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In the world of cycling, there’s few things worse than a cold and miserable ride if you aren’t equipped for the task. Staying warm and comfortable in the winter months is essential, as it means more time out on the bike and less time with your frozen hands under the hot tap at home.
Whilst heated cycling gloves have had a surge in popularity in the past few years, they’re riddled with issues. They’re understandably an appealing choice, but there’s many other ways to ensure that you can keep your hands protected on those chillier days.
Cycling Gloves for Warm Hands
Let’s jump into why you shouldn’t buy heated cycling gloves, and why you should consider buying these 3 alternatives – which are quite frankly miles better – instead. We’ll also look at a few precautions you can take to make your cold rides more comfortable for your hands.
What Are Heated Cycling Gloves?
Heated cycling gloves are gloves that are equipped with built-in heating elements and are usually powered by rechargeable batteries. They aim to provide warmth to your hands during colder weather conditions by literally heating them.
They are available in various styles and designs, offering differing levels of insulation. They may also have a degree of waterproofing and touchscreen compatibility for convenience.
They are, in theory, a convenient way to keep your hands toasty and prevent long term damage, however, in practice, they have many issues.
Do Electric Heated Gloves Work?
Whilst electric heated gloves can offer some warmth and protection, they do unfortunately have several major drawbacks. They are usually expensive, some exceeding $200, the batteries require monitoring and replacement and, in extreme cold, could potentially prove to be dangerous.
Electric heated gloves have to balance warmth, dexterity, comfort and protectiveness, and inevitably have to compromise in at least one of those fields. They’re usually bulky to accommodate the batteries, resulting in reduced movement, and they’re very often inconsistent in terms of the coverage of hand-heating.
Options such as the Sealskinz Heated Cycle Glove, for example, are a reasonably well made option, but they’re expensive, heavy and don’t keep your fingers warm. For over $200, one would hope for a little better.
Are Heated Cycling Gloves Worth It?
With all things considered, heated cycling gloves are generally not worth it. Whilst there are a few brands, such as Gerbing or Volt, producing reasonably good options, they are generally not a good investment for a number of reasons.
They’re bulky, heavy and uncomfortable because the gloves have to accommodate the battery which, at least currently, is too big.
What you may gain in warmth, you’re also likely to lose in dexterity and manoeuvrability. If you have to take off your gloves in order to use a key or remove a card from your wallet, they’re too bulky.
Across the board, they also have consistently poor reviews. This is mostly due to the fact that there has to be a compromise made, and it appears that -so far- no one has been able to produce a heated cycling glove for a reasonable price that can keep your hands warm whilst you can still move them.
If you do insist on buying heated cycling gloves, invest in a good, reputable brand. As they increase in popularity, it’s inevitable that there will be knock-off products introduced to the market to meet demand.
Unfortunately, it’s highly likely that there will be compromises when it comes to battery safety, and so, it’s best to avoid these ‘budget’ options unless you want to risk malfunctioning or in the worst case scenario, burning your hands.
Warmest Gloves for Cycling
When it comes to maintaining warmth during your rides, invest in well designed gloves that utilise good materials, such as Gore-Tex or PrimaLoft. Remember, the goal of the gloves is to insulate your hands and retain warmth.
There are, unfortunately, few to no gloves that can provide all the warmth and movement that you need. That being said, there are plenty of decent options available to satisfy most needs, as long as you aren’t planning on extended bikepacking trips through bitterly cold environments.
It’s generally better to invest in thermal gloves, but more on that later.
How to Keep Your Hands Warm While Cycling
There are a few key ways to keep your hands warm and comfortable whilst on your bike.
- Layering: Start with a thin base layer glove that’s moisture-wicking to keep your hands dry. Then, add a thicker glove on top for insulation and heat retention.
- Hand Warmers: Use non-electric hand warmers that can generate heat when activated. You can place them inside of gloves on particularly cold days.
- Pogies: Handlebar mitts, or, ‘Pogies’, are insulated covers that enclose your handlebars and provide a space for your hands out of the wind.
- Hand Exercises: Keep your blood flowing, warm up and stretch before cycling. Wiggle your fingers, rotate your wrists and try to keep good circulation.
- Proper Clothing: Wearing proper clothing, such as a good pair of socks, also contributes to your overall warmth.
Thermal Cycling Gloves for Winter
To keep your hands warm whilst cycling in the winter, there’s few things better than thermal cycling gloves. Excelling in providing insulation and flexibility, they usually utilise specialised materials and innovative design to ensure that your hands stay toasty.
Not only do they insulate, but good cycling gloves should be able to manage moisture whatever the weather. From preventing sweat on the inside to resisting water on the outside, they should be great in the rain or the snow.
A good pair of thermal cycling gloves should also have good grip and dexterity. What use is warmth on your hands if you can barely feel the handlebars or the brakes? It’s always an added bonus if the gloves have touchscreen compatibility too, especially if you’re planning on using your phone for navigation.
Best Thermal Cycling Gloves
Here’s our breakdown of the 3 best thermal cycling gloves on the market today.
Prices are approximate
Materials: Outer: 52% Polyester, 27% Polyamide, 18% Polyurethane, 3% Elastane; Middle: 100% Polyurethane Membrane; Inner: 100% Polyester
Come with ‘lifetime waterproof guarantee’
Based in the UK, Sealskinz are a reputable brand that was founded in 1996. They aim to use their technologies to combat poor weather conditions. Initially producing for other outdoor activities, they now produce a range of products for cyclists, and we’re grateful for it.
Unlike the bulky electric heated gloves, the all weather cycling gloves have enhanced control through their zero liner movement, meaning that you have a good amount of dexterity. The velcro-activated cuff isn’t so long, but the dense material on the palm side should keep the worse of the air from escaping.
Equipped with a fleece thumb wiper to take care of anything running, it’s also advertised as a four season product, and, you can even throw it in the wash as it doesn’t require any special treatment!
These are also 100% waterproof cycling gloves and even come with a “Lifetime Waterproof Guarantee”, such is Sealskinz’ confidence in their effectiveness.
Smart-looking, capable gloves that can be used in all conditions. And, at a fraction of the cost of their electric counterparts. What’s not to love?
Prices are approximate
Materials: 80% Polyester, 20% Cotton. Also contains a Korean Hipora waterproof and breathable insert.
Touchscreen friendly for index finger
The British lifestyle brand Proviz was founded in 2008 by two brothers who intended to be the world’s most innovative enhanced visibility sports brand. And, spoiler alert, they’re doing a great job.
The REFLECT360 gloves have a 100% reflective outer shell which helps make hand signals more visible to other road users. There’s also padded palm reinforcement and a silicone web grip, meaning you won’t lose hold of your handlebars when the rain comes down.
A micro-fleece lining will make sure your hands stay toasty whilst also allowing moisture to escape.
The closure is a simple and effective adjustable hook and loop on the cuff.
Prices are approximate
Materials: 85% Polyester, 10% Leather, 5% Elastane
A household name for all cycling enthusiasts, Rapha was founded in 2004. It has he aim of redefining comfort and aesthetics in cycling.
These gloves include a low-profile shape and a simple pulling mechanism to maintain a snug fit.
With a suede palm, reflective logos, a nose wipe and a soft fleece lining, the Winter Gloves are comfortable, smart and keep you seen on the road.
They’re, as their name suggests, built to hold off the winter elements, and they do a fantastic job of that. They’re water resistant (note: not waterproof), and they’re insulated in all the right places.
The palm also features comfortable gel padding to make sure you don’t get any blisters or soreness after extended periods on the saddle.