One expensive sport is sometimes enough, and a good number of mountain bikers enjoy riding singletrack while their friends drive in search of powder. One key element to making winter riding more comfortable is a solid set of waterproof gloves, and we have tested several pairs to find where they excel, and which seams soak through. All of the gloves below are designed for different levels of playing in the cold.
Best thinner winter option: Chrome Midweight
While marketed as Midweight, these gloves from Chrome are the lightest offering we tested this fall. They are more like a heavy wind layer than a rain or snow glove, fitting in well with shoulder-season temps in most regions. I rode trails with the Chrome Midweight gloves in temperatures down to 40° F when it wasn’t actively raining and my hands were satisfactorily warm. If it were raining at that temperature, or if I was out on a faster road or gravel ride, I would reach for something heavier.
Palm comfort and grip feel are largely forgotten through the winter since gloves tend to be fairly thick and durable where they interact with the muddy handlebar. The palm of this pair is made of far more seams than I would tolerate with a thinner summer set, but the added insulation makes them fairly comfortable. There’s no nose wipe to speak of, so you’ll need to sort that elsewhere. The thumb and index finger pads will actuate a dry touchscreen, but if you need to tap out more than a word or two it’s going to be easier to remove them.
My usual glove size is large and these fit a little snug. They haven’t stretched or broken in much over time, and I would definitely order a size up to have a little extra room for wool liners on brisk rides. You’ll want to be careful with the liners as they seem to pull from the finger slots fairly easily when removing sweaty hands.
Best winter bike commute glove: Gore C5 Gore-Tex Thermo
These Gore C5 Gore-Tex Thermo gloves take the carrot cake as the best commuter or road ride gloves in the test, thanks to the large reflective strip on their pinky to shine back at the drivers behind. There’s also nice soft wipe on the thumb to clear your nose or wipe sweat, and the wrist enclosure cinches tight to fit under the cuff of a rain jacket. Speaking of rain, these gloves are among the most waterproof in the bunch. I left for a few rides amidst a storm and my hands stayed warm enough on all but a few of the wettest days when nothing would have done better.
The palms of the C5 Gore-Tex Thermo gloves are similarly stitch-heavy and padded to create a fatter winter hand feel. The synthetic leather palm provides decent grip on the grips, and the stitching seems plenty tough to last at least one fully messy season of riding — or more.
Like the Chrome gloves above, these are a touch on the smaller side. The fingers feel slightly shorter than other size large options i have tried. Fortunately, Gore sizing extends all the way to XXXL so there is something to fit everyone.
Best thumb wipe: POC Thermal
POC’s Thermal gloves have gripped the bars on more than a handful of soggy pedals this fall, and their weight seems right for the kind of weather most folks are willing to get into. While they did eventually soak through on stormy singletrack adventures, it took some time to saturate through to my skin. When it’s not actively raining these hand holsters are plenty warm for a 34° F afternoon, or even cooler as long as you keep the blood flowing.
The palms have a nice feel on the bars — for thicker winter gloves — and the synthetic leather feels well attached to the liner. That attached feel means the gloves don’t have the “floaty” feeling that some of these pairs exhibit when the inner and outer fabric slide around. Like the Chrome gloves, the last two fingers on these are reflective to give drivers one more clue that there’s a bike in front of them. The supple thumb wipe will keep your runny nose happy for the duration of a ride, so wipe away!
These fit closer to my usual large, with just enough space in the fingers to be perfectly cozy. I would size up if there were any chance of needing liners, as the palms are relatively tight. The smaller palm adds to the fairly solid bar-feel.
Best grip feel: Race Face Conspiracy
Race Face doesn’t mess about with their namesake, and these Conspiracy gloves feel like they were designed for racing. They aren’t the warmest we tested, but they are definitely warm enough for a cold and rainy winter day if you keep the heart beats relatively high. The waterproofing is decent, and the lack of seams helps keep your hands dry for a little longer than some of the other pairs here. The wrist cinch pulls things together for a snug fit under the tightest rain jacket cuffs, which is clutch to keep water from running down the jacket and into the glove.
There are no palm seams to speak of, and the material layers integrate well to create a great fiil at the grip. These are some fo the best feeling winter gloves we’ve tested, with solid grip that instills more confidence than most warm hand layers. The index and middle fingers look like they might engage a touch screen, but you’ll need to take these off to check your texts.
The Conspiracy gloves fit fairly tightly in size large, which is what you likely want if you’re racing in the rain. Riders with larger hands might be out of luck, as these only go up to a size XL, and the palm portion isn’t super roomy. For anyone who they do fit these will likely become a favorite bit of kit for cooler adventures.
These gloves are a good deal at $49 for any of the five sizes that all come in black.
Best waterproofing: Showers Pass Crosspoint Hardshell Waterproof
The Crosspoint Hardshell gloves from Showers Pass kick the cold weather protection up another notch or two. They are more like skiing gloves that work well on the bike, and apart from heated mittens these will likely keep your hands as warm as they can get. The shell is bulkier than some, which contributes to their warmth while making it trickier to fit them under some jacket cuffs. The velcro cinch gets them tight enough to slide under some jackets, but it’s not something you’ll want to do multiple times per ride. I managed to soak these through during one trail-swim, but in any weather I actually want to ride in they do the trick. There’s no dedicated nose wipe, but the material is soft enough that it works if you work it.
The material layers in these do tend to slide across one another on the grips which isn’t ideal, but those are the same layers that provide warmth and winter comfort. The palms are padded, which likely works well on harder drop bars but it feels unnecessary for mountain biking. The synthetic leather grip holds fast in the wet despite allowing your hand to shift around inside somewhat. For riding or racing in frigid conditions, these are likely your best bet.
Following the theme here, these gloves are a little tight. I like snug gloves, and the Crosspoint Hardshell delivers what I would expect in a size large. There is a little extra space in the palm in case you want to insert heating packets, but the fingers are tight enough that you’ll want to size up to add a liner.
Simplest all around option: Showers Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool
The complexity that’s woven into things that seem simple never ceases to surprise me. These warm little wool gloves form Showers Pass feel fantastic on most cold and soggy outings, and they pack a larger punch than meets the eye. With the appearance of a midweight wool glove, this pair has plenty of stretch to fit well while keeping a good amount of water at bay. The cuff is plenty long to fit under your jacket sleeve, and the whole glove is basically a giant wipe to keep your leaky nose ready for that next selfie. The palm is covered in little grippers, but it’s not touch-screen approved.
The stretchy material moves around a bit on the grips, but the rubberized palm stays put and overall these have a decently connected feel on the bars. There are no seams to leak or snag or to annoy your skin, and if you want winter gloves that are as simple as your summer pair these might be ideal.
Sizing with the Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool pair is a little more subjective since they stretch. I am diggin’ the large that fits somewhat tight in the fingers, with space to stretch a heating packet above the palm if needed. These could fit inside another pair of gloves for the gnarliest rides provided the outer layer is a size larger than you need.
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