Suffer from cold fingers when cycling in the winter? I do, and finding gloves that provide adequate insulation has always been tricky. These Pearl Izumi ELITE Softshell Gloves are stupendously warm thanks to the Primaloft insulation, which provides good insulation for sub-zero temperatures without being that bulky.
The fit is good around the fingers and the bulk is reasonably minimal, considering the warmth they provide on cold rides. I've been wearing these on many of my early morning rides when the temperature is well below zero, and with a good dose of wind chill, and I've not suffered cold fingers and hands once. It's been a revelation.
A soft shell construction provides ample wind resistance and they're good in the rain too, not waterproof but it takes quite a prolonged shower before thoughts turn to water ingress. A padded palm provides comfort on the handlebars and the leather palm has proven durable so far.
The thumb is lined with a soft fleece ideal for wiping a snotty nose, and there are reflective details. Conductive material on the fingertips makes using a smartphone possible without removing the gloves.
They provide a better fit than the Rapha Deep Winter gloves I tested recently, and offer a comparable level of insulation with a similar Primaloft insulation. The Rapha gloves are more generously sized to cater for an optional liner glove, which allows them to cater for much colder temperatures.
However I have found the Pearl Izumi gloves to provide adequate warmth for most typical UK winter rides, and the great fit makes them really comfortable for long rides. The Pearl Izumi gloves are half the price of the Rapha Deep Winter gloves which makes them a better buy all things considered.
Excellent really cold weather gloves with a great fit and padded palm
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Make and model: Pearl Izumi ELITE Softshell 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?
Pearl Izumi has led the way in gloves construction with its innovative 1:1 Glove Technology with advanced palm patterning design which provides an anatomic fit by contouring the hand's complex shape combined with its Easy Off glove removal tab which allows fast glove removal after an arduous ride. Pearl Izumi's 1:1 Glove Padding creates a comfort bridge over the ulnar and median nerves to minimize pressure and improve blood flow to the fingertips. Working with accomplished orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Rhett Griggs, Pearl Izumi strategically placed padding directly over each of the four Boney Pillars of the hand to direct pressure where the body is meant to carry it. When pressure is directed away from areas above your nerves that causes loss of feeling or numbness. Its patented 1:1 Glove Fit is patterned around the anatomic arches of the hand that give the hand its 3D shape. This unique process provides an optimal fit around every curve, knuckle and crease of the hand to prevent bunching and provide the perfect bar interface. Pearl Izumi has also introduced a new conductive synthetic leather fabric on the index and thumb for touch-screen compatibility (available on most winter gloves).
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The ELITE Softshell provides wind and water protection
Primaloft© insulation provides optimal warmth without bulk
The New 1:1 Glove Padding creates bridges over Ulnar and Median nerves for superior riding comfort
The New 1:1 Glove fit maximizes finger dexterity for shifting and braking
Synthetic leather palm is soft and durable
Hook and loop closure
Soft fleece wiping surface on thumb
Reflective elements for low-light visibility
Weather forecast: Very cold and wet
Temperature: +/- 0 degree
Fabrics: Palm is 47% polymide 24% polyester 25% polyurethane 4% spandex; Back of hand is 36% polyurethane 33% polyamide 25% polyester 6% spandex; Lining is 100% polyester
Half the price of the similarly insulated Rapha Deep Winter gloves.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keep even my poorly circulated hands warm.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Really good fit, padded palm, lots of nice details, and enough warmth for everything from several hours to a 200km winter Audax.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Isn't really much to dislike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Excellent winter gloves for the coldest days.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
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, mtb,
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.