Like a lot of bike-related purchases, winter gloves often tend to be a compromise of some form or other.
They trade-off varying degrees of warmth, waterproofness and bulkiness against one another – so when the mercury drops riders sometimes have to choose between not being able to feel the handlebar because their fingers have gone numb and not being able to feel it because they’re wearing gloves with enough padding to step into the boxing ring.
Oh, and with all that stitching it must be quite hard to make them waterproof as well, judging by the relatively small number of gloves that actually do so.
And even when you do get a waterproof glove, they can be clammy and uncomfortable unless it’s really cold.
SealSkinz is a company which made its name with waterproof products (socks) and has since diversified into protecting our other extremities from the elements too.
The Ultra Grip gloves came to my notice while browsing SportPursuit I think, and I thought they would be worth a punt at £15 for use on my road bike.
When they arrived I was quite pleased with the knitted texture of the exterior, which looks quite classy and has a pleasant wool-like feel to it (it’s synthetic though).
Obviously we all have different proportioned hands, but the fit was good for me – having used the sizing guide – snug but not tight and no annoying excess finger length. They also have a long-ish cuff, which can be tucked neatly under jacket or jersey sleeves.
They are thicker than a set of summer gloves, but are not padded like the majority of winter bike gloves – some of which would probably be better for skiing.
Instead they rely on merino wool inside for warmth and the company’s own “Stretchdry” membrane to keep the water out and allow your digits to breathe.
The “ultra grip” refers to the multitude of rubbery grippers on the palm and fingers of the gloves, which do a good job of grabbing and operating the controls on both road bikes and MTBs.
And this is where they really surpass other winter gloves I’ve owned over the years, they feel close enough to normal gloves to allow for hard riding without any uncertainty about where the brake lever is or the bars squirming beneath your heavily padded paws.
I’ve ridden them in on numerous wet and snowy rides and have yet to get wet fingers, so the waterproofing seems good.
In terms of warmth, they are nice and cosy down to about zero degrees. They’re OK slightly below freezing if it’s a nice still day, but the wind can start cutting through to numb your pinkies if not.
For proper cold, high rides I’d go for something bulkier, but perhaps put these in my backpack for when I was back below the snowline.
In terms of durability, I’ve owned them more than a year and as they’re my glove of choice for most cold rides they’ve had a lot of use and a lot of washes. You can see from the pics that they still look like new, which is nice.
All in all, they were an absolute bargain at £15 and would still be very good value at the £35 or so RRP. They’re one of those products that just work.
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