When the weather turns cold, car drivers have it easy: they flip on the heated steering wheel and seat, crank the heater controls, and even if the first few minutes are still ice cold in the cabin, they have no trouble steering with frigid hands. Motorcyclists, being the advanced species that they are, must not only deal with the cold temperatures without a climate-controlled steel cage around them, but they also must manipulate multiple controls with their hands, not just a ham fist turning a steering wheel. The dexterity to operate steering, throttle, clutch, and brake on a motorcycle goes out the window as temps drop, so things not only get uncomfortable in the cold, but safety is also compromised. And yet the urge to ride, whatever the weather conditions, beckons motorcyclists, doing everything they can to stretch the riding season as long as advanced-human-ly possible.

Enter Hippo Hands. By protecting the rider’s hands behind a waterproof shell and a layer of insulation, the need for bulky winter gloves that rob dexterity is all but eliminated, leaving the rider with warm hands and proper feel for the controls. Add heated grips to the formula, and the Hippo Hands rider won’t have to worry about cold hands, whatever the weather conditions.

One person who knows what it’s like to ride in adverse conditions is Erick Barney, a guide for MotoQuest Tours, a rental and tour outfit that spans the west coast of the US.

Hippo Hands Alaska

Riding MotoQuest guide bikes around Alaska, the west coast of Canada, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and all points in between, Erick has ridden in conditions and for distances that would make mere mortal riders shudder.

“As a snowmobile rider in Southern Oregon, I’ve always heard the term Hippo Hands. But like many people, I thought it was the general name for the category of products, like the Kleenex of tissue.”

After being introduced to Hippo Hands a few years back, he was hooked. MotoQuest designates guide bikes for tours, so Erick has used Hippo Hands on various BMW 1200/1250, 800/850 and 700/750 GSs, Africa Twins, KLR 650’s, and V-Stroms. When his Hippo Hands are not in use, he prefers to pack them in the open position rather than flattened, and fills them with smaller items that might need a little extra padding at the bottom of his panniers.

Hippo Hands Front

As soon as he feels the chill on the outside of his hands, Erick pulls out the Hippo Hands, but even in warmer weather, he likes the Hippo Hands when the rain comes down. “I prefer them to rain proof glove covers because the glove covers also compromise control dexterity, in my experience…I prefer wearing deer skin gloves, but not wet deer skin gloves.”

Hippo Hands come in three sizes, depending on the riding style and rider’s needs. The smallest of them, the Backcountry at 9” deep, are for dirt and enduro bikes, and for riders who stand a lot. They are also good for commuters who don’t need maximum coverage, and cyclists as well.

The Rogue are the mid-sized Hippo Hands at 10.5” deep. They fit numerous adventure and sport touring bikes, and work well for commuters that like a bit of extra coverage compared to the Backcountry.

Hippo Hands Alcan

At 12” deep, the Alcan model is full coverage, maximum protection model, great for bigger bikes and longer distances in the nastiest of weather conditions. The latest version of the Alcans feature a neoprene cuff around the opening, creating added coverage around the rider’s forearm to prevent any backdraft of cool air into the hand area for maximum warmth.

All Hippo Hands models use HippoSkin™ waterproof material for the outer shell, and HippoFat™ closed-cell foam for insulation. When combined with heated grips, riders using Hippo Hands can typically ride with summer gloves, as opposed to the bulky winter gloves normally required that rob precious feel and control.

The original motorcycle hand covers, Hippo Hands were originally created in the early 1970s by Craig Vetter of Vetter Windjammer Fairings fame. To this day, Hippo Hands remain the highest quality, most durable hand covers on the market.

Hippo Hands Pair

Erick can attest to the performance of Hippo Hands, recalling a trip from Portland to Anchorage via Skagway, Alaska and Destruction Bay, Canada, when riding an Africa Twin that didn’t have heated grips. Misjudging the potential weather conditions on the trip, he failed to pack cold weather-gloves, but did remember to pack his Hippo Hands. When temperatures have dipped into the 20s and freezing rain set in, Hippo Hands saved his bacon and prevented a disaster of a ride. Erick considers Hippo Hands an essential item to pack on any tour.

Erick was originally brought on with MotoQuest because of his expertise in Alaskan routes, but he has also guided in Baja, Mexico, Peru, and India, and is slated to guide Patagonia down to Ushuaia in March, before returning to his Alaska roots with Anchorage up to Prudhoe Bay in July. No doubt that Hippo Hands will be at the bottom of his panniers before kickstands go up.