The best winter gloves will keep your hands toasty in seriously cold weather. They’re an essential accessory for winter training, commuting and any other riding in the colder months.
Riding with cold hands is miserable, but staying comfortable isn’t as simple as just wearing the heaviest gloves possible, you also need to make sure that you can grip the bars, use your gears and brakes properly and control your bike safely.
There’s no single choice that will work everywhere for everyone. So we’ve tested gloves from the big names that are designed for a range of winter conditions, from wet and mild through to dry and bitter.
Read on for a summary of our top glove picks for winter training or a dark commute. There are links to the full reviews too.
Best winter cycling gloves in 2020 according to our expert testers
- Castelli Spettacolo RoS gloves: £85 / $89.99
- Dissent 133 Glove Layering System: £95 / $123 / AU$181
Endura Deluge II gloves: £49.99 / $64.99
- Gore C5 Gore-Tex Thermo gloves: £64.99 / $79.99 / AU$110
Shimano Windstopper Thermal Reflective gloves: £54.99
How to choose the best winter gloves for your riding
Match your gloves to your typical riding conditions
A super-thick pair of gloves is not necessarily the best bet, particularly if you live somewhere where winter temperatures typically hover in the mid-single digits and the climbs and descents are quite short, such as the southern UK.
However, if you ride somewhere where it gets properly cold or are tackling long winter descents, in the Alps or Rockies for instance, you’ll likely need more insulation to keep your hands comfortable. A good overlap with the cuffs of your jacket will also help keep the chill at bay.
Your needs will also depend on how hot you run. If you’re putting in larger efforts, your hands will probably warm up after half an hour’s riding or so, even if they start out a bit too cold, and a thickly padded glove might start to feel sweaty.
Wet conditions will also leave you colder, so most gloves will have a waterproof membrane and/or DWR surface coating to help keep your hands drier.
The palms of most gloves will be made of synthetic leather, although some are real leather and there are other options too. Synthetic leather typically gives good bar feel, although it may wet-out in the rain. On the plus side, it should dry quicker than the real thing.
The glove’s back will usually be windproof and most winter gloves will include a water-resistant liner to help keep your hands dry. Beware, though, because some liners are more breathable than others.
The best will let sweat out readily, but a cheaper liner may leave your hands uncomfortably sweaty, and they can get sore if you’re out on a long ride.
Grip, padding and other features
In wet conditions, you’ll want to make sure that you have a firm hold on the bars, so palm grip is important. Most gloves will have silicone printing on the palms and fingers for a firm hold on the bars and controls. Plus, it’s nice to have some padded areas in the palms to absorb road vibration if you’re planning longer rides, so look out for gel inserts.
A touchscreen-sensitive fingertip will mean that you can operate your computer as you ride, or use your mobile without taking your gloves off. An absorbent area will let you wipe rain from your glasses (or snot from your nose), while reflective elements or bright colours will up your road presence and help highlight your hand signals.
The best winter gloves: our top rated picks
Castelli Spettacolo RoS gloves
Castelli Spettacolo RoS winter gloves. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
£85 / $89.99 / AU$167
- High breathability and good warmth without bulk
- Easy-on with a long zipper
With RoS, meaning Rain or Shine, the Spettacolo is designed for variable conditions, with a windproof, breathable membrane.
The premium insulation is thin but still keeps your hands warm. There’s a very grippy palm and the long zip makes it easy to get the gloves on and off.
Dissent 133 Glove Layering System
Dissent 133 glove layering system. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
£95 / $123 / AU$181
- Lots of glove combinations allow tailoring to different weather conditions
- Versatility means that you’ll get more use than from a single pair of gloves
The four-glove set from Dissent 133 gives you options for a huge range of weather conditions, from cold and dry through to wet summer rides.
The set includes two pairs of outer gloves, a thermal inner (that can also be worn on its own), and a silk baselayer. While the price for the whole kit looks hefty, it’s still less than some brands charge for a single pair of gloves, and the Dissent system offers far more versatility.
Endura Deluge II gloves
Endura Deluge II gloves. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
£49.99 / $64.99
- Comfortable and grippy
- Lots of reflectives
Endura’s gloves have good rain and wind resistance, along with a grippy palm, gel padding in the heel of the palm and lots of reflectives.
They’re well enough insulated to keep your hands warm, without sacrificing bar and lever feel.
Gore C5 Gore-Tex Thermo gloves
Gore C5 Gore-Tex gloves. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
- £64.99 / $79.99 / AU$110
- Great insulation and breathability
- Comfortable, padded, grippy palms
DWR treated fabric and a breathable waterproof membrane give the Gores a high level of wet weather protection, while there’s plenty of insulation to retain body warmth.
The synthetic leather palms retain grip well in the damp and include extra foam padding at pressure points.
Shimano Windstopper Thermal Reflective gloves
Shimano Windstopper Thermal Reflective gloves. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
- Curved cut avoids rucking of fabric
- Well designed palm for bar comfort
The sophisticated cut and shaping of the Shimano gloves’ palms make for a comfortable hold on the bars and levers, with well positioned pads helping to keep the hands comfortable on longer training rides.
A metallic finish to the padding helps retain hand heat, without adding bulk.
The following winter gloves scored fewer than four out of five stars, but they’re still worth considering, particularly if you can find them at a discount.
Altura Thunderstorm gloves
Altura Thunderstorm gloves. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
£49.99 / $70 / AU$90
- Highly reflective backs
- Minimalist silicone grippers provide just the right amount of grip
A well-priced offering from Altura, the Thunderstorm gloves are waterproof and grippy. The spider’s web palm grippers provide a secure hold on the bars, while the super-reflective backs mean that you’ll light up like a Christmas tree in cars’ headlights – they’re a good option for all-weather commuters.
Rapha Deep Winter gloves
Rapha Deep Winter Gloves. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
£140 / $190 / AU$245
- Warm enough for the coldest conditions
- Quality construction
Top of Rapha’s glove range, the Deep Winter gloves are very padded, well made and include leather palms. You get a long double cuff to keep out draughts and it’s still easy to use the shifters.
The Deep Winters are very expensive and they lack some of the features offered by the competition, but they’ll keep your fingers toasty however cold it gets.
Sportful Sotto Zero gloves
Sportful’s Sotto Zero gloves. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
£55 / $60 / AU$108
- Very grippy synthetic leather palms
- Will handle temperatures down to 0°C
The Sotto Zeros’ softshell backs are combined with synthetic leather palms and good insulation for comfort on chilly rides.
There’s plenty of grip to the palms, although watch out for sizing because are on the smaller side.
dhb Extreme Winter gloves
DHB Extreme Winter gloves. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
£32 / AU$44
- Good water resistance and thick padding
- Budget priced
Although they’re the cheapest gloves we’ve tested, the dhb Extreme Winters still offer good warmth and water resistance along with extra padding in the palms.
They’re not quite as sophisticated as pricier models, with less grippy palms and a rather stiff feel, but they’re a viable option that’s worth considering, particularly for shorter rides.
Kalf Zero Waterproof gloves
Kalf Zero Waterproof gloves. Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
£40 / $43 / AU$60
- Hi-vis strip across the back and orange colour help you to be seen
- Waterproof and well insulated
Lots of reflective elements make the Kalf Zero gloves a good commuter choice. They have good waterproofing and insulation too, although the palms are a bit rigid and not as grippy as some alternatives.