Wait, why are we reviewing kayaking gloves on a cycling website? Because despite searching for ages for the perfect cyclocross racing glove, we’ve too often been disappointed by what was on offer within the industry.
Thankfully, winter paddlers apparently share the same needs as cyclocross racers, as Sea to Summit’s Solution Gear Paddle gloves have been fantastic for cold-weather slogging in the mud.
Sea to Summit builds the Solution Gear Paddle gloves with 2.5mm thick neoprene foam rubber. This material doesn’t insulate in the traditional way, instead forming a vapor barrier and microclimate that’s easier for your hands to keep warm in. We found them barely adequate for easier rides at the freezing mark – our fingers got tingly but weren’t numb – but when going all-out in on a ‘cross bike they’re good for another several degrees beyond that.
Neoprene gloves are nothing new, of course, and we’ve had good experiences with other ones in the past, such as Castelli’s Diluvio. The Solution Gear Paddle glove’s main advantages, however, are the radically pre-curved, multi-piece fingers that naturally wrap your hands around the bars with almost no effort required, especially when combined with the excellent overall fit. We know – hand fatigue sounds as though it should be trivial, but it’s anything but if you constantly have to fight to curl your fingers for a one-hour race.
The only thing holding back the Solution Gear Paddle gloves is their relative lack of grip – but not when your hands are on the bars. Sea to Summit dots the entire gripping surface with an array of polymer dots, which are not only impressively durable but lend a fantastic purchase on typical bar tape and rubber hoods.
However, the material isn’t very effective on slick surfaces such as brake lever blades and frame tubes, which can make barriers and shouldered run-ups a little tricky if you’re not careful.
This is how our fingers sit when they’re totally relaxed in these pre-curved gloves
As with any neoprene glove, it’s critical to wear these correctly. If your hands are already cold when you put them on they’re not going to warm up, as your hands won’t generate any moisture to be insulated. So it’s key to pull them on before you head out.
Because neoprene is wholly non-breathable, these aren’t ideal for very long rides, either, as your hands will get clammy. This also means the gloves will take a while to dry after you take them out of the washing machine (stuffing them with newspaper or propping them on a heating vent helps).
That said, Sea to Summit charges a very reasonable US$29.99 for the Solution Gear Paddle gloves, which seems like very good value all things considered.