The Bike List

Polaris Hoolie Gloves £25

Tested by Jon Adams, tester for The Bike List

Your hands are very exposed on a bike, and when the weather turns cold, it can be excruciating if you don't have the right kind of gloves. In winter, the windchill effect from a northerly or easterly wind can be extreme, so much so that frostnip or even full-on frostbite can occur if you don't look after your fingers (plus your cheeks and your nose!). If you're cycling at 10mph into a 20mph easterly (normally the coldest wind in the UK), the temperature your body experiences will be much lower than the one measured by a thermometer - this is the windchill factor. Roughly speaking, 0º becomes -16º, -5º becomes -24º and -10º becomes -31ºC. That's cold by anyone's standards, and you really don't wPolaris Hoolie 1ant to take it on without adequate protection. Retaining the heat your hands generate goes a long way to staying comfortable, and stopping the wind in its tracks does the rest.

The Hoolie gloves from Polaris are made from a laminated fabric that does both these vital jobs. They're very warm and close fitting, though like all insulated gloves, they can get a bit clammy inside, especially when you're increasing your heat output on climbs. Putting them on is assisted by rather nifty, silicon-coated puller tabs, and there's a Velcro wrist tensioner to keep them secure. The gloves sport sticky silicon pads in all the right places, and this helps you on gear changes and when swapping hand positions - particularly on a road bike - as the dexterity isn't as good as it could be. The fabric is quite thick, and though there's enough sensation and feedback for general bike-handling, the gloves do restrict movement a little as the knuckle joints aren't articulated. The fingers are pre-curved, but this isn't to the extent that would be needed to wrap round a bar without effort. To close on the bar, your fingers need to be under tension against the natural springiness of the gloves, and on a longer ride, this could get tiring - especially in the cold. Everyone's hands are different, of course, but it'd be wise to pay close attention to the sizing and freedom of movement when trying them on. They come up a little smaller than some brands for a given size, so just make sure they're not too tight and you've got the flexibility you need.

Polaris Hoolie 2The gel padding around the ulnar nerve area isn't very pronounced - in fact it's hard to detect any padding other than a thicker suede-style fabric - but it feels just right when you're on the bike. The thickness of the gloves clearly goes a long way to dampen vibration and protect the hands, so the padding doesn't protrude like on some gloves.

The 'nose wipe' area of fleece extends right over the thumb and about a third of the way across the back of the hand, and this is most welcome. Equally welcome is the fact that the Hoolies are machine washable, and the good news is, the gloves are constructed from a one-piece, laminated fabric, so there's no liner to pull out and annoy you when your hands are wet. The Hoolies aren't fully waterproof, so will eventually wet out in heavy, driving rain, but they stay warm when wet which is the important thing. There are retro-reflective flashes and logos on the forefinger and back of each glove, so hand signals from commuters and night riders will be picked out by car headlights.

These aren't the very best winter cycling gloves you can buy, but they're perfectly serviceable, and do a fantastic job considering the £25 price point. If you do a lot of miles in winter, then you'll probably want something with more articulation and dexterity (no doubt at twice the price), but if you're a weekend warrior doing the odd winter commute, they could be the perfect blend of weather resistance, warmth and performance.

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Polaris says:

  • Designed in a smooth surface windproof laminate
  • Gel pad for additional comfort
  • Silicon print on fingers and palm for additional grip in the wet
  • 'Nose wipe' on thumb
  • Reflective printing across back of glove and a reflective logo printed down the forefinger
  • Colour: Black
  • SIZES: XS - XL

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At a glance

Verdict Warm, windproof gloves with gel padding, silicon grippers and retro-reflective flashes for cool weather rides