I’m a fan of full-fingered gloves all year round and when it comes to the gloves that I wear during early spring, I’ve traditionally gone to a softshell glove rated for around 40 degrees F. This would be the same glove that I wear inside of pogies for all but the coldest rides throughout the winter. So I’ve put together a comparison of four pairs of gloves that I’ve been utilizing for six months and longer in a bit of a long-term glove test that covers three seasons.
I’m on my third pair of Pearl Izumi Softshell gloves and the pair that’s currently in rotation is about 18 months old. The second set of softshell gloves that we’ll compare is from Troy Lee Designs and they’re the same vintage as the Pearls. The next pair is a wool glove made by Filson and they’re the second set of Filson wool gloves that I own. The wool gloves that we’re testing are one year old. The final contestant is a waterproof knit glove by Showers Pass that I started testing last fall and wrote this review last November.
In addition to how these gloves work during a Wisconsin Spring, I’ll share how each of them performed inside of pogies during the winter months. During the winter, I run two different sets of pogies. A set of Wolftooth Components Singletrack Pogies for cold temps (25-35 F) and a first-gen. set of Williwaw Pogies by Revelate Designs for colder temps (25 F or colder). So we’ll rate each of the four pairs of gloves for both winter (inside of pogies) and wet nasty spring conditions.
Pearl Izumi Softshell Gloves
I’ve worn a set of Pearl Izumi softshell gloves for seven or eight years now. The pair in this shootout is the third pair that I’ve purchased. The previous pair is still in use, but they’ve seen better days. Now I wear them in my taco until the heater warms up. (photo above) Each of the previous pairs had lasted about two years. The newest pair has gel padding in the palm and can operate an iPhone touchscreen which is a useful bit of tech.
Winter Performance – I can wear the Pearl Izumi Gloves comfortably to the mid 20’s inside of pogies. The issue that I have with the softshell material is that it doesn’t wick my preparation away fast enough (inside of a pogie) and once they get wet… they lose a significant amount of warmth. So for most of my riding, the current solution is to bring an extra set of gloves and change them out as needed. That seems to work (for me) for up to a four-hour ride. The other thing that I have to report is that I wore a hole in the index finger on my right rear brake lever. I should make a note to repair that!
Spring Performance – March comes in like a lion and goes out like a gnome. Springtime in Wisconsin can pivot wildly between liquid and frozen precipitation. The photo above was shot on a ride with winds gusting to 40 mph while spitting hit or miss raindrops with temps in the low 40’s. I like to wear padded gloves with drop bars so the Pearls shine in wet inclement weather during road and gravel sorties on my Surly Crosscheck. Outside of the pogie, they wick moisture (slightly) better than on the inside. After they get wet from sweat and rain, they’re warm enough to be comfortable at 40 F or warmer. For spring riding this is the pair that I probably grab more often than the others. It’s the descendant of the gloves that I’ve been using for the better part of a decade and the reason that I looked to try the next pair of gloves in the shootout. The PI SS Gloves set the benchmark for this category of a glove, that’s not quite a winter glove (unless you pair it with a pogie). The type of mid-weight gloves that work great inside of a pogie and as stand-alone gloves from 38 F to 58 F . That’s the kind of conditions that occur frequently. (even in the winter around here)
Troy Lee Designs Softshell Gloves
I ordered the Troy Lee gloves at the same time as the Pearl Gloves because I didn’t know if I would like the padding that Pearl had added to their glove. I’ve always liked TLD and this particular model is more in line with the previous two Pearl Izumi softshell gloves that I had worn. The TLD softshell gloves do not have extra padding on the palms just like the older Pearls. I don’t generally run padded gloves with mountain bike bars so it seemed like a good bet that I’d get along well with them. One of the other issues that I run into with gloves is sizing. I wear a size 11 or XXL. There’s a lot of brands out there that only go up to an XL. These size XXL gloves fit my hand just right.
Winter Performance – Much like the Pearl Izumi softshell material, the TLD Gloves can’t keep up with how much I sweat when used inside of pogies. I think that I might sweat too much. They keep me warm down to the mid-twenties inside a set of pogies. Much like the Pearl Izumi Gloves the TLD’s have a nice balance between warmth and dexterity. But they have their limits. I wore both sets of the softshell gloves tested up in Alaska and in temps that were closer to 20F my hands were too cold.
Spring Performance – The TLD Softshell gloves are great gloves for spring miles out on the trail or to town. I do a bunch of mixed surface riding and like these gloves just as much as the benchmark Pearls. TLD always gets points for style in my book. So they are in a tie for the best spring score in the shootout.
Showers Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Gloves
Computer expert and Podcaster Tony Berger was talking up his pair of Showers Pass Waterproof Knit Gloves at the Beach Funduro (last fall)…and he let me try them on. They felt so damn good, I ordered a pair.
Winter Performance – I had hoped that these luxurious feeling knit gloves might surpass the performance of the softshell gloves, but I found that the temp range of the Showers Pass gloves was above freezing (even inside of pogies). The showers pass gloves did seem to handle sweat a little better than the softshell, but they were not the hot set-up for temps of 32 F or lower. These gloves receive the lowest score for Winter.
Spring Performance – Once the temps are in the 38 F to 58 F range this glove shines. The material is completely waterproof and they feel like a second skin. I’ll warn you. If you try on a pair of these gloves you’ll probably buy a pair. They feel that good. Just don’t expect them to keep you warm below freezing. These gloves might be my new favorite Springtime wet weather conditions pair of ride gloves.
Filson Wool Gloves
I grew up hunting pheasants on my Aunt’s farm in Indiana. That’s how far back my recollection of the Filson brand goes…the 1960’s. You might not find too many bike sites that review hunting gear, but these gloves are the jam. If you can find gear that crosses over from hunting stores, you’ll generally find lower prices from the same thing marketed to cyclists from bike brands.
Winter Performance – We’re comparing apples and oranges by including the Filson Gloves. These are the only pair of gloves made with natural fibers aka wool. Wool doesn’t lose as much of its heat retention as synthetics when it gets wet and I believe that’s the reason that these wool gloves have the best winter performance in today’s shootout. When my hands were getting cold up in Alaska, while I was wearing the softshell gloves, I would dig these out of my frame bag and within a few minutes, I’d be comfortable while riding in a set of Williwaw pogies. Another benefit that these knit gloves have is the ability to work well with the jersey/jacket/thumb-hole intersection (on your wrist). The softshell gloves both have a chunky velcro strap that fights for the same real estate as the jacket closure and (if you’re lucky) the extra-long sleeve jersey/jacket capped with a thumb-hole. The wool gloves are stretchy enough to play well with all of that. Creating a smooth glove/jacket interface makes getting into your pogies easier. If you look closely you’ll see that the wool is starting to fray on the palms of the dark wool gloves. The pair of gloves on the left in the photo above is about three years old and the cuffs have been stretched out but otherwise, they’re still going strong. They’ve stretched to where they fit over another pair of riding gloves. I don’t think you can go wrong with a midweight wool glove from any reputable clothing brand. I just happen to like Filson.
Spring Performance – Wool is pretty versatile as far as the temperature range that it’s the most comfortable but it has its limits. These gloves are probably too warm for anything above 45 F. Wool doesn’t have the windproof /waterproof qualities of the other gloves in the shootout, but they insulate when they’re wet. I still think that in the wettest conditions that spring can muster, I’d want the wear the Showers Pass gloves with a pair of wool gloves or mittens over them. But for fairer spring miles, I still find happiness in the two softshell gloves in the shootout (over the wool).
So Who Won?
Keep in mind that all reviews are subjective “and like these are just my opinions man”. Your comfort at certain temperatures may vary as well as the fabrics, brands, perspiration output and conditions that you’ve experienced in your cycling lifestyle might vary from the opinions expressed here today. Let us know all about your favorite pair of spring gloves in the comments below.
- 1st – Filson Wool Gloves
- 2nd – (tie) Pearl Izumi & Troy Lee Designs Softshell Gloves
- 3rd – Showers Pass Waterproof Knit Gloves
- 1st – Pearl Izumi Softshell Gloves
- 2nd (very close) – Troy Lee Designs Softshell Gloves
- 3rd – Showers Pass Waterproof Knit Gloves*
- 4th – Filson Wool Gloves
*best true rainstorm glove