I would assume that if you asked most cyclists why they don’t ride more in the winter, the answer would be two-fold. First, no one likes cold hands and feet and second? Quality winter gear is expensive. Given the fact that sometimes it feels like it takes longer to get dressed than the actual ride, it’s clear that cold weather cycling requires quite a bit more equipment.
When it comes to winter riding gloves, there is no shortage of options. However, if you need something seriously warm that is also affordable, the herd gets thin, quick. That’s why I am very happily surprised by the Answer Sleestak 3 in 1 mitts. Available for just $39.99, these might be the best winter gloves you’ve never heard of…
To be completely honest, when I tried on the Sleestaks for the first time I really didn’t expect much out of the mitts. They just don’t feel very substantial, how could these be very warm? Boy, was I wrong. As it turns out, these may be the warmest gloves I’ve used. They’re so warm in fact that I question Answer’s rated temperature of 20ºF (-7ºC). My hands tend to get pretty cold, especially my fingertips. With the Sleestaks though, I’ve comfortably ridden down to about 3ºF (-16ºC) and could easily go lower, especially if I added a thin liner. Even in the single digits I still found myself pulling off the mitts occasionally to cool down. If anything, the Sleestaks might be too warm.
Combined with their PrimaLoft insulation, I’m sure a lot of that warmth comes from your last three fingers in the same lobe, with your index finger and thumb in their own separate fingers. Those who have to brake with two fingers will find this arrangement challenging, but for the rest of us using one finger braking the division is perfect. The Sleestak is also less constricting than 4 finger gloves which aides with blood flow through your extremities. It also seems that the super lightweight build of the mitts help with dexterity since I was still able to operate zippers, clips, bike racks, shifters, and wipe your nose (with the soft terry cloth thumbs) without any fuss. If you do find yourself needing more dexterity, the mitts are very easy to remove and put back on when you’re done.
I should point out that while the 3 in 1 design does work with road shifters, it is a bit more tricky to use than with a standard glove. However, due to the working temperature range of the Sleestaks, when it’s cold enough to use them I would much prefer to be riding frozen trails than out riding the road. Because of this they have gotten very little use on the road bike.
If there is one weak point to the design of the Sleestak, it may be the lack of waterproofing. In reality though, I found the outer nylon ripstop shell and Amara palm to be effectively water resistant to keep snow and ice from getting your hands wet. I wouldn’t go putting your hands in an icy stream and expect them to stay dry, but considering how warm the Sleestak is, the lack of waterproofing never presented itself as an issue.
Also, it is possible for them to bunch up a bit between the bar and your hand, but I haven’t found a glove that works at these temperatures that doesn’t. The key is that even with the slight bunching, they still offer great control and feel of the bar making techy moves way easier than they should be at 10ºF.
Realistically, there are better gloves out there if you’re planning a polar fat bike expedition or spending long hours in extreme temperatures. But if you’re like most of us and plan on riding for a few hours in temperatures well below freezing, the Sleestaks are a refreshing reminder that highly functional gear doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Sleestaks are available in black, red, and green in S-XL and retail for $39.99.