Heated bicycle gloves?
February 7, 2019 6:47 PM   Subscribe

I have poor circulation in my fingers. Even gloves rated as very-wintery leave my fingers in pain, assuming they don't just go straight numb (and then the pain comes later when they warm up). This can't be good for me. I don't want to do disposable handwarmers. There seem to be a lot of heated motorcycle gloves, but many of these want to plug into a system of some kind? I don't see a lot about heated gloves for bicycling. What are my options? How can I keep my hands warm on long commutes? They do not need to be waterproof, but that's a plus.
posted by curious nu to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I found that there is nothing gloves or mitten based was able to keep my useless reynauds syndrome fingers warm on the bike. However, barmitts have made it possible for me to ride comfortably down to 0 F or so.
posted by rockindata at 7:09 PM on February 7, 2019 [11 favorites]

Also, for feet, the wolvhammer boots from 45nrth are amazing.
posted by rockindata at 7:27 PM on February 7, 2019

I bought these about a month ago. Don’t know if you can get them in the US, but they have revolutionized my winter cycling. I can go for long bike rides!!! It’s amazing. (Well, long-ish. They last about 3 hours on the highest setting. But obviously should be plenty for a commute).

There are loads of other options on (European) Amazon(s), obviously these are quite expensive (they do have a slightly cheaper non-grip model and maybe a non-waterproof one?). But they really do warm the fingers!!! They make me so happy.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 7:53 PM on February 7, 2019

I have no personal experience (but a family member has Reynaud's) -- there are self-heating gloves marketed to those with that syndrome. Though a previous post suggests they may not be as effective as hoped.

posted by dancing leaves at 8:18 PM on February 7, 2019

Are you looking for gloves/mittens in addition to pogies? Because if you don’t have pogies already, they make a huge difference. I used to cycle to work in the winter in Fairbanks, and pogies plus gloves and I was pretty good to go, down to -10F or so (and below that the bike gets pretty cranky.)
posted by leahwrenn at 10:12 PM on February 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you search for "heated gloves" on banggood/dealextreme/tinydeal you get a fair few results, some of which look to be suitable for cycling; motorcycle gloves tend to be stiffer than I'd want for cycling, but that will probably be a matter of getting used to. A number of them come with rechargeable batteries in the glove itself, although that would mean a bit of extra weight and bulk. Ones that need to be connected to a motorcycle's battery can easily be powered by a 12V power bank (also obtainable from the tat bazaars mentioned above). This needs wiring down your jacket arms, but the power bank can live in a jacket pocket.
posted by Stoneshop at 3:41 AM on February 8, 2019

You haven't mentioned this, but I apologise if it's obvious and you've tried it - you do need to introduce heat to the gloves in order for them to keep you warm. My best way would probably be separately heating (by leaving in a hot place) a good pair of insulating gloves and a pair of silk glove liners, then putting them all on shortly before leaving the house. This way the heat has had a bit of a chance to conduct to my hands, which happens regardless of circulation, before I go out in the cold. I also warm up my hands first on coffee mugs, radiators and/or using good hot water when washing them. The idea is to trap and insulate existing warmth since your hands won't be producing it.

I don't know how long your long commute is, so yes, after that, heated gloves!
posted by lokta at 4:11 AM on February 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don’t have circulation issues, but on severe cold days I wear a pair of skiing mittens on my bike commute. I don’t know the exact model, but they’re made by Head and include a small zippered pouch where you can stuff a chemical heating pad in. You could crack open a pair of heating pads and put them in the mittens for a few minutes before you head out on the bike.
posted by backseatpilot at 4:30 AM on February 8, 2019

Ack, sorry, missed the bit about not wanting chemical handwarmers. The mittens I use are still extremely thick and toasty without them, though!
posted by backseatpilot at 4:32 AM on February 8, 2019

Heated glove liners with rechargeable batteries might be a thing for you. Expensive, though my understanding is this is what tradespeople in winter reach for. I can't give specific recommendations, but they're searchable by "heated glove liners."
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:40 AM on February 8, 2019

I have a hard time keeping my fingers warm for long on my bike when it’s below 40. Lots of conversations with bike folks tell me that bar mitts/pogies are the way to go. A light glove underneath seems to do the tricky. Here’s another option.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:35 AM on February 8, 2019

Mittens > gloves, for starters. I have a pair of snowboarding gloves that I wear with liners, and they have the zippered pockets for handwarmers. +1 to preheating hands / gloves. There are reusable (sodium acetate) handwarmers that are good for about half an hour or you might be able to find an electric model small enough (USB charged, may also be a phone power bank). But start with the preheat.
posted by momus_window at 10:27 AM on February 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Winter bike commuter with Reynaud's here: pogies/bar mitts are where it's at. You can wear much, much lighter gloves than you'd otherwise think reasonable for the temperature, because the pogies provide really really good insulation and protection from the wind. I have not needed actual heating elements along with the pogies yet, but it is possible to stick some kind of hand-warmer (disposable or electric) in the pogies themselves if needed.

Seriously, it's really nice to be able to move your fingers independently to bike in cold temperatures. I don't know that brand matters much for pogies as far as warmth goes. Mine are not the best designed on the market; I got them from my favorite sleeping bag manufacturer, who seems to try to make just about any product possible to make with sleeping bag material. They're warm, but a lot bulkier and fluffier than most other pogies.

The main thing that helps once I've got the pogies on is not to go outside before getting my gloves on. Can't retain warmth that's not there to begin with.
posted by asperity at 7:34 AM on February 9, 2019

One other thing I remembered on my ride this morning: you may need heavier gloves for shorter rides than you do for longer rides. I had about a half hour ride at 21F, with pogies on my bars and fairly lightweight gloves on my hands. For the first ten minutes, my hands were a bit chilly, but after that I'd warmed up enough to be entirely toasty. Anyway, if I'm not sure what my exact plans or the weather might be like on a given day, I often carry more than one pair of gloves in different weights just to be sure, and so I can change gloves mid-trip if necessary.

Also: vapor barriers are a thing. You can buy waterproof gloves that are usually un-breathable enough that they'll provide quite a bit of extra warmth, and the super-cheap option is to use nitrile/latex/vinyl gloves over your real gloves. This works best inside another layer like the pogies. The equivalent for feet is to put a sandwich bag over your sock-clad foot before jamming it in your boot. It really works well, but when you stop riding you want to get the things off fairly soon because otherwise your toes will get awfully sweaty. And the baggies don't have to be disposable.
posted by asperity at 1:41 PM on February 11, 2019

So my hands were freezing in 45-degree, rainy weather on my bike commute this morning, so I'm actually going to go ahead and get some bar mitts myself. I found this round-up from a few years ago of different bar mitt options made for bikes. They have temperature ratings which give you an idea of how heavy/insulated they are.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:15 AM on February 12, 2019

Bar mitt hesitations: 1) restricting my hands to the bars, possibly complicating a crash; 2) one more thing I have to worry about either taking off every time I lock up or having stolen/vandalized. It looks like 2) is less of an issue than I thought, most of these are easy on/off, tho I do still have to plan to remove them. What about 1)?
posted by curious nu at 6:06 PM on February 12, 2019

I've got pogies that aren't designed as well as some others (they're longer and floppier) and I am not terribly agile. I find that my problem is more likely to be not being able to get my hands back in quickly enough (after signaling, mostly). Mine are soft enough I can just grab the outside to steer and brake, which will get me through an intersection.

Getting my hands out is pretty easy. Though flailing my arms in a crash would probably end in at least one of them broken, so to a certain extent keeping them on the bars prevents unwise behavior. I have fallen a few times (usually once a year, right when I remember that I should put my studded tires on when I start using my pogies, because Denver does not plow.) Definitely best to just flop over and take a bruise on the hip rather than sprain my wrist or worse. It's winter, so layers provide padding.

So far, so good, for a few years now. I would recommend pogies that are relatively short and not floppy for better dexterity.

As for removing pogies/mitts when you're locking up, I usually do if I think theft is a risk, or for precipitation, or if I want them to be extra warm when I get back on my bike. Mine's just an elastic drawstring to tighten or loosen. Easier than attaching most lights.
posted by asperity at 9:35 PM on February 12, 2019

Nthing pogies. I never have trouble getting my hands in and out of my WOBS, which I added to my bike this year for my seventh year biking through Ottawa's winters and they have changed my life. It used to be that I had an elaborate system of mitts for different temperatures and even then was my hands were always, always freezing, but now I just wear some thin mitten liners down to -20c and my hands are always toasty warm.

My WOBS are glorious and easy to take on and off my bike and but also come with zip ties to put them on "permanently" and are waterproof (though not tested - to my memory - in any big rainstorms yet). When I take them off my bike they fit nicely into each other and have velcro to keep things all together (I usually put my mitts and earwarmer in there too). I got mine online from Dutch Bike Shop who has a lot of design options (mine are leopard print and I love them).

If you decide to go with a non-pogie option, try some mitts instead (maybe something made for cross-country skiing, which will have some grip) - they keep your hands warmer than gloves because your fingers share their warmth, whereas with gloves each finger is on its own heatwise: fingers are friends.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:17 PM on February 21, 2019

1) restricting my hands to the bars, possibly complicating a crash;

This is not a problem at all. It's not like wearing gloves or mittens. You can pretty easily pull your hands in and out. I have downtube shifters on my bike with my pogies, so I need to take my hand out to shift, and so I do this multiple times in very short distances. Maybe think of them as being more like a soft , fleece-lined tube rather than like clothing or gloves. You slide your hands in; you don't put them on.

I've had mine for about a week now, and it didn't take any time for me to adjust to them. I have been wearing light gloves so my hands don't get super cold when I take them out of the pogies to shift. My brakes and the bell are in the pogies, and the operation of these is pretty much the same as well.

2) one more thing I have to worry about either taking off every time I lock up or having stolen/vandalized

My bike stays inside during the workday, so I can leave them on then. But, yes, you take them off in addition to removing your lights. I do dislike having to dismantle all the non-permanent things from my bike when I lock it up, but it's been well worth the small hassle.

The Portland Pogies go on and come off easily. In fact, the top video here shows you both putting the mitts on the bar and also how easy it is to slide your hand in.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:41 PM on February 22, 2019

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