How to keep you hands warm in the freezing cold?

Some people suffer from cold hands more easily than others. I can ride lightly insulated gloves even in a few negative degrees Celsius. Fredrik on the other hand, prefers insulated gloves well before the temperature hits zero *C. It’s a good idea doing a warm-up and getting some circulation in your hands and fingers before getting on the bike. At these temperatures, chances are there’s some snow you could shovel before riding.


Yeah, it’s cold. But we’ve got a nice and secure grip around the handlebars and it’s easy operating the levers and buttons. At least as long as you can feel your fingers, which probably isn’t very long.

No gloves, great for grip and control.

Summer gloves​

Regular gloves for summer riding are about as warm as riding bare handed. The grip on the handlebars is great and it’s easy operating the levers. Then your hands get numb.

Gloves for summer riding offers no insulation, but they too are great for grip and control.

Lightly insulated gloves​

I can ride these down to around 0*C and even a bit colder for short rides. These aren’t a tight fit and my hands will move around slightly inside the gloves. This means the grip on the handlebars is a bit worse. It’s easy operating any levers but pushing buttons can be difficult.

Lightly insulated gloves offers a decent handlebar grip.
Lightly insulated gloves are nice for operating the various levers.
I use lightly insulated gloves down to around 0*C.

Thick gloves​

Well insulated gloves seem a popular option in properly cold weather, but there are some downsides. The padding in the gloves makes it difficult feeling if you’re applying force to the brake levers. You don’t know when the brakes are biting and how hard you’re pulling.

Gloves are nice for cycling because you can use one or two fingers for the brake levers while holding on to the handlebars with the rest. Another downside is that your fingers don’t touch and keep each other warm. Therefore, the gloves need to be well insulated, which reduces handlebar grip. Regardless of how hard you grip the bars, your hands will slide inside the gloves.

Our hands will easily slide around inside the thick gloves.
The brake lever can be operated, but it can be difficult to modulate the power.
Thick gloves are warm, but perhaps not as warm as you would think.

Lightly insulated mittens​

The only advantage with mitts is that your fingers are in the same compartment, and they will keep each other warm. You can get away with riding relatively thin mitts. But the handlebar grip is bad. Modulating the brakes is fairly easy. But it’s difficult doing one-finger braking. We end up using all four fingers operating the lever, that leads to hopelessly poor grip on the handlebars. Not a huge issue for slow commuting but a big problem when descending fast.

It's not easy operating the brake lever using thin mittens.
We usually end up operating the brakes with all four fingers.
Lightly insulated mitts does a good job of keeping us warm.

Thick mittens​

These will keep you warm in very cold conditions. But they’re pretty much useless for riding actively at some speed. It’s difficult gripping the handlebars and we can’t really feel or operate the brake lever with any precision. And we’re not really able to grip the handlebars while attempting to brake.

It's difficult gripping and modulating the brakes with using thick mitts.
Handlebar grip is poor, but our hands are warm. Some times even too warm.

Lobster gloves​

We really like this blend between gloves and mittens. They have 3 compartments. One for the thumb and two for the remaining fingers. I’ve bought a pair in a slightly big size so I can move the middle finger between the two finger-compartments. If the two smaller fingers get cold; I move the middle finger over to this compartment. This also improves handlebar grip when doing one-finger braking. If the index finger gets cold, I shift the middle finger back to share some heat.

I can ride at about -15*C with the lobster gloves, despite them not being heavily insulated. They are quite okay for operating and modulating the brakes. But as with anything insulated, the handlebar grip is reduced. Gripping the handlebars when riding rough surfaces will eventually lead to arm pump.

The levers are operated easily enough. Handlebar grip is okay, but not the best.
Having big enough gloves allows us to move the middle finger between compartments.
Moving the middle finger allows for one-finger braking.
I often use the lobster gloves.

Be aware, there are two types of lobster gloves. Some will be shaped as a glove inside, meaning there are separate compartments for each finger. I don't like these as they don't allow for skin contact between fingers, also they don't allow me to move the middle finger between compartments.


This neoprene cover sits over the handlebar grips, various levers, motor remote and possibly the display. You can ride bare hands inside the bar-mitts. But the neoprene and seams will rub against your skin, so we recommend using summer gloves as a minimum. These are great for grip and control.

The bar-mitts will cover most of the stuff on your handlebars.

We usually ride lightly insulated gloves or lobster gloves in the proper cold. I never felt the need to use anything with thick insulation, and they probably wouldn’t fit inside these size L bar-mitts anyway. Bar-mitts doesn't necessarily feel necessarily warm, but they're great for shielding against wind. The faster you go, the more effective they are.

Bar-mitts can be ridden with summer gloves for optimum control.

There are other advantages too. They’re waterproof, and they keep snow and ice away from shifters and brake handles. We’ve previous had the buttons on the motor remote freeze and becoming impossible to operate, this doesn’t happen with bar-mitts. There are some downsides though. They could hide your display, making it impossible to see remaining range. And these mitts can feel a bit cumbersome. It’s easier just using gloves, but we got used to them during the first ride.

The verdict​

I often ride lightly insulated gloves or lobster gloves. But I use the bar-mitts in combination with light gloves or lobster gloves if it’s properly cold, if it’s moist/wet or if I’m going on a long ride. There are mittens and gloves that can be heated electrically or by heat bags. We haven’t tested them, and even though we rode at -20*C, I never missed them.

Barmitts are great in a slight snowstorm!
About author
Started mountainbiking in the 90s. Moved to emtbs in 2014 and have been reviewing them since 2016. Contact me here


You missed out heated gloves!

I don't usually get cold hands with normal gloves but in severe temperatures I've used gloves with a little battery pack on the cuffs and heating elements in the fingers & over the back of the hands. Work well.

On my motorcycle I have plug in 12v clothing including socks, trousers,, jacket & gloves that all wire together. Toasty!

With the proliferation of E-Bikes these days and the fact that you don't generate much heat when you're climbing maybe such a system could also be used.

We've all seen blokes riding uphill on E-Bikes dressed like they're about to summit Ben Nevis so I'm sure there's a market....
A couple other tips:
- Always upsize your gloves one size for riding. The extra room will actually keep you warmer
- Make sure your gloves or mittens are sealed well at your wrist, whether they're inside your jacket or not
- Heated glove liners and chemical hand warmers work fairly well. I only use them below 10 degrees F though
- Consider the liner material if you'll need to be taking your gloves on and off (e.g. fixing a mechanical, using a phone, etc). Some will make it very, very difficult to get back on once they're damp with sweat
- If wearing thick gloves or mittens, you should probably adjust your lever reach to accomodate
A few times I’ve tried to reinsert my moist hands into my winter bike gloves. I must of looked like a surgeon trying to fit the 6th layer of rubber glove on my hand. Almost impossible.

The next size up would’ve probably helped at that moment. Tucking inside or outside the cuff of your jacket is like wearing boxing gloves sometimes. Most importantly for me is the single finger brake lever pull.

I like the idea of lobster gloves, or maybe long ski gloves.
I gotta say also that AXS shifters are extra awesome when you're wearing big fat gloves or mittens. Just double check your AXS batteries more frequently in the cold.
It's a shame that all your videos cannot be subtitled in other languages

Do you have an explanation for this?

It's a shame that all your videos cannot be subtitled in other languages

Do you have an explanation for this?

In theory, you should be able to click on the subtitles icon to turn them on, then the cog/wheel and and click on subtitles then select Auto Generate and Select French.


For this one it works, but I wanted to see your test of the Panasonic GX ultimate, and the subtitle button is grayed out and not functional, it's the same in many other of your videos, it's a shame because these are very interesting..
Cheers, Pascal

It's a shame that all your videos cannot be subtitled in other languages

Do you have an explanation for this?

Yeah, I noticed it. Like mid 2023, many, if not most videos didn't get autogenerated subs. I asked YT support but they just gave me a standard reply saying the video won't get auto subs if the language is poor and can't be understood. I asked them if the auto subs function could be tried again, but no. It seems my english has improved, because now all videos get subs again, just like they did a while back.

For this one it works, but I wanted to see your test of the Panasonic GX ultimate, and the subtitle button is grayed out and not functional, it's the same in many other of your videos, it's a shame because these are very interesting..
Cheers, Pascal

Thanks. Pretty much all the recent videos, since the forum was updated, can be found as an article too. If that helps... Translation should work better for this one :)
I wonder if those small pads they use inside the gloves for skiing would be any good ?. Spoke to someone using them he said good for 8 hours. Have to go on back of hand though. Cheap so maybe get a set to try.
I have Reynauds syndrome (or phenomenon as it's now known!) and have tried all sorts of gloves.
Heated, thick, thin, neoprene. All have benefits and also have flaws. Too chunky, sweaty hands, not warm enough...

I was thinking about trying a pair of these next:
Single finger lobster. The Gore Infinium material is really good.
I have Reynauds syndrome (or phenomenon as it's now known!)
My neighbor has this syndrome in his feet (I don’t know enough about this). He suffers mostly when it’s cold but occasionally endures the pain for the sake of an awesome 😎 ride.

My wife has tried to help him (some medical experience) but nothing seems to work. I don’t know what the “silver bullet” could be.
Hands or feet not really moving doesn't help I imagine. I never get cold when hill walking in a lot more exposed conditions . Just back from skiing for a week my hands and feet were always warm enough .