Words by Dan Cavallari, Kristen Legan, and Spencer Powlison
Photos by Brad Kaminski
With the growing popularity of cyclocross, fat bikes for winter rides, and other cool-weather excursions, the cycling season never stops. In the face of cold, wet weather, it’s no longer enough to simply insulate a glove. The best gloves are sophisticated pieces of equipment, made from waterproof fabrics that keep precipitation from chilling your skin; windstopper fabrics to help maintain dexterity when the wind picks up; breathable fabrics that ensure your own sweat doesn’t work against you; long cuffs at the wrist for layering efficiency; and palm construction that addresses the needs of the cyclist, with strategically placed padding and reinforcement.
Endura Windchill Glove
Cyclocrossers, this thin and tough glove is made for you, but only when the clouds aren’t spitting rain. While it’s windproof, it’s only water-resistant—not waterproof—which is great for light precipitation but not ideal when things get soupy. They fit snugly thanks to the nylon-polyester-elastene construction that conforms to your hand and stays in place when you’re transitioning the bike onto your shoulder. Unlike a full winter glove, the Windchill’s cuffs are fairly short, so there’s a possibility of a gap between your jersey sleeve and the glove itself. The palm is lightly padded with gel zones, strategically placed over key pressure points for a comfortable grip. Consider this a minimalist glove for cold but generally dry races.
Assos’s airBlock technical fabric found on the back and thumb of the bonkaGlove_evo7 fends off wintery winds without excess bulk. These snug-fitting gloves are water-resistant (but not waterproof) for moderate moisture protection. Put your hand down in a snow pile and you’ll be fine; dunk it in a mud puddle and you’ll come up damp. The glove’s textured fingertips and palms grip solidly on brake levers and handlebars, and the overall slender cut, particularly in the fingers, allows you to open gel packets or find a bar in your back pocket while pedaling down the road. The long neoprene cuffs are thin enough to layer under your jacket sleeve and offer extra wind protection right where the breeze likes to sneak in. Pull-tabs at each wrist are a nice touch for pulling the gloves on.
Rapha Winter Gloves
As a rule, cycling gloves get trashed, especially the kind that are worn on long, dirty winter rides. That fact alone makes it a little tough to justify the $120 price tag for this pair from Rapha. However, if you’re doing major miles in cold weather, the dexterity afforded by the Winter Gloves’ trim fit, combined with the soft insulation and windproof shell are invaluable. We also liked how the goatskin leather palm broke in after a few weeks of riding, further improving fit. Beneath that leather, the heel features high-density padding. Some will like that cushion, but others won’t, especially if you prefer the feel of thinly wrapped handlebar tape. The extended wrist protection cinches down, blocking any drips that may stray down your arms toward the gloves.
Louis Garneau Proof
While it’s probably a little too thin for the deep freeze of winter, the 40-gram Thinsulate insulation of the Proof gloves is ideal for colder shoulder season rides. A long inner cuff tucks neatly into your jacket sleeve to keep that pesky breeze out, and though the Velcro strap is probably extraneous—the outer cuff should be loose enough to go over your jacket sleeve—it’s nice to have the option to tighten the cuff if you need to batten down the hatches. The slender design allows for comfortable hand articulation around the handlebars, and the touchscreen-compatible fingertips let you check your smartphone without exposing your bare hands to cold temps. ’Cross racers, don’t fear the mud and rain—the Proof kept us dry in our completely non-scientific, dip-our-hands-in-cold-water test. A moderately padded leather palm stands up to the rigors of twisting and turning in race conditions—we really like the grip when grabbing the down tube during a run-up—and there’s a vent in the center of the palm, presumably for moisture management.
Gore Road Gloves GTX (Editors’ Pick)
Getting the best glove is good; getting the best glove at a reasonable price is even better. Gore’s Road Gloves GTX pack a lot of winter protection into a modest price point. The Gore-Tex construction is designed to keep water out while allowing perspiration to breathe away from the skin; it’s well-proven technology. The glove is windproof, too, which is vital on high-speed descents where the chill of winter is likely to bite hardest. A slender cut leaves plenty of mobility for grabbing your brake levers, and the thin, ergonomic palm stays taut to avoid bunching when grabbing your bars. For such a low-profile glove, it packs plenty of warmth without the bulk, and the extended cuff protects all the way over your wrist. While the wrist opening could be a bit larger for allowing the glove to fit over a jacket sleeve, the Velcro strap is ideal for tightening the wrist over a jersey.