Lightweight, waterproof, breathable – what qualities comprise the perfect summer glove? Paul Jennison’s on a mission to find the best hand protection for when then weather heats up
As memories of a cold, wet winter start to fade, optimistic thoughts turn to stashing heavy kit away and breaking out the lighter riding gear in preparation for that long, hot summer we’re well overdue.
One of the first items I most look forward to ferreting out of storage when temperatures start to climb is a pair of light, thin biking gloves. I like to feel the controls and have good dexterity when I’m riding, which is somewhat reduced by the thicker mitts I’m forced to wear in winter.
Although the ideal is a pair of thin, lightweight summer gloves, scrimping on protection isn’t an option. Parting company with your bike is something none of us likes to consider, but if it should happen, it’s vital to have the best level of safety you can afford in attendance. As is often the case, the first thing to come into contact with the ground in the event of an off is usually the hands, so having a good pair of gloves to minimise the severity of any injury has to be a priority.
For all my hopes of sub-tropical weather, I will admit to being a realist. When I do go for a summer ride out, I’ll study the weather forecast beforehand and inevitably pack some waterproofs, gloves included! The same goes for if I’m packing to tour a hot destination; there will always be space in my pannier for a pair of waterproof gloves.
Last year’s sweat-stained offerings have been consigned to the bin so I’m in search of new apparel. What’s out there that will give me the protection I need but will also keep my hands cool? And what about lightweight, waterproof options? Because, as I said, I always carry a backup!
I’ve managed to round up a good selection of waterproof summer gloves for your perusal that are going to keep the rain out, and some mesh-type gloves for when it’s warm and dry. These should cover all the bases for the forthcoming hot weather!
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.
Palm protection When it comes to palm protection, abrasion resistance is key. Most of the gloves tested here have leather palms, which offer excellent abrasion resistance; some have double layers of padding and leather, or Kevlar, to minimise the damage.
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 the event of and off.
Fasteners Make sure that the gloves you’re thinking of buying have adequate fasteners to secure the things to your hands. An adjustable strap around the wrist is preferable with a second fastener to clamp the cuff to your forearm.
Strong stitching Gloves are made up from several pieces of material such as leather and textiles. Make sure when you’re looking to buy gloves that all the seams are well stitched and aren’t going to fall apart once you’ve worn them a few times. They need to stay intact if you do have an off to maximise the protection.
Did you know?
Using gloves with a waterproof membrane (Gore-Tex) and heated grips on your motorcycle can compromise the liner. Normally the body temperature is greater than the outside ambient temperature and in this way the Gore-Tex membrane will work as normal. But, if you use heated grips, the outside temperature becomes greater than that within the glove. In these circumstances, water trapped in between the fabric can vaporise causing the membrane properties to be reverse and liquid to be drawn inside the gloves, making them wet.
Value for money is something we’re all looking for these days and Spada’s Air Tech gloves are a great example of this. These are a lightweight summer touring glove that offers plenty of protection and ventilation and will give you good return for your money. So, whether you’re biking on a budget or not they’re well worth a look.
Constructed from leather and polyester mesh, these gloves are strong but supple and should endure plenty of use throughout this coming summer. If cared for properly, they should last well into the following summer, too!
The palm area is entirely leather with a double layer across the heel, which extends along the hand’s outer edge and up the little finger. This means plenty of friction protection in the most vulnerable areas should you suffer an untimely dismount. There’s also a padded panel in the palm which will help absorb any impact force. Another strip of leather in the grip region, which also has silicone detail, helps give better control and comfort when riding. The leather extends around the fingers and over the back of the glove and incorporates rubber protection over the knuckles, which is covered by Keprotec, a Kevlar-type material, for increased abrasion resistance.
There is mesh inlay along the back of the thumb and first three fingers, which along with small holes in the leather in between the fingers allows a reasonable amount of cooling air to circulate inside the gloves. There’s also a large mesh panel over the wrist, which allows the air to flow through.
The Air Tech have a long cuff, which will fit over a jacket sleeve, and there are two Velcro adjusters to secure the gloves to your hands.
I had the gloves in an XL and the fit was spot on for me. The pre-curved cut of the leather made them feel comfortable straight out the box and they didn’t require any bedding in. They give good control of the switchgear and the airflow worked to keep my hands cool.
In a Line: Inexpensive? Yes. Cheap? Certainly not! Don’t let the price fool you
I recently reviewed a pair of ARMR gloves for a winter glove test. I was impressed with their quality for an entry-level priced glove, and judging by the feedback from fellow ABRs, so were you. So, I had no hesitation in getting hold of a summer pair for this test, hoping that the good quality, value for money I’d seen in the winter gloves would be evident across the ARMR range. After checking out the SHL 240s, I’m happy to say that my faith is well placed.
The SHL 240 glove is a mix of leather (goatskin and cowhide) and mesh-style textile fabrics that will provide a good level of abrasion resistance if it’s needed coupled with cool air ventilation for those hot rides. The leather makes up the majority of the glove with the mesh well placed in and around all the digits and in the back of the hand and cuff. The palm and inner finger areas are entirely covered with hide, with a double layer across the heel of the hand, which extends along the edge and up the little finger for more abrasion protection.
In terms of armour there’s a hard plastic knuckle guard and individual protection padding on the fingers and thumbs as well as a heel pad which will all help reduce any impact injuries if you part company with your bike.
As mentioned there’s sufficient mesh fabric in the gloves to ensure that there’s adequate ventilation to keep your hands cool. There is a Keprotec lining, a mixture of Cordura, aramide (Kevlar) and polyurethane textiles that will add to the abrasion resistance as well as wicking moisture away from the hands to help keep them dry and comfortable.
The cuff is reasonably long and will go over or under a jacket sleeve; it also has a Velcro tab to adjust the fit.
On the subject of fit, I tested a pair in XL and found them a bit tight to get on. I’d suggest trying these gloves before buying if possible. They are, however, a well-made glove with good protection and ventilation for not a lot of money.
In a Line: For under 40 quid these are sure to be a popular choice
The Briad gloves from Halvarssons are a good example of what to look for when choosing a summer mesh-type glove that will keep your hands cool but well protected. When I first put them on I immediately liked the feel and fit, which I think is a good place to start with any glove before you start picking apart the detail.
Made from goat skin and Airmesh fabric they are strong but supple, which means they’ll handle prolonged use without becoming uncomfortable. The mesh allows cool air to circulate around the fingers and back of the hand and there’s a polyester lining which will wick sweat away while adding to the overall comfort.
The palm area has a natural, non-dyed suede finish that not only looks good and adds to the soft feel but gives better grip on the bars. On the back of the hand the leather covers the hard pre-formed knuckle protector and extends over the fingers and wrist, and there are small mesh panel inserts to allow that cooling air to enter. There is additional padded leather on the fingers and across the heel of the hand and along the edge of the little finger, which all adds to the protection. There is also Hi-Art (a type of Kevlar) reinforcement throughout the gloves which will add to the already good abrasion resistant properties of the leather.
There is an elasticated wrist panel with an adjustable fastener, which will make the gloves easy to pull on and off, and once fastened, will keep them in place. The cuffs are quite short, which will allow air to enter the sleeves for added ventilation.
I mentioned the fit earlier and in an XL they were just right for me. All the digits were the correct length with no surplus material to get in the way.
On the road I found them really comfortable and the supple construction allowed me to feel the controls and switches without restriction. The airflow was great and kept my hands from overheating.
In a Line: These are cracking gloves; buy them with confidence.
Racer is an Austrian company that’s been producing quality motorcycle clothing for over 20 years. Don’t let the name fool you though, a lot of its stuff is for adventure/touring and the Windy glove is a leather/mesh glove that fits right into that category.
Made from soft sheep leather, polyamide and polyurethane it’s certainly a comfortable glove that allows plenty of cool air to circulate around your hands – perfect on a hot summer tour, and with its polyester lining it will keep your hands dry by wicking sweat away.
The leather in the Windy covers the entire palm and fingers and extends across the back of the hand and fingers to give maximum protection in areas that may be subject to abrasion in the unlikely event of an off. There are double layers of hide on the heel of the hand and in the grip region of the thumb and index finger for extra abrasion resistance. Some of the polyurethane is used as a mesh in the fingers and back of the hand for ventilation and the remainder is used as stretch panels around the digits and edges of the gloves, which adds to the comfort as well as allowing good dexterity when using the bike’s switchgear.
Apart from the abrasion resistance provided by the leather, impact protection in these gloves is minimal. The Polyamide fabric (a Kevlar-type fibre) is used in the knuckles and wrist. It has thin padding behind it, which may withstand a minor impact and add to friction resistance, but that’s about all. There is more thin padding in the palm, but again, it’s minimal. I personally would have liked to see more armour in the fingers and knuckles.
The Windy is a short glove and does not feature a cuff. The fabric stops at the wrist and there’s a Velcro adjuster to secure the glove to your hand. This allows for good air-flow to enter the jacket sleeves for better ventilation.
These gloves are comfortable and lightweight with good abrasion resistance but not much more.
In a Line: A proper hot-weather glove but lacking a bit in protection
I for one am hoping for a hotter summer than we’ve had for the last few years, but the pessimist in me isn’t expecting much sun; less rain than previous years, however, would be nice. If my wish comes true then a lighter glove for dry-weather riding that will still be useful as we move into autumn would be ideal. And the Inversion Pro could be the answer.
Klim’s latest offering has the look and feel of a summer glove and will perform well on cooler rides because it features Gore Windstopper fabric to block out the cold air while still allowing hands to breathe, so they don’t overheat and get clammy. The palms are constructed from soft Pittards leather, which gives good dexterity and grip. The hide has been treated with Armortan, a ceramic reinforcement for higher abrasion resistance.
The Windstopper fabric covers the back of the hand and in between the fingers to give a snug but comfortable fit that still allows for good hand movement when using the controls and switches.
Impact protection on the back of the gloves is good but not obtrusive. The knuckles are covered in leather which has Poron Xrd padding underneath it and there are small pads on the main fingers, which also have Poron Xrd. This padding has high performance molecules that react upon impact to provide a protective shield that will absorb impact forces.
The gloves are short and don’t have a cuff, but there is an adjuster to secure the fit. A leather panel at the outer edge of the gloves adds to their friction resistance in the event of a slide.
The soft and supple materials are cut and shaped in such a way that the fit is unrestricted and allows for good movement on the controls and switches. They’re a comfortable glove that I’d happily wear for most of the year.
I’m always a little sceptical when I see a pair of gloves that don’t feature any leather whatsoever. For use on the road, I like to see at least some leather in the palm area for abrasion resistance. So when the Rukka Sun gloves arrived I was surprised that, for a brand with such a high profile for safety, they had no leather in them at all. They are a lightweight, mesh glove with a reasonable level of armour for protection and will offer plenty of ventilation to keep hands cool and comfortable.
Despite the lack of leather, I was somewhat reassured when I saw that they’re constructed from elastic polyamide and Kevlar in the outer, which as we all know is a very strong, heat-resistant fabric that offers the same amount if not more friction resistance than hide. I thought Rukka wouldn’t let standards slip too far and these gloves had to have something special to justify a £70 price tag.
The palm and back of the hand have the polyamide and Kevlar fabric, which also has spandex to give it a measure of stretch. This not only enhances the fit but allows for a good range of movement when using the bike’s controls. There is extra layering in the palm and finger tips for added protection; these also have silicone detail for better grip. In the heel there’s a hard plastic slider which will minimise any grab from the road surface in the event of a fall. There’s also extra polyurethane (PU) armour to protect the knuckles and fingers from impacts and knocks.
The mesh fabric is placed on the back of the thumb and in between the fingers, which allows for a high level of airflow to keep the hands cool and dry. The lining in the gloves is polyester, which wicks away moisture from the skin for extra comfort.
I mentioned the fit earlier, which is snug and very comfortable. The air-flow is spot on and you’ll enjoy riding in hot weather all the more in these gloves.
In a Line: A lightweight glove with heavyweight features
Designed with summer adventure touring in mind, the Dirt glove from Rev’it promises to keep your hands cool and protected while riding in the warm weather. I’m not quite sure why it’s called the ‘Dirt’, because it’s clearly not an off-road glove, but it will cope admirably if you do venture away from the tarmac for a bit of a dabble in the dust. In my opinion it’s a road/touring glove with good leather coverage in the vulnerable areas.
The outer construction has a mix of cowhide, goatskin and air-stretch mesh, which gives equal measures of ventilation with protection and comfort. The cowhide is used to form the harder protection over the knuckles and on the heel of the hand, to withstand impact forces. There is a small dual-compound slider at the base of the palm, which will slide over tarmac in the event of a fall and will reduce friction to the main palm area. There are additional PU-injected pads in the fingers and thumb for extra safety. Goatskin covers the entire palm, thumb, and cuff area and is more supple than leather for extra comfort while also providing good abrasion resistance as well.
For ventilation the air stretch mesh is placed in the back of the hand and fingers, which allows for cool air to circulate around the hands. The gloves are lined with tri-fleece, which wicks body moisture away keeping your hands dry and comfortable.
There’s an elasticated panel in the wrist for a better fit and the cuff is short but should meet a jacket hem if required. There is also a Velcro adjustment tab to enhance the fit on the cuff.
The fit is snug but not overly so, and given that the leather will stretch and bed in with use the fit is always going to be a good one, especially with the air-stretch mesh. I found the gloves very comfortable to wear when riding and the airflow kept my hands cool.
In a Line: Worth considering for a warm summer tour
If you’re in the market for a full-leather summer glove with a good level of protection and modest ventilation then the Zaius from French company Bering could be one to consider. It’s designed for road/track use but that shouldn’t put you off as the soft goatskin makes them more than suitable as a comfortable touring glove in the summer months.
As mentioned they’re of a full goatskin leather construction, which gives the best abrasion resistance in the event of a fall, and they have additional protection for the knuckles in the shape of a carbon fibre shroud and PU-injected pads on the backs of the fingers. The heel of the hand has double layer thickness of leather with padding; this area extends along the edge of the hand and features a finger bridge, which helps prevent finger separation and leather twisting around the fingers in the event of an accident. The gloves are well made with strong stitching, which should hold together if the worst were to happen.
Ventilation on the gloves comes from an air scoop positioned behind the knuckle protector. This captures airflow from over the back of the hand and forces it into the mesh vents beneath the shroud and into the glove. However I found that with hand guards fitted to the bike airflow to the hands is minimised and therefore not a lot enters the gloves themselves. A couple more vents wouldn’t go amiss for cooler hands.
The cuff on the Zaius is short and has a PU pad for wrist protection; this extends to the Velcro fastening tab, which closes the cuff. There is also elastic in the wrist to hold the gloves in place. The fit is good although the leather is likely to stretch with use and may become a little loose. The finger length is adequate but the thumb is a little too long and could impede the wearer when using some of the controls.
In a Line: May not be the coolest, but they do look cool!