We hear the same two questions from a lot of riders:

Why do my winter riding gloves feel bulky?


Are there gloves that keep hands warm, and provide a better feel for the controls?

Gloves without bulky padding would obviously be a lot better.

So the question is, if we can put a man on the moon, why do glove manufacturers still make gloves this way?  What gives!?

Here’s why it’s a difficult problem to solve … and some options to consider:

Winter Riding Gloves: The Quest for More Warmth, Less Bulk!

“Warm, but bulky …” — It’s a common complaint among experienced riders, regardless of glove brand.

Here’s what we hear:

“…I have yet to find the perfect gloves that work well in fall/winter/spring while being tactile and un­bulky …”


“…I have a pair cold weather leather gloves that are too bulky to feel the grips but my other gloves are too thin to wear in the cold. …”


“…I am unhappy with all of the “waterproof” gloves I have tried; cold, clammy, leaky and bulky. …”


 “… I do not like thick gloves, it takes away from the feel of the bike and the movement of the hands to control…”


“…I would love to find a nice cold weather glove that does not have all the bulk to it. …””


“…The gloves that I currently use are very thick so it hinders my ability to really “feel” my controls …”


We’d like to solve this problem too!  While NASA won’t be selling space age motorcycle gloves anytime soon, here are the options.

What Will Winter Riding Gloves Be Like In 100 Years?

Perhaps one day in the not too distant future, someone will invent a game-changing new insulation material, that is super thin and super warm … at least, that’s our dream.

But for now, unheated riding gloves require a certain thickness to provide warmth. To put it simply, you need layers of “stuff” to trap warm air next to your hands. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Winter gloves have 3 layers: the exterior, the middle, and the lining closest to the skin.
  • The middle layer normally contains a waterproof breathable material like Gore-tex — which besides being waterproof and windproof, adds some insulation. But that material is not enough for warmth … more insulation must still be added. 
  • Added insulation like Primaloft or Thinsulate goes in that middle layer, to trap and hold warm air. This material is usually placed in areas which are more exposed to the cold, like the back of the palm or fingertips — and less on the palm.
  • A winter glove may also have a pile lining next to the skin, to trap more warm air, and may be cut a bit more generously, too — to trap even more air. (Unlike a summer glove which has a snugger fit, a bit of extra room between the hand and the glove traps air, and leaves room for a liner if desired).
  • Finally, the exterior of the glove may have extra layers of leather for protection or grip.

All these layers work together to keep hands warm and protected from the elements. But with current technology, “more warmth vs. less bulk” is a constant tradeoff. 

While we design winter motorcycle gloves with curved fingers and lots of other features that let you grip better, the bottom line is this: insulating layers add bulk.

A “Less Bulky” Cold Weather Solution: 5 Options

We’ll tell you straight:  here are 5 options, but none are perfect. If you’re a rider, you may already know what we’re going to say:

  • Heated gloves are one way to reduce bulk and improve feel of the grips.
  • Heated grips plus a medium weight glove are another way to reduce bulk. In this scenario, look for a glove like this Cold Throttle Glove. It reduces insulation to 40g on the palm side, for dexterity … and adds 100g insulation on the back on the hand, for warmth.
  • Try going down a size in your winter glove, especially if you are borderline between two sizes. A more snug fit may reduce the feeling of bulk (but you will not have room for a glove liner — a different tradeoff).
  • A thinner uninsulated glove with heated glove liners may work for some riders …

    …or even a deerskin glove with a good glove liner. Polypropylene liners, silk liners, and other glove liners add extra warmth without adding significant bulk. Depending on the temps you’re riding in they can help you get by with a lighter weight glove which provides better feel for the controls. (but in extreme cold and below freezing temps, it may not be as warm as you’ll need). 

  • Hand guards might allow a medium weight glove to last a few more degrees.
Final Note: A material called Outlast came out a some years back, that claimed to add warmth via a chemical reaction. Whether this makes a difference or not is subjective — when we tested it, we did not feel it made a difference. There are gloves that incorporate this material.

Leave a Comment: What’s Your Solution?

Have you found a solution to your “bulky winter glove” problem?

Please leave a comment so we can hear from you, the rider.  We hope to learn something new … and if not, misery loves company!

What do you wear on winter rides, when temps drop below freezing?