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Bontrager's heavyweight and durable Stormshell gloves provide a solid layer between your hands and the stormy world outside, but they miss the mark if you want toasty warmth too.
As the name indicates, these gloves are designed for stormy conditions, so first and foremost need to be competent at dealing with lots of wind and rain for prolonged amounts of time. It was my dubious pleasure to ride in such conditions recently, and the gloves impressed.
True waterproofness in a glove is something I've not come across, but the Stormshells are as close as I've seen. In driving rain they perform brilliantly, and even when I decided to really test them by submerging them in the sink, only the slightest leakage got through the seams.
The fabric responsible for this great performance is called Profila Stormshell, and uses technology known as Outdry. That technology also makes them highly wind resistant, so windchill never becomes an issue through the panels. This is aided by adjustable Velcro cuffs, which help secure against draughts effectively.
Tactile response is also relatively good, even though the construction of the gloves means that dexterity is compromised somewhat. Your fingers can move independently of each other, and enough that you can change gear and pull the brakes without much difficulty at all, but if you're hoping to be able to use your phone with the touchscreen-friendly pads on the thumb and forefinger, you might be disappointed.
In practice, if it's wet you're probably going to have your phone at least tucked away in a pocket, or in a shell of its own. And with these gloves, you have little chance of being able to gain access to it – which means you need to take them off to do so. Of course, you've then got the gloves off anyway, so why bother with the pads? It's a nice thought to include them, but not necessary or a vital part of their raison d'être.
Also included, as you'd expect with any cycling-specific gloves of this ilk, is gel padding on the palms to absorb road buzz and bumps, and it's perfectly adequate for the kinds of riding most people do in the winter. Incorporated too is a suede material that covers the body of the palm, and helps you maintain grip in inclement weather – helpful when all your attention is on the road ahead – along with some small reflective tabs on two of the fingers.
One criticism I must make, though, is the thermal leakiness of the fingers in cold weather. This isn't down to wind, but only when the temperature dropped – for example, on a climb. I found my fingers became quite cold when the ambient temperature dropped to low single digits, which suggests to me that the fleece lining inside the gloves isn't quite thick enough, bearing in mind how well the seams do keep out water.
Despite that small grievance, build quality is excellent and you can really tell that the gloves are a quality item. Even the lack of dexterity does give some kind of reassurance that what you're wearing is tough and capable of dealing with almost any weather you want to throw at them. I also had no issue with washing them with my other cycling kit – and they were resistant to odour too.
Another issue to address is cost. For £64.99 I would expect a top performer, and while these are very, very good, they're not without fault. That said, given that you could feasibly wear them throughout winter, and they're not likely to degrade any time soon so should last a number of years, their value does improve.
If these sound like they tick the box for you, you'll also want to consider the size you buy carefully. Although they largely match with general sizing, the lack of dexterity means that if I were sitting right in the middle of two sizes, I might be tempted to go smaller to minimise the bulk of the glove. Then again, if I had a thin liner I wanted to wear underneath because of a tendency towards chilly hands, I'd go larger.
Overall, then, these are a very competent pair of harsh weather cycling gloves, let down slightly only in very cold ambient temperatures, and arguably by the minor lack of dexterity due to their tough construction. They'll be great for commuting, general winter riding, or if you just don't care if it's pouring outside.
Fall slightly short for warmth, but the Stormshells laugh in the face of wet and windy weather
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Stormshell Glove
Size tested: Large, Black
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?
These gloves are designed for the worst wet and windy wintry weather.
Bontrager says: "Dexterity is critical, especially when riding in cold or wet weather. Bontrager Stormshell Glove protects from the wind, rain, and cool weather without encumbering your shifting or braking. The fleece-lined Profila Stormshell fabric and AX Suede G Series palm deliver powerful protection from the elements."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Profila Stormshell fabric powered by Outdry® technology
- Fleece lined
- AX Suede G Series palm provides wet conditions grip
- inForm Fusion GelFoam padding reduces hand fatigue
- Adjustable wrist closure with pull-on tab for ease of use
- Reflective elements enhance visibility for maximum safety
- eSwipe technology for seamless interaction with touch screen electronics
They're solid as rock, which is reassuring in nasty conditions.
I could do with a touch more thermal insulation – but I do have relatively slender fingers.
They aren't going to degrade in a hurry, and could probably survive a spill or two.
Certainly not lightweight, but that's not what the Stormshells are designed for.
The fleece lining is thin, which does reduce comfort somewhat.
They're not cheap, but offer great weather protection and should last years.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, only really falling short in their thermal insulation.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Near-full waterproofness, top build quality and the feeling that they are more than equal to any wet weather I will ride in.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The compromise of dexterity and thermal insulation.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly – but I'd be sure to look around for other options with better warmth.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – if they were a steady rider.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding