Looking for the ultimate glove
January 17, 2009 11:22 AM   Subscribe

I have budgeted $150 for the absolute best gloves I can find for surviving sub-zero temperatures. What should I buy?

Usage: I ride my bike in the winter, in Chicago, in single digit and sub zero temperatures with wind chills into the minus twenty Fahrenheit range. Fortunately my commute is short, but I do it several times per day and after about ten minutes of ridding, my hands and fingers are very nearly frost bitten. We're talking red, raw, knurled fingers which feel like they are burned and ache for hours...

Until now I've relied on various types of Gore-tex style gloves and liners which work fine down to about 20. Below that though and they are useless. The problem is that while ridding, my hands are out in front of me, and I'm unable to move them around that much, or move them out of the wind... so gloves that work fine for "just walking around" quickly fail.

Yes, I know about lobster style gloves from Pearl Izumi and other makers. No I do not think they will work because every review I read says things like, "Oh yeah, they are great in 30 degree weather..." Likewise I'm not interested in mitten or pogies.

I've spent days googling around for bike specific gloves, but I've given up. My LBS has recommended the Sugoi Firewall XT Glove, which I've tried on, but I'm not completely sold on.

So I'm left looking at ski, snow, and mountain gloves. But I don't know a lot about these either. I've identified brands such as Black Diamond, Marmot, Swany, and Mammut. And it seems that I'm looking at spending $100 to $150 (or more) on a good pair. As far as I can tell only Black Diamond list temperature ranges for their gloves.

Because this is a semi-major purchase, which will likely be bought online, I want to do it right the first time.

What I'm looking for:
- dexterity (for shifting gears, locking and unlocking bike)
- windproof (very important)
- waterproof (semi important)
- the warmest possible glove (absolutely critical)

So, polar MeFi's - what should I buy? Or what should I look for in the ultimate sub-zero glove?
posted by wfrgms to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and if I had my druthers I'd prefer to buy something with a good warranty, US based, sustainable, yadda yadda... and I really DO NOT want another gaudy North Face product if I can help it...
posted by wfrgms at 11:28 AM on January 17, 2009

How about battery-heated gloves? I can't say I know much about them, but they're something to consider.
posted by bsdfish at 11:39 AM on January 17, 2009

They make battery-powered heated gloves for motorcyclists. They claim to be both water and windproof. I've never personally used them, but thought they might be worth sharing.
posted by nitsuj at 11:41 AM on January 17, 2009

Best answer: I have Swany gloves... and I basically live in them. Can't recommend them highly enough. They even just developed a glove with bluetooth technology...

This is the pair I own, there is even a little pouch on top for a glove warmer or money or a six pack of beer/soda.
posted by pwally at 11:46 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

You might go to your local climbing store and ask what ice climbers use. Dexterity, warmth and windproofness would be ultra-important to ice climbers. Don't go to REI or some chain, go to a store where the staff actually climbs.
posted by desjardins at 11:51 AM on January 17, 2009

Here's a better selection of their higher end stuff. Mine are "dryfinger" so the ones linked above may not be the exact model that I own.
posted by pwally at 11:51 AM on January 17, 2009

My friend's boyfriend did some... expedition or something in Antarctica? I don't know -- I should really ask him about that sometime. Anyway, he suggests the Cloudveil Run Don't Walk Glove.
posted by spec80 at 11:51 AM on January 17, 2009

Heated Gloves by Blazewear. My friend, a cyclist, swears by them.
posted by cazoo at 12:00 PM on January 17, 2009

I love my Dakine Bandit gloves, gore-tex and warm without being bulky. They weren't cheap, but for skiing I've never found a better glove.
posted by arcticseal at 12:38 PM on January 17, 2009

Can you say a little more about why you're not interested in bike pogies? They're what I've seen cyclists using in -40 weather in Fairbanks, Alaska, so they are evidently effective.
posted by fermion at 1:24 PM on January 17, 2009

Ice Armor gloves.

Hands down the best, and this comes from a Minnesota ice fisherman. I've even grabbed fish out of the hole and kept my hands warm and dry.
posted by sanka at 1:33 PM on January 17, 2009

Best answer: Seconding the ice climbing/alpine ascent gloves recommendation. Black Diamond's gloves in those categories are listed under "Ice" and "Ascent", respectively. Both types of gloves are intended for conditions much more severe than your bike to work. Ice climbing gloves are probably going to be warmer than alpine gloves; ice climbers spend long stretches of time with their arms raised above their hearts, so the blood drains out of their arms. The result: Screaming Barfies, when you want to scream and barf at the same time.
posted by strangecargo at 1:55 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Before WWII most deliveries in the Netherlands used to be done by bike. To keep hands warm during those cold winters people would use so called fietsmoffen. The literal translation would be bike muff. A quick google turned up some bike muffs for motor bikes.
I'm not sure these still made. There are plenty of old leather ones available in the Netherlands. So maybe that's also the case where you live.
posted by jouke at 2:14 PM on January 17, 2009

I ride my bike to work in the winter too & have Cloudveil's Troller mittens. There is a glove liner inside of the mittens. My hands have never gotten cold while wearing these...they are the warmest, toughest mittens I have ever had. I do feel like I have good finger dexterity while wearing them, however, I have indoor bike storage at home and work and don't have to fumble with a bike lock. Cloudveil does make a Troller glove though, which seems like it would be good for increased finger dexterity.
posted by pluckysparrow at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2009

I ride all winter in central NY. I use a pair of lobster gloves that my girlfriend and I made so I can't help you there.

I suggest you get $100 gloves and get motorcycle over mitts for the really cold days:
Aerostich insulated glove cover. Hay, I think they might even be made in the US by a small company with a good warranty. So you can have some great gloves on, throw on the over gloves when it gets to zero, ride, get somewhere, rip off the over gloves when you get somewhere, throw them in your bag and lock up.

I've had the Pearl Izumi models and you are right, they are only good down to around 20F. Don't bother, for sub 20F they were never great and the ones they make now seem worse.

Also you said that you don't want pogges, I understand. I've ridden a couple of motorcycles with motorcross hand guards. They are like mini fairings for the hands. Cold weather riding hand problems have a lot to do with wind chill. Hand guards help around 10 to 15 deg. I don't know of anyone who sells bicycle hand guards so you'd have to make these. They are not something that will solve all your problems. If it works with your bike, say you have cut off flat bars or something, it would help and could look good if you did it right.Okay, never mind.

Also, I saw these awhile ago: Outdoor research gloves
posted by bdc34 at 2:34 PM on January 17, 2009

Whatever glove you get, you migh want to consider wearing long fingerless gloves underneath them. I've been doing that while bike commuting this winter, and it's really helped. The length of the gloves means that your arms will be warmer too (no cold air somehow sneaking up your sleeves), while the lack of fingers means you can take off the outer gloves and lock/unlock/etc. without fully exposing your hands. I'd recommend this to non-cyclists in towns with very chilly weather too, for the same reason. (I've never been very satisfied with dexterity while wearing full gloves; even with nasty Great Lakes windchill, I've always found it easier to manipulate locks and drag keys out of bags or pockets without my gloves.)
posted by ubersturm at 2:51 PM on January 17, 2009

I used Marmot Randonee gloves for winter bike commuting in Boston, and can report that my nuts lost feeling well before my hands ever did.
posted by killdevil at 5:30 PM on January 17, 2009

Mr. crankylex suggests the Vulpine Adaptive Mitts from www.icebike.org.
posted by crankylex at 7:14 PM on January 17, 2009

I ride in Chicago too. I've found that glove liners are key. With those and a pair of wind-proof winter cycling gloves, my hands have been fine, after the initial warm-up period. The liners are a nice bit of comfort when you have to take off your gloves to fumble with lights and keys.

You could try slipping in a pair of hand warmers on those really cold days. I've been using the toe warmers lately, and my feet have been the warmest parts of my body. It's a little wasteful, but it's still cheaper than the CTA.

And why aren't the rest of you doing the Metafilter Icycle Challenge?
posted by hydrophonic at 9:13 AM on January 18, 2009

Response by poster: Hi everyone. I wanted to follow up with what I bought...

I really wanted to try out some of the Black Diamond gloves, but I really couldn't find them from a good retailer in the size or style I wanted.

So I wound up going with a pair of Swany X-CELL II gloves. So far they have been wonderful - an amazing upgrade from the various Gor-Tex gloves I've been dealing with.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and I hope other people find this AskMe useful too. Special thanks to pwally who suggested Swany.
posted by wfrgms at 1:37 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

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