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With its Trigger Waterproof gloves, Polaris has attempted to combine cold-weather comfort with a bit of extra digit dexterity for gear-shifting duties, but I found them compromised on both fronts.
One look at the Trigger gloves tells you these are cold-weather specialists. Mittens are the choice of polar explorers for good reason. Keeping the fingers next to each other, rather than separated as with normal gloves, shares the warmth. More warm air is trapped inside than with a conventional glove. Combining this with a wind- and waterproof outer shell has allowed Polaris to cut back on the bulky padding which can make some winter gloves too cumbersome for cycling use, making for a surprisingly lightweight package.
As well as the waterproof shell, the Triggers are constructed with a liner, formed like a conventional glove and stitched in. On the palm side, the mitt is covered in a grippy, silicone material, reinforced with faux-chamois pads around the base of the palm and the base of the fingers (metacarpophalangeal joints – my research assistant looked it up); with a smidge of gel padding underneath. I found them very comfortable on the bars and the grip was good.
The wrists are gauntlet-style, relying on elastic to keep the elements out – simple but effective, at least in this case. It means the wrist openings flare out a fair bit in wear, but I pulled my jersey cuffs down over them and they stayed put without looking too bulky or bulging.
Polaris doesn't give much away about the materials used in the construction, other than to say they are 'fully waterproof'. I certainly found they kept the drizzle at bay but, as with many waterproof shells, the price paid is in condensation inside. This was an issue any time I had to take the gloves off. It meant putting my hand back into a damp, clammy liner. Not only is that unpleasant, but the liners try to pull themselves inside out as you take them off, making getting your fingers back in a frustrating process. It also makes them slow to air and dry. Personally, I'd prefer a separate liner.
Polaris's take on the 'lobster claw' design is to keep three fingers together and the index finger and thumb separate. This theoretically allows a little more dexterity than lobster or full mitten designs, and would be helpful when trying to change gear or fiddle about generally on the bike. Actually, like many winter gloves, I found it was still difficult to push the inner lever on STI shifters without also pushing the brake lever, resulting in quite a lot of fluffed gear changes. Also, there's no smartphone-friendly pad on the finger so they had to come off for digital gizmo-faffage. Otherwise, for tasks such as zip fastening, they worked well on anything other than the smallest of zip-pulls.
I was worried, though, that the single-finger lobster design might compromise the thermal qualities of the Triggers. I was right. November finally brought some properly cold testing weather – not quite freezing but bright and sharp, with a slicing northerly. Out over my local North Pennines hills, despite an aching forehead from the wind chill, my fingers and thumbs stayed comfortable... until the sun began to dip towards the horizon and the shadows fell into the valleys. Then the bite set in, starting with the index fingers and thumbs, isolated from the others. By the time I got home I was pretty cold all over but at least three fingers on each hand still had some feeling in them.
'Circumference of hand' isn't a vital statistic I think I've ever measured before, but Polaris provides a handy (!) size guide with these gloves, and at a svelte 21cm the size L supplied should have been perfect for me. In fact, I found them too short. My wife is a dainty 19cm, which equates to a men's Small; but she tried these and declared them a good fit, saying she wouldn't have wanted them any smaller – so bear this in mind when ordering. Polaris makes the Trigger in separate men's and women's sizes but only in the one colour combination.
Compared with similar designs they're not bad value. They're £10 more than Triban's RR 920 lobster style gloves which have two free fingers (John tested the £25 RR 900s last winter and found them very warm), but a fair bit cheaper than either Specialized's Element 2.0 lobster-type mittens, also with two free fingers, which Dave thought were really good and are now £55, and Sealskinz' latest lobsters, also £55, which combine the index and middle finger. Lara liked the older versions she tested in 2015.
At the time of writing Polaris has these on its website at £8 off, which might sway you; they're not bad, but think about your priorities when considering them.
Good weather protection and comfort, but awkward liners, and still-cold fingers and gear-changing issues remain
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Polaris Trigger Waterproof Gloves
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for
Polaris says, "The Polaris Trigger Glove gives you the best of both worlds. The warmth and insulation of a mitt. The flexibility and control of a glove.
'The thumb and index fingers are separate and free to grip the handlebars and brakes whilst the rest of the hand is warmly cocooned. The whole glove is fully waterproof, whilst an elasticated, extended cuff helps keep the warmth in, and the elements out.
'A hard wearing palm with silicon prints for grip and Amara™ patches over gel padding ensure that your hand remain firmly and comfortably fixed to the bar."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fully waterproof, insulated cycling glove
Hybrid glove/mitten design
Non-slip Amara™ padded palm
Sizes S/M/L/EX with men's and women's gloves sized separately.
One colour scheme.
Tidily stitched and seem strong at the seams; previous Polaris gloves I've owned have had a long life.
Given that the aim is to keep your hands warmer whilst making it easier to use the controls, I thought these gloves came up a bit short. The problem for me was that the isolated index fingers and thumbs still got cold; but the dexterity isn't improved enough to make that worthwhile.
People who don't suffer such poor circulation may fare better. Otherwise, weather resistance and comfort were good, which counts for a lot.
Also, it's hard to remove your hands from the liners when damp.
While the outer shell is hardwearing, I'm worried that before too long I'll pull the liners out trying to get these on and off when they are damp.
Bearing in mind what I say about sizing, the fit was ok. Certainly plenty of cuff length.
I found these smaller than indicated on the size guide. Not sure why, as other Polaris gloves I have tested fitted well.
The weatherproof shell provides good protection for minimum weight; the fleece liners provide modest insulation properties without bulk.
The Triggers are comfortable, and I think would have been even better if I had gone up a size.
They're cheaper than Specialized's and Sealskinz' lobster-type mittens, both £55, but £10 more than Triban's RR 920s.
At the time of writing, Polaris is offering the Trigger at £8 below the recommended price, which makes them more attractive.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The outside is wipe-clean for the most part; you need to wash the liners though. "Wash inside out" say the instructions but that's physically impossible so they went in as normal. You need to air them well to get the liners dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A mitten design allows additional warmth without too much bulk and the lobster-claw approach gives more dexterity than a full mitten, though in use I didn't find the benefits all that great and it certainly reduced the warmth factor. They kept the weather at bay but at the cost of condensation inside. Riding comfort was good, though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
These gloves were comfortable and warm in most conditions (though they won't cure your Reynaud's syndrome); the cuff length is very good; good weather protection; not bulky for a winter glove.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The isolated index fingers meant mine got cold quite quickly in very cold conditions, as did the thumbs. The sewn-in liner became uncooperative when it was damp, which was made worse by the tendency for condensation to collect inside.
The sizing didn't seem to come up as advertised.
The lobster-claw design reduced warmth without adding much to the dexterity and there was no smartphone compatibility.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're £10 more than Triban's RR 920 lobster style gloves with two free fingers, but cheaper than Specialized's at £55 and Sealskinz' latest lobsters, also £55.
Did you enjoy using the product? They were okay.
Would you consider buying the product? Not for me.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they don't suffer too much in extreme conditions and can try them for fit, worth a look.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Looking over my review comments, I'm afraid the Polaris Triggers haven't fared all that well. They're not bad gloves, but they haven't really hit the balance between enough dexterity to manage gear shifting reliably and being warm enough to prevent frozen index fingers and thumbs. This clearly varies between individuals, but if you really suffer in the cold then a mitten with the index and middle finger combined is likely to be warmer without making the dexterity much worse.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,