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The Castelli Scalda Elite Gloves are a bit of a surprise package – low profile and comfortable, yet impressively warm. They also fit really well on my hands.
With my long and slender fingers, I often struggle to find gloves that fit like... a glove. However, Castelli has designed the Scaldas with fingers that are slightly longer than I tend to find in large-sized gloves (these are sold on a scale of XS-XXL), with a slim enough profile that you don't lose valuable dexterity.
The main fabric is neoprene but is thin enough that it doesn't remove all sense of transmission from bar to hands, while that low profile brings with it good flexibility too so you feel freedom of movement in the fingers.
The seams are also relatively low profile and tidily sewn, so the fingers don't snag on each other, and the back of the hand is all one piece of fabric, backed with a layer of fleece.
This all comes together to create an impressively warm and insulating glove, suitable for the mid-single figures. On fresh mornings of around 3-4°C, the accompanying windchill has proved a little too much for them to deal with, despite the decent windproofing they offer in general. Still, Castelli does say these are designed for 'cool but not necessarily cold conditions', so some shortcomings in deep winter temperatures is to be expected.
When the temperatures have risen into low double figures and the sun is shining, they're warm enough that my hands have started feeling a touch too warm, bordering on sweaty, despite the moderate breathability.
In showers they perform well, too, although they're one step shy of waterproof. In really heavy or prolonged rainfall I did get a bit of water sneaking through.
The additional features are well thought out. The cuff is made of 'Thermoflex' fabric that adheres to the skin but is very stretchy to allow you to get your hand in and out easily, and on each there are silicone nodules to help you get a grip while pulling them on (in place of a protruding tab).
The palms are shaped to suit a curved 'holding-the-bar' profile (including a central seam that follows the natural contours of the hand, which leaves minimal spare fabric to bunch or fold up), while there are two padded sections on the thenar and hypothenar areas of the hand (the base of the thumb and heel of the hand, essentially) to add some extra – effective – comfort and pressure relief.
The entire underside features Castelli-branded silicone grippers bonded to the fabric, along with a silicone logo over the thenar area. This produces genuinely non-slip contact between glove and bar even in rainy conditions. And even if it does begin to come away with age (it hasn't during testing, at all), there's so much here that you should be fine for a good while.
The index and middle fingers, plus the thumb, feature touchscreen pads so you can use your phone without removing the gloves, and they're genuinely useful thanks to the slim profile of the fingers allowing you to press what you want (most of the time) on your phone screen.
Meanwhile, Castelli has one eye on safety with the topsides of the fingers featuring a reflective design bonded to the upper fabric – handy in dark conditions for added rear visibility when you're indicating, and side and front visibility when your fingers are wrapped around the bar.
Finally, there's the obligatory nose wipe zone between the index finger and thumb – always useful – to round of this feature-laden and very competent glove.
In fact, they're so well designed that they go a long way to justifying their fairly hefty £70 price tag. That said, they're up against a lot of competition: Mavic's Essential Thermo gloves are £39 and offer similar protection, while Endura's Pro SL Primaloft gloves are warm enough for temperatures down to freezing and are waterproof, for £54.
Overall, though, these are gloves I could easily envisage using throughout winter, aside from the coldest or wettest rides (when I'd probably think twice about venturing out anyway), and with the quality of construction I'd expect them to last a good few years too.
Very impressive gloves for cool rather than cold days
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Scalda Elite gloves
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Castelli says: "The comfort zone: Much of our winter riding is in cool but not necessarily cold conditions. And the right glove for this is absolutely vital. We created a slim-fit glove that's not too hot yet provides complete wind protection and is entirely fleece lined for warmth. The back of hand is extremely elastic, and the double Thermoflex cuff is very stretchy to make the glove easy to put on. The back of hand has a reflective film transfer for maximum visibility."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- High-visibility reflective transfer on back of hand
- Windproof, water-resistant fabric with fleece inside for protection and warmth while riding
- Touchscreen inserts at fingertips
- Fleece-backed durable synthetic palm with all-over silicone grip pattern
- High-stretch cuff for easy on/off
- Weight: 95g
They seem very hardy despite the relatively low profile.
In all but the coldest or wettest conditions, the Scaldas are very competent indeed.
Nothing is failing or peeling away after the test period.
Just about perfect in a large on me, and Castelli also offers two sizes bigger for those with truly mammoth hands.
For the amount of insulation these gloves give, 80g can hardly be sniffed at.
With the fleece backing and soft fabrics, these are some of the most comfortable gloves that I've tried.
Although £70 is a lot of money, they offer so much competence in all but deep winter weather that they just about manage to justify it. But there's no denying you can get much cheaper winter gloves.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
One of the best I've come across in this category.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Warmth, comfort, nifty features.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, although they're a step shy of deep winter capable.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
A fair few winter gloves we've tested are around £35-£50, though Santini's Fjords are £75 (and Dissent 133's are £95, but that's a different kettle of fish).
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 overall score
The features and quality of the Scalda gloves make them hard to ignore for all but deep winter use, but the price tag is steep.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding