You don't have to be in the pro peloton to know that operating your brake levers with numb, frostbitten fingers probably isn't a great idea.
That's why, as we enter the chillier half of the year, a solid pair of winter cycling gloves becomes one of the most important elements of your cold-weather kit.
“The main challenge when dressing for winter riding is keeping hands and feet warm,” says Hanna Claesdotter, product developer at Rapha.
“Freezing fingers or toes is usually the weak link that makes people give up outside riding when the temperature drops. Dressing hands and feet for slightly harsher conditions than the rest of your body can help prevent an early bailout.”
The way Hanna sees it, a good winter cycling glove needs to provide a perfect balance of warmth and dexterity. So, that’s exactly what we were looking for when we put the latest options from the best brands to the test.
Each pair of winter cycling gloves featured below was ridden hard on the wind-battered roads of the northeast coast, in some of the wildest and wettest conditions the UK has to offer.
So, if you’re looking to invest in warm hands this season, here’s where you should be putting your money.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Rapha winter gloves
London-based cycling brand Rapha has pedalled through its fair share British winters. That’s evident when you pull these snug-fitting winter gloves on for the first time. Boasting insulated padding to the back of the hand, strategically positioned gel inserts to the palm, a DWR coating and a secure ribbed cuff, they’re perfectly equipped to block out the worst of the weather while keeping you planted on the bars.
The touchscreen functionality was the most efficient of all the gloves we tested and the reflective detail on the little finger is a nice addition too. The fleecy lining is soft and comfortable and finger mobility is so good it’s easy to forget you have gloves on at all after a few miles.
Buy now £80.00, Rapha
Pas Normal Studios control mid gloves
Pas Normal Studios’ fashion-forward take on cycling apparel has seen the Danish label become the go-to for style conscious cyclists from around the world. These low-profile winter gloves are a great example of what the brand does best: minimalist styling but packed with technical features. The first thing you’ll notice is the signature bold branding to the back of the hand, which is finished with reflective detailing to keep you seen on the roads.
The fleece lining is sufficiently thick to keep hands warm on even the frostiest of descents, while the slim silhouette makes them the most aesthetically pleasing gloves we encountered by far. The open-cuff design might be off putting to some but it caused no issues during testing, even in heavy rain.
Buy now £76.25, Browns Fashion
Dhb extreme winter gloves
Wiggle’s in-house brand Dhb is great for finding reliable kit at reasonable prices. Take these waterproof and windproof winter gloves for example. They’re packed with hollow-fill insulation to trap warmth, articulated in the fingers for mobility and finished with a brushed-fleece lining. Plus, they’ll leave you with change from £40, which means more money to spend on bib tights, base layers and winter cycling shoes to make your winter season as comfortable as possible.
Buy now £35.00, Wiggle
Giro pivot 2.0 gloves
Giro’s pivot 2.0 was one of only a few pairs of fully waterproof gloves we tested. On the whole, a good level of water repellency tends to be better than out-and-out waterproofness, as hands can quickly get sweaty in changeable conditions. However, Giro’s “direct dry solution” tech offers good breathability and a waterproof membrane, meaning you get the best of both worlds.
There’s also a Velcro adjuster at the cuff for a snug fit, ergonomic padding to the palms and towelling fabric to the side of the hand for wiping off wet glasses. Insulation is minimal but the outer fabric is pretty good at blocking the wind so it’s not a big issue when riding. In short, if you know you’re going to be mostly riding in wet conditions, upwards of freezing, then this is a good glove for you.
Buy now £69.99, Giro
Gore Wear gtx infinium thermo split gloves
With a day-glo yellow finish and lobster-claw design, these winter gloves from Gore Wear aren’t going to win any awards for subtlety. Still, the last thing you want is to blend into the background when you’re trying to be seen in dull winter conditions. They might look odd, but the split fingers are actually highly functional. They’re designed to maximise warmth and retain body heat by keeping three fingers together and leaving the index finger free for braking and shifting duties. In terms of fabric, the gloves rely on Gore-Tex Infinium for windproofing and Primaloft insulation for warmth. Both thumbs and index fingers are equipped with touchscreen sensitive material and there’s a silicone print on the palms for grip.
Buy now £61.99, Sigma Sports
Assos winter gloves
The first thing that strikes you about these winter gloves from Swiss cycling apparel stalwart Assos is how thin and lightweight they are. To look at, they don’t appear particularly robust or winterproof. But that’s testament to the incredible design behind them, because as soon as you pop them on it’s a different story. The super soft fleece lining ensures hands are warm and comfortable while the windblock textile used on the back of the hands keeps it that way, even when riding at speed or into an icy headwind. The low-profile design also increases finger dexterity, meaning gears and brakes are very easy to operate and trying to readjust your helmet strap or get an energy gel out of a jersey pocket doesn’t become a ham-fisted ordeal.
Buy now £70.00, Wiggle
Cafe du Cycliste winter cycling gloves
French brand Cafe du Cycliste is on a mission to make cycling gear chic, and as far as we can tell from these winter gloves, it’s succeeding. They’re big, thick, warm and yet somehow elegant and refined at the same time. Maybe it’s the minimalist styling. Perhaps it’s the subtle branding to the cuff strap. Whatever it is, these are some seriously slick winter mitts and their good looks are matched only by their performance. In terms of insulation, these are hands down the warmest gloves we tested.
Granted, that does make them a little puffy but it’s necessary if you’re braving sub-zero conditions on a regular basis. Gel padding to the palms makes for a grippy and comfortable riding experience and the velcro strap seals the cold out. Plus, they come in a handy little canvas gift bag, which is always nice.
Buy now £98.00, Cafe Du Cycliste
Castelli Estremo gloves
Castelli is to cycling kit what Biro is to ballpoint pens. The Italian brand has been making some of the best gear in the business since the late 1800s and was the driving force behind countless industry-shaping innovations. Cycling gloves, of course, are no exception and rated for temperatures between -5C and 5C, the Estremo is Castelli’s warmest option.
The double-lined glove extends up the forearm for maximum protection and makes use of Gore-Tex’s Infinium fabric to seal out the wind. Silicone detailing on the palm offers increased grip, even in wet conditions, and a microsuede thumb panel makes cleaning rain-covered lenses a breeze.
Buy now £85.00, Sorted Racegear
The verdict: Winter cycling gloves
In terms of comfort, dexterity, warmth and functionality Rapha’s winter gloves were head and shoulders above the competition. They’re slim fitting but exceptionally warm and a breeze to use with a smartphone or touchscreen bike computer. Still, they’re not exactly cheap, so if you’re on a tight budget we’d suggest giving Dhb’s gloves a go instead.
For more cycling reviews, read our round-up of the best GPS cycling computers