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Verdict: 
Extremely warm and insulating gloves for the coldest winter rides
Weight: 
112g
Sportful Sotto Zero Gloves
9 10

Providing excellent insulation without the bulk, these Sportful Sotto Zero Gloves will keep you warm right through the winter. When the temperature plummets, as it has done at the time of writing, these gloves keep your hands warm without fail.

  • Pros: Warm, windproof, great fit, generous padding, touchscreen compatible
  • Cons: Umm…

For me, there's nothing much worse than freezing cold hands. Cold feet I can manage, but lose the feeling in your fingers halfway into a ride... well, that's not much fun. Traditionally, cold winter gloves, while they might keep your hands warm, would be massively bulky and seriously compromise your ability to operate the controls of the bike.

Sportful Sotto Zero Gloves - top.jpg

Sportful Sotto Zero Gloves - top.jpg

Sportful has managed to produce a glove that can provide impressive warmth for the coldest winter rides, but without the bulk. That means you maintain good control of the handlebar and can operate the gears and brakes easily, while remaining warm. I'm impressed. They're like the size of a mid-weight glove but provide the warmth of much chunkier designs.

The Italian company has achieved this impressive feat by using PrimaLoft Silver, a continuous filament insulation more commonly used in sleeping bags and hiking jackets. It works by trapping body heat and has a very low bulk factor, which improves freedom of movement compared with bulkier gloves. It's also lined with a fleece layer, while on the outside a softshell material provides water and wind resistance.

Sportful Sotto Zero Gloves - Primaloft.jpg

Sportful Sotto Zero Gloves - Primaloft.jpg

The palm is made from a Clarino material for good durability, and there are generous silicone details for enhanced grip on the brake levers. It's also generously padded and provides good comfort on longer rides.

The fingertips are touchscreen compatible, so you can Instagram without removing your gloves, and the thumb is covered with a soft microfibre toweling material for wiping a snotty nose – a godsend on very cold rides.

Sportful Sotto Zero Gloves - palm.jpg

Sportful Sotto Zero Gloves - palm.jpg

Fit and comfort are excellent. I'm testing a large and they're generous without being loose around the fingers. The wide Velcro closure sealing the large wristband helps when getting them on and off, and they fit easily over jacket sleeves.

> Read our buyer's guide to the best winter cycling gloves

They don't quite offer the same warmth as the mightily expensive Rapha Deep Winter Gloves (which use Polartec One insulation) but the Sottos are much less bulky and provide adequate warmth for most typical winter rides. And they're a third of the price.

While £50 is a lot of money for a pair of gloves, the performance for me easily justifies it and makes them a worthy investment if you are serious about cycling through the colder months. I've got a drawer full of winter gloves that the Sottos have just made redundant.

Verdict

Extremely warm and insulating gloves for the coldest winter rides

road.cc test report

Make and model: Sportful Sotto Zero Gloves

Size tested: large

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Sportful says: "PrimaLoft® Silver insulation combined with wind-resistant materials give this Sotto Zero glove its name but also its extreme warmth. Increased dexterity comes thanks to it's ergonomic design and low-bulk construction."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

60g PrimaLoft® Silver insulation on back of hand

SoftShell for water resistance and warmth

Light fleece lining

Clarino™ palm with silicone printing for grip

Thin strategic palm padding

Microfiber nose wipe

Touch screen compatible

Velcro closure

Reflective printing

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for fit:
 
8/10
Rate the product for sizing:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Very easy to care for.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Provide excellent warmth for cold winter rides.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

High insulation with low bulk.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing to dislike really.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

These are up there with the best winter gloves I've tested, they cope with typical British winter temperatures extremely well.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

14 comments

Avatar
Pfaff [19 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

What does ”the coldest winter ride” actually mean?

As the namne suggest, SottoZero, ”below Zero” should be taken as -5˚C - -10˚C would be fine? It can be cold over here and warm gloves certainly are needed.

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PRSboy [221 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

I've never found keeping my hands warm in cold, dry conditions to be a particular problem.

Its when it gets wet it all goes horribly wrong... these say they are water resistant, but to what extent?

Avatar
David Arthur @d... [859 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Pfaff wrote:

What does ”the coldest winter ride” actually mean?

As the namne suggest, SottoZero, ”below Zero” should be taken as -5˚C - -10˚C would be fine? It can be cold over here and warm gloves certainly are needed.

 

The coldest winter rides you're likely to encounter here in the UK, so a temp range of about -5 to 5˚C is their ideal working range. Some of that does depend on whether you run hot or cold though. Personally I run cold but these gloves work for me on the coldest winter rides I'm likely to encounter

Avatar
risoto [62 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

Once in a while you are lucky to find the perfect product, this pair of gloves is one of them. Got mine last week and I can now retire my bulky and uncomfortable skiing gloves. I never thought I would find good winter cycling gloves but here they are.

The fit is simply fantastic - size L for me with 22-23 cm circumference of hands - they are tight but move freely so never have had aching hands. Lenght of the fingers are spot on and they got fantastic grip of handlebar and levers. Finally, they both feel and look great!

The reason they work so well without being bulky is the use of Primaloft I guess. I have two winter socks from Santini - they are very thin and look like summer socks but they are the warmest winter socks I have among a bunch of more or less thick merino socks. These socks also use Primaloft for insulation.

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psling [286 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

"Fit and comfort are excellent. I'm testing a large and they're generous without being loose around the fingers."

This of course means absolutely nothing without knowing what size your hands are! It is a common and annoying feature of most reviews when comment is made about fit without an actual reference point to the size of the tester (although to be fair, at least height and weight are usually given on here).

I have fairly large hands and finding gloves to fit can be a problem. Having said that, I have looked up the offered sizes for these gloves on Sportful's website and they do indeed seem to offer larger sizes than most.

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Nixster [404 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

I have a pair of these and they are indeed very good.

Was wearing them yesterday in fact, so 'sub zero' possibly but not much below in my experience, although how warm my hands are is very affected by how warm my arms, head etc. are too.

They are also very robust - survived a crash that wrote off my shoulder last year with barely a scuff.

Strangely, and I've never encountered this before, I find the thumbs just a fraction too short.  Never thought of myself as having long thumbs before but there you go.

 

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Yemble [57 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Sounds good but..

Do they have a clip for attaching the pair together? Very useful if you do need to remove a glove.

Does the liner pull out of the fingers or is it attached to the tips to prevent that?

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David Arthur @d... [859 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Yemble wrote:

Sounds good but..

Do they have a clip for attaching the pair together? Very useful if you do need to remove a glove.

Does the liner pull out of the fingers or is it attached to the tips to prevent that?

 

There's no clip or magnet to keep them attached - very few gloves I've ever tested have that feature unfortunately

No the liner doesn't pull out

Avatar
Yemble [57 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
David Arthur @davearthur wrote:

There's no clip or magnet to keep them attached - very few gloves I've ever tested have that feature unfortunately

No the liner doesn't pull out

Thanks for that info. I'm replacing some Sealskinz All Weather gloves which do have the clip and I use it every day, fumbling for my key card at work to get in the door, clipped together and stored hanging over the bars, when removing a glove on the road with nowhere else to put it. Should be a standard feature! Even the newer Sealskinz don't have it (eg Brecon glove).

Might be able to sew a dome to that wee Primaloft tab though, if it's on both gloves - though appears to only be on the left.

 

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gunswick [131 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Lack of waterproofing has been some of my darkest days on a bike, 1c and pissing rain and wind chill on top.

I use Gripgrab deep winter gloves and they are waterproof and warm and it makes a huge difference compared to the similar weight but only water resistant gloves I have.

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Chris Hayes [246 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

 ..... I'm with you on wet, cold hands.  Which Grip Grab ones do you have?  I'll give'em a try.  

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gunswick [131 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Gripgrab Polaris, though they seem to have refreshed their line this year. For today look at the "Ride waterproof winter glove" or the "Optimus" model as it looks very similar though a bit pricey. I got mine for £40 off season in August, normal price is like £60

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markovich [18 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

A fantastic pair of gloves. Warm , easy to ride with, no issues with controls on the bike. Not too bulky and good down to at least freezing.

Only very small issue with the velcro straps on the cuff in that you cant open them with a gloved hand. They didnt leave a small part of it without velcro so you have something to get hold of.

Other than that, they are the best gloves i've ever owned

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BrokenBootneck [259 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

I have a pair of Planet X Waterproof Crab Hand Winter Glove 15 quid. With a pair of cheap liners when my garmin was showing minus 6.5 hands were absolutely fine. 95% of the time liners aren’t required.

 

Average temp on a 50 mile ride was minus 2.5 and a low of minus 6.5 and my rear brake froze 25 in to the ride  hands were fine  

 

You have to bear in mind that at 20mph you can take about 10c off the air temp due to wind chill. You can google wind chill tables if you like. They also have a clip!