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photos: Aaron Chamberlain

You’ve undoubtedly heard variations of the saying, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” One of the most crucial pieces of gear for winter mountain biking is a good pair of gloves. I rank warm gloves right up there with warm shoes as a requirement for an enjoyable cold weather riding experience.

Before we get started on the individual gloves in this roundup, I need to mention that my definition of “winter” or “cold weather riding” is likely different than some of our readers. We don’t get much snow here in Georgia and you won’t catch me riding a fat bike across a frozen lake. I know that in the grand scheme of things our Southeast winters are relatively mild. If you’re looking for Arctic-approved winter riding gloves, this is not a list for you. However, our winters are typically wet and windy affairs with temperatures hovering in the 30°-40° F range. If I’m being completely honest, if it dips much below freezing, I won’t be riding anyway.

To gather gloves for this list I reached out to several companies and asked them to provide their best glove option that met these criteria:

  • Warm down to the freezing point
  • Windproof
  • Water resistant or waterproof

Here are the contenders, in alphabetical order.

Dakine Blockade Gore Windstopper Glove

The Dakine Blockade gloves aren’t technically designed for mountain biking, but worked great anyways (photos: Aaron Chamberlain)

Technically, the Blockade gloves are from Dakine’s snowsports line, as they no longer make a dedicated winter bike glove. No matter, as I found the Dakine Blockade gloves to be excellent performers on the trail. The back of the gloves is made from Gore’s Windstopper softshell material, which as the name suggests, does an excellent job of blocking the wind. Most of the rest of the Blockade glove is constructed from a soft, fleece material, save for some Clarino synthetic suede patches on the palms and fingers. The wrist is made from comfortable neoprene and uses a hook and loop closure to tighten the fit.

I’m often on the cusp between large and extra large glove sizes, so Dakine recommended going with the XL size for these. The fit through the fingers and palm was excellent, with just a tad too much material around the thumb for me. Unlike some of the thicker gloves, I didn’t have issues with bunching in the palm.

The Dakine Blockade gets high marks for fit and dexterity, but they also proved to be surprisingly warm for how light they are. On a couple rides the temperatures plunged into the 20s, but as long as I kept moving, my hands stayed warm. Where the Blockade gloves struggled was in wet conditions, whether that was from the sky or from sweating. Once damp, the gloves lost much of their warmth. However, being relatively thin, they dried quickly.

Best use: Versatile, windproof glove for riding in temperatures above freezing.

Weight: 2.6oz (pair, size XL)

Price: $40

Info: Dakine.com

Hits:

  • Excellent fit and dexterity
  • Great value
  • Warm for their weight
  • Gore Windstopper works as advertised

Misses:

  • Not good in the wet
  • Not touchscreen compatible

Buy Dakine Blockade at Backcountry

Endura Deluge II Glove

The Endura Deluge II gloves will keep your hands warm even when wet (photos: Aaron Chamberlain)

You have to assume the Scots at Endura would know how to make gear that will keep you warm and dry. We’ve tested numerous products from them and have yet to be disappointed. The Endura Deluge II gloves sport 40g Thinsulate brand insulation; a waterproof, seam-sealed membrane; a terry nose wipe; a synthetic suede palm; and a long cuff.

Endura was another company to recommend going with the XL size for my mitts. I’m certainly glad I did, as even the XLs fit snugly on my hands. I don’t think I would have been able to wear the Deluge II in a size large. The close fit and thin insulation worked together to create a glove that was warm without being bulky; there was no bunching in the palms.

I typically don’t like any additional padding in the palm of a glove as it negatively affects my dexterity, but the gel pads Endura used are thin and unobtrusive. I’d rather not have the gel pads there at all, but these didn’t bother me. Being windproof, waterproof, and insulated, the Endura Deluge II gloves provide a complete barrier against the elements. On cold, dry rides where I was really working up a sweat, my hands would eventually start shifting inside the outer shell. That said, the snug fit kept the shifting minimal. Even when sweaty, the Deluge gloves kept my hands warm.

Endura included their touchscreen compatible E-Swipe material at the tip of both index fingers, but in practice results were mixed. I would often succumb to frustration and just remove a glove to send a text or answer a call.

Best use: Cold, wet rides down to the low 30s F.

Weight: 4.2oz (pair, size XL)

Price: $65

Info: Endurasport.com

Hits:

  • Waterproof and warm but not bulky
  • Excellent dexterity
  • Reflective accents
  • Good value

Misses:

  • Touchscreen compatibility is finicky

Buy Endura Deluge II on Amazon.com

Gore Bike Wear Universal GT Thermo Glove

The Gore Bike Wear Universal GT Thermo gloves are like parkas for your hands (photos: Aaron Chamberlain)

The Gore Bike Wear Universal GT Thermo gloves are the heavy-hitters in this roundup. They were — by far — the warmest pair of gloves in this comparison. I used the Universal GT Thermo gloves a handful of times on the mountain bike, but to be honest, they were often overkill. At least they were for riding anyways, as the Thermo gloves became my go-to general purpose winter gloves for walking the dog, hiking, or driving.

Being the warmest gloves in the test, it’s probably not surprising that the Universal GT Thermo gloves were also the bulkiest. Besides being bulky, the materials used felt thicker, which hampered dexterity slightly. The positive spin to that is that the Gore gloves look like they’ll withstand years of use. The backhand is made from a heavy-duty nylon; the neoprene cuff is long and has a huge velcro closure; and the palm is a synthetic leather with some slight padding on the edge. Attention to detail is impeccable on this pair of gloves.

Despite the decreased dexterity, the Universal GT Thermo gloves are easy enough to ride in. I was still able to brake and shift well enough to make it comfortably through a ride. Even though the Gore gloves were bulky, their sturdy construction prevented any throttling on the grips.

Best use: When ultimate warmth is your biggest concern.

Weight: 4.6oz (pair, size XL)

Price: $80

Info: Gorewear.com

Hits:

  • Super warm
  • Excellent construction
  • Reflective highlights

Misses:

  • Bulky
  • Not touchscreen compatible

Buy Gore Universal GT Thermo Gloves on Amazon.com

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB Glove

The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB gloves are thin, light, and extremely waterproof (photos: Aaron Chamberlain)

The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB gloves take a slightly different approach than the rest of the gloves on this list. It’s best to consider the Barrier gloves a shell. While they have a soft fleece lining, it’s very thin. Basically, the lining is there for comfort more than for warmth. The Pearl Izumi Barrier gloves real claim to fame is their supreme wind and waterproofness.

I could see riders in the Pacific Northwest really liking the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB gloves. These are the gloves to wear if rain is guaranteed, but temperatures are moderate — Pearl Izumi rates the Barrier WxB gloves for between 35° and 45° F. If I was doing a big ride and there was the potential for rain, I’d chuck the Pearl Izumi gloves in my pack, but start with a different pair. Should you want to eke additional warmth out of the Barriers, order one size up to wear them over a thinner base glove.

Overall, the fit on the P.R.O. Barrier WxB gloves was pretty good. The fingers fit snugly with good length and the cuff extends well up the wrist. There was a little too much room in the palm, but being a thin glove, bunching wasn’t much of an issue. One feature absent from the Barriers was any sort of soft surface for wiping your nose or face. The entire back of the glove is a nylon shell material that is uncomfortable on soft skin. It’s kind of like wiping your nose with a rain jacket.

Best use: Lightweight shell for cool, rainy rides.

Weight: 3.3oz (pair, size large)

Price: $100

Hits:

  • Extremely waterproof
  • Soft fleece lining
  • Grippy palm

Misses:

  • No nose wipe
  • Expensive
  • Not touchscreen compatible

Buy Pearl Izumi P.R.O Barrier WxB gloves at Backcountry

Sugoi RS Zero Glove

The Sugoi RS Zero gloves were the only ones in this roundup with reliable touchscreen capability (photos: Aaron Chamberlain)

The Sugoi RS Zero gloves are extremely close in design, features, and fit to the Endura Deluge II gloves. They sport a 3-layer waterproof construction with insulation on the back of the hand. Sugoi included a generous-sized terry wipe on the backs of the thumbs, and the palm is a nice, soft synthetic leather material. While most of the other glove designs placed reflective strips along the edges, Sugoi opted to run them along the knuckles. In my opinion, that’s a better place for the reflective accents.

For the most part, the fit of the RS Zero glove is consistent with the Endura Deluge II. They are snug and warm, but not bulky. The one big difference in fit comes down to the palm — there’s more room in the Sugoi gloves. When riding, the extra material can bunch up or cause a sensation of throttling, where your hand is twisting on the grip inside the glove. Sugoi opted to place two Poron foam pads on the outer edge of the palm which are relatively low-profile, but again my personal preference is not to have them.

Where the Sugoi RS Zero gloves walked away from the pack is on touchscreen compatibility. The index fingers on both the left and right gloves use a slightly different material than the remaining fingers. It’s a subtle difference in appearance from the rest of the palm, but whatever it is, it works. Interestingly, it’s only those two fingers; none of the other fingers are touchscreen compatible. Regardless, an index finger is all you need, so kudos to Sugoi for figuring it out.

Best use: When it’s wet and near freezing, but you just gotta return that text.

Weight: 4.3oz (pair, size large)

Price: $50

Hits:

  • Ties Endura for warmth and waterproofness
  • Reflective highlights
  • Reliable touchscreen compatibility
  • Great value

Misses:

  • Palm prone to bunching

Buy Sugoi RS Zero gloves at Backcountry

Conclusion and Superlatives

Thankfully, there wasn’t a bad pair of gloves in this test. All of these gloves will keep your hands warm to varying degrees, they’ll block wind and water, and they should last for multiple seasons. If forced to pick my favorites, I’d have to choose the Dakine Blockade and the Endura Deluge II. Dakine gets the nod simply because of where I live. For our typical Georgia winters, the Blockade provides the perfect warmth. On those days where it’s colder and wetter, I’d break out the Deluge II. The Gore Bike Wear Universal GT Thermo gloves are the nicest here in terms of construction and they’re certainly the warmest. If I lived in a slightly colder climate I’d choose the Gore gloves over the Endura gloves.

Taking Jeff’s idea from his $100 All-in-One Lights Roundup, I wanted to give out some superlatives to the contenders in my winter glove roundup:

  • Warmest Glove: Gore Bike Wear Universal GT Thermo
  • Most Comfortable Glove: Endura Deluge II
  • Most Versatile Glove: Dakine Blockade Gore Windstopper
  • Most Reliable Touchscreen Use: Sugoi RS Zero
  • Best Wet Weather Glove: Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB
  • Best Overall Value: Sugoi RS Zero

Thanks to Dakine, Endura, Gore Bike Wear, Pearl Izumi, and Sugoi for providing the gloves in this roundup.

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