With the thermometer consistently south of zero degrees [in Scotland, anyway – Ed.] for the last few weeks, it has been the perfect time for a winter glove test.
I have to hold my hands up, if you’ll pardon the pun, and admit to suffering from really cold fingers on the bike when the snow comes. So, after a particularly unpleasant ride many years ago when my hands and feet got so cold and painful that I wanted to just lie down and fall asleep in the snow, I’ve been on the search for the perfect winter glove.
Having run the gamut of everything from windproof through to waterproof gloves (which, with tedious regularity, prove not to be) and even ski gloves (too bulky), I have a somewhat jaded attitude and have come to accept that being cold and wet goes hand in hand (boom-tisch! I’m here all week folks, try the fish…) with winter riding. However, when I got the opportunity to test Specialized’s latest offering, I grabbed them with both han… sorry!
Eschewing the traditional single glove approach, the Sub Zero comprises an insulated and waterproof outer shell coupled with a microfleece-style liner glove. For those who like such things, the full-finger inner gloves feature touchscreen-friendly stitching, which I can confirm does indeed work with tablets and mobile phones. The outer glove is constructed from waterproof Hipora shell material, with the back of the glove lined with Primaloft for warmth.
Both the inner and outer gloves feature reflective panels for enhanced visibility when riding at night through traffic. According to Specialized, this feature keeps you “stylish in the day” too, although I’m not convinced that even Gok Wan would go quite that far. Both gloves feature a grippy palm material, helping ensure you feel secure when holding onto the bars even when the weather turns cold and damp.
The outer glove is styled along the lines of a lobster mitt, which means you can greet your riding buddies Spock-style or pretend that you are Professor Zoidberg from Futurama. Inside the outer glove, there is a stitched microfleece divider between your fingers. In practice, this means that when you are holding the bars and trying to brake, whether on a mountain bike or a road bike, you don’t experience that feeling of disconnection that typifies many winter gloves on the market. It also acts to keep your fingers just that little bit warmer.
To round things off, there is an extended collar featuring an elasticated drawcord that can be operated one-handed in order to cinch the gloves down and to help prevent cold and moisture getting inside the glove.
Let’s get ’em on…
Enough with the description, how do they work?
I can and will wax lyrical about these gloves but if you want a one-word summary then it would have to be: revelation. Over the course of the past month, I’ve used these gloves in some genuinely harsh winter weather. Riding through snow, ice and slush with the temperature at times several degrees below zero and with the wind doing its best to join in by blowing a hoolie, I’ve pushed these gloves to the limit of their advertised capabilities. Specialized rates the gloves to -5°C but having ridden around this temperature in genuine comfort, I have no doubt you could probably push them beyond that.
Whether it is due the lobster design, the choice of materials or the quality of construction, I can’t for certain say but I do know that these gloves have kept my hands consistently warm and dry, which is no small achievement. The two-fingered cut feels a little odd at first coming from full-finger gloves but after only a few minutes of riding, I forgot about the design and just came to appreciate that the gloves were doing their job without fuss and fanfare.
On the road is where I’ve always found the limit of winter gloves, with the tips of my fingers succumbing to the inevitable but even on long downhill stretches and into icy headwinds, my hands have remained chill free. For anyone who knows the pain of the hot aches, you’ll appreciate how big a deal this is.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I’ve not had the opportunity to test them in heavy rain but in driving sleet and hail showers, there was no sign of leakage which gives me confidence to expect that they will outperform all my other winter gloves.
As for the inner gloves, they have mostly been found at the bottom of my bag; even at their stated temperature limits, I’ve yet to have to resort to using them. In the interests of testing, I have worn them on their own and with the outers. As a spring to autumn glove, I think they would be terrific on their own, while when used with the outers, there is a small trade off of additional warmth for additional bulk.
I’ve thought long and hard about any downsides of these gloves and in terms of performance, I genuinely cannot find fault with them. While £49.99 is a lot to pay for gloves, I would happily pay that for them and then some. Finally, I have a set of winter gloves that work. Hurrah!
BEST DEALS ON SPECIALIZED SUB ZERO WINTER GLOVES
|Product:||Sub Zero Winter Gloves|
|Tested:||by CJ for one very cold and snowy Scottish winter month|