Urban Velo

Planet Bike Borealis Winter Gloves

When the temperature dips it’s all about keeping your core warm and insulating your extremeties. Layering up your core is fairly straight forward, but hands and feet present a problem for many. It’s just not easy to keep your fingers warm while still dextrous enough to operate on the bike. For cold temperature riding I’ve always been a fan of “lobster claw” style gloves that combine fingers for warmth and have been using the Planet Bike Borealis gloves for a few seasons now. Last year the Borealis was updated to the pictured version, featuring a windproof and water resistant semi-lobster claw shell and removable fleece liner. These quickly became my favorite and go-to glove in cold temperatures, and when the weather started to turn locally a few weeks ago I rushed to dig them out from their summer hideaway.

The Borealis gloves are billed as a 3-in-1 system meaning that you can wear them as fleece liner only, shell only, or the two of them together. Not only does this aid in the versatility of the gloves, giving them an overall wider temperature range of use, it also solves two of the main problems with heavy gloves — drying them out at the end of the ride, and the danger of inverting a sewn in liner and it never going back the same. Never having to worry about remoeving a sweaty hand and not being able to right a wronged liner is a boon as far as I’m concerned, and I’ve never had one piece gloves that dry as quickly.

While I never wear the liner on it’s own, I frequently use only the Borealis shell once my usual cotton work gloves aren’t cutting it. Without the liner the shell is roomy and comfortable until just above freezing temperatures, which is when I begin to use the fleece inner glove. Combined I find I can comfortably ride into the mid-twenties Fahrenheit and uncomfortably get by into the high teens at which point I question how wise it is to ride much at all. The fit with the liner is significantly more snug, and should be taken into account before purchase. When possible, try these on before you buy. The tall cuff is welcome and provides enough jacket overlap to prevent the feeling of an AC vent heading up your sleeve, and the reflective piping can’t hurt visibility, but I don’t know how much it helps either. The back of the thumb is soft fleece so you don’t grind off your nose or mouth wiping away a cold weather drip.

Overall, these are my favorite gloves for riding in cold weather. The separate middle and index finger give me enough dexterity to operate my shift and brake levers without issues, and the combined pinky and ring fingers help to keep my entire hand warm without sacrificing bar grip. At about $40 for the pair I’d also have to say that the Borealis is a bargain beyond being warm. Nothing makes a 10 minute ride feel like an hour like cold hands, and these should keep you pedalling until you may want to think twice about it anyway. Available in five sizes S-XXL from your local shop or direct from Planet Bike.

3 Comments

  1. MuraliDecember 10, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I have these gloves and fully agree with your review. They are outstanding. They do the job perfectly and are indispensible for winter riding.

    I have a followup question: what winter shoes do you wear?

    I find that these gloves let me go out in the very cold, but then my limiting factor are my shoes. I have not seen many reviews of equivalently cold handling (SPD compatible) shoes.

  2. JacobDecember 10, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Brad-
    How do these compare to PI lobster claws? I really like my current gloves but having a removable liner is pretty appealing.

    -Jacob

  3. Ghost RiderDecember 11, 2012 at 6:08 am

    LOVE my Borealis gloves…I was actually surprised at how dexterous they left my hands.

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