Sugoi Zap SubZero gloves - review

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Sugoi Zap SubZero gloves – review

Warm, windproof and waterproof gloves for tough winter conditions

When the mercury drops and the rain is driving down, it can become difficult to muster the motivation to clip in and set off. Having the right kit goes a long way to helping, though, and the Sugoi Zap SubZero gloves offer impressive warmth, windproofing and waterproofing. They are pretty thick, which does have its drawbacks, but when needed they perform as some of the best gloves I have used for true winter conditions.

During winter I often find that kitting up for a ride feels less like putting on clothes and more like donning armour – protection to keep out the things you don’t want, namely wind and rain, and keep in what you do want, being warmth.

Gloves are a key line of defence against winter weather, with your hands one of the first parts of your body to feel the cold. Having cold, wet hands is never a good thing, and it’s something hard to recover from until you’re home with a hot cup of coffee. It’s also important to keep your hands warm from a safety perspective, in order to effectively control the bike.

As the name suggests, Sugoi’s Zap Subzero gloves are designed for the coldest conditions

When you first put the Zap SubZero gloves on the insulation is certainly the first thing you notice; they are very warm gloves. This comes from the 100g Thinsulate liner, which makes them supremely warm (Sugoi say the gloves are their warmest) – the clue’s in the name, SubZero, and to put a figure on the top of the temperature range, I wouldn’t wear them in conditions over around eight degrees, and they’re really at their best on freezing winter rides.

Helping on the warmth front is the fact that the fabric used is windproof, which, despite riding in some of the most hostile conditions you can experience on a bike (40mph winds, driving rain in a recent storm), my hands stayed toasty, even if I couldn’t feel my face by the end. The material used doesn’t let in any kind of breeze, creating a genuinely impressive windproof barrier.

As well as freezing wind, winter also brings rain. Here the gloves also excel. Despite the previously described conditions, I stepped off the bike without my hands looking like prunes or feeling numb, which isn’t something that I’ve generally found with other ‘waterproof’ gloves, which tend to saturate over time before slowly soaking the lining. With these that never happened and my hands stayed as warm as when I stepped off as they were when I first opened the door.

In addition to their protective qualities the gloves also offer plenty of reflectivity – they’re part of Sugoi’s high-vis Zap range. The gloves have a Zap reflective panel on the knuckles and lower fingers, which works very well as the forward most part of your body on the bike. The panel is made up of small reflective spots which ping effectively when hit by light.

The close cuff provides a good seal to stop wind and rain creeping in

The palm of the gloves are made up of a mixture of polyester, polyurethane and cotton, to create an almost leather like surface. It has a comfortable and grippy texture and there are two pads on each palm to add a little more cushioning.

At the wrist the gloves have a velcro strap to create a tight seal to stop wind and water creeping in through the top and a textured waterproof material on the bottom. Alongside this is a silicone sleeve gripper that helps to keep a long sleeve in place over the top of the glove.

The gloves provide an impressive level of protection from wet weather

So far, so good, but there’s a couple of small things that could be tweaked to further improve the gloves. In use the gloves are certainly thick but generally allow for enough freedom of movement to effectively use the levers and change gear without any hassle. Riding with Campagnolo and Shimano road shifters, and also testing them on a mountain bike, I found that they worked well.

However, while the thickness of the material on the fingertips means the gloves are certainly very warm for the extremities, it does make it difficult to do fiddly things like turning on bike lights, doing up a zipper or similar, and generally in winter, when it’s really cold, you want to avoid taking off your gloves to do such things. Also, it’d be nice for the fingertips to be touchscreen-compatible and I generally found I needed to remove the gloves to use either a touchscreen bike computer or smartphone.

Finally, the gloves have an RRP of £44.99 and you get plenty of protection for your money – I’d rank having warm hands through winter as something worth paying for, particularly if you feel the cold.

Conclusion

I was very impressed by the Sugoi Zap SubZero gloves. They offer an very impressive level of protection and are certainly gloves well-suited to the depths of winter, when it’s freezing cold, rather than just a bit chilly. It would be nice to be able to use a touchscreen without taking the gloves off, and their thickness means fiddly jobs can be a bit, well, fiddly, but that aside, you can’t knock the protection they offer and the Zap reflectivity is an added safety-conscious bonus that’s very useful in winter.

Pros

– Very warm and windproof
– Impressive water resistance
– Close protection around the wrist creates a good seal

Cons

– Thickness can make it difficult to do fiddly jobs
– Not touchscreen compatible

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