Doing it all the hard way...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Giro Ambient Glove Review

I was on the fence about purchasing these for quite a while.  I’ve had them on my radar for over a year.  A crazy closeout price nudged me and I jumped. I am a sucker for a deal.  If not for the notable luck I have had with Giro shoes and gloves I never would have taken the chance.

My hesitation was due to my research of reviews online.  I really value finding reviewers I can trust.  It seems the more popular bloggers tend to pander to manufacturers and the knowledge and objectivity of others is often a risk.  

The miracle and the curse of the internet is it is up to the reader to separate the expert from the buffoon.  As an example there isn’t a wealth of information on tubeless tires on the web. When you finally find someone who has tried the combination you are interested in, you have to make an assessment of their level of expertise to assign a degree of credibility to their findings. When you realize their tubeless configuration included duct tape and Elmer’s glue you quickly dismiss their findings and resume your search for real data.

Some reviewers that I have found to be reliable are Transit Interface, Against the Grain, spokane dude, Lynne and BikeloveJones and Lovely Bicycle.

I have just one more nit before getting to the glove review.  The buffoon factor is increased when people use a product for something other than its intended purpose. If someone gives a wool T-shirt one star because it didn’t keep them dry in the rain I want to hit a loud buzzer to indicate a wrong answer. Come on folks, we can do better.

This winter one of my goals was to get my glove world dialed in.  I started noting what worked and what didn’t and the temperatures and conditions (wet or dry).  Soon I found happy zones for most of my gloves.

One of the few Ambient glove reviews I did find said they weren’t good in the rain.  I have to deal with rain about ten months out of the year so this concerned me.  After pulling the trigger, I figured I would be finding out for myself.

I opted for the bright reddish-orange (and black) versions of the glove.  For my city rides I like my gloves to be bright so when I use hand signals cars can see where I’m going.  There is a small pad on the heal of the palm which I appreciate on a winter glove.  Just because it is cold doesn’t mean you aren’t riding fast. Some tacky stuff on the thumb and first two fingers is good as well and these tick that box. They fit my normal shaped hands just fine.  A small swatch of Velcro on the back of the hand cinches the wrist closed. The gloves don’t have any gauntlet.
The warmth comes from a highly textured fleece lining inside. There is a stretchy material on the back of the glove. The palm and inside of the fingers is a suede-like miracle fabric. Dexterity is very good. Warmth without bulk is the goal for all cold weather gloves.

On the bike:
I’ve found the temperature rating of 40-50F is valid.  With a medium weight wool liner I have worn them down to 30F and been just fine.  The strength of this glove is its ability to breath.  I’ve been comfortable with these on rides up to six hours. I’m not saying the performance drops off after six hours; I’m saying that is as far as I could go at the time and they were fine the whole ride. The loft of the fleece allows them to fit well both with and without a liner.  That is a valuable asset.
Note the grid...  Your paws goes in here !
The back of the liners do get damp if your hands start to sweat, but the back of the gloves allows the moisture to escape. Imagine wearing a fleece jacket under a breathable nylon windbreaker. You can get that combination pretty wet and it will remain warm as long as you keep moving.  The palms never felt clammy and I never pulled my hands out to find any pruning on my skin.

My experience has been that in the rain my hands remained warm but were not necessarily dry.  I can’t say if they were wet with sweat or from the rain, but I was comfortable and if all is well, don’t ask too many questions.   As a comparison I have some lightweight windstopper fleece gloves from Outdoor Research that I love. They keep my hands dry in a medium rain for about thirty minutes then they soak through and are cold, clammy and downright miserable. 

In dry conditions I the Ambient gloves perform exceptionally well. The breathability is noteworthy and with the pad you can hammer in the drops or cruise on the bar tops comfortably.   Typically a warm glove feels good and then they overheat, get sweaty and then are cold. The Ambient’s don’t overheat and if you do sweat they manage the moisture well.

One thing I noticed was that without a gauntlet there have been a couple times when my wrists were exposed to the cold.  I’m not sure I would add a gauntlet if I could, but I did notice my wrists were cold and I found myself tugging my sleeves down to cover my wrists.  Adding a gauntlet might well have more drawbacks than benefits.

I am extremely happy with the Giro Ambient Gloves. Part of that satisfaction comes from trying to use them for their intended purpose. They are great in dry to damp rides between 40-50 degrees F.  Adding liners extended them another six to ten degrees.  They seem to be wearing well and they dry quickly which is a valuable trait. The dexterity is excellent and they are very visible.

The conditions in which these gloves excel are the conditions that we see a lot of here in the Northwest. These have become my go-to glove for these rides.   

Five of Five Evos !!

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