The Chainlink

HELP! Expert suggestions needed for cold hands/fingers!

Hi Chainlink,

So I'm grappling (again) with the cold winter days and I need a solution to my abnormally cold hands. I think it's Renauld's disease but the bottom line is my hands will get numb/cold in about 15 minutes riding in any temps below 30.

Any specific techniques, products, etc??

I broke down and have spent $$$ on the OR Alti mitts (used for Antarctic expeditions!) and I sure hope that does the trick.

Note: I have been using a 3-layer glove system: wool liner, windstopper, outer waterproof she'll trigger finger. But it's not working!

Also, I refuse to spend $ on hot hand packets for the next 4 months.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

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I use down insulated mittens on the coldest days and regular ski mittens when the weather is between 15-30 degrees. If products like that aren't working for you, and you still want to ride, I think you should look into buying some battery-powered heated gloves or glove liners. 

Another thing to think about is that you need to make sure your body core is warm enough to be able to spare the energy to supply heat to your extremities. If you have a short commute, like less than 20 minutes, you might not be giving yourself enough time to generate enough body heat to warm your hands and feet. 

I'll echo KevinM's comment - the key to keeping your extremities warm is a warm core. Your body will cut circulation to your hands and feet if your internal organs aren't being kept at the right temperature, so the more you can do to keep your core warm, the more you can do to help your hands.

You might also think about whether your glove system is cutting off circulation to your fingers. Last season, I tried a couple of rides with a tight-fitting thin glove under some large lobster gloves, but I found this actually less successful than without the thin gloves, because it seemed that the thinner gloves were constricting circulation through my fingers. I'm also very much in favor of lobster gloves or, by extension, any glove system (such as Bar Mitts) that allows your fingers to warm one another. It's surprising how much of a difference that can make.

I am not familiar with the condition you're describing and whether it changes one's perception of the cold or could actually mean you're more susceptible to frostbite. But I would always take care to steer well clear of frostbite - that is not something you want to flirt with. 

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the suggestions so far.

Great point on the tight gloves cutting off circulation - I hadn't thought of that. Also my core tends to stay fine, but you're right I need to be extra careful about that. I tend not to worry about my core, but if it helps with warming extremities then I'm all in.

I mistyped - it's really when the temps hit below 20 F that I start to suffer. I read reviews of products like the OR Alti Mitts and cringe with envy when people say "my hands are so hot they sweat". I've never experienced that in extremely cold climates.

Those look really hardcore, and they should do the trick. My ski-mitts look like that, but were much cheaper, and I don't even use the liners except on the coldest days.

A cousin has Renauld's, the neat thing is seeing his hands go from pale white to pink under the kitchen faucet.  Those with it experience highly reduced bloodflow to the hands (and other extremities?)

He had luck with microwaveable hand warmers, not sure what type:

http://www.amazon.com/Hand-Warmers-HotSnapZ-Reusable-Pocket/dp/B004...

Though he moved onto these things:

http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-best-hand-warmer/

There is also a whole family of heated gloves that hunters use a lot but I don't know anything about them.  But part of me thinks there must be a way to attach one (two) of the old school light generators to the back wheel and send the current to a hand heating system on the bars. I know producing light takes far less energy than heat but there is some current there to work with.

If you find something that works let us know.

H

The bar mitts mentioned above and not cutting off circulation are good advice. (I would get the bar mitts but my bike stays outside 24/7.) Also make sure to move/ flex your hands when possible and at stops.

Sweaty hands under 20!? I wish! My finger tips also get uncomfortably cold when the temp drops below 20. Last winter. was. rough. Pretty sure I've already done some damage to the skin/ nerves in my fingers.

I just bought a pair of Sealskinz handlebar mittens (AKA lobster gloves) for $70, they have been keeping my fingers warm for the most part. I heat them up in the morning on an electric heater then put them on a heat vent for an hour or so before leaving work but I don't know if this really helps.

Hi, I also have perpetually icy hands due to poor circulation. Last year I got bar mitts and they were an amazing improvement over everything else I had tried for sub-20F days. I highly recommend them.

Thanks for this reference - the Zippo hand warmer looks promising!

Haddon said:

A cousin has Renauld's, the neat thing is seeing his hands go from pale white to pink under the kitchen faucet.  Those with it experience highly reduced bloodflow to the hands (and other extremities?)

He had luck with microwaveable hand warmers, not sure what type:

http://www.amazon.com/Hand-Warmers-HotSnapZ-Reusable-Pocket/dp/B004...

Though he moved onto these things:

http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-best-hand-warmer/

There is also a whole family of heated gloves that hunters use a lot but I don't know anything about them.  But part of me thinks there must be a way to attach one (two) of the old school light generators to the back wheel and send the current to a hand heating system on the bars. I know producing light takes far less energy than heat but there is some current there to work with.

If you find something that works let us know.

H

I bought 2 pairs of ski gloves from Eddie Bauer and they are a god send, I think. Never thought that EB would have such things.

I rode on these on Monday: Claim Touchscreen Gloves and was sweating inside.

It is pricey, but with 30% off and I found a floor model which was already discounted, I ended up paying only $70 for them.

Then I switched to these:  Powder Search Touchscreen Gloves along with another thin wool liner inside and I was quite comfortable. Again, with the 30% off, it was a great deal.

I think you'd like the Claim Touchscreen Gloves better. It's really warm!

I am in the same boat as the OP, with viciously cold hands and possibly Reynaud's syndrome (I've started showing some more obvious symptoms recently, and my mom has it). My warmest gloves are of the same general type as those that JustWill links to; they are sometimes OK, but never better than tolerable when it is really cold, with liners inside. I can't give the OP any really good advice since I'm in more or less exactly the same position, but after years of iterating I'm ready to either try Bar Mitts or bite the bullet on these: http://www.rei.com/product/871649/outdoor-research-stormtracker-hea... or these: http://www.rei.com/product/871602/outdoor-research-lucent-heated-in... I have heard good things about Moose Mitts but I'd need two sets, one for the swept bars on my SS and another for the drops on my main bike. And I spend a lot of time on the tops of the drops, for which the mitts don't help. It seems to me that wrapping my brake levers in something with some insulating quality can't hurt - braking sometimes feels like it sucks what little heat my hands have right out.

The point about making sure the rest of you is warm is a good one - your body won't sent blood to the fingers if it is having a hard time keeping your core warm. And don't forget your head! I can notice the difference in my hands if I ride in the same weather with and without earmuffs.

I have the same problem as many of you. I can bike on the coldest days of the year with the exception of freezing hands. Less than 10 degrees and I can go about 22 minutes to the dot before my hands get cold. No problem with feet and my face stays warm with balaclava.

The best thing I have found to date are Gordini mittens, and they are cheap.

http://bit.ly/1y0sJWT

But still I experience some cold. I am thinking of trying those mitten liners one of you mentioned the other day (u get them at army navy stores).  The hand warmers sound too much hassle.

If I could get this solves winter biking would be much more comfortable.

I will second (third? fourth?) the recommendation of bar mitts. I wussed out and didn't ride Tuesday, mostly because of the predicted wind chill, but did ride the other four days this past week. My commute is a bit over an hour in this weather, and a good chunk of it is on LFT, so I have plenty of opportunity to be exposed to whatever wind is out there. I wear a ragg wool glove with a simple glove shell on my hands. Pulling my hands out of the bar mitts for a change of position or to signal a turn (or blow my nose) is no big deal. None of those acts doom my hands to painful chilling.

I will also second the notion of keeping your core (and extremities) warm to give your hands and feet a better chance of staying warm. It does take me a couple minutes to shed my garments when I get to work, but I'm sure the layering helps. Up top, I have a thin "tech fabric" base layer, a long sleeve wool jersey, and a high-vis yellow or red shell (Pearl Izumi, not winter weight material - I don't know what conditions they are intended for, but they are bright and lightweight). Down below, I have my cycling shorts, a very thin pair of merino wool long johns, lined cycling pants, wool socks, and (currently) toe covers. This might seem complex, and it took me a couple years of trial-and-error to arrive at the current configuration, but it works well for me.

I do have two sets of bar mitts, one drop bar set, one flat bar set. While MSRP is currently over $70, you can usually find them for much less on eBay ($50 or less). I got my drop bar set for $10. The drop bar set easily slides off and on my fixed gear commuter (aero brake cable routing under the handlebar tape), so if I had to park outside I could take them with me. Getting my flat bar set off and on would be a bit more of a challenge, as the brake and shifter cables route through zippered holes in the mitts. My other drop bar bikes are all vintage with non-aero routing for the brake cables and shift levers on the downtube. Last weekend I rode with some buddies. I intended to take my fixed gear because it had the mitts, but I had a flat and didn't have time to fix it. I just slid them onto one of my vintage bikes. Took about a minute, and most of that time was spent walking back and forth between the two bikes. :-) The brake cables poked out the same big hole as my hands.

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