Looking for Gloves for Bitter Cold

It is friggin cold here — 6°F as I write this, with snow-covered gravel roads and partially-clear paved roads — and the forecast is not promising for at least the next week or so.

I got out yesterday for a very short ride, just 4 miles. The snow was just too fresh, and the gravel roads hadn’t been plowed at all. It was slow going, with 2-3 inches of fresh fluff atop hard-packed ice/snow, it was extremely slippery. I never went down, the the back wheel was fishtailing constantly.

On the positive site, I was rather comfortable, even at 11°F with a 12 MPH wind. Toes were fine, fingers were cold, but manageable, and everything else — head, torso, arms, legs — were just fine, if not a little too warm in places.

But today I got out for another short ride (this time 8 miles!) and the roads were decent, but the comfort level wasn’t nearly the same, especially with the hands.

I’m trying a three-layer system, actually two of them:

  • On my left hand, an UnderArmour ColdGear liner glove, a fluffy fleece glove 40 gram Thinsulate Berber Fleece), and a neoprene windblocker glove/mitten (a fingerless glove with a flip-down cover that turns it into a mitten).
  • On my right hand, an UnderArmour ColdGear liner glove, a neoprene windblocker glove, and a fluffy fleece glove on top.

Three miles into the ride, and my fingertips are freezing. I stopped, and added a polypro glove liner over the ColdGear liner. That helped, but it was still cold. The mitten was marginally better than the glove, but not by enough to really matter.

Why such a big difference between the two days? The temperature wasn’t much difference (maybe 3-4 degrees colder), and the wind was about the same.

I think I need a larger outer wind-blocking glove to replace the tight neoprene glove, to hopefully provide a little more space for insulation.

So I guess that’s my next step.

Unless I say to heck with it and wait for a warming trend. Bah.

DirtBum Written by:

I enjoy riding bicycles all over -- city streets, suburbia, rural roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, rail-trails, and singletrack. I love exploring the countryside and finding the interesting and historical treasures hidden in plain sight. You can follow my rides on Strava.

8 Comments

  1. Tony
    January 5, 2010

    Why wait? There’s an easy solution – BarMitts. Check http://www.barmitts.com. Anything down to freezing point and you can ride all day with summer-weight fingerless gloves – I’m not kidding, I’ve done it. Below that, say in the 20s, a full finger glove is better; wear what you’d normally use as a liner. In the single digits and teens wear the lightly insulated gloves you’d normally wear when it is merely “chilly” out. Try different gloves ’til you find the combo that works for you. I tried winter weight gloves with the barmitts and my hands got way too hot and I’d ride some of the time with my hands out of the mitts just to cool down. I haven’t had cold hands yet this winter – the BarMitts are simply amazing. I’m not affiliated with the company, I just like to ride year-round and this completely solves (not just helps) the cold hand issue at any temperature. I’m planning the ultimate test this Friday – air temp of 6f and wind-chill at -10f.

  2. DirtBum
    January 5, 2010

    Sweet! I’d heard about Pogies, but thought they were only applicable to mountain bike bars. But it looks like these work with drop bars (though you’d have to remove your hands from the mitts to shift with bar-ends). Also it kind of locks you in to riding on the hoods (I tend to spend the majority of my time in the drops).

    Still, they look very interesting. I have some more gloves I’ll be trying, but if nothing else works I may end up trying the BarMitts. They’re certainly an interesting product. Thanks for sharing!

  3. January 7, 2010

    I’ve had lots of luck with Pearl Izumi lobster gloves, the old style. It has a thick plush on top of the hand and at least for me has been great under 30, down to 5F. The one prob- not for me- is that my hands get damp. Other people are bothered by this but it’s all good.

    Good luck. For me it’s the toes I struggle with

  4. January 8, 2010

    I have had good luck with thicker Trek gloves. My fingers stay pretty warm although I would like to try some lobster gloves.

  5. commuterDude
    January 14, 2010

    +1 on the “Bar-mitts” or “pogies” as they’re sometimes known. I have a set of snowmobile lobster-claw mitts made in Alaska… and seriously, anything above 12 degrees F, they are almost TOO warm, even with bare hands underneath. I’ve ridden those gloves down to -9F for over an hour, with no issues… I think it was the only part of my body that was warm. Another method I’ve used is layering, starting with a military surplus wool glove, then a shell (like a windbreaker, but for the hands), then an oversized mitt over that. Three layers… yeah, but sized right, the hands don’t get squeezed: circulation problems can get confused with “these gloves stink” feelings… been there. The three layer method works down to about 10 degrees, single digits are “comfortable”, but not “warm” anymore. And, if it warms up, you can de-layer easily.

  6. DirtBum
    January 14, 2010

    I had the layers going, but too tight of a fit, I think. I bought some bigger wind-blocker gloves with 100-gram Thinsulate. I haven’t ridden again when it’s been cold enough to really test them (not that I’m complaining!).

  7. May 19, 2010

    I’ve had lots of luck with Pearl Izumi lobster gloves, the old style. It has a thick plush on top of the hand and at least for me has been great under 30, down to 5F. The one prob- not for me- is that my hands get damp. Other people are bothered by this but it’s all good.

    Good luck. For me it’s the toes I struggle with

  8. arlen
    January 19, 2011

    after suffering with aching fingers in the cold of the northern rockies and wisconsin…
    i bought from REI a pair of O/R gloves with removable liners….and they are water proof….
    was the best money i spent on gloves…
    i wanted gloves over mittens…so that it would be easier to be using my thumb shifters and hand brakes….
    tried the lobster gloves…not worth it when the temp hits the 30`s….do not waste your money ….

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