A glove is arguably the hardest of all cycling garments to make entirely waterproof. No garment with seams that aren’t sealed can claim the moniker, and gloves have a lot of seams.
Designers have various methods of sealing out the rain, and the complexity or otherwise of each has a significant impact on the price tag.
The most sophisticated construction includes ‘heat taping’ the seams: a procedure that involves bonding a stretchy, waterproof tape to the inside of each line of stitching.
The result is a construction that not only keeps out the rain, but also allows keeps the fingers of the glove mobile. Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O Barrier Wxb glove, uses this technique. Its £79.99 price tag reflects the level of work involved.
While gloves like the Wxb represent an investment, the benefits can extend beyond their ability merely to keep your hands dry. Its reliance on sealed stitching rather than outré fabrics to keep out the rain allows manufacturers to use materials with other advantages: in this instance, a windproof back and leather palm.
Neoprene gloves rely on a combination of material and construction to beat the rain.
The synthetic rubber fabric will keep out moisture, and the various panels that make up a glove are typically bonded and finished with a ‘blind stitch’, one made with a bent needle that doesn’t pass all the way through the fabric and so denies moisture a direct route to the skin.
It’s a technique used in the manufacture of winter wetsuits, says Hilton-Foster, a former professional windsurfer, and so likely to stand up to the lesser demands faced by a cycling glove, exposed to rain rather than fully immersed in water.
Your liking or otherwise for neoprene will depend much on your ‘running temperature’. For riders who feel the cold easily, neoprene represents a win-win: not only will it keep out the rain, it will keep your hands warm, too. The reverse is true for riders immune to the cold, of course, and who are seeking a glove only to hold off the rain.
More affordable waterproof gloves keep out rain with a plastic membrane, not unlike the gloves found on a petrol station forecourt, stitched inside a glove which might also be made from a windproof fabric.
Gloves of this type are affordable and versatile, but not without drawbacks. Garments of any kind tend to be breathable or waterproof, despite the claims of manufacturers (holes to release heat build-up will also let in water).
Additionally, the membrane sometimes moves independently of the glove in which it’s contained. And if the two become detached, typically when a glove is accidentally turned inside out when pulled from a sweaty hand at the end of a ride, it can be quite a challenge to reseat the plastic inner.