There is cold. And then there is absolutely-bloody-awful-painful-minging cold.
Just as there’s a significant difference in temperature, windspeed, and precipitation between those two, so too is there a difference required in riding kit. Things need to get bulkier. Waterproof layers become just as much about blocking out piercing, icy gusts as they’re there to keep you dry. Exposed sections of skin get covered up, and more layers are added underneath.
In these sorts of parky deep-winter conditions, your extremities become the focal point of all comfort and pain. Some people feel the cold more acutely and more regularly than others, but every rider knows what the pain of frozen fingers feels like.
When the temperatures get close to zero, there is one pair of riding gloves that I reach for every time: the SealSkinz Highland gloves.
SealSkinz makes huge variety of gloves, beanies and socks, though the UK brand is likely best known for its waterproof riding socks – a product that I’ve not used before, but many riders swear by. Needless to say, the brand has a very good reputation for its foul weather gear.
The SealSkinz product range is split into various activities, including mountain biking. In its MTB line, you’ll find four models that include the Dragon Eye Ultralite, the Dragon Eye Trail, and the Dragon Eye MTB, with the former being the superlight summer glove, and the latter being a thicker waterproof glove. You might recall that Hannah reviewed the Dragon Eye MTB gloves just on 12 months ago, and she found them to be warm and sufficiently waterproof for cool dry days or mild wet days.
Stepping up in weight, warmth and protection, the Highland is the next step up from the Dragon Eye MTB glove, and is the most heavy duty MTB glove that SealSkinz offers.
SealSkinz Highland Glove Features
- 100% waterproof & windproof
- Climashield insulation
- Durable synthetic palm
- Silicone print padding
- PU wiper on thumb
- Machine washable
- Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large
- RRP: £55
I’ve been riding with the Highland glove for two winters now, and have been mighty impressed with its thermal and waterproofing capabilities.
Initially I was skeptical, as there’s no two ways about it – the Highland is a chunky glove. Packed with Climashield insulation, these are like having little puffer jackets for your hands. The lining of the glove is a nice and soft brushed fleece, which feels wonderfully cuddly and warm.
The fit around your hands is snug, which goes some way to minimising the perception of bulk. There’s also a sewn-in strip of elastic around the wrist, which along with the close fit helps to eliminate any potential air gaps. There’s a big Velcro strap for cinching down the extended cuff, so the Highland fits well and tucks underneath the sleeves of your jacket. The long cuff does flare out a touch, so it can create a tight fit with some brands of jackets that don’t have a lot of adjustability in the sleeves.
Despite all the insulation, the Highland doesn’t feel that enormous when your hands are wrapped around the grips. The palms are insulated, but it’s thinner and denser to improve feel. Tactility on shift, brake and dropper post levers is surprisingly good, and while the gloves take up more space on each grip, I was impressed with just how much feedback I’m still able to get through my fingers. Because of this, I’m less likely to avoid wearing these if I’m going out for a more technical ride.
In terms of warmth and waterproofing, I’m yet to find the lower limit for these. I’ve ridden in about -5°C, and my hands had no issues with getting cold. Though at those temperatures, it’s worth trying to get your hands warm before you put them into the gloves. I’ve also never, ever had any water come through the gloves – not even between the fingers – and I’ve spent a good deal of saddle time in some pretty moist conditions. Knowing I can head out when it’s blowing a gale with sideways rain and I’ll be able to finish the ride with dry and warm hands is a truly wonderful thing.
As the most heavy duty option in the SealSkinz mountain bike glove range, the Highland provides excellent thermal and waterproofing capabilities, without feeling like you’re wearing a pair of gardening gloves. They are proper winter gloves, so unless you’re the cold blooded type, don’t expect to get much use of them in the warmer half of the year. But if you’re searching for a glove that’ll keep you and warm and dry while still offering genuine tactility and feel on your bike’s controls, the Highland glove comes recommended.
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 10 months|