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Bontrager RXL Thermal Glove – review

The Bontrager RXL Thermal fits the bill as a mid-season glove which bridges the gap between winter and spring. It's a warm, cosy and well-priced glove for cool and dry conditions, with a couple of relatively minor faults.

The glove is made from what Bontrager call a Profile Thermal fabric. That, essentially, is a soft, fleecy fabric designed to trap heat in to keep you warm – or, in this case, your hands. It’s not windproof or waterproof, but instead relies on the inherent warmth of the fabric to do its job.

And it does its job well. While not windproof, the density of the fabric does a good job at blocking out the chill and I’ve worn these comfortably down to four degrees on an early spring morning. You can feel a little cold air through the fabric if you’re travelling along at a fair old lick but these are, in essence, late autumn/early winter or late winter/early spring gloves – before you’re brave enough to venture out with gloves – rather than a deep winter option (when you’d want a bit more all-out warmth and wind protection). I’d put a temperature range of four to roughly 12 or 13 degrees on these gloves, but that may be different for you, depending on how much or little you feel the cold.

The fabric is also very breathable, helped by the fact there’s no windproof membrane and so air is able to pass through to a degree, and the low bulk of the gloves means they can be tucked into a jersey pocket without taking up too much space. One thing to note: the fabric’s not water resistant (nor is it advertised as such) and will soak up rain if caught in a heavy or persistent shower, so these are best for cool, dry days.

The gloves, available in two sizes (small/medium and large/extra-large) have slimline fit, and there’s no padding to speak of, which I like (though the palm is reinforced with a synthetic leather overlay to improve durability). As a result, you retain plenty of feel over the controls, though the silicone print used on the index and forefingers for grip could be a little stickier. It’s by no means dangerous, there’s still enough grip to comfortably flick the shifter or squeeze the brake, but it’s not as tacky as we’re used to. The fabric also isn’t touchscreen-friendly, so you have to remove a glove if you want to use your phone.

The gloves are available in black, as tested, or there’s a high-viz option. Either way, there’s a good amount of reflective detail on the outside of both gloves. There’s a well-sized Bontrager logo and an additional reflective tab, and it’s placed so that it should catch a vehicle’s headlights when your hands are wrapped around the hoods, or you’re signalling to turn. The fleecy fabric on either thumb also serves as an effective snot wipe.

Conclusion

There comes a time in the year, whether it’s as we head in to winter or out of the other side, when it’s not cold enough for heavyweight gloves, but it’s too chilly to expose your hands to the wind. The Bontrager RXL Thermal Glove plugs that gap nicely. The cosy fabric is warm enough for frosty spring mornings with temperatures in the lower single figures, but the gloves are light and breathable enough not to make your hands overheat once it does warm up, or you can tuck them in a jersey pocket. A little more grip would be nice, as would as touchscreen-friendly fingertip, but otherwise these are good gloves and they won’t break the bank at £14.99, either.

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