I’m picky about the gloves I use when I ride. I’d rather my hands be a bit chilly and enjoy terrific dexterity than have them be cocooned in warm comfort and not be able to tell the difference between a golf ball and a grenade. I accept that riding in freezing temperatures means surrendering a great deal of sensitivity and in sub-zero conditions you’ve got to get creative just to hold a handlebar. However, in that high 30s to low 50s range, well that’s where the magic happens, or as Yoda might have said, happens not.
I’ve tried a number of liner/shell systems and in some cases they are warmer than a single, thick glove. However, as the two layers slide against each other precision of movement is lost just as thoroughly as with a thick glove with plentiful insulation. If all you plan to hold onto is a ski pole, what problem, amiright? To a lesser degree, that’s true on a mountain bike; gripping a flat bar is relatively easy and both SRAM and Shimano shifters can be operated with a relatively thick glove. It’s when you move to a drop bar that things get tricky. Things get tricky when you’re wearing a bulky glove and trying to ride with your hands on the hoods. I’ve used way too many gloves that grip the lever body only to have the liner slide around inside so that I have a thought time holding onto the hoods.
So while many glove manufacturers are touting their ability to transfer enough body heat to the fingertip so that you can operate a smartphone, that doesn’t do much for operating a road lever. SRAM’s DoubleTap levers aren’t that difficult to operate with a thick glove, and shifting the brake lever on Shimano STI controls isn’t so bad, but that little button? or shifting either button on road Di2 levers? For that you generally need exaggerated movements and a modicum of luck.
When I encountered the Seal Skinz All Weather Cycling Glove at Interbike, I was curious about it for the simple reason that I’ve come to trust Seal Skinz and Showers Pass for keeping me dry in cold and wet conditions. That said, box construction at the fingers is one of the reasons gloves often lose their dexterity. However, Seal Skinz kept the insulation moderate so that it’s possible to feel objects on the other side of the tip of the glove.
Seal Skinz says these gloves are 100 percent waterproof as well as windproof. My experience during a two-hour wind-lashed downpour suggests they aren’t lying. My concern wasn’t the top of the glove, but the synthetic suede used in the palm and fingers. It grips well, but I wondered if it would stay dry in heavy rain; I can’t say I was surprised that it did keep moisture out, but I how successful it would be was an open question, much the way you wonder if the movie hero will really escape the monster, even though you know the main character isn’t allowed to die.
While they don’t explain just what it is, Seal Skinz touts an anti-slip technology that keeps the liner from sliding against the glove and reversing out when you pull your hand out of the glove; whatever it is, it works. I’ve not once had to push the liner back into place; the anti-slip design also helps with the aforementioned dexterity.
The glove features reflective elements on top of and between the fingers. While the look is interesting, there’s something slightly absurd about concealing most of a glove’s reflective material between the fingers. At least the top of the glove is fluorescent yellow (there’s a black version for those who prefer the ninja approach to personal safety).
Being able to operate the touchscreen of a smartphone may not be my first priority with cold weather gloves, but that’s not to say I don’t still wish to be able to look at a recent text or take a picture. This is one of the times when a giant finger can really frustrate: trying to unlock your phone with a finger tip as thick as a hotdog. The fingers are the All Weather Cycling Glove are small enough that I can unlock my phone and have even been able to hit the tiny spot to record a voice-to-text response to a message.
Seal Skinz claims these gloves are breathable, but only up to a point. Honestly, the warmer a glove is, or the harder you go, the less breathable a glove is. I can at least report that the liner didn’t feel like the inside of a shower curtain, which is a win in my book; I’ve had water run down my arm as I removed a lined neoprene glove. Ew.
One of the best features of these gloves is the fact that they come in five sizes (S-XXL); I’m wearing the medium. By offering more sizes it’s possible to find a more accurate fit, which goes back to the dexterity and sensitivity issue.
At $65 this isn’t a cheap glove, but it’s more than worth its price. Thanks to a medium length gauntlet and a velcro closure to keep it snug, I can put the gloves on then pull on my rain jacket and because the fingers aren’t sausages, I can grab the zipper and pull it up.
I’ve worn this glove in conditions from the high 30s all the way up to 60 degrees. It was a bit much at 60, but considering rain was still falling, I didn’t mind my hands being warm and sweaty. So far, this glove offers me the best sensitivity to operating Di2 buttons in cold weather, though usually, if I want to ride the road when it’s cold, I grab a bike with Etap, or go mountain biking.
Final thought: Passes the Di2 test.