The Best Winter Mountain Bike Gloves

The dirt shimmers with ice as your tyres meet the frozen trail, crisp air fills your lungs as you fly down the deserted singletrack, adrenal soaring as the trail steepens. Apply the brakes… gah why aren’t my fingers working!?! They’re numb, oh so numb. 

There are so many benefits of mountain biking in winter. The trails are quieter, the dirt tackier and the crisp air makes you feel alive. But with the crisp air also comes frozen fingers. An extremely important body part in the game of mountain biking, which kind of needs to be at full working order when you shred down the trails.

And that’s where the wonderful invention of mountain bike gloves comes in. But not just any glove, winter-specific mountain biking gloves. This was a genius invention that enables us to happily ride our bikes all year round.

But it’s not as easy as slapping on a pair of woolly gloves and jumping on your bike… 

The connection between your hands and the bars is paramount as they’re the main contact point for control. And to gain utmost control of your riding, you need to feel what your bike is doing. Many winter gloves out there could hinder this connection due to a thick and bulky nature.

Before we even get to choosing which design we like best, let’s dive into some questions you need to consider before buying your ultimate winter mountain biking gloves.

Sending a rock drop on Krushkas descent in Blue Derby mtb trails Tasmania

The Fit

The fit of your winter riding gloves is arguably the most important aspect to consider. Too tight and your fingernails will make their own escape points through the tip, too loose and you’ll hinder control.

To ensure you’ve found the perfect fit, chuck on a pair and bend your fingers into a fist. If there is a whole lot of bunching around the palm, they’re too big and will cause havoc when you’re shredding. If your fingernails feel the need to press hard against the fabric, they’re too small and will wear much faster.

You’ll know they’re perfect if you can feel the ends of the fabric touch up against your fingers when your hand is in a fist. If possible, try them out on your handlebars to check for movement between the glove and your hand – you want as little movement as possible.

The Thickness

Even if a pair of winter mountain biking gloves fit perfectly, they may still be too thick for you to feel connected to your bike. 

This is completely subjective to each rider and how much they want to feel. Some riders refuse to wear gloves altogether and others don’t notice the thickness one bit. You’ll have to make this decision yourself. However, if you don’t wear gloves in summer I would highly recommend going as thin as possible for your winter gloves.

how to brake on a mountain bike correctly using the pistol grip with only one index finger on the brake lever

Waterproofing

Some winter gloves come waterproof without the added layer of warmth, others come with both, and some only the added layer of warmth.

If you live in a crisp and dry environment, waterproofing may not be necessary for you. If your trails are constantly soggy from unrelenting rain, go both waterproofing and warmth. But if you live in a warmer environment where rain is your only issue, just a layer of waterproofing may be all you need.

DWR finish and a 3-layer softshell outer is the most common form of waterproofing for mountain bike gloves. This is mostly only found on the backhand, meaning they’re still not completely waterproof. There are some out there with a full coating and these come with the higher price tag.

It’s best to decide what you need protection from most – wind, rain, frost – before making your final decision on the material.

The Material

As we just touched on slightly, there are many different materials used to bring about an epic winter mountain biking glove. 

The majority of warm winter gloves will use a fleece lining inside to keep your fingers toasty. And a synthetic leather or micro-suede outer for extra durability. If the glove is waterproof, it will generally have some sort of softshell for the backhand that is coated in DWR finish.

Jumping the rock gap on Dam Busters descent in Blue Derby Tasmania

Durability

The durability of a pair of gloves can almost go hand in hand with price… usually.

The more you pay, the better material you get and the longer your gloves will last. This isn’t the case for every glove, some aren’t made as well as others and the best way to determine this factor is by reading reviews. Ask your mates how long they’ve had their gloves for and whether they’ve handled hard falls. 

Of course, there are some materials that are hardier than others and the stitching can play a huge part as well. If there is loads of stitching in the wrong areas – such as in between fingers and along the palms – the gloves are likely to wear and split much easier than if the stitching is placed in less high wear areas.

The stitching can also be really annoying if it’s between the fingers as well, so best to check before you buy!

So now that we have a little understanding of what to look for when choosing the ultimate winter mountain bike gloves, it’s time to compare a couple. 

Through research, friends, and personal preferences, I have come up with a shortlist of 10 of the best winter mountain bike gloves out there. 

Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Gel Gloves – My pick for the warmest
Pearl Izumi Escape Thermal Gloves
Fist Frosty Fingers Gloves – My pick for the most affordable
Giro Ambient 2.0 Winter Gloves
GripGrab Waterproof Knitted Thermal Gloves
100% Brisker Hydromatic Waterproof Gloves – My pick for most waterproof
Fox Defend Pro Fire Gloves
Fox Ranger Fire Gloves
Leatt MTB 2.0 SubZero Gloves

Specialized Trail Thermal Gloves

Let’s take a closer look at what each of these winter ride gloves offer.

Sending the huge gap on downhill 2 in Glenrock MTB Park riding in Newcastle

Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Gel Winter Mountain Bike Gloves

Pearl Izumi’s Elite Softshell Gel Glove is equipped with 100g Primaloft gold insulation, a fleece lining, and the softshell fabric is windproof and water-resistant. A gel padding in the palm adds extra comfort for technical rides and the longer wrist length provides extra warmth. 

These gloves also come in women’s and men’s specific models and have a touchscreen compatible thumb and forefinger. The price for the Pearl Izumi Elite’s is a little steep, but with the price comes extra warmth. These gloves are best for those super cold winter morning rides.

See the latest price for the Elite Softshell Gel Glove on Amazon

Pearl Izumi Escape winter mountain bike glove

Positives for the Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Gel Gloves

  • Very warm
  • Gel palms increases comfort
  • Not too bulky

Negatives for the Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell Gel Gloves

  • Sizing is not accurate ( need to go up a size)
  • Not very waterproof
  • Liner is detachable which makes them difficult to get on and off in wet weather

Pearl Izumi Escape Thermal Winter Mountain Bike Gloves

The Escape Thermal Biking Gloves are the cheaper more simplistic option that Pearl Izumi offer for winter riding. These gloves aren’t waterproof or extremely warm but are good for those shoulder season rides where you need just a little more warmth than your summer full-fingered gloves.

These gloves are made with SELECT thermal fabric that boasts a quick dry time and moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties. The palms are made of synthetic micro-suede for more durability and the thumb and forefinger have conductive synthetic leather that is compatible with touchscreen.

The lower price for these gloves is much more favourable, making them the perfect second pair for chilly spring or autumn mornings. These are a cheap option you could consider using as a liner for extremely chilly winters. They aren’t mountain bike specific so I would be questioning their durability.

See the latest price for the Escape Thermal Glove on Amazon

Pearl Izumi Escape winter mountain bike glove

Positives for the Pearl Izumi Escape Thermal Gloves

  • Affordable
  • Thin and streamline fit
  • Good inners for winter riding

Negatives for the Pearl Izumi Escape Thermal Gloves

  • Not warm enough for frosty winters
  • Not waterproof
  • Not mountain bike specific

Fist Frosty Fingers Winter Mountain Bike Gloves

Fist is a small Australian brand dedicated to making affordable and functional MTB gloves. Their Frosty Fingers Gloves come with a 3-layer laminated, weather-resistant thermo upper and a single layer Clarino (synthetic leather) palm. 

Their designs are always fun and unique and their forefinger and thumb come with compatible material for touchscreen.

See the latest price for the Fist Frosty Fingers Gloves on Amazon

Fist frosty fingers best cheap winter mountain bike gloves

Positives for the Fist Frosty Fingers Gloves

  • Affordable
  • Water resistant
  • Cool designs

Negatives for the Fist Frosty Fingers Gloves

  • Not as warm as others
  • Wear after about one season
  • Colour fades

Giro Ambient 2.0 Winter Winter Mountain Biking Gloves

The Giro Ambient 2.0 gloves provide stacks of warmth and comfort. They’re rated to between 2 and 7 degrees C, with a water-resistant Polartec Windbloc outer layer and palm. The palm also comes with microfleece backing and an interior liner of deep-pile fleece tops off the cozy feel.

The palm has a gel padding for extra comfort and the first two fingertips are double wrapped for added warmth. Their price is inching towards the higher market but the durability of the thick outer layer and good fit seems to make up for this. However, don’t count on these comfortable MTB gloves in the pouring rain. The water-resistance of the Giro Ambient 2.0 is nothing to write home about.

See the latest price for the Ambient 2.0 Gloves on Amazon

Positives for the Giro Ambient 2.0 Winter Gloves

  • Well fitting with good feeling of the bar
  • Warm
  • Gel padding adds extra comfort

Negatives for the Giro Ambient 2.0 Winter Gloves

  • Pricey
  • Not waterproof
  • Not good for sub zero temperatures

GripGrab Waterproof Knitted Thermal Winter Mountain Bike Gloves

GripGrab is a Danish company which, to me, must mean they know what they’re doing when it comes to freezing cold weather gear! 

These Waterproof Knitted Thermal Gloves are thin and no fuss. Made from a knitted fabric with a waterproof membrane, there are no extra layers or bulk. Yet somehow, they’re still super warm, waterproof, and windproof. 

The palms come with a gripper print on the palms and a gel pad on the heel of your palm. The gel pad is oddly placed and potentially not the best for mountain biking, but the warmth of these gloves may just help sway your decision anyway.  Though you better be sure as the price is not cheap.

See the latest price for the GripGrab Waterproof Gloves on Amazon

Specialized's best winter mountain bike glove

Positives for the GripGrab Waterproof Knitted Thermal Gloves

  • Very warm
  • Waterproof
  • Well fitting

Negatives for the GripGrab Waterproof Knitted Thermal Gloves

  • Not mountain bike specific (may not have enough grip)
  • Expensive

100% Brisker Hydromatic Waterproof Winter Mountain Bike Gloves

The Brisker Hydromatic Waterproof Biking Gloves from 100% are perfect for those wet and sloppy days. They are made with a single-layer PU palm, softshell backhand, and a waterproof and breathable insert secured to the outer layer. The palm has a grippy silicone print with a touchscreen compatible forefinger and thumb. 

These gloves provide a snug fit so as not to compromise on feel and control of the handlebars and with a relatively affordable price, they’re hard to pass up.

See the latest price for the Brisker Hydromatic Gloves on Amazon

100 percent brisker hydromatic winter mountain bike glove

Positives for the 100% Brisker Hydromatic Waterproof Gloves

  • Waterproof
  • Good fit
  • Good control
  • Affordable

Negatives for the 100% Brisker Hydromatic Waterproof Gloves

  • Not as warm as others

Fox Defend Pro Fire Winter Mountain Biking Gloves

The Fox team leaves nothing out with these waterproof and durable gloves. They’re just what you are used to receiving with their defend line of gloves with added warmth and weather protection.

The palm is made of waterproof AS suede which doesn’t compromise on handlebar control. The backhand is made of a 3 layer softshell fabric and the whole glove is pre-treated with a water-repellent finish. 

The Defend Pro Fire glove is the perfect companion on a wet and muddy ride, however, if entering the minus’ they may not make the cut for warmth.

See the latest price for the Defend Pro Fire Gloves on Amazon

Fox Defend Pro Fire winter mountain bike glove

Positives for the Fox Defend Pro Fire Gloves

  • Durable
  • Good fit
  • Waterproof

Negatives for the Fox Defend Pro Fire Gloves

  • Not as warm as others
  • Expensive

Fox Ranger Fire Winter Mountain Biking Gloves

The Fox Ranger Fire Gloves are almost identical to the Defend Pro Fire, except they come with extra warmth due to a brushed fleece interior but don’t come with the softshell outer. 

These won’t protect you as well from the rain but will keep you warm as you shred through winter. With a slightly more affordable price, the sacrifice of super dry hands could be worth it.

See the latest price for the Fox Ranger Fire Glove on Amazon

Fox Ranger Fire winter mountain bike glove

Positives for the Fox Ranger Fire Gloves

  • Affordable
  • Warmer than the Defend Pro Fire
  • Good fit

Negatives for the Fox Ranger Fire Gloves

  • Not waterproof

Leatt MTB 2.0 SubZero Winter Mountain Bike Gloves

The Leatt MTB 2.0 SubZero Gloves are as close to a summer mountain biking glove as you will get. These gloves come with an insulated backhand and a FormFit finger stitching for comfort and great bar feel.

The palm supports a MicronGrip which offers the best grip in wet and muddy conditions. However, there is no outer shell to protect you from the rain so they’re not the best choice for wet riding.

See the latest price for Leatt 2.0 Subzero Gloves on Amazon

Leatt Subzero 2.0 winter mountain bike glove

Positives for the Leatt MTB 2.0 SubZero Gloves

  • Great bar feel
  • Good fit
  • Warm
  • Good grip in the wet
  • Affordable

Negatives for the Leatt MTB 2.0 SubZero Gloves

  • Not waterproof

Specialized Trail Thermal Winter Mountain Bike Gloves

$65 AUD – Bike Exchange

The Specialized Trail Thermal gloves come in women’s and men’s fit and boast a wind-resistant 3-layer softshell upper with a Hydrophobic Ax Suede fit on the palm for ultimate grip of the handlebars in the wet.

These gloves are great for riding where temperatures don’t inch towards the minuses. Being completely waterproof on the backside of the hand and windproof makes these gloves a great option for those rainy shoulder seasons.

Specialized's best winter mountain bike glove

Positives for the Specialized Trail Thermal Glove

  • Snug fit
  • True to size
  • Moderately priced
  • Oversized velcro cuffs to fit over or under jacket
  • Waterproof

Negatives for the Specialized Trail Thermal Glove

  • Not warm enough for super cold temperatures
  • Palm shows wear after first ride

What we can take away from these reviews is that if you want extreme warmth, you’ll have to compromise on the fit and bar feel. If you want cheap, you will have to compromise on warmth and/or waterproofing. But these gloves come pretty darn close in covering all aspects that depict a great winter mountain bike glove.

Do you have a favourite winter mountain biking glove I haven’t listed here? Or do you have experience with the ones I have? I would love to know your thoughts on the matter so leave a comment below and let’s help everyone get the right gloves this winter.

winter mountain bike gloves Pinterest pine

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