For a pair of lightweight winter gloves, the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Softshell Lite gloves are surprisingly effective. They've kept my hands comfortable in temperatures down to 5°C. They're also touchscreen-friendly, reinforced in the right places and have a decent-sized, soft nosewipe patch for those cold days when your nostrils turn into dripping taps.
- Pros: Light, surprisingly warm for their minimal bulk
- Cons: Starting to lose silicone at the fingers after just a few hundred kilometres
The secret to the P.R.O. Softshell Lite's chill-prevention capability is the combination of a softshell outer layer on the back (clue in the name and all that) with a layer of Primaloft insulation between it and your hands. The softshell fabric keeps out the wind and the insulation keeps in the heat, eliminating the two major sources of chill. There's a layer of very fine fleece fabric against the back of your hand too, which is both warm and comfortable.
That said, these are not the gloves to choose if you like your hands to feel full-on toasty warm in single-figure temperatures. There's enough insulation to stop that feeling that you've been in a gloveless snowball fight, but you're still aware that it's cold out.
The unpadded palm is made from Clarino synthetic leather and there are thin strips of silicone on the palm and first two fingers for grip.
There are plenty of well-thought-out details. The cuff is about 3cm longer than you'd find on a summer glove, so it reaches the end of your sleeves easily. There are reflective patches on the back so your hand signals are visible in car headlines (with the usual caveat that the driver has to be actually looking) and the index finger and thumb tips are conductive so you can operate your phone with them.
The backs of the thumbs are made from soft, absorbent fleece so you've somewhere to wipe your nose. (Incidentally, if you've ever wondered just why winter riding makes your nose run, it's because the liquid's actually coming from your eyes. Cold air irritates your eyes, they produce tears which drain through a duct from your eyes into your nose and – hey presto! – your nose is a dripping tap.)
Pearl Izumi rates the P.R.O. Softshell Lite gloves as suitable for temperatures from 2°C to 7°C. For me, that's a bit optimistic; below 5°C I wanted something warmer. However, I wasn't going flat-out on any of my winter rides. If I'd been on the rivet and generating more of my own heat, they'd probably have been fine. This is always the case with winter gear, though; it has to be tweaked to your personal tastes and riding style.
Winter also means rain, and Pearl Izumi doesn't make any extravagant claims for the P.R.O. Softshell Lites being waterproof, because they're not. The DWR coating on the backs helps light rain run off, but heavy rain gets through. You'll want something beefier if you know you're going out in a downpour (and you're far more hardcore than me).
At an RPP of £40, they're right in the ballpark for this glove style from a company that's not an elite operator like Rapha, Castelli or Assos nor a house-brand value-for-money marque like dhb or B'Twin. They're a shade pricier than similar offerings from GripGrab and Endura, but not by enough to matter.
Nicely made, comfortable gloves for cool weather
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Unisex Pro Softshell Lite Gloves
Size tested: L
Tell us what the product is for
Keeping your hands warm when the weather isn't.
Pearl Izumi says:
"The new P.R.O. Softshell Lite Glove adds lightweight insulation to wind and water resistance for bulk-free maneuvering through cool, wet miles. P.R.O. Softshell combines with 50g Primaloft® Gold insulation on the back of hand, while a synthetic leather palm with silicone traction printing helps riders maintain a good grip on the handlebars. Cool weather benefits include an extended cuff to close the gap to sleeves and fleecy soft nose-wiping surface to keep your face clean. Reflective elements keep you safe under wintry skies."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pearl Izumi lists these features:
P.R.O. Softshell with DWR finish provides wind and water protection
50g Primaloft® Gold insulation provides warmth without bulk
Conductive synthetic leather on the glove's index finger and thumb works with touch screen devices
Clarino™ synthetic leather palm provides superior softness and durability
Fleece lined interior
1:1 Glove fit maximizes finger dexterity for shifting and braking
Soft fleece wiping surface on thumb
Long gauntlet design keeps wrists warm and prevents air leakage
Reflective elements for low–light visibility
Shell: Back of Hand: 100% polyester; Palm: 60% nylon 40% polyurethane; Liner: 100% polyester; Insulation: 100% polyester; Imported
Tidily made. Good to see double stitching for the palm panels.
Warm down to about 10°C and effective at keeping the chill at bay down to about 5°C. In between, you can tell it's cold, but it just doesn't quite matter.
Generally good, but after a few hundred kilometres the silicone strips on the fingertips are showing signs of wear.
No overly-tight or baggy sections. They fit, well, like a glove.
Depending on the brand, I usually take a size L or XL in gloves. These are an L and fit well, so no complaints about sizing.
All the fabrics that contact the backs of your hands are soft and very easy on the skin. The synthetic leather palm is supple and inoffensive, but there's no padding. That's fine by me, but some people do like a bit more cushioning.
At an RPP of £40, they're right in the ballpark for this glove style from a company that's not an elite operator Rapha, Castelli or Assos nor a house-brand value-for-money marque like dhb or B'Twin. They're a shade pricier than similar offerings from GripGrab and Endura, but not by enough to matter.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Unfazed at being bunged in a 30°C mixed wash along with everything else.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well; these gloves are comfy, and they keep out the chill.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fit and comfort; looks – the black, silver and red colour scheme is snazzy.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
As mentioned in the section on value, they're very reasonable.
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
These are very good gloves for moderately wintry days. They only lose points for the wear on the silicone strips. Aside from that, they're a bang-on 4/5.
About the tester
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
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: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.