Cold fingers are no fun. So I avoid them by wearing the right pair of winter gloves for the conditions at hand (ha).
Over the years, I’ve accumulated quite an array of winter hand wear, which I detail below. But before we get there, it’s important to keep in mind that proper fit is one of the most important features of gloves and mittens. You can read more in this overview—Hot Hands: Toast Your Fingers with the Right Gloves—but the most crucial points are these.
First, in a properly fitting glove, your fingers should almost, but not quite, touch the ends of the gloves. This maximizes warmth. And second, every manufacturer cuts their gloves slightly differently, though they tend to fit similarly across a company’s full product line. So identify which brands fit your hands best and stick with them. For my hand shape (large palm and average-to-long fingers), I find that gloves from Black Diamond, REI, Pearl Izumi, and Swix work best (hence the line-up below).
So here’s what I have in my glove locker for the coming season, arranged from left to right for increasingly cold temperatures. Keep in mind that I’ve had several of these for many years now and that some styles are no longer available–for these, I’ve tried to highlight the closest current equivalents.
Black Diamond Midweight Gloves
As I’ve highlighted before: Best. Liner. Gloves. Ever. I wear these more than any other set of gloves I own. They live in my winter jacket pocket for daily, around-town cold-weather use. I use them on bike rides in temperatures down to the low 40s. I wear them under my extreme-conditions gloves and mittens for extra warmth. They last for several seasons of regular use. And, oh yeah, the Polartec Powerstretch fabric is soft, comfy, and oh-so-warm.
Black Diamond WindWeight Gloves
Unlike the Midweight Gloves, these are completely windproof and offer the next stage of warmth for cooler conditions. They’re great for cold-weather activities in breezy conditions and are my go-to glove for cycling or cross-country skiing when temps are in the 30s.
Swix XC100 Split Mitt
This is the newest addition to my collection, an acquisition I picked up at the end of last winter and have been using for cold-weather cycling when temps dip down around and just below the freezing mark. Part of the genre of gloves known variously as “trigger-finger,” “3 and 1,” and “split mitt,” they separate the index finger from your other three fingers. This provides dexterity (which makes shifting gears on the bike a snap) while increasing the warmth of the other fingers.
Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Softshell Lobster Claw Gloves
These are the warmest cycling gloves I’ve ever worn and consistently keep my hands warm on cold-weather commutes, even when temps dip down into the low teens. This species of gloves splits your fingers Vulcan-style and allows each pair to snuggle up and warm each other, while still providing sufficient dexterity to change gears and work the brakes. It appears that this year’s iteration is theP.R.O. AmFIB Lobster Glove.
REI Switchback Glove
This is what I wear for my coldest-weather adventures. A full-length waterproof glove, they feature an over-the-sleeve gauntlet to seal gaps, a removable fleece liner for adjustable warmth levels, and a delightful fit that provides me with a remarkable amount of dexterity for their size. For the deepest chills, I add my Black Diamond Midweight gloves underneath for exceptional warmth.
Obviously a multitude of gloves exist that could work for you—these are just the ones I’ve found work best for me. Also keep in mind that this round-up doesn’t include mittens, which offer very warm solutions for your hands in exchange for a loss of dexterity. (See Mittens vs. Gloves.)
Keep those fingers happy!