As part of my continuing series on the best handwear for winter biking (check out my recent AMC Outdoors article and November 24 post), let's talk next about that strange hybrid of a glove and mitten: the lobster claw. These gloves are split down the middle and provide large, separate pockets for your index and middle fingers and ring and pinky fingers. The idea is that your fingers get to keep each other company and share their body heat, thus keeping your fingers warmer. But unlike mittens—which are warmer than gloves for the same reason—lobster claws still provide a fair amount of dexterity.
After much browsing, I recently purchased a pair of Swix Membrane Split Mittens ($44) and had the opportunity to test them out on a recent trip into the cold-weather mountains, where temps hovered in the 20s. The verdict? Yes, they are definitely warmer than their glove counterparts—my fingers were noticeably toastier hanging out together. And the dexterity was surprisingly good. I was easily able to manipulate zippers, buckles, and other tasks that would have been impossible with mittens.
They work very well for biking as well, providing excellent dexterity for gear shifting and eliminating any concerns about my ability to quickly hit the brakes if necessary. Overall I'm very impressed with them so far. Here's a quick round-up of the lobster claws I evaluated.
Swix Membrane Split MittensI purchased the Swix version for one primary reason: They are big enough to fit my large, eight-inch-long hands. Every other model I tried was too small, even in XL. They are also an excellent value at $44—most other lobster gloves run more than that. A windproof, waterproof layer is built onto the back of the glove, which works well in the forward-generated wind you create on a bike.
My big complaint about these, however, is that the cuffs are designed to go underneath, rather than over, your sleeves. This is a minor hassle whenever you take them on and off, since you have to push up your sleeves, then pull them back down and velcro them tight to eliminate any gaps. I was unable to find these listed on the Swix website; it may have been replaced by the Mountain Men model.
Pearl Izumi Barrier Lobster GloveOne of the warmest and thickest pairs of lobster claws, though you pay a little bit more ($70). Unlike the Swix, these feature a gauntlet that goes over your sleeves. If these had fit, I would have bought them instead of the Swix.
REI Rainy Pass Split Finger Gloves
These have much more padding on the palms and fingers, but surprisingly little insulation. They might be a good option for a long, bumpy ride in chilly—but not frigid—conditions. Good price point ($45), but odd to have such a lightly insulated glove in this style. They do have a nice over-the-sleeve gauntlet on the cuffs.
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.