With a few clever details that really help them do their job well, Galibier's Barrier Deep Winter Gloves ensure toasty hands when temperatures drop to low single figures and below.
No single detail makes the Barrier Deep Winter Gloves stand out. What's impressive here is that Galibier has managed to combine a host of features such as lots of insulation, total windproofing (the barrier of the name), reasonable water-resistance, reflective details, a comfortable neoprene-and-Velcro cuff, and a grippy palm in a pair of gloves that cost less than 25 quid. And you also get things you'd expect in gloves at this price like soft fabric on the back of the thumb to wipe a runny nose, and gel padding at the bottom of the palm to cushion your hands.
This is all achieved without excessive bulk. The Barrier Deep Winter Gloves are more substantial than the Pearl Izumi Pro Softshell Lite Gloves I reviewed previously, but they're also much warmer. Where those gloves really bottomed out around 5°C, the Barrier Deep Winter Gloves are still going strong down to freezing temperatures and below.
The warmth comes from the combination of a fleece internal glove and windproof layers over the top to keep out the chill. That's enough to keep your hands toasty even if things get a bit damp. The softshell outer layer resists water for a while, but if it's really bucketing down it eventually gets through.
Galibier doesn't bill the Barrier gloves as waterproof, so that's to be expected. I asked Galibier's Myles McCorry how water-resistant the Barrier gloves were supposed to be and he told me: "They will only fend off a shower and are designed for thermal insulation rather than rain."
McCorry says there's a layer made from HiPORA, which is waterproof and breathable, between the fleece inner glove and outer foam and foil insulation. But the outer layers will still get wet and that's enough to eventually allow water to seep through. It takes a while, though. I had dry hands on a drizzly commute, with water beading off the backs of the Barrier gloves.
In dry conditions though, they're marvellous. My hands have been actually warm – rather than just 'not cold' – so far this winter, and there's enough headroom in the Barrier gloves' performance so far that I'll still be reaching for them however bad January and February get.
The Barrier Deep Winter Gloves come up a shade small, so if you're anywhere near the cusp of typical sizing or Galibier's recommendation, go for the next size up. I usually take an L or XL in gloves, and could have really done with an XL in the Barrier Deep Winter Gloves. Our size L samples weren't tight enough to impede circulation, but I'd have liked just a bit more room. McCorry says they flatten out a bit with the first wash, but I couldn't detect any difference after washing them.
Perhaps the most significant missing feature is lack of compatibility with touchscreens. When it's cold and miserable I'd rather not have to take off a glove to answer the phone or respond to a text.
That said, how often do you get a call or text that's really urgent? I can live without that ability if the alternative is to pay almost twice as much for similarly-warm gloves that like my iPhone.
And that's the big advantage of the Galibier Barrier Deep Winter Gloves. Similar gloves like the Specialized Element 1.0s or the Sportful Sotto Zeros are £45-£55. To get this level of performance for just £25 is a bargain.
Excellent cold-weather gloves at a very keen price, lacking only touchscreen compatibility to make them perfect
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Galibier Barrier Deep Winter Gloves
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Keeping your hands warm in the winter, even when it's very cold.
"The Barriers are highly insulated, cycling specific, winter gloves.
"Next to the skin is a soft, thin fleece lining offers loads of warmth. Around the outside of that there's a polyurethane membrane that provides the weatherproofing and stops ALL wind from stripping finger heat. The bulk of the insulation comes courtesy of 100g HyTex internal glove, while the final outer layer is a combination of 5 specific, hard-wearing synthetic fabrics, each chosen for durability, malleability or reflective qualities.
"The seams are on the outside of the liner rather than pressed up against your fingers so there's no irritation there. The lowers are synthetic leather with silicone printing on both the palms and the fingers that gives you a decent amount of grip to prevent hands slipping on wet bar tape or levers.
"Upgraded visibility and inner lining for breathability for 2019."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Galibier lists the features thus:
Palm: Designed with three-panel palm for a tailored fit with Ulnar nerve protection
Anti slip silicone anatomically padded palm. Additional Padding designed primarily for hood riding
Inner: Moisture-wicking, 4-way stretch membrane – Outer: Nylon/Polyester windproof outer fabric
Reflex logo and piping on the back for visibility
Thermal Rating: 5 ideal for sub zero temperatures
Generally tidy cut and stitching with one or two spots where the alignment of edge and stitch wasn't quite perfect, but nothing that affected function.
Warm without being too bulky and with enough water-resistance to get you home if the weather turns unexpectedly wet.
Insert obvious 'fits like a glove' gag here.
Size L samples could have been just a shade roomier.
Cosy and warm; what's not to love?
They're significantly cheaper than many gloves that provide a similar level of cold protection like the Sportful Sotto Zeros or Specialized Element 1.0s. If you told me these were £40 or even £45 I wouldn't be surprised. For £25, they're a bargain.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Completely unscathed by a cool wash and subsequent drying on top of the radiator. Give them plenty of time to dry, though – they come out of the washing machine pretty soggy inside.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Extremely well. Warm hands FTW!
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Having warm hands.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of touchscreen compatibility.
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
If these gloves were the £40-£45 typical of the category, they'd be a solid 4/5, but their sheer value for money pulls them up. If they were touchscreen-compatible I'd have to look very hard for an excuse not to give them 5/5.
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.