Winter riders are a hardy bunch. Still, the right gear is key to a comfortable ride.

Funny thing is, when it comes to cold weather gloves, riders sometimes try to improvise. Recently someone in a riding forum said he wore scuba gloves while riding his bike. Why would anyone want to do that?

Good cold weather motorcycle gloves aren’t hard to find. And you don’t have to spend a fortune, to keep hands warm and comfortable  … especially when you know what to look for.

  • Choose moderately priced, high quality gear that will protect you from wind, wet, and cold.


  • Choose it well, and it will keep you warm even in extreme cold conditions.


  • Take care of it, and it will last you a good long time. 

Here are 6 things you need to know before buying winter riding gloves. Leave the scuba gear at home!more

6 Things to Know About Cold Weather Motorcycle Gloves

This winter got off to a cold start in much of the country. Even Florida had temps in the 50’s.

Here’s how to choose the right winter glove for where you live and how you ride:

1. Fabric or Leather?



It depends. Both can both keep you warm, depending on glove design.


We give the edge to leather for warmth — and many riders must agree, because our best selling winter style at the moment is all leather.

But while leather is naturally windproof, it’s not naturally waterproof … and soggy leather gloves can get heavy and take a while to dry out.


So depending on how WET your riding conditions are, well insulated textile gloves can be a solid choice — if they are windproof and waterproof, with insulation in the right places.  


Rider Tip: If you ride in extreme cold, though, all leather may be a better choice. 


2. Waterproof vs. Water Resistant? 


Waterproof gloves have a special liner (also called an “insert”) sewn between the shell and the interior of the glove. They also have sealed seams,, so no water gets in.


As with many things, there’s a “good, better, and best” when it comes to this “in between layer”.


Premium Gore-Tex®  is the best, with a powerful brand behind it, and their famous “guaranteed to keep you dry” guarantee. Other popular inserts to keep hands dry include Aquatex and Dri-Lock.

Rider TIp: To be absolutely waterproof, gloves must have sealed seams, too. Gloves that have a similar in-between layer, but without sealed seams, will be labeled “water resistant”


3. What About Windproof?



“Windproof” is another essential feature to protect hands from cold. 


Leather is windproof, naturally.  A windproof glove insert is another way glove designers have to block wind.

As mentioned above, gloves that are labeled windproof and not waterproof will not have sealed seams — so your hands are likely, but not guaranteed, to stay dry in a soaking.  In that case — if the seams are not sealed — they will likely be labeled “water resistant”.


WindStopper®  is a brand name for this kind of windproof lining. Another reputable windproof insert which you may see labeled, is called Wind-Tex.



Rider tip: Windproof can be a good cold weather feature by itself … but depending on how wet your conditions are  — and especially if you will be using your gloves for other winter sports like snowboarding, too —  choose a glove that is BOTH windproof AND waterproof. 



4. How Important is Breathable?



Many, but not all, waterproof gloves are “breathable”, which means that perspiration can evaporate, so hands stay dry. 
Two popular breathable waterproof inserts include “Gore-Tex” and “AquaTex. Dri-Lock, however, is waterproof but not breathable.


Rider TIp: It’s definitely a comfort factor — hands tend to sweat. If you will be riding for any amount of time (or sledding, if you ride a snowmobile) the breathable factor is definitely nice to have.



5. How Much Insulation? And, what kind?



Insulation simply refers to the interior layers designed to trap air and keep body heat close to your hand.
More important than weight of insulation is how the glove is designed and made.  


For instance, index and middle fingers on a brake lever can get cold, so well-insulated fingers are important.  Too much bulk on the palm can make it hard to feel and use the controls, or hold the hand comfortably around the throttle. 

Depending on construction, a lighter and less bulky glove can still be plenty warm — which is why why comparing weight of insulation alone can be misleading.  For instance, we make a textile winter glove with extra insulation on fingertips. Our all leather winter gloves, on the other hand, don’t need it.


A reputable glove company will use premium insulation brands like  PrimaLoft®, and Thinsulate®


Rider Tip: Good winter riding gloves should have more insulation where you need it most — on the exposed surfaces like the back of the hand and the finger tips, and less on the palm.



6. Which Gloves For Heated Grips? 



If you ride with heated grips, you’ll want to take that into consideration when choosing a glove.


An All Season Glove, which has less insulation overall, can often be the perfect solution.

But even with heated grips and all season glove, hands and fingertips can get cold on extended rides — so you’ll want to look for a glove with more insulation on the back of the hand, less on the palm … and possibly more warmth on the fingertips as well.  

Rider Tip: There’s a unique style of “2 in 1” glove that works well for heated grips — it offers some adjustability based on weather conditions which is a good feature.  

This type of glove comes with two interior chambers within the glove, that you choose for different conditions.  One hand position has less bulk on the palm, allowing more heat to pass through … and the middle position is good when you need more all-around warmth.

Cold Weather Gloves: Other Features & Tips for Winter Riding

Not everyone rides in the same conditions, or feels the cold the same way. But here are some other key features for cold weather riding to keep hands warm:

  • Gauntlets are a MUST in the cold:  We like gauntlets for anything below 45 degrees — keeping the cold wind out of your sleeves is critical for maintaining your heat.  Look for styles where you can adjust the “snug” at the opening to seal your sleeves.
  • Squeegee or wiper blade to keep visor clear:  a nice addition on the index finger or thumb.
  • Touchscreen to keep gloves on while using electronics:  Keep your gloves on, keeps warmth in.
  • Glove Liners —  another layer of warmth is sometimes needed. In extreme cold. Like a neck warmer, liners are good to keep in your gear bag “just in case”.
  • Reflective:  Days are shorter, make sure you are visible — good winter gloves should have reflective trim to help get you seen.
  • Electric Gloves: Chances are, if you have decided on heated gloves you are not reading this article. But if you plan on a lot of long rides in deep cold, they are probable a good investment!
  • Fairings, hand guards and heated grips can help a lot when it comes to colder temps!

So there you have it: Dress in layers … stop for hot coffee when you need it …  keep hands, head and feet warm … and you’re good to go!

P.S. You don’t have to spend a lot for warm gloves.

Olympia makes over 20 winter styles, many with 5-Star ratings from other riders, and all under $100 (check here for a dealer near you, or shop online with free shipping on selected styles).  

While you can find cold weather motorcycle gloves that easily cost twice that, you don’t have to spend a fortune to stay warm.

A guide to our winter glove styles can be found here:

Best Cold Weather Motorcycle Gloves: 2014-15 BUYER’S GUIDE

Visit your local dealer, or our online store.