Until I moved to California, I’d rarely encountered a ride in which my apparel needed to change during the ride. If I started with a jacket, I ended with it. If it was hot when I left, it was hot when I got home. Everywhere I’d ever lived that held to be true. Then California.
If it was foggy and 55 when I left, it could be sunny and 80 an hour later. Or if it was partly cloudy and 75 when I left, it could be 60 and gray by the time I turned home. Moving to Northern California has only increased the unpredictability I encounter.
During a recent edition of the Grasshopper Adventure Series, the day started cool and cloudy. Then we hit a stretch that was very warm and sunny, only to get over a climb and drop into damp, even misty conditions, not to mention a 10+ degree drop in temperature. Then came the rain. And after the rain? More sun, but also wind.
I don’t care if my hands are wet if the temperature is 75, or even 95. But at 45? Well that’s another thing entirely. It’s not easy to find a pair of gloves that will keep your hands warm when it’s 45 and wet but not be completely regrettable at 65 and dry.
I decided to wear the SealSkinz Neoprene Gloves. In that whole truth-in-advertising manner, they are what they claim to be: neoprene. Of the many materials from which one can cut gloves, neoprene is arguably the least exciting. Wear neoprene gloves and your hands are going to be wet, whether or not it’s raining. Usually, their grip is as questionable as the judgment of a teen. But these gloves have silicone printed on the fingers and palm, making them post-it note sticky.
My biggest concern over the course of the day was that if I began to feel both cold and wet I’d have trouble controlling my bike on the descents, that my fingers wouldn’t be able to pull the brake levers. The temperature spanned a good 20 degrees over the course of the day and in all that time I remained comfortable. I’m certain that other people would have found the gloves to be suffocating during the warmer, sunnier stretches, but I was happy to put up with the gloves, knowing that I’d still be warm and be able to grip the levers no matter how cold I got the next time I entered forest.
The Neoprene Gloves come in five sizes (S-XL). This is one of the single biggest reasons I keep reviewing SealSkinz gloves. With almost every other brand I’m lucky to encounter three sizes. As a result, in the last six months I’ve encountered gloves in which the fingers were the right length, but too big around. Or the first three fingers fit perfectly, only to find the last two fingers seemed a full size too large. I’ve also run across a pair of gloves where the fingers were perfect, but the palm was too narrow. With SealSkinz Neoprene Gloves, the large fits me like a … well, like a glove. Honestly, even when they are dry it takes a bit of tugging to pull them on. I don’t mind the snug fit because once they are on, articulation is exceptional and sensitivity is good enough to be able to flawlessly shift Di2.
They come in three different color schemes: black with gray, black with red and neon yellow. The logo on the outside edge of the glove is reflective.
Unlike most neoprene I’ve encountered in the past, the neoprene itself does not sit against your skin. They give the material a membrane backing, making it a bit tougher to pull on or off, but doing more to keep cold water out; yes, wearing them can feel a bit like putting your hands in a warm shower, but your fingers won’t stiffen like a corpse. As this is the time of year when many of us are going to do some pedaling in the rain, these are well worth examining.
Final thought: almost makes the rain fun.
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