When the weather gets cold or wet, having good gear can make the difference between an enjoyable ride or the begrudged decision to sit one out. As winter set in across British Columbia, I got anxious to try out Sealskinz’s Waterproof Heated Cycle Gloves and Waterproof All Weather socks.
The heated gloves quickly proved to be one of those pieces that extended my tolerance for cold weather rides. Without too much bulk, the gloves provide enough heat that temperatures above the freezing point are too warm for them! I was also very impressed with how waterproof Sealskinz’s socks are; your feet can be submerged in water for several minutes without soaking through, so unless you’re crossing raging rivers on an epic ride, your little piggies won’t be pruned when you get home.
Sealskinz Waterproof Heated Cycle Glove:
The Waterproof Heated Cycle Gloves are made with a three-layer construction to repel water, keep you warm and resist wear and tear. Inside, Primaloft Gold insulation makes these gloves pretty warm even without their electric heaters activated.
The palms provide some padding at the base of your fingers and on the lower palm, but are otherwise quite thin. The liner and membrane are bonded to the palm and fingers to prevent the liner from pulling out or squirming around as you ride, ensuring good grip control. Other details include Velcro cuff closures and stealth reflective panels on the outer sides of each glove.
The gloves offer High, Medium and Low heat settings, which you toggle through via a single switch on the gloves’ backsides. The switch is easy to access and operate, and its LED lighting clearly shows which heat setting you’re using.
The heating elements are powered by rechargeable polymer batteries that stow away in zippered pockets on the underside of each cuff. The first full charge takes 12 hours, but subsequent charges take 6 hours. The fully charged gloves will provide heat for up to 2.5 hours on High, 3.5 hours on Medium, and 5.5 hours on Low. The batteries will function in temperatures down to -20°c.
Please note; due to the electronics these gloves cannot be machine washed, tumble dried, or dry cleaned. While their exterior is waterproof, the gloves cannot be submerged in water or used if fully saturated.
My first ride with the heated gloves was on a zero degree (Celsius) day. I rode across town and then climbed for about 15 minutes with the heaters on low. At this point my blood was flowing, so I switched off the heat and climbed for another 20 minutes. Even with the heaters off I was surprised to find my hands were now getting sweaty, so I swapped out the Sealskinz gloves and descended in a thinner, wind-resistant pair.
At 0°c the gloves kept my hands warm right away, even before the heaters got cooking. The heat takes a few minutes to become noticeable, but once warmed up you can feel the heat on all your fingers and the back of your hand. At this temperature, I was still only using the Low setting.
Due to sudden snowfall, I had few chances to ride with these gloves in colder temps… so I took them XC skiing instead! In temps around -8°c my hands started out a bit chilly, but after about 10 minutes the heaters (on Low) warmed my hands and kept them comfortable. I tried the warmest setting on another ski day, and it seemed to heat up the gloves a bit quicker than the Low setting.
The coldest temperatures I got to try the gloves in was about -10°c, and I didn’t even need to use the Medium or High heat settings to keep my hands warm. I have no doubt with the heat cranked up further, these gloves could defeat any temperature their battery is rated for (if not beyond). Also, I found Sealskinz’s claims regarding battery life to be accurate.
The Waterproof Heated Cycle Glove’s fit worked well for my hands, with just a tiny bit of extra space all around. I followed Sealskinz’s fit guide, and the Mediums (size 9) they sent me were ideal.
The palms are a bit thicker than a typical riding glove, but not by much. Grip feel and control was very good, and the only time the gloves bulk became noticeable was while lifting a finger to grab the brake lever. Their multi-layer construction doesn’t flex as freely as a thin summer glove, but they are still impressively dexterous for how warm they are.
The cuffs on these gloves are long, and with the batteries in they’re not super slim. If you ride in a jacket with tight cuffs and arms, fitting the gloves underneath could be an issue (I could just squeeze them into my Endura MT500 jacket). While riding I never found the batteries moved around, and their weight goes almost unnoticed as they are well supported by the Velcro cuffs.
Sealskinz’s Waterproof Heated Cycle Gloves are one of my new favorite pieces of gear. They will keep hands warm through frigid temperatures, the palms are thin enough to provide solid grip control, and I’m very happy with their fit and feel. These gloves will encourage me to ride on freezing cold days that I used to think twice about! MSRP is $160, and sizes S-XL are available in Black only.
Waterproof All-Weather Socks:
As fall and winter set it, things get really wet in B.C. so I was happy to try out some waterproof socks. As soon as I tried the Waterproof All-Weather socks on, I noticed they have a unique feel on your foot. These socks are a bit thicker and don’t stretch as easily as a typical riding sock, so they feel a bit like a wetsuit (but not as heavy-duty).
The Waterproof All-Weather socks are made with a hydrophilic membrane sandwiched between their inner and outer fabrics. A merino wool lining offers insulation, a comfortable feel, and helps absorb moisture. The footbed is padded to absorb shock, the toe seams are flat, and slippery anti-blister outer fabric reduces friction inside your shoe. A Hydrostop lining is placed inside the cuff to prevent water from dripping into your socks.
Sealskinz’s sizing is normal, but I had one fit issue; the cuffs on my socks are not tight enough on my ankles, and water could easily get in from above. Despite the loose cuff, the socks never drooped down enough to bunch up inside my shoes. I should note, as a consumer I would have opted for a longer cut than the ankle sock style I got to test. Obviously the shorter sock is better for warmer weather, but in my area it typically gets wet in the spring and fall, so I would have bought a sock with more leg coverage (which may solve the loose hem issue).
So how well can a waterproof sock breathe? The Sealskinz did a pretty good job of this, only allowing for a bit of a clammy feel but never letting my feet get wet inside. I wore them for a whole day of driving to and from Squamish and riding in cold, wet conditions for over two hours, and the worst I can say is my feet felt slightly clammy. Throughout my testing I never took off the socks to find pruned toes or sweaty feet.
These socks are not particularly warm, which is good since they are an all-weather sock. I rode in 0°c temps and came home with cold toes… as I should have expected! I didn’t get to test how much heat they can handle, as I received the socks in November.
One day I put the socks waterproofing to the test by standing in a deep puddle for about two solid minutes. One of my well-worn shoes has a hole in it and immediately filled with water, while the other only let a bit in. I checked the dryer foot first, and the sock had successfully prevented me from feeling any of the dampness inside my shoe. When I checked the wetter foot, I thought I had soaked through the sock at first; the outside of the sock was saturated, but when I took it off my foot wasn’t wet. I then turned the sock inside out, and the lining was dry!
At this point it’s safe to say under any normal riding conditions, these socks should keep your feet completely dry (as long as the top hems are snug). In cooler temps they breathed well enough to keep my feet sweat-free, and they’re no less comfortable than a normal riding sock. The Waterproof All-Weather Ankle Length Socks sell for $42.50, in sizes S-XL. Color choices are Black/Neon Yellow, Black/Grey or Black/Grey/White.