By Andy Oleson
Christmas came a little early this year in the form of some sweet 45NRTH Gloves showing up on my door step. I knew they were heading my way, but just like a kid at Christmas I tore the box open to check out the contents. To my surprise two pairs of gloves showed up, a pair of Sturmfist 5’s and a pair of Sturmfist 4’s! STOKED!!
Both pairs were size large which is what I typically wear, I tried on the 5’s first (5 being your standard 5 finger glove) and the fit was perfect, although if I were to wear glove liners I’d opt for size XL. Closely looking them over, one of the first things that stands out is the quality fit and finish of the glove. Stitching and seam tolerances are very clean, and the Polartec Neoshell material has a good flexible tuff feel to it. The fingers have a nicely designed curvature to them that just feels “right”. The high cuff has an added rubberized gripper surface on the closure, with just the right amount of Velcro surface area to do the job without being bulky.
Next I opened the Sturmfist “4”. Four being the funky glove/mitten mix combining your two outer fingers into one, which leaves you with four fingers on the glove. On a side note: I’ve ridden for over 20 years wearing “Lobster Gloves” which have always served me well. However there are two main drawbacks of that configuration, firstly you cannot one finger brake; secondly you cannot properly give someone the one finger salute when needed.
The Sturmfist 4 addresses those problems (#2 probably not on their design criteria) but being able to move your first two fingers independently is very beneficial. Allowing one finger braking, while grasping the grip with 3 fingers is paramount in my opinion. Another really nice feature is the included merino wool glove liner.
So now it’s a matter of getting out for some cold rides and seeing how they work,…easier said than done this year, much of December has been high 30’s to 45 degrees (F) I wore the Sturmfist 5’s on GFBD in Southern Wisconsin and had to ditch them because the were just to warm at 30-34F.
Since then I’ve put a good 150 plus miles on each pair, usually 3.5 to 4 hour rides at a time. Most of the time the temps were again, in the mid thirty’s to forty’s, many times I found the Sturmfist 4 Merino wool glove liners alone did the job just fine at those temps.
I switched up my bikes, riding between my fat bike and a Cross-bike with drop bars. The Sturmfist 4’s work fairly well on drop bars, giving better finger position and dexterity, than a “Lobster” style glove, but a five-finger glove is still a better choice for drop bars.
Given the Sturmfist 5’s advertised temperature range of 15-35 degrees, the Five would make a better glove for drop bar bikes and the temp range you might find yourself riding in. The sleek collar of the 5 makes it easy to wear under your sleeves if you wanted, or a little adjustment to the Velcro closure and they fit perfect over tight light weight jackets.
I was able to sneak in a couple hours riding in 10-12 degrees on each style glove, and at no time did my fingers or hands ever get even remotely cold. On occasions where I would get over heated and sweat them up, they wicked the moisture away and still stayed remarkably warm. One thing I noticed with the Sturmfist 4 was that the elastic stitching across the front side of the wrist would allow cold air to seep through the stitch area. This was noticeable when I would start a ride, but once warmed up it wasn’t a factor, also wearing the liners would cut down on this. Going forward if 45NRTH were to incorporate the front wrist cuff and rear elastic styling from the Sturmfist 5 (No seam at all) into the 4, that would fix the only weak point I see in the glove.
Also for me the 4 fit great without the liner, but a little tight with the glove liner on, so if I were to be riding in sub zero temps I would probably opt for the X-Large size for more room.
As for the Sturmfist 4 and glove liner combo, I never found the temps low enough to warrant wearing both of them together yet, I’m hoping for snow (as of Jan 2nd haven’t had any in the Chicago area) and temperatures to drop so I can get some better info to report on in really cold weather.
As for riding comfort, both gloves are super comfortable, and have great feel and contact with the grips, as well as decent shock absorption even with minimal padding. The fingertips are subtle enough to easily feel my lighting system buttons and switches, while the suede thumb wipe works great at wiping away sweat and other nastiness that comes with cold weather riding.
Anytime I can wear a good warm glove instead of Poogies or Bar-Mits I’m there. I know for certain environments they are a must, but when racing short coarse or twisty single track, I like to know I can ditch my bike in an instant if need be. Speaking of that, I have not had the opportunity to do any palm abrasion testing to the Sturmfist’s as of yet,…but giving the time, I’m sure it will happen.
Overall I’d give both gloves the Black Ribbon Seal of Approval!