Road Tested: Winter Cycling Gloves

A look at six winter riding gloves that aim to keep you warm without sacrificing your ability to control a bicycle.

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What to look for: A good pair of winter riding gloves will protect from the elements while still providing enough dexterity and grip to brake and shift a bicycle. Generally, the more warmth a glove provides, the more bulky it will be, and therefore will lack some of the tactile feel and movement that most cyclists appreciate. The perfect balance between control and warmth might depend on your local climate and just how much movement you are willing to forgo in the name of warmth.

Castelli Estremo Glove

This cold-weather glove from the Italian clothing stalwart earned a spot as one of our all-around favorites. Castelli has somehow managed to provide the cold weather protection that is normally reserved for much bulkier, lobster-style gloves in a sleek and maneuverable five-fingered package. The silicone treatment found on the palm and fingers provided excellent grip, even in wet conditions.

The gloves are made from Windstopper fabric and feature a high cut neoprene cuff that really helps to create a good seal between the end of the gloves and any jacket or jersey sleeve. The fit on our test gloves was spot-on. The Estremo kept the tester’s hands comfortable in some pretty chilly Colorado weather. They were more than adequate for a three-hour ride with temperatures in the low thirties and kept fingers intact. For a do-it all winter riding glove, the Estremo is our choice.

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2XU Sub Zero Glove

The Sub Zero Glove is a comfortable option to protect the hands on cooler days. While the cold weather protection was not as significant as some of the other gloves tested, the fit and feel of these gloves is enough to add a pair to any winter clothing arsenal. They are exceptionally thin and agile.

The Sub Zero gloves have a distinct give to them, an intentional design feature that makes shifting and gripping the handlebars a breeze. Ideally, a piece of winter clothing works well without constantly reminding you that it is there, and these gloves certainly live up to that standard. The Sub Zero was quite comfortable on days with the thermometer hovering around 45 degrees. They were ideal for use with electronic shifters, when having good feel is especially important for shifting accuracy.

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Gore Bike Wear Cross Gore-Tex Gloves

The textured palm has a rubber-like material that provides excellent grip on the bars. Its high cuff protects against cold and wet, and is easily adjustable via an elastic cord-and-lock to adapt to a variety of jackets. Reflective striping on the pinky finger as well as reflective lettering helps add visibility in low-light conditions. We found the Cross gloves had just the right amount of padding in the heel of the hand, adding good comfort when riding on the hoods. These gloves are really warm, even on the coldest days, and remind us of a good skiing glove that has been adapted for the needs of the road cyclist. While the Gore Cross won’t provide the best dexterity, the cold weather protection they provide might mean that is a sacrifice worth making.

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Giro 100 Proof Gloves

The Giro 100 Proof glove is a lobster-style cycling glove with a nice added bonus: a thin, removable full-fingered liner. This is a very versatile glove, and the removable liner provides three distinct configurations.

First, the whole enchilada, consisting of the lobster shell worn with the full-fingered liner. This setup provides extreme warmth even in very cold temperatures. This is fantastic on the coldest of days on the bike, when you really have the urge to ride outside. Expect to give up some mobility, but considering the alternative of painfully cold fingers, this more constrictive setup is worth it on bitterly cold days.

The second option is the lobster-style shell without the liner. The shell does have a cloth lining, which provides a comfortable feel on the hand. Removing the liner removes just enough bulk to add a decent level of control while still providing a level of warmth not found in almost any full-fingered glove.

The third and final option is the liner alone. With a silicon pattern on the palm and fingers, the liner can provide excellent grip and just the right amount of protection from cool weather, although it was inadequate for rough weather. The liner doubles as a running glove, a bonus for triathletes. If you are looking for one glove to purchase and want the widest range of temperature protection, the Giro 100 Proof glove is the most versatile option in this review.

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Sugoi Firewall GT Glove

The Sugoi Firewall GT provides a good level of wind and moisture resistance while still providing good dexterity. The silicon pattern on the ends of the thumb, index and middle finger provide good shifting and brake control, while the material used in the palm provided a sure grip on the bars. The cuff, however, was cut slightly short and didn’t provide a complete seal between the tester’s jacket and glove. The S3+ material used in the Firewall is designed to keep body heat in while keeping out the cold and wet. The Firewall GT became the tester’s choice for windy days, as the material showed excellent wind stopping capacity. While the Firewall GT did not handle cold temperatures as we would have expected, the combination of good dexterity and wind resistance make it an excellent choice if the climate offers prolonged periods of windier weather in the fall or spring.

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Louis Garneau LG Supershield

The LG Supershield stands out among lobster-style gloves in this review. Garneau has managed, through the use of an innovative, vented palm dubbed the Ergo Air, to create a glove that breathes while still providing some of the best warmth our tester had come across. While the Supershield was excelled at protection from cold weather on even the chilliest winter days, it will also protect hands from rain and melting snow on wet, slushy rides.

Dexterity was surprisingly good. Since the Supershield relies on good moisture management coupled with a paired-finger design to provide warmth rather than bulking the glove up with excess insulation. Strategically placed silicon provided excellent feel and control, while a neoprene cuff with a durable Velcro closure provided a sure fit and good seal between the glove and clothing. Small touches such as reflective piping and a generously sized patch of fleece on each thumb to wipe away sweat are welcome additions that increase the utility of the Supershield glove.

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