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Bicycle hand warmers
There’s only one thing that I hate more than getting cold fingers when I’m out cycling, and that’s…
No. Wait. Hang on. The truth is that there’s nothing that gets me reaching my (cold) thumb out for the Sad emoji than chilly digits.
I know plenty of people who go out on their bikes, in all weathers, and don’t wear anything on their hands. I honestly don’t know how they do it. When I go, whether it’s in the depths of winter or the height of summer, within the first mile I can already feel the cold start to burrow its way deep into my fingers and thumbs.
Maybe you feel the same way? I got so sick of the pain of cold hands (and the pain of warming them up after a cycle in a hot shower) that I decided to do some research and see what the best options were for keeping our hands warm whilst cycling. Let’s dive in a take a look.
Benefits of cycling gloves
I’m a big fan of cycling gloves and wear them whenever I go out on the bike. They’re great for keeping your fingers warm, and we’ll take a look through the various different styles you can get in a moment. They’re also useful for lots of other reasons as well:
- They keep your hands protected in the event of a crash – no more worries about the agony of skinned palms
- Gloves with gel-padded palms can stop your fingers from feeling numb with the vibration that you can experience during some types of cycling e.g. downhill mountain biking
- In summer, they can stop your hands from getting sweaty and slipping on the handlebars. They can also be useful for wiping the sweat from your brow just after a tough climb, for a, “yeah, I found that kinda easy” look you’re trying to pull off
- Runny nose when you forget your pack of tissues? Sorted
So, I wear cycling gloves whatever the weather and I’m a particular fan of wearing them in the cold.
Which winter cycling gloves?
When you start to research bike gloves you’ll see that there is a multitude of different options to choose from and it can be hard to know where to start and how to narrow it down to the right pair for you. We’re going to look at the various options now (with a recommendation for each) and we’ll also talk briefly about an option for keeping your hands warm that doesn’t even involve your hands. Curious? Let’s move on and take a look.
Of the various options, there are 7 main ways of keeping your hands warm when you’re out on the bike. I’ve listed these below and they’re sorted according to the temperature you’re cycling in, from “it’s going to be a lovely warm day, but there’s still a bit of chill in the air right now” to “if I step outside, my fingers will all fall off”:
- Short finger cycling gloves
- Full finger cycling gloves
- Bike Gilet
- Winter long-finger cycling gloves
- Bike Mittens
- Bar mitts
- Hand warmers
Let’s take a look at these in some more detail.
Best summer cycling gloves review
If the weather is generally warm, but you still find yourself getting cold hands when you’re cycling, then the first place to start is with short-fingered bike gloves like these from HuwaiH. These are great at adding an extra layer of warmth to your hands without getting them too hot and sweaty if the weather is still fairly mild. The half-finger design means that you don’t lose any dexterity and can easily change gear, pull the brakes, etc. They have a mesh backing, which allows sweat to escape and also a gel-padded palm which can give much-needed cushioning between your hand and the handlebar.
These are the style of gloves that I like to use in the summertime. They give just the right amount of insulation without leaving your hands soggy and damp.
Best full finger summer cycling gloves
When the weather starts to get cooler (or, in summer, when I’m heading out on a chilly early morning ride) these are the gloves that I wear. Very similar in style to the half-finger gloves, these give protection all the way from wrist to fingertips. That’s important because I often find that it’s the very tips of my fingers that feel the cold the most.
They’re made from a single tough layer of fabric just like the half-finger gloves, so your hands will stay just the right temperature. Plus, they’re specially designed to be used with touchscreens. Why? Well, if you need to check your phone when you’re out your fingers will start to get chilly straight away if you have to take gloves off to do so.
I know that this might seem like an odd suggestion but hear me out. Windproof cycling vests like this are actually great at helping to keep your hands warm. Why? Well, as you cycle along in cold weather your core temperature starts to drop. As it drops your body will pull in warm blood to keep the important bits of you warm, such as your heart, lungs, and other chest organs. Where does it get this lovely warm blood from? All the bits at the edges of you, such as your nose, toes, and fingers, that your body feels are expendable.
The way to counteract this is to keep your core warm by wearing a windproof gilet like this one from Bpbtti. It works by stopping the icy breeze from hitting your chest, protecting your core temperature, and allowing the warm blood to stay in your fingers and keep those warm too. Try it and feel the difference it makes to your hands.
Winter long finger cycling gloves
Fleece lining on the inside and windproof fabric on the outside make these very cozy indeed. They have anti-slip detailing on the palms so that your hands won’t slip off the handlebars in wet and icy conditions. Plus, the adjustable wristband with the Velcro fastener is great for stopping any cold air from getting to your wrists. They also have touchscreen capability, so there’s no need to take them off to check your phone.
One method of doing this is to use mittens, however, I find that you tend to lose so much dexterity when you have all your fingers in one glove ‘finger’ that it becomes dangerous. For example, not being able to brake quickly in an emergency.
The best alternative I’ve found is to use ‘Lobster gloves’. These are a hybrid of standard gloves (with 5 ‘fingers’) and mittens. They have a slot for your thumb and then two slots for your fingers. These keep pairs of fingers together for the warm and, at the same time, allow plenty of finger movement for braking and gear changing.
Bar mitts review
However, there’s another answer entirely and that’s bar mitts like these. They’re often used by motorbikers going at much higher speeds than us cyclists and that’s probably why they’re only just starting to make it into the world of bicycles.
I have to say they’re awesome. Made from neoprene (the same material as wetsuits are made from) they are totally windproof and you can wear them with a light pair of gloves even in incredibly cold weather. They work by slotting over your handlebars and give you complete access to your grips, brake levers, and gear shifters. Simple to fit. Once you’ve tried them on your first winter ride you won’t be without them again. As one reviewer says, “[these] saved my fingers”. You might see them under different names, but pogies vs bar mitts vs moose mitts, they’re amazing and do an incredible job at keeping your fingers warm.
Winter cycling hand warmers
When the weather is at its coldest and I’m still stubbornly going out for a bike ride, then I reach for the hand warmers. I love these little guys.
If you haven’t seen these before then you shake them to activate and they start to warm up (through a chemical reaction). They’re designed for single-use and a pack like this (with hand, toe, and body warmers) is good for 214 hours of heat.
Which is one heck of a long bike ride.
Bike mitts review
Cold fingers are awful, aren’t they? I just hate that feeling of the ice starting to freeze my fingertips and work its way down the length of my fingers to my hands. Shiver…
If you feel the same way then there are plenty of great options available to keep your hands warm whilst you cycle. I hope that this article will help you to pick the right solution for you and allow you to get out on the bike in all weathers with toasty warm digits.
I’ve found that one of the absolute best methods of keeping your hands toasty when on the bike is to keep your fingers together so they warm each other up. One way to do this is by using mittens, but I find that you lose too much dexterity when all your fingers are in one glove ‘finger’ and it can be dangerous if you can’t brake quickly.
A much better alternative is to use ‘Lobster gloves’. These are a hybrid version of standard winter gloves (with 5 ‘fingers’ slots) and mittens. Having a slot for your thumb and two slots for each pair of fingers. These keep finger pairs together for warmth and, at the same time, allow all the finger movement you need to brake and change gear.
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