. Planet Bike does not claim these gloves are waterproof (very few gloves are). I got caught in a heavy rain about 20 miles from home while I was testing the Aquilo glove and the results were not pretty. The gloves remained dry for the first 30 minutes, but the last 30 minutes of the ride the gloves were soaked all the way through. However, I set them on the glove dryer I keep in my man cave and the next morning they were are good as new.

A pair of Planet Bike Aquilo cycling gloves retails for around $35. If your local bike shop does not carry this glove you can order it from the Planet Bike Website or from online retailers like Amazon.com.

 

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