GripGrab's Insulator gloves are a great option for layering – they can be used on their own but are still slim enough to be worn inside most winter gloves for when it gets really cold. We've had some other gloves and things in for review from GripGrab over the last couple of years, and we've been consistently impressed with the high standards of construction and performance. It might sound like a cliché but the Danes know a thing or two about keeping their hands warm, it seems.
If you want your cycling kit to see you through the widest range of conditions, the best approach is to have a selection of layers that can be combined or used singly depending on how much protection you need from the world around you. The same is definitely true of gloves, although it can be harder to achieve; if the outer glove has space to accommodate another layer, it can be too loose when used on its own.
The Insulator is made of 85% polyester with 15% elastane to give it some stretch, using hollow fibre technology to provide more insulation than you'd expect from a single relatively thin layer. The outer layer is a very fine weave, with the inner surface soft and comfortable against the skin. I'm most commonly an extra-large in gloves, so it was a surprise to fit into the medium (or size 9) that we were sent, but it meant for a nice close fit so they could still fit inside other gloves.
I tend to suffer from cold fingers on the bike in the winter months, so I'm never intentionally found in fingerless mitts below about 12 degrees. I found these gloves worked for me for temperatures of 7-16 degrees C or so, when used on their own. They are less stretchy than woolly gloves, making for a better grip on the bars, especially as there's a silicon pattern printed on the palms. The index and middle fingers have NEVER LOSE YOUR GRIP printed on them in silicon, which is a nice touch.
The silicon grip print on the palm offers very little in the way of vibration isolation, so if you suffer from numb hands then these are probably best used with reasonably well-padded bar tape. I found them generally very comfortable in use, and felt that the good grip and low bulk made for a very direct connection to the bike's steering, with easy operation of the brakes and gear shifters. The thumb is made of a terrycloth for the purpose of snot wiping - not pretty but very worthwhile for riding fast in the cooler months.
GripGrab make no claims of water-resistance for these gloves – they have others in their range which offer full waterproof protection. So it was something of a pleasant surprise to find that after the best part of an hour riding through a steady drizzle that my hands were still warm and dry. I'm not sure quite how this is achieved but it's an unexpected bonus. Big droplets from overhanging trees will soak through quite quickly, and when the heavens open they won't stay dry for long, but the material has a surprising resistance to steady fine spray. Wet hands will get cold faster, but the fabric still provides a moderate level of warmth even when damp, and they dry fairly quickly too.
When used as a liner glove, I found the GripGrabs to be warmer than the thin silk liners you can get from Decathlon, and significantly more comfortable than the coarser knitted style of liner glove. They easily fitted inside the waterproof winter gloves I generally use – if your winter gloves are fairly tight then you might find fitting any sort of liner a bit of a squeeze, but the Insulators are fairly low bulk so they should work for most people.
Our gloves came in a rather lively fluorescent yellow colour – we've had a lot of kit in this year like this, so hi-viz doesn't appear to be finished just yet. You may or may not like the idea of bright yellow gloves – I felt that they looked pretty good when worn with a dark jacket or jersey and helped make sure turn signals are visible in low-light conditions, but if you were also wearing a bright yellow top then possibly you risk looking a bit... special. If your front light kicks out a lot of light to the sides then they can be distractingly bright on a dark road, too. You can also get them in black.
There is some reflective detailing on the backs of the hands, which is always nice to see. It has survived half a dozen passes through the washing machine unscathed, as has the silicon palm print. This is handy as bright yellow gloves do tend to get dirty quite quickly unless you're very fastidious. As we have come to expect from GripGrab, the quality is very good, with neat stitching and a really good fit. There's some special phone-compatible material integrated into the ends of the thumbs, such that you can still operate a modern capacitive touch screen when wearing the gloves. It works well, too, although becomes less effective after washing a few times.
Thirty quid might seem a lot to spend on liner gloves – you can get those Decathlon ones I mentioned above for one fifth of this amount, after all. Most liners are designed only for use underneath an outer glove, though, lacking the toughness necessary for use on their own. Here you can tell yourself that you're really getting two pairs of gloves for the price, should you need to. They're very accomplished liner gloves, with a good level of warmth and comfort despite the relatively thin material, but they're also effective and robust enough when used on their own, if it's not cold enough to warrant winter gloves.
Two gloves for the price of one; these fluoro gloves work really well as liners and as cool-weather gloves in their own right
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Make and model: GripGrab Insulator Hi-Vis gloves
Size tested: Medium
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?
The Insulator is a comfortable, lightweight liner glove to be used either separately or inside another glove as an extra insulating layer on extremely cold days. Hollow fibre technology ensures superior thermal insulation and breathability. Silicone print provides optimal grip. The Insulator glove features a perfect fit for your ride. High end materials and optimal design ensures outstanding performance in breathability and in comfort. A great choice as a liner glove for severely cold temperatures, and with excellent usage as a separate glove in moderate temperatures.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Highly insulating material
Touch screen compatibility
They do all that GripGrab say they do, plus they keep out the drizzle for as much as an hour - what's not to like?
No issues during testing
They're light but warm.
If you only needed liner gloves then the price is high compared to some, but they're also tough enough for use on their own, and they work really well like this too. You can find them for a few quid less than RRP online.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well - it got me eyeing the rest of the GripGrab range and fingering my credit card.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The dual-purpose approach is a good one and I liked it. Also was very pleasantly surprised that they had some unadvertised water resistance too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd probably buy them in black, so they didn't show the dirt so quickly.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 36 Height: 190cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.