The Santini Water Repellent Mid Season Unisex Gloves fit beautifully, work extremely well and prove versatile enough to see use for a good chunk of the UK year. They're light and barely thicker than glove liners, though the lack of windproofing can see them get chilly on very cold, fast or windy rides.
These excellent gloves work in quite a confusing way, and fittingly Santini only adds to the confusion with its various listings. Chief among the disputed points is whether they're winter gloves, as its global site says, or mid season gloves as the UK one says.
Given the lack of windproofing and the chilling effects of strong winds, I'd say the UK side has it right – though on the other hand(s), I've worn these down to around 5°C and they've been great for most of the ride.
What's confusing about these gloves is that they can let your hands get cold, but then warm them back up – and keep them warm from there. I personally have never worn any other gloves that can do that; once my fingers go numb it takes an actual heat source to bring them back. Usually that's my wife's back, which works because I have to climb a tree to escape, and that warms me up.
The first time I wore these I stepped outside and instantly felt frigid air on my hands, as if I weren't even wearing gloves at all. Within 10 minutes on the bike, the two smallest fingers on each hand were numb, and the chill on my upper thumbs was noticeable. I really thought I was in for a painful ride.
But almost the instant I got from fast, exposed sections to a climb between hedges, they started to warm up. Another 10 minutes and my hands were perfectly comfortable, and they stayed that way for the rest of the ride – even, for the most part, when I was back on fast and wind-blown roads.
So I've started rides with cold hands and ended with them toasty warm and comfortable... This, to me, is weird. It's always been the other way round.
In mid-single-figure temperatures getting up to around 20mph, hitting a biting headwind or sticking your hand out to signal still leads to an instant and noticeable temperature drop each time, so if your riding is predominantly fast, flat and open, these won't suit you that well. The return of warmth is similarly instant once you find shelter or a climb, but you do need both the variety of terrain and some finger movement to get the best of these.
They clearly trap what little heat braking and gear-changing generate really well – wear them for walking and they're just freezing. The longer your ride, though, the less dramatic the temperature drops get, and the warmer they get overall.
That lack of wind protection does mean breathability is good, and they're happy in 10-12° air too. The soft, fleecy insides can get a bit sweaty, but never feel wet or unpleasant.
I found them similarly strange in rain – they don't bead water, and they're fundamentally quite absorbent, yet I can never really feel the effects of showers, and the gloves don't end up particularly soggy, or get colder. Whatever the Acquazero treatment is doing, it works.
I wouldn't rely on these in prolonged downpours any more than in the depths of winter, but as 'mid season' gloves – effectively UK spring, autumn and half each of winter and summer – they're just right for the vast majority of any ride.
Their stretchy, slim and very well-fitted cut is ideal on the road, as there's just no restriction or bulk. There's no specific padding around the palm, but I never missed it – the fabric itself has a nice squish.
Screen-friendly fingers and thumbs make GPS and phone use easy, and the silicone-streaked palms are very grippy. That means they're good off road too, and there's been no sign of wear even from aggressive mountain bike grips during the test.
Back on the road, the reflective panelling is very bright and covers a considerable area, yet still looks (for me) very stylish, while the long cuffs slip easily up narrow sleeves and stay there. The roll of fleece at the very ends only helps seal gaps and draughts further.
Looking at the competition, £45 seems fair. The Altura Firestorm Gloves are a similarly svelte mid-season design and £39.99, for instance, though they're less capable in single-digit temperatures or rain.
Sportful's WS Essential 2 gloves are £50 and excellent, but though they're slim for such protective gloves (they're Gore-Tex) they're still bulkier than the Santinis.
If you'd really rather have windproofing, Santini's own 365 Win XF Winter Gloves are £47, though they lack the superb fit and screen-friendly fingers of these.
It's worth noting that Santini's global site lists the Water Repellent Mid Season Unisex Gloves under the less boring name of Acquazero Vega for both £57 and £49… Note also that some gloves listed with the same picture have a different code, and may actually be different (for the record, these are SP593TFPH20VEGA).
I'm happy to forgive the confusion, because these are lovely gloves. They're extremely comfortable and unrestrictive, weigh little, look good and keep your hands at just the right temperature for 90-95 per cent of the time.
They're vulnerable to cold winds and can even let your hands chill if it gets very wintry, so if you're after inviolable protection they're not for you. But for those typical UK days – not very warm, not very cold, not very wet – they're absolutely spot on.
Slim, dexterous and excellent for spring/autumn rides, though vulnerable to very cold wind
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Water Repellent Mid Season Unisex Gloves
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Santini says: "Winter gloves in Blizzard thermofleece fabric. Warm and extremely elastic. Water resistant thanks to the special Acquazero treatment. Vega design with reflective inserts for high visibility on the road. Silicon no-slip gripper on the palm. Special inserts on thumb and middle finger for easy use of touch screen mobile phones."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Santini gives no more details than those listed above.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Takes the usual 30° stuff with no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, if slightly strange – they can get cold, but then warm up.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit, very grippy, good reflectives, versatile.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Can get cold in strong, cold winds.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Their £45 rrp seems fair. The Altura Firestorm Gloves are a similarly svelte mid-season design and £39.99, for instance, though they're less capable in single-digit temperatures or rain. Sportful's WS Essential 2 gloves are £50 and excellent, but though they're slim for such protective gloves (they're Gore-Tex) they're still bulkier than the Santinis.
If you'd really rather have windproofing, Santini's own 365 Win XF Winter Gloves are £47, though they lack the screen-friendly fingers of these.
It's worth noting that Santini's global site lists the Water Repellent Mid Season Unisex Gloves under the name Acquazero Vega for both £57 and £49. Odd. Either way, the UK site is cheaper at £45.
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
Santini's UK arm calls these 'mid season' gloves, and at this they're excellent. The cut, shaping and build are all great, and they're very dexterous and comfortable. The Italian side (and the UK's more detailed marketing blurb) calls these 'winter' gloves, however, and for this they're less good – they're usually still impressively warm even in typical UK winter temps, but need windproofing to seriously cut it. However, that would reduce their breathability and versatility through spring and autumn... clarity on what these are actually for could, assuming it was spring/autumn, make them a nine. As it is, they're a slightly compromised eight.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,