Prior to this trip I owned a pair of Sealskins “waterproof” gloves. The fingers were never quite long enough, and although they might keep your hands dry in a shower, in proper Bristol rain or in the downpours that we experienced in Morocco my digits were cold and wet in no time.
I decided that in reality, no glove is going to be completely waterproof so fit, functionality, warmth and wind-proofness should be higher priorities. I stumbled across a set of gloves made by a small brand called Phew! based in the south west of the UK. I was won over with their concept and they kindly sent us a set to take away on our trip.
Phew! produces an Early Winter Windster pair of gloves, aimed at use in temperatures between 3-12°C and Lobster outer gloves, suitable for temperatures between 0-8°C. The Lobsters are designed to be worn alone or over the Early Winters for extra warmth, and in combination are expected to be good for temperatures between -10-5°C. This was exactly the sort of functionality that I was looking for. Anyone knows that having a good system of clothing layers works best when adventuring outdoors, so why not for gloves too?!
The Lobsters group together your last three fingers in a mitten to aid heat retention and to allow you to pull off your best crustacean impression. They are designed so that your set of the outer Lobster and inner Early Winter glove should be the same size. You can go for a size up in the Lobster if you want a less snug fit.
No claims for waterproofness are made, but this wasn’t a problem for me. In my experience with Sealskins and other supposedly waterproof gloves in anything more than a short shower your fingers are going to get cold and wet, regardless.
Over the last few months we’ve cycled through the Black Forest, over the Austrian Alps and have wiggled our way through the Dolomites. We’ve been up over 2000m, spent nights below zero and freewheeled down more than 1000m elevation over 50km. For sure, it’s going to get colder, but the gloves have been tested in quite a wide range of situations so far.
The Early Winter gloves are relatively close fitting and low in bulk, but not overly tight providing ample agility for braking and changing gears without feeling like the Michelin man. As per any good cycling glove, there is the requisite soft fleece over the thumb joint for removing any unwanted nasal fluids.
The shape of the glove is cut well with good length fingers – in my opinion many cycling gloves seem tocut the fingers far too short. There is no separate lining to get your hands stuck in or to block the finger holes, but the inside of the Early Winters are fleecey soft and warm to touch. Best of all, the cuff of the glove is *long*. No more cold bare patches of skin between your jacket and glove cuff, hurray!!
The Lobster is cut slightly shorter, but has a velcro tab over the cuff to keep out any draughts. The wider entrance makes it easy to slide on over the Early Winters, and with the velcro tab you can close them snugly over the top.
The two layers worn together still don’t feel bulky and have worked wonders on long cold descents. Even when I wasn’t well prepared and my fingers have become numb and cold with one layer, after stopping to put on the Lobster outer gloves on top my hands have not only stopped getting any colder but actually warmed up despite continuing to descend, really causing me to exclaim Phew!.
Both gloves have well placed silicon dots providing plenty of grip to the levers. Dexterity with the Lobsters takes only a little getting used to, after you remind your brain that your last three fingers are now one.
I haven’t tested out their performance in a rain shower yet as the need for gloves and rain hasn’t yet coincided on our trip, but so far I love these gloves and Pedro is jealous of them with his neon yellow Gore alternatives!
- Human shaped fingers
- Long cuff and velcro closure
- Goodcut and low bulk, giving flexible movement
- Excellent glove layering system to keep your hands warm in all temperatures
- They’re so good I’m concerned Pedro will steal them
Disclaimer : Phew! kindly provided us with a set of Early Winter Windsters and Lobster over gloves to take on our trip, but we have no other affiliation or obligation to the company. This is an honest review containing opinions that are our own.