Winter is coming! With warm summery days behind us, I dug up our bag of winter cycling gear and filmed a video on our glove strategy that we’ve used the last couple of years. For those that would rather read than watch, here’s the executive summary.

After a lot of trial and error and lots of cash spent, we’ve found that there is no ONE perfect glove to cover the varying degrees of cold and wet here in the Pacific Northwest. It is a constant balance between breathability, warmth and affordability. A glove that is waterproof may be too hot or not warm enough in certain situations. Likewise a glove with lots of insulation will keep you warm when its dry, but will turn into a sponge when the sky opens up. This is our current setup for winter gloves.

Liner Glove
Think of it as a baselayer for your hand. By itself, a liner glove is perfect for those early autumn days when it is crisp but not actively raining or snowing. On a spirited road ride or short commute this might be just the right amount of glove. A good liner glove also forms the base of a winter glove system. Liner gloves come in a range of materials from synthetic to wool. Our preference is for wool like this Ibex glove since it will still insulate when wet.

Waterproof Shell
When it is cold and starting to rain, we reach for our waterproof gloves like the Pearl Izumi WXB. We will wear them by themselves if it is a “warm” rain or pair them with the liner glove when it is a cold rain. They also come in handy for long descents in the winter where you’ve built up a sweat climbing and now have to bundle up for the downhill. While the Pearl Izumi WXBs claim to be waterproof, I have managed to fully saturate them in a long enough deluge. Anything with seams will leak eventually so take waterproof claims with a grain of salt. That said, they are a winter staple.

Insualted Lobster Gloves
When the weather turns downright frigid BUT dry, we reach for our Planet Bike Borealis gloves. We’ve had these for years and they perform best on freezing days with no rain. The Borealis gloves also include a fleece liner glove which alone is pretty warm in its own right. These gloves are semi-lobster mitts with a bit more articulation than other mitts so you can still easily use brifters on your road bike. The downside is that they are not waterproof and will soak in a lot of water once the rain really starts coming down.

So those are our tips for keeping your hands warm in the winter. One way to simplify it is to think of it as if you were layering clothes for winter. You start with a wool baselayer and add a waterproof shell or down puffy jacket as the weather dictates.