An essential for your ultralight bikepacking gear list
I’ve mentioned before how, as a kid, the closest I got to head protection when cycling was one of my mom’s woolly hats she’d knitted for me.
The same level of safety precautions also applied to other parts of my body. Especially palms, elbows and knees. Basically any sticky-out bits that would regularly come into contact with the road as I was attempting another Evel Knievel style move.
My palms, in particular, would often bear the brunt of any impacts. And I have ‘fond’ memories of wheeling my bike back to the house whilst digging gravel out of my hands and trying to stick loose flaps of skin back into place on my fingers.
Too much information about my childhood hand injuries? Yes, probably, and I apologize for that.
In fact, it wasn’t until recently that I started actually wearing cycling gloves. Now I wouldn’t go back to naked palms.
I’ve been through a variety of styles of bike glove and I think it’s horses-for-courses i.e. different types of glove suit different types of bike riding. You clearly need a fine pair of these (and an Italian silk suit) to ride one of these.
Why use cycling gloves?
When I’m heading out for a bike ride, I can decide on the bike I’m taking (say, a mountain bike), the type of riding I’ll be doing (maybe an aggressive downhill route), and choose an appropriate pair of gloves from my expansive cycling gear closet (doesn’t everyone have one of those…?)
It’s a different matter though when you’re bike touring. You won’t have daily access to your cycling gear closet. Cargo space on the bike is likely to be at a premium and so taking multiple sets of gloves isn’t really an option.
So, the question is, what style of cycling gloves are best for multi-day touring adventures?
Let’s take a look, shall we?
In a moment we’ll go through the list of things that you need to consider when you’re choosing a pair of bike gloves for touring. We’ll then have a detailed rundown of the some of the best gloves on the market today.
How to choose cycling gloves
When selecting a pair of gloves to take on a touring adventure, there are a number of factors that you need to think about:
This is really the most important one to think about. In general, for hotter conditions, go with short-fingered gloves with either lycra or mesh on the back to keep your hands cool. Teamed up with a microfiber patch, often on the back of the thumb, to wipe away the sweat.
For cooler temperatures, go with a long-fingered glove, to stop your fingertips turning blue. A thicker, windproof material for the backing can also be a real bonus in icy conditions.
For really chilly, sub-zero temperatures, there’s even the option of getting heated gloves! More on this below.
If you’re going to be cycling for extended periods then you’ll need to make sure that the padding on the palms, especially the base of the palm, is nice and thick. Your feet, butt, and hands are the only contact points with the bike, so they will be taking all your weight as you cycle. So you need to ensure that there is sufficient padding to provide an effective cushion for your hands.
Fingers or no fingers
This choice is partly down to the weather conditions – hotter weather, generally means short-fingered gloves, cooler weather generally means long. It’s also down to personal preference. I like to go with a long-fingered glove for most of the cycling that I do – probably as a result of too many skinned hands in my childhood.
You might think that the color of the gloves is fairly unimportant, but it’s also something that’s useful to consider.
In hot, sunny weather you’ll find that lighter colors absorb less heat than darker. So they can help keep you cooler and stop your hands from getting sweaty.
When you’re cycling in poor light, then a bright colored glove is useful for signaling and drawing the attention of other road users.
Finally… gloves are small items. I personally have lost count of the number of pairs of non-brightly colored gloves that I have lost amongst all my other cycling gear in the closet!
If, like me, you take your phone out with you on your rides (posting pictures on Facebook of my Monday AM cycles 😉 ). Then it can be a pain when you can’t swipe, text, post, or answer calls when you’ve got your long-fingered gloves on.
Clearly this isn’t an issue for short-fingered glove wearers. But for us long-fingered fans it’s a bit of nuisance.
The answer is to make sure that your gloves are touchscreen compatible or capacitive. This is the name for the type of screen you get on an iPhone and lots of the others that respond to the conductive touch of a human finger or stylus. They differ from resistive panels, which just sense pressure.
Ok, hopefully, that’s given you some food for thought. If you’re ready to move on and take a look at the cycling gloves, then we’ll make a start.
My Top Recommended Best Cycling Gloves For Touring
Okay, let’s take a look at each of these in a bit more detail.
These short-fingered gloves from Gearonic prove that you can get a quality pair of bike touring gloves for very little money.
Good padding on the pressure areas of the palms, combined with a non-slip material.
On the backs, the mesh fabric provides comfort and breathability, and the microfibre cloth is useful for wiping your brow after a hard climb.
These are a great pair of gloves for summer touring, at an awesome price.
Aero Tech have come up with a great glove that is practical and has retro style good looks.
Short-fingered, so perfect for hot conditions. Crochet back, which is ideal for both keeping your hands cool and wiping the sweat away. Goatskin leather on the palm and padding across the main contact area.
This is the classic cycling glove and looks great on tour.
The first long-fingered glove on our list and it’s a good one. Plenty of padding on the palm, so it’s very comfortable. The long fingers make it warm in cool conditions and yet the breathable fabric stop your hands getting sweaty in hot weather. Plus it’s touchscreen compatible, so you can update Strava without taking a glove off. Bonus.
This is an excellent pair of gloves for winter touring and Strava updating!
For me these are the holy grail of winter biking gloves.
Full-fingered with a generous length of cuff, plus plenty of insulation. Leather palms and water-resistant finish. Touchscreen compatible, so no need to expose your fingers in chilly conditions.
Did I forget anything…? Oh yes! They’re also heated!
These babies will keep your hands warm for 2.5-6hrs (depending on the heat setting), you can then plug the batteries into a wall socket and they’ll be at full charge in 3-4hrs.
Whatever the weather throws at you on your tour, these gloves will keep your fingers toasty.
These bike gloves from Rigwarl are just awesome. True they don’t have thick padding on the palm. But the leatherette fabric is non-slip and the backing is breathable to keep your hands cool. Whether you choose to leap over a long line of cars whilst wearing these on your tour is entirely up to you and you do so at your own risk.
Release your inner Evel Knievel!
Long bike ride checklist
Pulling together bike accessories for long distance riding? Try one of these pairs of gloves and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Just like a good quality bike helmet, having the right bike gloves can mean the difference between a miserable experience in the saddle or a fantastic adventure.
Make sure it’s the latter.