Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Winter Riding Gloves: A Comparative Review

It's that time of year again: the time to freeze your fingers taking off your gloves every three seconds because you can't function with them on.

I own a depressing collection of winter riding gloves, but my collection is your gain! Here's what I think of them:

Dublin Thinsulate Everyday Fleece Riding gloves: 

Fleece exterior, thinsulate lining, synthetic "sure grip" palm and finger protection. Cinch velcro closures at wrist.

These gloves are great for above freezing riding, but the fleece exterior is less than waterproof and windproof, and is a major downside during shedding season. They are warm and don't seem to have extraordinarily long fingers as some gloves do.

Finger Use Rating: 3/5, relatively dexterous but not waterproof, windproof or shedding proof.

SSG 10 Below Waterproof Glove:

Ribbed exterior and cuff, grippy palm with riding reinforcements and a thinsulate/fleece lining. Listed as Waterproof, I was unable to test that as one glove arrived with a hole in it (missed stitching). My gloves also have wrist hangers so you can feel like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" with your gloves on strings.

These gloves were too bulky for me to do much in - they were okay for activities like throwing hay or other manual labor, but were too thick for me to easily use snaps, buckles or other finer tasks.

Finger Use Rating: 1.5/5, one step above mittens.

Heritage Extreme Winter Gloves:

These gloves are similar to the SSG 10 Below with their ribbed exterior and knitted cuff to hold out drafts. They also feature a cell phone friendly index and thumb in addition to the thinsulate and fleece lining and waterproof protection. I like these a little better than the SSGs, though I can't put my finger (nuk nuk nuk) on why that is. These gloves also have a super cool pocket on the back to hold a hand warmer - which is great, as those buggers can burn you if put directly on skin!

Like the 10 Below's, I found these gloves to be too bulky for riding - I really hate feeling like my reins are floating in my hands between layers of fabric, and dislike feeling like I have to keep a death grip on them to have any sort of feel. These are probably perfect for western riders who neck rein or for trail riding, but aren't good for arena, dressage or jumping work.

Finger Use Rating: 1.5/5, one step above mittens.

Mountain Horse Trail Winter Glove:

I think these are the ones I have, at least. I know they're Mountain Horse, and are very similar to ski gloves you'd find in a sports store. Mine have the Ralphie-style wrist strings like the SSG 10 Below gloves, and a similar knitted cuff. Microfiber-esque exterior, and a fleece/possibly loft lining means that they aren't particularly waterproof.

These gloves were heavy - I wouldn't consider doing anything but the most basic, no dexterity needed chores in them, and riding was completely out of the question for me in these. With waterproof options on the market, I'd skip these.

Finger Use Rating: 1/5, one step above mittens AND not waterproof.

SSG Fleece Lined Winter Gripper Gloves:

These were a super cheap whim purchase, and would be great for people riding in a heated or well insulated indoor - just a bit warmer than one's standard riding gloves, these are basic and have a cozy fleece lining. My pair were SUBSTANTIALLY too large and grew annoying because of it, and have since moved on to use by my mom who has bigger hands and longer fingers. Not waterproof or windproof, these are not appropriate for chores - and wouldn't hold up, anyways.

Finger Use Rating: 5/5, in the correct size, these gloves would be no different than a summer riding glove in my opinion.

SSG Pro Show Winter Glove:

These gloves are leather with a pinched back and feature stretchy lycra material between the fingers, giving them a good close fit. They have a knit cuff to prevent wrist drafts and are thinsulate lined. These gloves are a great balance between warmth and dexterity but do fail out on the colder days, especially if it's windy. They are not bulky and I can do bridle buckles up with no issue.  With the addition of the Ovations below, these gloves will be my gloves for temps around freezing and a little below.

Finger Use Rating: 4/5 - these are not summer gloves, but they have very low bulk and do keep your fingers quite warm.

Ovation Syntac Thinsulate Winter Glove

These gloves are my newest purchase, and I'm pretty excited about them. They are a bit heavier than the Pro Shows, but are still nice and grippy and pretty darn low bulk. The exterior is grippy and stays pretty clean. The thinsulate lining appears to be augmented with a soft fleecy lining. As of right now, I'm pretty thrilled with this find, and intend them to be my gloves for the colder temps. I rode in them on a 35 degree day in our unheated, uninsulated indoor and found them to be almost too warm which was a lovely surprise!

Finger Use Rating: 3.5/5 - these are not summer gloves, but they have relatively low bulk and do keep your fingers quite warm.

Hopefully these reviews are useful and I'll keep you updated on the new Ovations!

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