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Winter Cycling Gloves Review: Sealskinz Thermal Performance Gloves (Not Really Made From Seals)

Sealskinz Thermal Performance Road Cycling Gloves

The weather in the UK turned quite abruptly earlier this month.

September was surprisingly warm and dry. October came along, the switch was flipped and winter began (or at least a chilly autumn did).

This time of the year tends to see me make a wardrobe gaffe. Thankfully (for both you and me), said wardrobe gaffe is not the type that I take a picture of and then send to an undercover reporter masquerading as a young female politician-fancier*.

(*This is the sort of reference that will mean nothing to you if you’re not from the UK, or you’re reading this at any point in the future).

Cold Hands Luke

On at least one ride each year, I misjudge totally the temperature outside and fail to dress adequately. This normally happens during the ‘hip season’ (as travel agents may call it) between summer and autumn/winter. And I feel my mistake most profoundly in my hands.

Not this time.

I was at “home” home in Yorkshire (ie. the land of my forefathers) when the weather changed and had arranged to go riding with my sister and her husband.

The BBC weather-tattlers had been all a-quiver during the preceding week, foretelling the arrival of a band of rain, followed by significantly lower temperatures. I had spent a not-insignificant portion of that same week thinking about what I would wear on the ride.

I’m not going to describe my entire outfit, other than to say that whilst I chanced it by sporting a fine pair of bib shorts, I took no risks at all with my hands. I wore my old winter commuting gloves. My sister wore no gloves (without complaints); her husband wore his summer mitts. My hands were just about warm enough.

Get To The Point Grimpeur

Cycling gloves gel padding

My, what large cuffs you have.

Right. Well, all of this preamble is a long-winded attempt to explain that having warm hands is very important to me*.

(*Also I get this thing where the ends of my fingers turn white when they get cold, which I have self-Google-diagnosed as Raynaud’s phenomenon… to which I feel duty bound to add, “Mah Na Mah Na, do doo duh doo do”).

So important to me, in fact, that last year I invested in a pair of Sealskinz Thermal Performance Road Cycling Gloves (to give them their formal name), to be worn on rides where the temperatures even hint at dropping into mid single figures (centigrade).

I don’t know how you go about reviewing a pair of gloves. To be honest, reviewing any sort of clothing is a bit problematic (at the least, highly subjective).

Whatevs. Not knowing how to do something doesn’t generally stop me from pontificating wildly (see: this blog, anything I’ve written about cycling, etc). Let’s do this.

Let’s Start With The ‘Features’

High five

Behold the gel palm padding

Who knew that gloves could have more than a couple of features (fingers, hole to stick hand in, etc)?

Yet features they have. And some of them don’t sound entirely fabricated in the Sealskinz marketing think tank (aquarium?).

Talking of fingers (we were), the gloves come with ‘pre-curved’ fingers. Once pointed out, I realised that i) this was the case and ii) this is a good thing (after all, your hands will spend most their time curved around your handlebars).

Staying in the same general location, the tips of the first two fingers of each hand (‘pointy’ and ‘bird’ fingers) have little leather patches to aid feel and control when changing gears or braking. I think they help a little in using my (touch screen) Edge 510 bike GPS.

Moving to the palm, there are generous pads dotted around. At a guess, I’d say they’re filled with some sort of gel. These provide comfort from road vibration and forays into water-filled potholes. The pads also prevent overstimulation of the ulnar nerve, which can cause finger numbness in some people (like me).

Thermal Mass

The Sealskinz are waterproof and windproof, which will go a long way to keeping your hands warm. They have a microfleece lining and a layer of insulation on the back of each hand.

Hand in glove

Gaze at the plump back-of-hand-insulation

As far as I can see, it’s this back-of-hand insulation that sets the Thermal Performance Road Cycling Glove apart from its less warm sibling, cunningly named the Performance Road Cycling Glove. Oh, and a longer cuff with a velcro fastening strap on the thermal model.

Rounding off the fleecy features, both hands feature a section of soft material on each thumb, designed to wipe runny noses and any other facial fluids.

So Are They Any Good?

A resounding yes, yes, thrice yes.

Let’s start with the most important thing. They’re fugging warm (hence, “thermal performance”).

If I find myself in a position where the temperatures outside necessitate the wearing of an even warmer glove, that ride is not actually going to take place. In that scenario, the high likelihood of ice on the roads would send me straight to the turbo.

If you want a warm pair of gloves, look no further you need to (as Yoda would say).

Any Issues With Them?

Well, they are a little on the bulky side. But then what do you expect?

If your other winter clothing is cyclo-specific, figure-hugging apparel, then you’ll be sporting slight clown hands.

On the other hand (did you see what I did there), if you wear a wind-proof or waterproof jacket, the additional glove mass will not look out of place.

That said, ‘glove bulk’ (technical term) can cause practical cycling issues.

I find that I sometimes miss gear changes when riding with fat fingers. I think I pull the gear shift slightly towards me, disengaging it in the same way that happens when braking. I’m not exactly sure what about the gloves causes this to happen. However, I’ve found this to be no more of an issue with the Sealskinz than with my old, less bulky winter gloves. The issue seems to be binary: wear winter gloves, become slightly incompetent.

Style Tips From One Who Knows (Not)

Cycling glove snot strip

An effective snot strip

I have the red ones. Red is scientifically-proven to be the colour of winners. If you don’t want the psychological benefit of les mains rouges, another, more muted, grey colour scheme is available.

Conclusion

The Sealskinz Thermal cycling gloves are a fine set of hand warmers. They are more than up to the task of dealing with the coldest temperatures I’d be prepared to ride in outside.

The gloves are quite bulky, but I’m happy to put up with this in the interest of comfortable hands. Looking super stylish is something I can focus on during the summer months (or never, if I’m honest).

You can pick up a pair on Amazon for around £33 which, compared to the money you might spend on other cycling apparel, is frankly a bargain.

If you are a hardier individual (at least in the hand temperature department), you can save a couple of quid by plumping for the gloves sans the ‘Thermal’ bit (I can’t be bothered to type out the full name again). They’re available on Wiggle right now for £29.95, which is a not inconsiderable 35% off the list price (I think they’re running a sale).

If you’re already gloved up (good and proper), use those toasty warm hands to enter your email address in the box below this post and subscribe to Sportive Cyclist.

As a subscriber, you’ll get exclusive access to the Sportive Cyclist’s Toolbox, a collection of training guides and cycling advice for novice and intermediate road cyclists. You’ll also get notified whenever I publish a new post. All free. Now, who can say fairer than that?

Until next time, banzai!

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • I always go out for my rides at about 5:30am at the weekend so I’m back in time to spend the weekend with my family and kids! So it can be quite cold in the mornings.
    2 weeks ago even though it told me it would be 3 degrees outside I thought it would be a good idea to just wear my thin full gloves! It wasn’t, had numb fingers straight away! Even though i had just bought a pair of Lobster cycling gloves from Lidl, and they were sitting nice and warm in my drawer at home!
    Bah!
    This weekend, I whacked my brand new lobster gloves on, and loan behold it was 15 degrees outside, and my hands were sweating, lol.
    But for the price of the gloves from lidl, £7.99 you really cant go wrong!
    So much cycling equipment is so expensive, I’ve pretty much got my whole kit from Aldi and Lidl (except my bike) over the last 2 years, and been really impressed with it all!
    Bought base layers, bib shorts, jerseys, winter jackets, socks, work stands, chain cleaners, you name it, I’ve bought it, and all at ridiculously cheap prices! Most people are far too snobby to get their gear from there, but more fool them!

  • James says:

    Ah, great minds think alike, Monty! (Or fools seldom differ.) I have the same issues with cold hands, and Raynaud’s (which a doctor diagnosed for me), especially during season changes. And I also love my Sealskinz (mine are the Extra Cold Weather Gel Cycling Gloves). They are indeed bulky, but deliciously toasty warm. Two thumbs up from me!

  • David says:

    Good review thanks. I also suffer but last year my good lady treated me to heated under gloves from Blazeware. Not cheap, and the batteries are somewhat bulky to say the least, but they do work well and I use a cheapy pair of outer gloves. All very bulky I’m afraid but well worth it to keep warm and can still change gears relatively easy.

  • johnvonhof says:

    Funny timing. I have been searching for better gloves for our cold winter here in California – low 20F. I like SeakSkinz products and will consider these as a my fifth pair of gloves in the search for good gloves that protect my fingers from cold, wind, and water. Thanks for the review.

  • backflipbedlem October 23, 2014, 3:04 pm

    I always go out for my rides at about 5:30am at the weekend so I’m back in time to spend the weekend with my family and kids! So it can be quite cold in the mornings.
    2 weeks ago even though it told me it would be 3 degrees outside I thought it would be a good idea to just wear my thin full gloves! It wasn’t, had numb fingers straight away! Even though i had just bought a pair of Lobster cycling gloves from Lidl, and they were sitting nice and warm in my drawer at home!
    Bah!
    This weekend, I whacked my brand new lobster gloves on, and loan behold it was 15 degrees outside, and my hands were sweating, lol.
    But for the price of the gloves from lidl, £7.99 you really cant go wrong!
    So much cycling equipment is so expensive, I’ve pretty much got my whole kit from Aldi and Lidl (except my bike) over the last 2 years, and been really impressed with it all!
    Bought base layers, bib shorts, jerseys, winter jackets, socks, work stands, chain cleaners, you name it, I’ve bought it, and all at ridiculously cheap prices! Most people are far too snobby to get their gear from there, but more fool them!

  • James October 23, 2014, 3:08 pm

    Ah, great minds think alike, Monty! (Or fools seldom differ.) I have the same issues with cold hands, and Raynaud’s (which a doctor diagnosed for me), especially during season changes. And I also love my Sealskinz (mine are the Extra Cold Weather Gel Cycling Gloves). They are indeed bulky, but deliciously toasty warm. Two thumbs up from me!

  • David October 23, 2014, 6:14 pm

    Good review thanks. I also suffer but last year my good lady treated me to heated under gloves from Blazeware. Not cheap, and the batteries are somewhat bulky to say the least, but they do work well and I use a cheapy pair of outer gloves. All very bulky I’m afraid but well worth it to keep warm and can still change gears relatively easy.

  • johnvonhof October 23, 2014, 7:13 pm

    Funny timing. I have been searching for better gloves for our cold winter here in California – low 20F. I like SeakSkinz products and will consider these as a my fifth pair of gloves in the search for good gloves that protect my fingers from cold, wind, and water. Thanks for the review.

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