Specialized’s Trail Thermal gloves are designed to offer warmth in chilly conditions, thanks to a wind-resistant three-layer softshell upper. They’re designed to blend dexterity and comfort by not being too bulky, but with enough insulation to retain warmth.
The palms are made from a hydrophobic Ax Suede material to improve grip, while the index finger is touchscreen-operation compatible, and both forefingers have silicone grippers.
The Trail Thermals have a Velcro-adjustable cuff and microfiber wipes on the outside of the thumbs. The large pair I tested weighed 69g.
Specialized Men’s Trail Thermal Gloves performance
The Trail Thermal Gloves have a relaxed fit, where they’re baggier rather than skin-hugging. They are true to size though, and I wouldn’t want to size down to increase tightness because the fingers and palm wouldn’t be big enough.
Because most of the padding and insulation is on the back of the hand rather than the palms, they provide great comfort, with no bunching or hot spots, and excellent feel on the grips.
The lack of bulk means finding the brake and gear levers isn’t hard, and operation is akin to a summer glove. The fingers are quite voluminous in size, but because they aren’t stuffed full of lofty insulation this doesn’t negatively affect how they feel.
The transmission of bumps and forces into my hands was like wearing a thin summer glove, giving a connection with the bike feel. The lack of loft also meant there was no twisting between the inner and outer layers of the gloves, improving control.
Their lack of bulkiness means they’re best suited to warmer winter days, high-intensity rides, or for people who naturally run hot but want some protection from chilly air.
The gloves couldn’t increase or maintain my hands’ heat at low intensities but worked well once I’d picked up the pace. This is an acceptable pay-off for improved on-bike feel, however.
Although the palm is hydrophobic, the gloves aren’t waterproof or shower-proof, and wetted out as quickly as a pair of thin summer gloves. Specialized doesn’t claim they’re waterproof, however.
Windproofing was good given the amount of bulk and insulation on offer. However, some cold air was able to trickle through the gloves onto my hands, especially around the knuckles where the material had been stretched tight.
They remained easy to put on and remove once my hands had got sweaty, thanks to the liner staying in place.
Although Specialized says the cuff can be placed under or over a jacket, I preferred to place it underneath, given its slim form. Set like this, there was a good seal against cold draughts. While wearing the gloves, touchscreen operation was possible, but not hugely accurate.
How we tested
We tested five pairs of winter gloves back-to-back in the widest variety of conditions we could find. Temperatures ranged from a mild 10 degrees celsius, right the way down to a positively chilly -5 degrees celsius. We endured cold, crisp, and sunny days, and the heaviest rain the great Scottish mountains could provide. We tested the gloves on low-intensity ebike rides, through to heart-pummelling XC epics to really get a handle on performance.
Also on test
- Altura Polartec Waterproof Glove
- Giro Proof Glove
- Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather MTB Glove
- Troy Lee Designs Swelter Glove
Specialized Men’s Trail Thermal Gloves bottom line
From a performance and feel perspective, these are very close to thin, summer gloves.
They provide an excellent connection with the bike. However, the pay-off for that is a limited amount of insulation.
This isn’t a problem on warmer winter days or high-intensity rides, just make sure you’ve got a pair of thicker gloves for the depths of winter.