by Hannah Dobson
January 9, 2017
Do you suffer from cold hands during the winter riding season? Hannah goes on a quest to see if the Dragon Eye mountain bike gloves are what her hands need.
I’ve ridden down hills in cold, wet conditions, crying out at the pain in my hands. Unable to feel the bars, gripping for dear life on the brakes, hoping that the descent will run out before I lose the last of my power over my fingers. Does this sound familiar?
If you can sympathise with me, this experience will probably tell you that I am still in search of the glove which is both warm and waterproof. Do the Sealskinz Dragon Eye MTB Gloves spell the end of this quest?
Fit & Feel
These gloves are not to be confused with the ‘Dragon Eye Trail’ gloves offered by Sealskinz, which look practically identical but do not have the same properties. These Dragon Eye MTB gloves claim to be totally waterproof, breathable and windproof, and are available in a choice of two colours. There are five sizes, ranging from Small through to XX-Large, and I tested the small.
I’ve found that these are quite short in the fingers, but I feel a bigger size would have been too big in the palms, and possibly too bulky and baggy round the fingers. I do have fairly long and slim hands however, so this fit experience is not unique to these gloves. The gloves are secured by a robust velcro strap, and pulled on by a short wrist tab – which I feel could do to be a touch longer as it is barely there at all, although the rubber grip detail does help somewhat when pulling on the second glove.
The fingers are pre-curved with and articulated knuckle, and for reasonably thick and insulated gloves they have a fair level of dexterity and navigating the different arrays of cockpits set ups on different test bikes has not been a problem. The index and middle fingers have silicone printing which help keep hold of the brakes in really wet weather, and these grips have remained whole and intact throughout the test period, with no cracking or peeling off.
As a whole, the gloves have survived the test well, with little signs of wear save for some bobbling on the upper parts of the most used index and middle fingers. The Tricot Suede wiper on the thumb – which Sealskinz euphemistically says is for ‘a multitude of uses’ – serves well as a snot wipe. This soft patch curves well round the hand meaning that I’m sometimes lucky enough to find a relatively mud free spot tucked away towards my palm on which to wipe my nose, rather than it being on the upper part of the hand where it can collect mud.
The gloves have a thermal rating of three out of five on the Sealskinz system, which is supposed to offer a good balance of warmth and breathability. I have found that in dry conditions the weather does need to feel cool for these gloves to be comfortable to ride in – mild sunny Autumn days led to sweaty hands and gloves being removed. Conversely, on a cold day you need to be working to keep your finger tips warm – these are not so hugely warm that you can pootle along in snow and ice, but then that’s probably what thermal rated gloves of five are for. The glove inners do a reasonable job of wicking away sweat, and importantly are well sewn in, so there’s no turning them inside out if you do have to peel them off after a stiff climb on a mild day.
On then to waterproofing – something of a critical factor for me. The gloves do initially shed water – so splashes or light showers are no problem. In persistent heavy rain however, the outer fabric does take on water, meaning the gloves begin to feel bulkier and heavier, and if it’s cold you can feel this chilling the outside of your hand – although your hands will probably still be dry on the inside. I did find that eventually the tips of a couple of fingers let in water – as both leaks were on my dominant hand perhaps this is down to more wear on this side? Overall though, I give these a pass on the waterproofing, but they’re more suited to not terribly cold wet conditions due to that chilling effect you get as the outers hold water. My search continues, then, for the perfect rain and sleet glove.
Warm and waterproof gloves for cool dry days or mild wet days, but not the answer for deep winter riding. Nice and flexible though, which is more than can be said for some of the other super-bulky winter gloves out there.