When it comes to gloves that will see you through winter, there’s plenty of choice on the market. As well as warmth and waterproofing, other key considerations include fit and cost. So we took a look at the options across a range of price points.
Dririder Adventure W/P. RRP $119
“Hard to beat as an entry-level glove,” says Mike. “Or our entry-level, anyway. There are cheaper gloves around but they fall apart. These are a good quality, all-round choice that’s perfect for commuting and general wear, with very respectable waterproofing.”
They’re a textile glove, and hard armour is limited to the four knuckles at the back of the hand (with padded finger and palm protection). So they’ll offer adequate protection in a spill at urban speeds. The visor wiper on the index finger is a nice touch. The waterproofing comes via a plastic inner layer, so they can make your hands sweat. They’re warmer than summer race-type gloves because of the padding and the plastic layer but they don't have a thermal layer for really cold days. “For winter trips in a climate like Auckland, they’d be fine,” says Mike. “But if you’re touring for days you’d want something higher spec.”
Mike also stocks a short, showerproof glove from Dririder at just $69, but it’s aimed more at scooter riders. “If all you do is short, urban commutes it will provide some protection. It’s not going to keep your hands dry on a long ride but it’s great if you're hopping on and off your scooter.”
REV'IT Alaska GTX. RRP $249
Leaping to the other end of the spectrum, these are classy, high-performance gloves with a genuine GORE-TEX waterproofing membrane. According to Mike, “these may be a little ‘over-kill’ for Newbies. But if there was one pair of gloves you could use all year, this would be it.”
The GORE-TEX membrane allows your hands to breathe, so in warm weather it will reduce the chances of your hands getting sweaty. There’s hard armour in all the important places, including finger tops, wrapping around the heel of the palm and the outside of the small finger, reflective patches on the fingers, plus a thin but effective thermal layer. Leather construction offers maximum abrasion resistance so, all-up, these gloves offer the sort of serious protection you need for open-road riding in all weathers.
REV’IT Summit H2O. RRP $189
Billed by REV’IT as a waterproof ‘summer’ glove, the Summit H2O offers almost identical features to their more expensive Alaska but without the thermal lining. “In somewhere like Auckland, 99% of the time, these would do all you need of them,” says Mike. “They also have a thinner feel, so the upside is more dexterity.”
GORE-TEX lining again, so these will be comfortable in pretty much all weathers bar bitter cold. Also, as Mike points out, it depends on the type of riding you do. “There’s a big difference between a day out and a long weekend away. Time spent in the elements tends to add up, so you can feel the cold more after days in the saddle and the first place you feel it is in your extremities. Like your fingers.”
FIVE RFX4 WP. RRP $149
With a Hipora waterproof and breathable lining, and tagged as ‘mid season’ by FIVE, these look completely equivalent to the REV’IT Summit. At a similar price point from an equally well-regarded name, why does Mike stock both? “Fit. They couldn't be more different.” It takes an expert eye to point it out it but you can see that the RFX4 is is shorter in the palm than the Summit. “Fit is almost as important in a glove as it is in a helmet. It has to, literally, ‘fit like a glove’. You need a tiny bit of room at the finger tips with the hand straight that gets taken up when you curve the hand around the bars. For me, the RFX is too short in the palm, for others the Summit is too long.”
Again, this wouldn't offer quite the warmth of REV’IT’s Alaska, but for milder climates it might be the better winter choice. So long as it fits.
Triumph Storm. RRP $169
Okay so they won't ‘go’ with your Kawasaki. But there’s a lot of very good ‘branded’ bike clothing out there, including these Storm gloves from Triumph. As a Triumph (and Suzuki) dealer, they’re Mike’s biggest seller in winter. “They offer a good balance of warm and dry, plus they are a big gauntlet style glove. So you get a lot of coverage. Good value, too.”
They’re a high-spec item, made of abrasion-resistant fabric with leather on the palm (more for wear than abrasion resistance). The membrane is ‘Tri-tek’, offering waterproofing, windproofing and breathability. There’s hard armour across the four knuckles on the back of the hand plus three of the main finger joints.
- As with all gear, think about the riding you want it for. A value-priced commuting glove is not what you want for riding to the Burt. And a glove that’s perfect for an Auckland winter is not the same glove you’ll need in Central Otago
- If you are getting on and off your ‘bike a lot, you’ll want a fastening system that’s quick and easy. Neoprene under-cuffs and nylon over-cuffs can be good at keeping out water, but are a faff to do and undo all the time
- Gloves must always have a double closure, with tight adjustment around the wrist
- Fit is often neglected with gloves, resulting in gloves that are too tight or too loose. Both can prevent them keeping your hands as warm as they should be. Palm width, palm length, finger lengths and finger thickness: it must ‘fit like a glove’ everywhere
- Leather gloves stretch, textile gloves fit straight away or not at all. When riding, your hands can get warm and expand, so ensure there’s just enough room to cope
- It’s not just about the gloves. Thermal undergloves give a little more warmth at the expense of feel. Hand guards make an enormous difference: they keep so much wind off, and rain too, that they transform how warm you feel. They’re almost as effective as heated grips and heated gloves, which are amazing but pricier.