It’s wet and it’s only going to get colder, so what’s the best way to keep your digits warm, dry and protected? Paul Jennison checks out winter waterproof riding gloves
Think about it. When we were kids chasing a football around the playground, it was inevitable that at some point you were going to hit the deck. And what was your first instinctive reaction? Putting your hands out to break the fall. At best it bloody hurt, and at worst it took the skin off and you ended up picking all sorts of crap out of the wound.
And that’s just a simple tumble. Magnify that to parting company with your motorcycle and the results don’t bear thinking about. Just like falling over in the playground, your hands are very likely to be the first point of contact with the road surface in the event of an unscheduled dismount.
This is, of course, the main reason we wear gloves when riding – for protection.
But gloves have other functions, too. They need to keep hands warm, because cold hands are a distraction and make operating the controls difficult. Add to that wet hands and you have untold misery, so they also need to keep hands dry, too.
I’ve used the best motorcycle clothing there is in some pretty dire weather conditions, and I guarantee that the one thing that will always get cold and wet over time is my hands. Anything that can be done to alleviate this will make a winter trip so much more bearable, no matter how bad the weather gets.
The winter is fast approaching and many ABRs will be thinking about how they promised themselves a better pair of gloves for the forthcoming winter season, having putting up with their leaky old faithfuls at the end of the last one.
There are myriad gloves on the market and they will all do a job of sorts, so with that in mind, the aim of this test is to find the best glove for the winter with regard to budget and needs.
Features we like…
Dexterity Fingers should be able to move freely, to allow complete access to the auxiliary controls. Any stretch panels in the digits will assist in this. You should also be able to feel the controls through the gloves.
Relative/fluro fabric Anything which is going to help you be seen by other road-users is a bonus in our book.
Insulation Thinsulate is one of the best-known thermal materials. It’s made from synthetic fibres, which are woven together to form a thin layer that traps warm air between the strands. There are other similar types of insulating materials in use, and in essence they all do the same job.
Armour Look for the best armour and protection you can get in a glove. Armoured knuckles, extra digit protection, and good palm padding are the way to go. Hand guards on your bike will help deflect flying objects when you’re riding, but won’t guard against broken knuckles in a fall.
Fasteners In order for gloves to do their job in the event of an off, they need to stay on your hands. Look for an adjustable wrist-strap coupled with some other form of fastener, like Velcro, to clamp the cuff to your forearm. This kind of fastener will also help keep water out to some extent.
Thin cuffs This will allow you to insert the glove cuff inside the sleeve of your jacket, keeping the wet out and the warmth in. Some gloves even have a gaiter to slip inside your jacket cuffs.
Palm protection When it comes to palm protection, abrasion resistance is key. Most of the gloves tested here have leather palms, which have excellent abrasion resistance. Some also have double layers of padding and leather, or Kevlar, to help minimise damage.
Visorwipe Not all gloves have these but they are useful. A rubberised or suede pad on the finger or thumb of the left hand will help you to wipe away excess water from your visor in bad weather.
Other features we like…
Comfort and fit New gloves may feel stiff and bulky at first but will loosen and may even become baggy after a while. If gloves are too tight, they’ll restrict movement and blood flow, which will make hands feel cold. Extra room will allow for a pair of liner gloves underneath for that extra bit of warmth.
DWR (Durable Water Repellent) DWR is a coating applied at the manu- facturing stage, to help prevent a fabric becoming saturated with water. The noticeable effect of fabric treated with DWR is that water droplets bead off the fabric rather than soak in and ‘wet out’ the gloves. The DWR wears off over time, but can be re-applied; it still won’t be as effective as the factory treatment, though. Even the best DWR will not stop gloves wetting out in long periods of rain.
Waterproof liner Undoubtedly the best waterproof laminate is one where the outer fabric is bonded to a waterproof membrane (think Gore-Tex). In these types of fabrics, the outer is generally quite thin, but the fact that it’s bonded to a waterproof membrane means there are no weak spots for water to leak through when the outer eventually wets out. When the outer isn’t bonded to a membrane, moisture pools around the edges and seams of the fabric and eventually leaks through. Remember, thick padding will absorb a fair amount of water and takes a long time to dry out; a thinner padded glove or bonded outer dries much quicker.
Insulating linings The best-known thermal liners, like Thinsulate and Primaloft, are man-made fibres that use trapped air to keep you warm. Mountain sports enthusiasts will be aware of Primaloft, which has been designed to withstand sub-zero temperatures at high altitudes. If your hands get cold in those kinds of conditions, you may as well say goodbye to them. A pile lining, like fleece, will stay relatively warm when wet, whereas Thinsulate-type materials will become cold and uncomfortable
as they wet-out and lose their air-trapping properties. We think that the time has come for motorcycle and mountaineering clothing manufacturers to come together and produce gear for us bikers that will withstand the same extremes of wet and cold as winter sports kit.
A word on liner gloves
In the same way a sleeping bag liner adds a season’s warmth to a sleeping bag, so a thin pair of inner gloves will help keep out the chill. The best liner gloves I’ve found by far are Merino wool ones, which offer some warmth even if they get wet. Cotton or Silk will do a similar job, but I’m not convinced they perform as well as wool.
Of course, the guaranteed life-saver if your gloves give up is a cheap pair of marigolds or latex gloves. These will retain heat from sweaty hands and are totally waterproof, but we’d only recommend this option when it’s wet.
Why extremities get cold
Have you ever wondered why, when you get all wrapped up to block out the cold, your hands and feet still feel chilly? The answer is quite simple; the body works hard to maintain a core temperature of 37.4 degrees, so when your hands and feet start to cool, the small arteries in the skin close down to restrict the blood flow to the outer limbs in order to keep the heart and all the other major organs around it warm and healthy.
When these Spada Blizzard gloves arrived in the office, I checked the price tag twice to make sure that I had it right; £23 for a pair of winter waterproof gloves seemed too good to be true. But, no, that’s the price. So what’s the catch?
Well, to be honest, I can’t really find one besides the lack of any decent armour, so for the money, these are a bargain buy aimed at ABRs looking for budget, entry-level kit, and this is where they sit. For sure, with motorcycle gear you generally get what you pay for and the overall design and construction of these gloves doesn’t put me in mind of something that will last infinitum, but they will do a job.
The outer fabric is constructed from Schoeller-Keprotec, which is a hi-tech fabric with good durability and tear-resistance. This fabric includes Kevlar fibres, which gram for gram is five times stronger than steel, so there’s good abrasion protection there. There’s a small amount of protective padding on the back of the hand, too, but non elsewhere on the glove.
The palm has two thin strips of leather, one across the heel of the hand and the other in the grip area, so these spots will have a little more protection than the rest of the outer in the event of an off. There’s also suede covering the thumb, which will aid grip when using the switch gear.
Spada states that there’s a water-proof membrane in the glove but fails to mention what it is, so I can’t vouch for its benefits, however the outer fabric wets out quite quickly. The thermal lining is 3M Thinsulate, though, so as long as it doesn’t get wet your hands stay nice and warm.
There’s a double-cuff feature on the Blizzard, the inner one being a close-fitting neoprene which sits inside the jacket sleeve while the outer will fold over the sleeve hem. The cuff has a drawstring adjuster, so water ingress is kept to a minimum.
There’s a secondary wrist adjuster, to keep the glove in place, and a decent-sized visor wipe on the left thumb.
In a line: A glove with very few protective qualities for not a lot of money
Stein Roadwear is a brand I was familiar with in the 1990s as we used its gloves in the police motorcycle division. Although the ones we used were an all-leather glove, they had a water-proof lining and plenty of protection. I always found them warm and dry, and they were certainly put to the test satisfying the demands of that particular job.
Then Stein seemed to disappear from the mainstream. The company’s since had a mini relaunch, however, and the STG801 is one of its winter waterproof gloves. Priced at just under £40, they seem to be good value for money, too.
On first look, these gloves don’t have the same quality as their predecessor, but they aren’t as bulky as the full-leather po- lice gloves either. The outer construction is made from leather and fabric with a water-repelling Hipora membrane. The back of the glove is predominately fabric with leather detail in the knuckle and fingertip areas. There’s also a nice stretch panel at the base of the fingers, which makes for better flexibility.
The palm area is covered with leather, which also extends in between the digits for added protection. There’s also a double layering of the leather at the heel of the hand and in the grip regions for better abrasion resistance in the event of a fall.
As mentioned earlier, the water resistance comes from the Hipora membrane in the gloves, and although the outer will wet out, the membrane keeps the water away from the inner. I fully submerged my hand in water while wearing these gloves and no liquid penetrated inside.
The glove liner is a Thinsulate-like material and has a soft, warm feel. The liner is well secured to the main glove so it shouldn’t pull away when extracting your hand, which is one of the biggest bug-bears with any motorcycle glove.
The wrist has a full 360-degree Velcro strap, to secure the gloves to the hands, and the cuff has a double Velcro flap, to clamp it to the forearm.
There’s reflective detail and contrasting stitching on the gloves and a visor wipe on the left thumb.
In a line: An entry-level robust glove with good protection
ARMR motorcycle clothing is a relatively new brand aimed at the adventurer on a budget, which launched in early 2012. However, although this kit comes in at entry-level prices, the quality is anything but.
The WXP-10 is ARMR’s highest-priced winter waterproof glove, but you are getting a full-leather, good-quality glove for a fraction under £50, so don’t be put off by the price tag.
The leather is a mix of cow and goat skins, which are just under a millimetre in thickness, but they don’t have the stiffness associated with new leather gloves; they feel almost as if they’ve already been broken in.
The protection on the back of the glove is obvious with a hard plastic knuckle cover and extra padding on the fingers. All the digits, apart from the little finger, have stretch panels, which allows for good dexterity.
The palm has a double layering of leather across the heel and along the edge of the hand, with extra padding to protect the rider in the event of a fall. There’s also a double layer across the grip area, which has an anti-slip coating.
The waterproofing comes from a Hipora-Z membrane, which will keep the wet out but is breathable and should wick moisture from the skin. There are the usual wrist and cuff fasteners secured by Velcro, which will keep the gloves in place.
Between the inner liner of Acryl and the waterproof membrane is 3M Thinsulate quilting, which has excellent thermal properties. The linings are well secured inside the glove and shouldn’t pull out when wet. Being that the leather on the outer is supple, the lining felt bulky from new but this really did bed in quickly and within a few miles I’d forgotten I was wearing new gloves.
In the rain, the leather did absorb water to a small degree, but the Hipora membrane did its job and no water entered the glove itself. What did surprise me was that the outer dried in no time at all.
In a line: A good winter glove for under £50, you can’t possibly go wrong
Avariation on the theme is this offering from Scott. The Sensor winter glove has been developed from the company’s snow mobile division, so is intended for use in cold, wet climates – an example of how the motorcycling and winter sports industries can cross over. Of course, Scott is a well-known producer of motorcycle gear, but perhaps better known for its off-road equipment than anything else.
The construction of the outer glove is polyester, leather and rubber. The polyester is in the guise of neoprene, which has good water-repellent qualities and stretch. The rubber is used for finger protectors and the leather is used on the likely abrasion areas.
The back of the glove is mainly fabric with leather bands across the base of the fingers and on the tips for added protection. There’s good stretch in the fabric here, too, for extra flexibility and dexterity.
The palm is leather covered and has a double layering of leather across the heel and up to the bottom of the digits for extra abrasion resistance. There’s also silicone detailing over the palm for added grip. The gloves have a Hipora waterproof membrane, which should stop any water getting through to the lining if the outer does wet out, and as Hipora’s breathable, any sweat should be wicked away from the hands.
The lining in the Sensor glove is Thinsulate and as such has good thermal properties. Although the lining is well secured to the inside of the glove, it’s a loose fit and I found that, with moist hands, the lining got stuck to my hands when I pulled it out, so getting the gloves on and off may prove a problem in the wet.
The wrist has an elasticated strip, which should hold the glove in place, and the cuff has a gusset with a Velcro flap to close it down.
The overall feel of the gloves doesn’t put me in mind of winter riding as they’re quite thin and light. I’d wear them on a dry winter’s day or as a winter off-road item, but I’m not sure I’d have them as my go-to winter gloves.
In a line: A glove for the trails in winter perhaps?
Swedish manufacturer Jofama is the parent company of the brand Halvarssons, and a lot of its technologies come from years of conducting product research and development in cold weather climates. Because of this, the same know-how that’s applied to the company’s winter sports clothing is also used in its motorcycle gear.
The Halvarssons Newman glove is a winter waterproof glove, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a lightweight three-season glove, because it looks and feels like one.
The outer is constructed from a mix of components including goatskin and Spandex. While the back of the hand is covered in leather, the rest of the glove is made from highly flexible Spandex, giving the wearer good dexterity for the controls as well as protection. The Newman also has a wrist strap, to keep the glove in place, and a Velcro cuff adjuster.
The palm area is goatskin and there is a double layering of this across the heel and little finger as well as on the grip area and the fingertips. The gloves also feature Jofamas’ HI-ART fabric, the company’s own form of Kevlar, so coupled with the goatskin these gloves should have excellent abrasion resistance in the event of a fall.
The water resistant properties come from the Dryway membrane, which is fully breathable. This is bonded to the outer materials so should have outstanding water-repelling properties, and the outer shouldn’t wet out. Bear in mind, though, that the leather will hold a certain amount of liquid, but as long as it doesn’t soak through then the membrane has done its job.
The inner of the glove is made from Outlast material, which is claimed to even out fluctuations in temperature, keeping the hands cool in hot conditions and warm when it gets colder.
The whole glove features MC FIT technology (maximum comfort fit), which means all the layers are bonded together to give the wearer a comfortable, good-fitting, warm/cool and waterproof experience; this is why the gloves feel thin, but still offer the rider all the properties associated with a thicker, more traditional winter glove. That said, you could always add a thin liner glove for extra insulation.
Evolution (Evo) motorsports is another Dutch motorcycle clothing company making high-end quality products and the LG3.95 (no, I don’t know what it means either) is no exception to this. I do know that it’s a full-leather winter waterproof glove with loads of good protection, though.
The hide on the gloves’ outer is A-grade cowhide, which is soft and strong. The protection in the back of the glove comprises a hard knuckle shield, which is covered in the leather and stands apart from the rest of the glove in its own layer. All the digits, apart from the index finger, have individual protection and stretch panels, which give the user good dexterity. The back of the index fingers have a suede panel, which is for wiping the visor.
The palm has double layering detail on the heel and grip areas, which extends along the outer edge of the hand, to protect the stitched seam. Being all-leather, the abrasion-resistant qualities of this glove are clear. The waterproof lining is a Sympatex membrane and has a non-porous outer, which will keep out the wet while still allowing skin to breath and wicking moisture away from within the glove itself.
The inner linings are 3M Thinsulate with its well-known thermal qualities, coupled with an Outlast lining, which has temperature-regulating properties, so when the hands get too warm the Outlast liner absorbs the heat and then release it when the hands cool down. Very clever.
All these linings make it sound as though the gloves are very bulky, but they’re not. They’re also well secured from inside, so there’s little chance of them coming away when extracting damp hands, should water ever get inside. There are also the usual wrist and cuff adjusters, to give the gloves a secure fit on the hands and lower arms, too.
In a line: A good all-leather glove with excellent protection and water-resistant properties
This particular offering from Finnish company Rukka has the ‘marmite’ effect on most ABRs; you either love it or you hate it. I know some riders who swear by this type of glove as the best winter glove by far and others who wouldn’t wear it if you paid them.
There are other companies which do the ‘lobster’ glove, so there’s obviously a demand for it. Looks-wise it isn’t going to win any beauty contests; it reminds me of something from Dr Who. The hand of an ice-dwelling alien perhaps?
The aptly named ‘Lobster’ has an outer constructed from nylon and polyester fabrics with leather across the palm. The back of the gloves are fabric with some un-obtrusive stitching and reflective detail, but there’s no knuckle protection whatsoever, so any impact or flying object is going to sting!
The palm area has all the protection that’s on offer with this glove. It’s leather, covered with something of a suede-like appearance with an extra layer across the grip region. There’s what’s called a ‘scaphoid protector’ in the heel of the palm made from PVC and carbon fibre, but to my limited medical knowledge, the scaphoid is on the other side of the wrist near the base of the thumb. Nonetheless it has a hard pad for protection.
The Lobster does have a 100% Gore-Tex membrane, which is fully water-resistant and breathable, so even if the outer does eventually wet out the inner should remain dry and warm.
The inner glove has insulation between the Gore-Tex membrane and the fleece liner, which is for extra warmth. The clever part about these gloves is that, inside, they’re a normal glove with four fingers and a thumb. It’s only on the outside that they appear different. The theory behind the design is that fingers are better insulated if they’re snuggled together to share warmth, like mittens.
There is elastic and a Velcro wrist adjuster, to keep the gloves in place, and the cuff has an elasticated drawstring to keep the end snug around the lower arm, which should eliminate any water ingress.
In a line: Lobster is an acquired taste, and would score higher with more protection
Richa is a motorcycle clothing company based in Belgium and will be well known to many of you for its good-quality gear at reasonable prices. Richa’s equipment is well designed and manufactured to high standards, which meet safety requirements without question. So what kind of gloves does it produce?
The Cold Protect GTX is just one example of the gloves on offer in the com- pany’s winter glove range, and coming in at a fraction under £100 makes it mid-range for our test.
The outer construction of the gloves is made from a mix of goatskin and ‘super fabric’, polyamide and polyurethane fabrics designed to be strong and flexible.
The back of the gloves are predominately super fabric with leather inlays around the PU knuckle protectors and the base of the fingers. The middle fingers also have PU protection and leather overlays at the tips. There are stretch panels across the back of the hand and the fingers, which give good movement and dexterity.
The palm area is leather covered, but the finish is suede for enhanced grip when wet. There is double-leather layering on the heel of the hand and the gripping region, which extends along the edge of the hand with extra protective padding. The leather in the palm area will give good abrasion resistance in the event of a spill.
The gloves have a 100-percent Gore-Tex liner, which is breathable and, more importantly, water-resistant, so if the outer does wet out the membrane should keep the moisture away from the inner and the wearer.
The inner glove is Tri-fleece, which has a soft, luxurious feel to it and will no doubt keep your hands warm. Although the overall feel is a little on the bulky side, it’s not overly so.
The wrist has an adjustable Velcro strap, to keep the glove in place, and the cuff fastener has a Velcro tab, to pull in the surplus material. I do think, though, that the bulk of this glove will make it difficult to put inside a jacket sleeve unless the Velcro’s pulled quite tight.
The extra detailing on the gloves includes reflective safety strips on the cuff.
In a line: A good winter waterproof glove with plenty of protection
Dutch motorcycle clothing company Rev’it has been making top-quality products since the mid-90s and one of its contributions to the winter waterproof glove market is the Orion GTX. Priced at the higher end of the range, this glove shows its worth straight from the off.
The outer construction is a 61-percent mixture of goatskin and suede and 39 percent 1000D ripstop Cordura, which is treated with water-resistant properties. Most of the textile fabric is sited on the back of the glove and around the cuff, leaving the palm and index finger wrapped in the more abrasion-resistant leather mix.
On the back of the hand there is an EVA foam padded knuckle protector with a stretch panel, to give good flexibility. The fingers and thumb have PU-injected knuckle protection, so the back of the hand and digits have a reasonable amount of impact absorption.
The goatskin palm has extra layering across the heel of the hand and in the grip area between the thumb and first two fingers. The palm area, as well as being covered in leather, has the added bonus of aramid protection (Kevlar) as a backup, so abrasion-resistance in this area is high.
The water resistance of the glove comes in the shape of a 100-percent Gore-Tex breathable membrane, although it’s not bonded to the outer fabrics, which would have made it virtually impossible for water to penetrate. Even so, on a road test in heavy rain, when the outer eventually wet out, the waterproof lining still stayed nice and dry.
The inner of the glove is made up of Thermolite and a push-pull Tri-fleece lining, so the hands will be kept relatively warm. The liner is well secured from within the glove, so there’s no way the liner can come away when the hand is extracted.
The Orion has a wrist strap adjuster, to keep the glove in place over the hand, and then there’s the usual cuff Velcro tab, to keep it snug around the lower arm.
Extra detail comes in the form of some small reflective laminate on the cuff and fingers and a visor wipe on the left index finger.
In a line: A good-quality glove with all the right attributes