I'm starting to plan ahead for winter riding, and gloves are definitely high on the list.

What gloves work well for winter riding? Are cycling-specific gloves the way to go for a flat-bar bike with index/thumb shifters? Would regular winter gloves be good enough?

Another option I'm considering is buying some MTB gloves (full finger, some small amount of insulation) and wearing them inside regular winter gloves on the extra nasty days--letting me keep some protection if I need to ditch the thicker gloves (for repairs, or any other time the larger gloves get in the way). Is this advisable?

Update 1: I should mention I live in Burlington, VT. Lots of days below (and some well-below) freezing, and lots of snow :-D

Update 2: More clarification! I'm hoping to commute in the winter on a fairly short route. Initially (late fall) it will be ~4.25 miles, but hopefully by the time real winter sets in it will be about half that distance to a new location. I'd expect my ride will consistently be 20-30 minutes, so I'm looking for something that will work well for a relative short while--but not worried about all-day hauls.

  • 1
    Lots of info here: icebike.org/Clothing/handprotection.htm
    – Mac
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 6:59
  • Too short for a real answer, but ski gloves are good especially for a ride that's long enough to get properly cold but not long enough to warm up again. Be sure to get them plenty big enough though, especially with thumb shifters. I've seen high-vis ski gloves in the bike department of a shop round here - they might be a good option as ski gloves are ften dark and not good for signalling.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 9:05
  • Commuting in winter in Montreal, I was using snowboard mitts. Anything else was not warm enough. No issue for braking or changing gear.
    – njzk2
    Commented Jan 4, 2020 at 21:07

13 Answers 13


Bike-specific full-finger gloves are generally going to give you more dexterity, allowing you finer control over shifters and brake levers. They'll also have padding in the places you need it when riding. However, very few of these gloves will be warm enough for winter riding.

The best solution I've found is to ride with a few layers of gloves, using full-finger gloves as the outer layer and thin gloves as the inner layers. On longer rides, you may need to pack several pairs of gloves and switch off as you need to warm up and cool down.

Wind is your biggest enemy when riding in the cold, and your fingers will get cold. Options to prevent this include thicker gloves (like ski gloves), although these will make your hands clumsier; and lobster-claw gloves, which keep groups of fingers together. (Essentially, these are mittens with a split making you look like a Vulcan about to tell someone to "live long and prosper".) I haven't had to get one of those - yet.

Here's what I use, and why:


(click this image for a larger version)

Upper left: Regular cycling gloves

I'll use these, usually with glove liners underneath, when riding in slightly warmer winter weather.

Upper right: Glove liners

These are about the thickness of denim, but can be rolled up like a small pair of socks. I usually take them along for that reason along, but they serve well under regular cycling gloves or even full-finger gloves.

Lower left: Full-finger cycling gloves

I used to bring bulky ski gloves along before I got these. The full-finger cycling gloves I have are made by Gore, and are super-warm (more so than those bulky ski gloves) and water-repellent. It's a bit of a squeeze to fit liners under them, but it works well. The disadvantage of these gloves is that I can't work my GPS or phone easily with these on. They're also overkill when I'm not riding, or if I'm riding slowly.

Lower right: Conventional winter gloves

These are good for off the bike on a tour, or when the Gore gloves are too warm but the liners/half-finger gloves are too cold. These are also excellent for snowball fights.

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    +1 for the comprehensive answer. For my cold weather commuting dollar I love my lobster style gloves. The are a great balance of warmth and dexterity. I have a couple different pair.
    – Gary.Ray
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 4:04
  • @Gary - Thanks! Been meaning to check out lobster-claws, but they're kinda pricey and what I have does the job well enough. If I were riding more in winter - say, a long commute every day - I'd have more incentive to pick up a pair. Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 4:10
  • Turned this into a post on my blog, although I expanded it a lot so non-cyclists can follow better: Winter Cycling Gloves Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 4:26

Riding pretty much year round (I <3 my Pugsley) in the high mountains out AZ, I've had to come up with a few glove solutions for the different weather. I don't think I would be able to ride every day without each of the following:

  • Beard-freezing cold (10F and below): Bar Mitts combined with the Gore or Pearl gloves below. These make it so that at 20F I can ride with my summer gloves. They work AMAZINGLY well and also cover the glove/jacket barrier.
  • Deep cold (20F - 10F): Gore Radiator gloves. For the most part wind and water proof. The combined ring/pinky slot helps quite a bit, as my pinkies always get cold first, except with these gloves. Super warm, and keep the elements out, but can get sweaty if the weather warms up much at all.
  • Light cold (20F - 40F): Pearl Izumi Select. These are a good mid-range glove. They're not air-tight, but they do offer some protection and the gauntlet up the wrist helps with that gap between jacket and glove.
  • Summer riding (20F - 110F): Specialized Body Geometry - Ridge. Just general summer riding gloves with padding in the right places. Full-mesh back so they stay cool even on trips to the hotter parts of AZ, while still protecting your hands from falls and sunburns.

I would also suggest you check out Pearl Izumi's website for gloves. They have a pretty wide array, and most of the ones they make in my size (quadruple-extra-jumbo) fit and work rather well.

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    Bar Mitts. Listen to this man.
    – Koobz
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 5:47

I've ridden through two winters in the Pacific Northwest, and while our winters might not get as frigid, I have formed similar conclusions to our fellows, but I would like to frame my answer from more of a preparedness point of view.

  • core temperature affects hand warmth: if your hands are regularly colder than you want with your gloves on, you might actually want to add a layer

  • cut tight wrist elastic: once I realized that circulation was important to hand warmth, I noticed that I had gloves with really tight elastic wrists. I took my pocket knife to them and sliced up some of the elastic and they work much better now that they don't fit so tightly around my wrists (layers of gloves can exacerbate that pressure)

  • layers of gloves: polypro glove liners are inexpensive and quite effective, I keep spare liners around because if I lose some, I don't want to be stuck without. I try and keep a pair of liners with every other glove pair I might want (one for the work gloves, one for the flip mits, one for the mittens)

  • latex or nylon middle layer: I when it's below 30F, I often get a pair of disposable nylon work gloves over my polypro liners. This keeps my warm moisture in, keeps the wind out. This can be inconvenient and a tight fit has mixed results.

  • Fleece flip-mits over liners: I find the fleece can block wind well, and that a mitten is warmer than a glove. I've commuted with Goretex ski mits, those work so long as you can grab the brakes, but flip-mits are a lot more convenient

  • brightly colored leather work gloves: you might find reflective or fluorescent colored workman's gloves at your hardware store. I like bright colored gloves because people can see you signal better at dusk or at night (and I've done a lot of dark, rainy commuting)

  • gloves that match the task: like Atlas latex super-grip gloves, these are nylon mesh gloves dipped in latex rubber and you can get a tight grip on oily surfaces with them. I keep a pair with my tire cables in the car. (If you also have a car, consider keeping these around for cable changing.) I keep a pair of leather gloves handy when I need to work outside and I don't want to tear fleece gloves

  • gloves you can clip or velcro together: losing a glove is the pits, and I am often shoving something in my rear jacket pocket and missing, and its cold enuf that I just don't notice that I've dropped it. I really like gloves that clip together because I'm less likely to lose them.

  • disposable hand warmers: if you have to change a tube or other task and you need to take your gloves off, or your hands get soaked in slush, keeping a chem hand warmer packet can really be a quick recovery for a very frustrating moment

  • ziplock pogies (or proper pogies, even!) I've seen locals craft envelopes of coroplast over their drops or use gallon sized ziplocks over their flat bars to keep rain and wind out. I use gallon sized ziplocks with cardboard on the inside to be brightly colored and more stiffly open. This helps keep my gloves dry while its raining, visible in the dark (I should add reflectors), and the wind off. if it's above 25F, I can just do with my glove liners while my pogies are installed.

I hope this gives you some useful ideas. Best of luck on your winter commute!


I've gone through a lot of gloves over the years and have to say that effective cycling gloves for cold weather are a really hard problem. No one glove can work for all of the cold temperature ranges. That is why Neil has several.

As Neil said, wind is your enemy. This is more insidious than it seems at first because it means that you need gloves that block the cold air, but if they block the cold air, it means that they're also holding in moisture. Over time your sweat will make you miserable and give you cold hands no matter what you're wearing.

The right gloves or combination of gloves will keep your hands warm but no so warm that they sweat too much. This is a tricky balance that is impossible to achieve with only one pair over a wide cold temperature range.

  • I've never felt a need to buy wool gloves. But I suspect, based on what I've read, that wool gloves can absorb an extraordinary amount of moisture before they start to feel wet, and that they still insulate fine even after they feel wet. Dear all: Am I correct? Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 1:45
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    Wool is a great material for its ability to function when wet. It does work for certain conditions as a glove material by itself, however the fact that there's openings in the wool fabric means it admits cold air. For gloves, wool is best used as a base-layer/insulating layer with some type of wind-screening material on the exterior like gortex.
    – Angelo
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 14:02
  • John Forester wrote in the on p. 34 of Effective Cycling (6th ed.) that Gore-Tex has insignificant advantages for cyclists. In the rain, it doesn't allow any moisture out at all. And when it's not raining, it doesn't transpire as fast as cyclists sweat. Maybe nylon plus a durable water-resistant spray is better than Gore-Tex? P.S. Please ping me with "@unforgettableid" when you reply. Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 1:14
  • @unforgettableid, like I said, no "one" glove can cover all conditions. Many gloves, however, use gore-tex for the outer-shell. Look at Neil Fein's answer. I'd be skeptical of John Forester's claims if they're anecdotal.
    – Angelo
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 2:14
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    In my experience goretex is generally useless for aerobic activities with the one exception of gloves. Your hands don't sweat that much and the windproofness of goretex can help a lot. Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 0:29

I like these: http://www.rei.com/product/803542/pearl-izumi-cyclone-bike-gloves-womens They've got texturing for gripping, and they fit very snuggly which I find essential. Also the seams on the fingers were not at all scratchy/itchy, which is a problem I've have with other biking gloves.

Depending on where you are though, they might not be warm enough. In Boston I switched to something warmer maybe around December. All the warmer gloves I have tried so far have been too thick.

  • Thanks! I updated my question to mention that I'm a few hours west-northwest of you in Burlington, VT. It sounds like they're good candidates for fall riding, but might not be warm enough when winter really hits
    – STW
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 17:53

Back when I used to do a lot of winter cycling (southern MN) I'd generally wear glove liners, then either a loose fingered "driving glove" or a ski mitt.

In general, I'd say no matter what you do have at least two layers, and have the outer layer (which should be wind-proof) easily removed. On a bike you often need good finger dexterity to fiddle with something, and you can't do that with heavy gloves on. But remove all gloves and your hands go numb quickly.

The glove liners I use are polypropylene (most recently from Performance brand, since I can no longer find the better brand I used to buy), knit as one piece, a little heavier than T-shirt fabric. (There are heavier sewn glove liners, but they're generally too thick to wear under regular gloves.) In fact, I have about ten pair, and I still use them sometimes on cool rides (under regular fingerless gloves), plus I keep a pair in every jacket -- handy even off the bike.


Any one who is serious about riding in the winter needs give some type of bar mits a close look.

Nothing & I mean absolutely nothing comes close to working as well at keeping hands warm, dry while also giving the dexterity needed for shifting & braking.

Most are a basic shell that attach to to the bars. They allow you to wear much thinner regular gloves maintaining needed desterity. They are called simply Bar mitts, poagies etc.


I have used the gloves from wetseal for the past three winters riding every day to and from both school and work. They are good down to about 20F then I switch to my snowboarding mittens which are harder to shift and brake with but they are crazy warm. I was thinking about getting a pair of those split mittens the vulcan style mitten as mentioned above. That seems like a good place to look for 20-0F but below that you'd probably want pogies.

  • Welcome to the site! We normally try to steer clear of specific product recommendations but your answer as a whole gives a good range of options. Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 21:18

I have tested electrically heated gloves this morning (SnowLife Heat GTX) and they proved to be efficient. It is in the conditions when otherwise warm leather gloves are not enough on E-bike. I was getting hands so cold it forced me to switch the engine off to get warmer.

The USB-rechargeable battery is claimed to last 3 hours even at maximal setting in the manual. My travel is less than one hour one way.


I postulate that poagies are the answer for actual cold weather conditions (below freezing). I wear the same full finger gloves year round from 75F to -40F. I have two sets of poagies from Dogwood Designs, one of the lighter sets and a plus set that allow this. My personal experience is that the gloves required to keep hands warm at temperatures lower than 20F also tend to hamper manual dexterity and make shifting and braking a pain. Poagies have the added bonus of keeping your shifters and brake levers clean in nasty conditions.


I just recently bought a pair of battery powered gloves - quite expensive but I have a good feeling about them. The brand is Volt. They're recommended by both bicyclists and motorcyclists.

My biggest problem is that my hands sweat profusely, complicating the issue hugely. This is going to sound weird, I know, but I've discovered that if I apply antiperspirant on them, it helps a great deal.

So, a little antiperspirant and a pair of Volt battery powered gloves for this winter. Will let you all know.

If you take a look at the Volt gloves online, they are stand-alone gloves as they are: top notch leather, more than ample insulation, extremely well made. Retailed at $200 but I managed to get them for $60. Plug in the battery packs every evening or so (depending on how long you're out) and you're all set but if, by chance, you forget and the batteries die, you'll most likely be all set.

The complication of my hands is Raynauds syndrome - therefore the antiperspirant.

  • Well, yes, anti-perspirant prevents sweating. It seems like an extra level of complexity to this over non-heated gloves (which are most likely enough) and not warm enough the day your batteries run out/low.
    – Batman
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 2:53

When you find proper gloves (and/or perhaps pogies), you'll have a problem with sweat.

Even in subfreezing temperatures the entire body sweats, not just the hands. If the layer of clothing right next to the skin remains wet, and gloves are particularly prone to this, one will be cold very soon.

Skiers have a long-established solution: base layers made from a wicking (polyester or wool) material.

This applies to the hands. It's a blessing if your hands are perfectly warm. Wear a base layer for the hands as well, in the form of thin (silk, polyester, or wool) gloves. They will wick the sweat away from the skin, but will not make the gloves get wet inside. There will be hopefully a thin layer of air to dissipate the sweat. And when you take a break do take off the gloves for ventilation and, ironically, to cool down your hands.


My experience with gloves are that you require three types of gloves:

  • Gloves for favorable weather, you use them above 12 degrees Celsius. These are your summer gloves. You may choose full finger gloves if you want, but it isn't necessary for the gloves to be full finger gloves. However, if they aren't full-finger, you may need to raise the temperature limit from 12 degrees Celsius to a higher value.
  • Gloves for cold weather, you use them between 2 and 12 degrees Celsius. These are your autumn and spring gloves. When choosing the gloves, be sure to ensure that they are thin enough to operate STI shifters, if you use a road bike with STI shifters. Usually gloves ideal for use between 2 and 12 degrees Celsius are thin enough that STI shifter operation is possible.
  • Gloves for really cold weather, you use them below 2 degrees Celsius. These gloves will be so thick that operating STI shifters is practically impossible. Any glove able to operate STI shifters would have too little heat insulation. Thus, you need a bike without STI shifters -- for example, a bike with bar-end shifters or a flat bar bike with MTB-style trigger shifters. Or maybe you could ride the bike as "pseudo single speed" bike, using only one gear. Downshifting the rear derailleur is possible, though, so if you selected too high gear, you may downshift. Upshifting the rear derailleur is what is practically impossible, unless you stop at the end of a hill, take a glove off, upshift with your bare fingers, put a glove back on and continue riding.

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