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Updated Dec 3, 2021 11:25 AM

When I first started cycling about 10 years ago, I never thought about whether there was such a thing as the best cycling gloves. I put no thought into them other than whether they looked cool and if they fit well enough for me to grip the handlebars of my mountain bike. This was fine for short rides, but the longer I rode, the more I noticed my arms were sore and sometimes numb. 

Years later, when I took up road riding, I still didn’t put too much thought into gloves — at least, not until I noticed numbness again creeping in as I added miles to my rides. Then, on one birthday, my wife bought me a new pair of gloves, and like magic, the numbness vanished. It turns out that the answer to the question “how different can gloves be?” is “very.” 

If you’re new to cycling, or like I was and never really thought about it because all you wanted to do was ride, you might wonder how to choose the best cycling gloves. Don’t worry: What follows are some of the best cycling gloves we could find, and we’ll tell you why.

A quick note: Like running shoes, what fits well for one person might not fit another so well. Plus, you may intend to spend all your cycling time in the mud or maybe ride in the winter (you maniac). That’s why we’re sharing with you the best gloves we could find for different types of cycling. Whatever your niche, we’ve got you covered.

Most cycling gloves provide three fundamental features: abrasion protection in case of a crash, vibration and shock absorption, and grip enhancement. Giro’s Bravo Gel gloves deliver all three of these. It’s the way the Bravo delivers on these with its three-panel palm design that makes these gloves our pick for overall best.

The upper material is made of breathable, moisture-wicking mesh that fits snugly on your hands. This is great for long rides, especially in hotter weather when sweat and fatigue could complicate your braking or gear shifting. The material provides a snug, secure feel. A nice addition that is overlooked by a surprising number of other gloves is the pull tab on the bottom front, which makes them easier to put on and remove.

Giro uses a proprietary process they refer to as Superfit Engineering to create their unique “three-panel palm design,” which is meant to conform to the natural shape of your hand. What this means is the gel padding won’t get in the way of your hand articulation, which is nice when, again, you have to brake or shift gears.

Product Specs
  • Upper material: Moisture-wicking, four-way stretch breathable mesh
  • Padding: 3mm gel
  • Palm: Three-panel palm design, Ax Suede Microfiber
PROS

Upper material is lightweight and wicks moisture

Optimized gel padding provides protection and helps with vibration absorption

Microfiber wiping surface (very useful to wipe the sweat off your face)

Palm design provides great grip

CONS

These run small; order a couple sizes larger if ordering online

It’s hard to get away from the fact that cycling is an expensive activity. Between the bike itself, the shoes, pedals, helmet, glasses, and assorted other gadgets, even casual riders can get a little sticker-shocked. Luckily, there are some products that are good, and not as expensive as the more “premium” options.

While Gearonic isn’t solely a cycling or athletic clothes maker, they’ve managed to produce a highly regarded and inexpensive set of cycling gloves. The upper material is made of a spandex material and microfiber to provide a snug, secure fit. The material is both lightweight and breathable, so perfect for warm weather riding.

The palm has separated pads, which provides for good grip and decent vibration absorption, and is also perforated for additional cooling and air flow. One of the nice things about this brand is it comes in both half-finger and full-finger versions, so you can get clothes for warmer and cooler riding conditions for the price of a single pair of higher-end gloves.

Product Specs
  • Upper material: Spandex and Micro Suede
  • Padding: Gel/foam
  • Palm: Friction padded foam pads
PROS

Great quality at low price point

Breathable mesh fits snug

Available in both half- and full-finger versions

CONS

Like the Giro Bravo, these run small; order a couple sizes larger if ordering online

Solid for the price, but may not be as durable as more premier brands

Padding may be thin for serious mountain bike riding

Editor’s Choice

The Garneau brand is well-known for its quality cycling gear. The RX-V gloves are fantastic and lightweight, and everything you’d expect from a company founded by cycling champion Louis Garneau. The design innovation packed into this glove is what makes it our Editor’s choice.

The RX-V’s upper material is made of Power Mesh and spandex, which makes for a secure, snug fit that breathes well. The palm is made of amara, which is a durable synthetic suede material that is perforated. These holes work with the palms’s star-like X-shaped ventilation cutout in the middle to further enhance breathability and cooling.

The gel padding in the RX-V is situated around the ventilated “X,” forming part of Gareau’s proprietary Ergo Air ventilation system. The end result is a flexible glove that protects your hands while keeping them dry and enhancing grip.

Product Specs
  • Upper material: Power mesh and spandex
  • Padding: 3mm/5mm biogel
  • Palm: Perforated “leather-like” amara
PROS

Lightweight with great breathability

Ample padding for comfort and vibration absorption

Microfiber thumb to wipe sweat/snot

CONS

Snug fit and lack of tab can make removing gloves annoying

Though Ergo Air Zone design innovative, some report pad layout aligns poorly with palm

Famed company GORE WEAR has produced legendary all-weather athletics and adventure gear for over 40 years, including cycling clothes, so it comes as no surprise they can make quality cycling gloves.

The C5 Unisex gloves are light and designed for warm weather riding. The upper material is of famed GORE Selected Fabrics, which is both breathable and wicks away moisture. A very nice feature are loops sewn between the three middle fingers of each hand. This helps remove the gloves, which is often an annoying chore after a long ride. The palm is perforated, and the back/upper material utilizes a net construction to increase breathability.

The biggest drawback of the C5 has to be the sizing. Maybe because they’re unisex, buyer feedback often warns how small these gloves run. Definitely check out the sizing guidelines on Amazon or GORE WEAR’s product page to avoid the frustration of returning undersized gloves.

Product Specs
  • Upper material: Nylon/elastane
  • Padding: Gel/foam
  • Palm: Nylon/polyurethane
PROS

Made of quality moisture-wicking materials

Pull-out loops between fingers; this is fantastic, helps remove snug gloves

Snug, conforming fit ideal for road cycling

CONS

Sizes small; definitely shoot for something larger than your normal size

Best Lightweight

These gloves give an amazing amount of quality for a fantastic price. The LuxoBike cycling gloves are intended for warm weather cycling, so they are designed to maximize breathability without compromising hand protection and grip.

The spandex/lycra upper material of the gloves make for a comfortable and secure fit. It’s not only breathable, but it’s moisture-wicking as well. Like any good glove, the thumb is soft and designed to wipe away sweat. The anti-slip microsuede palm helps keep the gloves light while also providing good grip of the handle bars. Plus, LuxoBike has “smart” finger loops that make it easier to remove the gloves, which is a really nice feature.

The foam padding is good, although some may think it’s not quite sufficient for serious mountain/dirt bike riding. But all together, this glove is a fantastic buy.

Product Specs
  • Upper material: Stretchable lycra
  • Padding: 5mm foam
  • Palm: Microfiber suede
PROS

Made of moisture-wicking lycra

“Smart” finger loops makes removing gloves a breeze

Soft, absorbent thumb towel to wipe away sweat

Great price

CONS

Soft foam padding may not be as durable as higher-priced brands

Some of you cycling maniacs won’t stop when it gets cold outside. To do that, you need special gloves, not just to keep your hands warm, but gloves that will let you control your bike and gears in inclement weather. The SEALSKINZ Unisex Extreme Cold Weather Split Finger Gloves are just what you need.

These gloves are lobster-claw/split finger style mittens, and are built quite differently than the other gloves on this list. These are made of three layers: an outer waterproof layer, a middle layer made of polyurethane, and an inner layer made of polyester. That’s then topped off with Climashield insulation. The anti-slip lining of these gloves are made to prevent the lining from bunching or moving, which is a nice improvement over older-style multi-layer gloves.

The gloves are very impressive, enabling an aggressive cyclist to perform even in sub-freezing temperatures. When you need to shift gears or engage your brakes, you have the dexterity to do so thanks to the split-finger design.

Product Specs
  • Outer material: Polyester, polyurethane, nylon, elastane, and rubber
  • Inner material: Polyurethane and polyester
  • Insulation: Patented Climashield insulation
PROS

Waterproof yet breathable

Extended cuff gives added protection from elements

Split-finger design maximizes warmth while allowing hand articulation

CONS

Some buyers indicate the wrist is narrow, and difficult to put on

Sizes trend small, so may need to try a larger size than normal

Best for 50-Degree Days

The Souke Sports Winter Cycling gloves are great for the stubborn cyclist who just doesn’t want to stop riding until the snow starts falling. These gloves are rated for use from 40- to 50-degree weather. They also feature touchscreen sensitive finger tips, so no need to take off your gloves to work your phone or smartwatch.

The outer layer is both water-resistant and windproof, and the knitted cuffs are extended to provide better coverage and trap more warmth for your hands. The interior layer has a fleece lining to keep your hands warm and dry. Souke also highlights the exterior with reflective elements, which is a nice feature for riding during shorter winter days.

The palm and middle finger are lined with silica gel strips for extra grip. The foam padding is distributed in a three-piece configuration to help avoid material bunching in the middle and to give better hand articulation.

Product Specs
  • Outer material: Nylon, polyester, polyurethane
  • Inner material: Fleece
  • Padding: 5mm, three-piece palm layout allows for better dexterity
PROS

Water-resistant and lightweight

Touchscreen compatible, so can use with phone

Microfiber thumb to wipe away sweat (or ice!)

CONS

Not waterproof

Advertised as “winter” gloves, but not effective under 40 degrees

Best for Road Cycling on Dry, Cold Days

The HIKENTURE Winter cycling gloves are designed to get you on your bike in cold weather, but not necessarily wet, snowy weather. This is fine, since for most folks, riding is a dry-weather only activity.

Unlike the other models covered here, the HIKENTURE gloves have an adjustable zipper to close them up around your hands. This allows you to tweak just how snug they fit. The outer glove is made of a water-resistant fabric that is also windproof. The interior is fleece-lined, so they will definitely prepare you for those cold, windy rides.

The palms are lined with 4mm thick full-palm padding, and are textured for grip. Like the Souke winter gloves, the fingers are touchscreen-friendly so you can make sure Strava or Fitbit are tracking your miles correctly.

Product Specs
  • Outer material: Waterproof, windproof fabric
  • Inner material: Fleece lining
  • Padding: 4mm, full palm
PROS

Water-resistant and windproof

Touchscreen-compatible, so can use with phone

Reflective lines for visibility in low-light conditions

CONS

Full-palm padding may degrade hand dexterity

Sizes run a little small

Less effective under 40 degrees

Best Winter Cycling Gloves for High-Intensity Road Rides

Most every cyclist has a route that is a beast, full of hills or down a reliably long and relentlessly windy road. Or maybe you like to ride for time. In the winter, this creates a gear dilemma, since you need to dress for warmth, but once you get into a high-intensity ride, you find your hands sweating like mad. You need a balanced glove for these kinds of rides, and the GORE Bike Wear GWS Unisex Thermo Gloves just might be perfect for this kind of ride.

Made of standard-setting GORE WINDSTOPPER, the outer shell of this glove is layers of polyester and polyester/elastane, which makes it both water-repellant and windproof. The thermo lining interior is also polyester. The silicone print on the fingers and palms provide extra grip. Despite these features, the glove is still breathable, which helps to regulate your temperature when going all-out on a high-intensity ride.

Product Specs
  • Outer material: GORE WINDSTOPPER (polyester/elastane)
  • Inner material: Polyester
  • Padding: Foam palm padding
PROS

Water-repellant and windproof

Reflective lines for visibility in low-light conditions

Thumb wipe pad for sweat/snot/ice

CONS

Although great for early winter, a liner is recommended for below-freezing temps

Not touchscreen-capable

So you want to try riding in the cold of winter but you don’t want to spend a lot, just in case it sucks. These INBIKE Cold Weather Thermal gloves give you a ton of warmth for not a lot of cash.

Made of polyester, the exterior of this glove is thick and designed to be waterproof, windproof, and snowproof. While it resists these things, prolonged water will soak through. That little flaw aside, the interior is a fleece thermal lining, so these gloves keep your hands warm. The gel-palm padding provides extra grip, while the palm pads help with vibration and shock absorption. Even better, the fingertip is touchscreen-sensitive, so you can use your phone or smartwatch without taking off your gloves. At a price point under $25, it’s hard to find a winter cycling glove that has as many features packed in.

Product Specs
  • Outer material: Polyester/nylon/polyurethane
  • Inner material: Fleece
  • Padding: Gel
PROS

Water-resistant and windproof

Reflective lines for visibility in low-light conditions

Touchscreen-sensitive

Great price

CONS

Advertised as waterproof, but doesn’t hold up to consistent rain

Why you should trust us

We here at Task & Purpose are an eclectic lot, sharing a wide swath of experience with all sorts of outdoor activities, hobbies, and adventures. We pool that experience to provide the most useful tips and guides to you so you can make good buying decisions. As for me, I started mountain bike riding shortly after leaving the Air Force over 10 years ago. I’ve been able to ride the trails in parks and mountains in Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio. Over the past few years, I’ve started logging a lot of miles on the road as I try to keep up with my cyclist wife, and the last two years I’ve tried my hand competing in the Air Force Marathon Blue Streak Time Trials (which, I may add, I have not yet finished dead last in. No further questions).

Types of cycling gloves

In order to pick the best gloves, you need to think about what kind of cycling you intend to do. Are you going to spend most of your time on paved roads and bike paths? Then half-finger gloves are for you. Are dirt trails winding through hills and mountains more your thing? Half-finger gloves work fine, but consider full-finger protection. Will you be mainly riding in warmer temperatures, or are you a fanatic who plans to power your way over snow and through cold weather? Dude, you rock. But you’ll need something insulated on your mitts. Once you’ve figured out how you plan to spend your cycling time, you can better determine the type of gloves you need.

Half-finger/fingerless

These are your warm-weather gloves. They look very much like weight-lifting gloves, with fingers that stop short of the knuckle. The primary purpose of gloves is to protect your hands from abrasions in case of a wreck, so they tend to be made of durable fabrics. However, since these gloves are worn in the spring and summer, they’re also usually made to breathe and wick away moisture. The idea is to provide maximum comfort and protection without interfering with hand/finger articulation, so you can comfortably adjust your gears and brakes.

Full-finger

As the name plainly states, these are like traditional gloves with the hands completely covered. They can look like their half-finger versions, with tight-fitting spandex-like materials, or they can be a little bulkier. Full-finger gloves are great for mountain bike/dirt bike trail riding, as they tend to be more heavy-duty and capable of handling the inevitable spills you’ll experience as you hurtle around bends and tricky trails. They’re also used for colder weather riding, of course. The heavier/more insulated the gloves are, the more clunky they feel on the fingers, but you get used to them quickly when cold winds pick up.

Lobster gloves

Lobster gloves deserve some attention on their own. Intended for those who just don’t want to stop riding when it’s freezing outside, these are designed to function like mittens while also allowing for some hand articulation to adjust your gears and work your brakes. The split-finger design keeps two fingers together within an insulated interior to maximize warmth, but also allows you to manipulate your gears and brakes while safely holding onto your handlebars. They may take a little getting used to, but if you’re ready to ride in the cold, you’ve shown you’re ready to take on anything.

Key features of cycling gloves

Upper

This covers the back of your hand and is woven into the palm. The upper glove is typically made of stretchable, synthetic fabrics that help the glove fit snugly. Most gloves today use breathable materials to help keep your hands cool and to wick away moisture and sweat. 

Palm 

The palm of the glove is made of more durable materials, like suede or nylon. If you wind up in a wreck, there’s a good chance this is where your hands will meet the pavement, so gloves are thicker here. Since the thick material is hard to breathe through, palm material is often perforated to allow for some air circulation. Pay particular attention to how this fits when you try on gloves because an excess of material in the palm can bunch up in the middle of your hand when riding. This makes for a very uncomfortable ride. Well-fitting gloves will conform closely with the shape of your hand all over. 

Padding

Gel or foam padding is distributed through or sewn into the palm. There are a number of styles, patterns, and amounts of thickness, but generally, the padding is intended to both absorb vibration and impact and to assist with grip. The shape of your hand can have a big impact on the effectiveness of padding, so be sure to get a feel for how the gloves feel on your handlebars. If the pads don’t feel like they align naturally on your palms, then that brand of glove may not be effective for you.

Benefits of cycling gloves

Protection from injury 

This is the most important job for your gloves. Even the most skillful and careful cyclist will fall over at some point, and your gloves are there to protect your hands from abrasions. “Road rash” is bad enough no matter where you get it, but try working with skinned-up hands.

Secure grip 

Cycling is a sweaty business, and the last thing you need while trying to keep track of all the variables surrounding you as you hurtle along a busy road or bike path is the possibility of your hands slipping and you losing control of your bike. Gloves put a barrier between your sweaty hands and the bike, and help keep you in control. 

Vibration absorption

Vibration and impact absorption are very important features of your gloves that you come to appreciate if you’ve ever experienced numbness or soreness while cycling. Good gloves go a long way to help mitigate these issues. Be aware that some gloves are purposefully light and have minimal padding. These won’t help with vibrations as much as padded gloves.

Warmth

Strangely, most cycling gloves aren’t concerned with keeping hands warm as they are with cooling and keeping them dry. However, cold weather gloves are tasked with the mission of keeping your hands warm and dry, which is no small feat when you’re sweating. Look for gloves that are both insulated and can wick away moisture.

Pricing considerations for cycling globes

Inexpensive ($10-$15)

The great thing about warm-weather cycling gloves is that, while there are high-priced premium style gloves, there are tons of high-quality brands that won’t break the bank. If you’re new to cycling and trying to minimize costs, $15 will get you a pair of gloves with a comfortable fit and decent padding. The Gearonic Shockproof and LuxoBike gloves listed above are great examples of these. 

Mid-Range ($20-$30) 

As you scale higher, from $20 to $30, the quality improvements you see are most often in durability, i.e. the pads last longer, the threading stays intact, and the upper material retains its elasticity. The padding will also be more advanced materials like gel that retain shape longer than lower-value foam pads. This price point is also where you start to find your insulated gloves that are more suited to cold weather riding.

Premium (over $50) 

High-end brands offer great quality but are of questionable utility for folks who aren’t riding 3,000 miles per year or competing professionally. Gloves priced in this range tend to be full-finger specialty gloves designed with advanced materials (e.g., waterproof) for winter riding.  With these, you’re paying for thicker materials and insulation, which can bring up the price pretty quickly. You can still find quality gloves in the mid-$20 range, but you’ll also find gloves over $50 that may be worth your attention if you plan on cycling in very cold temperatures. 

How we chose our top picks

As always, we use a mix of personal experience, product testing, analysis of buyer feedback, and a wide array of expert opinions. Like shoes, glove preference isn’t an exact science, as body shape and personal preferences vary considerably between cyclists. So we focused on how well gloves were able to perform the essential functions of a cycling glove for each given category. For those we couldn’t personally test, we compared product page data and seller pages (e.g., Amazon, RRI, Dicks Sporting Goods), and then reviewed user-verified buyer reviews.

FAQs on cycling gloves

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q. Are gloves necessary for road cycling?

A: No, but if you don’t have them, you’ll soon wish you did, as sweat and vibration will make longer rides far less pleasant. 

Q. Do you need cycling gloves in the summer?

A: Yes, not just because of the reasons stated above, but also to protect your hands in the event of a wreck or fall.

Q. What should I look for in cycling gloves?

A: Comfortable fit, with little bunching in the palm. I recommend modestly padded ones unless you’re mountain bike riding. In that case, extra padding is great.

Q. Should cycling gloves feel tight or loose?

A: Snug is the right fit. You want gloves that conform to your hand without constricting it, to allow unimpeded use of your gears and brakes.

Q. Why does my hand go numb when cycling?

A: Pressure on the median and ulnar nerves. This is often brought on by vibration (which can be offset with good gloves), a poor bike fit, or inappropriate posture. Check out the linked article for tips on reducing numbness. 

Q. Do I need half-finger or full-finger gloves?

A: It’s weather-dependent. Full-finger gloves are great for colder weather, and some prefer them for mountain bike riding (although I like fingerless unless it’s cold out).

Q. Do I need a nose wipe?

A: Yes, if you have outdoor allergies. I never use them, but I know folks who swear by them.

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W.E. Linde spent 12 years in the Air Force as an intelligence guy and loved both his enlisted and commissioned time. Now a civilian, he toils away as a healthcare business analyst by day and wannabe writer by night because who needs sleep when you have coffee? His time in the military made him appreciate just how funny the term “military grade” can be. He currently writes for Duffel Blog and for the humor site Damperthree.com.

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