Best winter gloves for mountain biking and commuting
By What Mountain Bike | Thursday, December 27, 2012 8.30am
Once the temperature drops, riding-specific winter gloves are essential for keeping warm and in control on your bike. A decent pair will offer windproofing and, in some cases, waterproofing, although it's important that any fleeciness doesn't get too in the way of dexterity.
No matter how warm your hands are, you'll need to keep freezing wind and rain away from your wrists, too, so your gloves should have a cuff long enough to tuck under your jacket sleeves. Towelled nose wipes and gel padding will also come in handy when your nose is running or you're tackling technical trails.
Here's our pick of six pairs of gloves for mountain bikers and commuters. Many will also be suitable for spring and autumn riding.
Best for multi-season
Giro Blaze 2
£34.99 / US$40
Weight 48g Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL Colour Black
Although targeted at the 10°C and above temp range, these are still winter gloves according to Giro. We wore them in conditions from a dry five degrees to a balmy 20°C, and came to really rate them as a superb multi-season glove.
Thin palms allow excellent touch on the bars, and enough dexterity that we rarely needed to take them off for anything – bonus. The windproof and lightly padded back keeps chills off, while the lack of membrane or insulation on the palm contribute to that excellent feel – plus breathability that means they never feel sweaty.
From: Giro / Madison (UK)
Best for all-round use
£44.99 / US$44.99
Weight 70g Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL Colour Black
We wore these through most of last winter, through some atrocious weather. The Windstopper back combines with light fleece insulation and thin palms to make for a warm yet highly breathable and dexterous glove – a rare combination.
There is a bit of wear showing at the heel of the hand, where the stitched-in palm protection ends and the soft fleece begins, but they’ve otherwise survived a long season of gritty and wet use intact. The stretchy neoprene-like cuff is topped by a Velcro fastener, which was rarely needed once set in position.
From: Dakine / Surf Sales (UK)
Best for mild days
Gore Alp-X SO Light
£44.99 / US$65.95
Weight 60g Sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL Colours Black, red
These uninsulated gloves barely scrape into the winter category – it’s the Windstopper layer that does it, extending their use into mild winter rides. The windproofing shrugs off chilly downhills and the thin, stretchy fabric makes for excellent feel. For bar-squeezing/pulling/shoving tech trails they’re excellent; for exposed straightline pedalfests they’re inevitably less so.
A neat cuff, perfectly positioned nosewipe and effective gel padding on the heel all contribute to a glove that works very well for most of the year.
From: Gore Bike Wear
Best for value
£29.99 / US$49.99
Weight 116g Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL Colour Black
It’s no surprise that the Strike is up to the majority of British winter riding – they originated in Scotland. We found them ideal for anything down to freezing, and their waterproofing shrugs off rain and sleet with ease.
Snugging them under a waterproof jacket reveals cuffs are that are disappointingly short, and when the wind is whistling that’s an unwelcome gap. The upside of the short cuff is an easy and light feel on the bike, and the benefit is such we were happy to err on the short side most of the time, and we like their confident bar feel a lot.
Best for cold and wet conditions
Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Softshell
£59.99 / US$75
Weight 166g Sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL Colour Black
With long cuffs, thick insulation and waterproof fabric, these are aimed at the worst of winter – days down near freezing with rain and surface water to contend with. Neat enough to snug under a sleeve easily, they can be battened down to fully protect you, though you have to take them off for fiddly stuff – inevitable with such a warm glove, but a downer when you puncture.
Also, the Primaloft insulation and waterproof liner’s free to slide against the outer, reducing feel and grip, but for the protection it’s tolerable.
From: Pearl Izumi / Madison (UK)
Best for waterproofing
Altura Progel Waterproof
£34.99 / US$67.40
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A budget waterproof glove along the same lines as the Endura Strike, Altura approaches the British winter in much the same way – heavy waterproofing and light insulation. This is the perfect combination, and with a longer cuff they keep things nice and warm in poor weather.
We do find them slightly less touchy feely thanks to a slightly baggy outer glove getting in the way of fingertips, but the nosewipe is well placed and they rarely get too sweaty inside as the insulation is pitched at just the right level.
From: Altura / Zyro (UK)
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.
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