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Sportful Sotto Zero gloves review

16 Jan 2018

Superb winer glove chasing that Holy Grail of being slim fitting and dextrous whilst offering a high level of insulation.

Cyclist Rating: 
Light, slim feel relative to high level of insulation so retains dexterity; long and tight fitting cuff
Showerproof but not waterproof

Gloves can make or break a winter ride, no question about it. The pain of frozen fingers is tortuous and once set in often unrelenting, certainly enough to make even the most hardened riders resent riding a bike in the cold.

Yet cycling presents a tricky conundrum for glove manufacturers. Riding a bike requires a certain amount of dexterity so wearing ultra thick gloves is not conducive to an enjoyable riding experience either, not to mention the need to operate gears and brakes safely.

The Holy Grail then is to have wafer-thin gloves that are also capable of keeping our digits toasty in freezing conditions. But that’s a big ask.

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Very few, if any, gloves I have ever tested have truly achieved this balance, but in the same vein as we’d all like soft, supple and grippy tyres to be also durable and highly puncture resistant, sometimes compromises are inevitable.

This winter, things seem to have moved on considerably for the better, though, and whilst I would still stop short of saying the Sportful Sotto Zero gloves were the Holy Grail, they are the closest I have tested so far. So, maybe the Holy Gauntlets.

Regularly on rides in temperatures of 1-4°C where almost every rider in the group appeared to be suffering from cold hands (the tell-tale signs are usually when riders start circling their arms or shaking their hands vigorously), I found the Sotto Zeros were keeping my hands comfortably warm.

And if the sun came out and the mercury started to rise a degree or two, then I would even start to experience mildly sweaty palms, something that, as someone who routinely suffers from cold hands, was a sensation completely unknown to me.

The fleece lining inside feels immediately like a cuddle for your hands as you slide the Sportful Sotto Zero gloves on, but it’s the Primaloft insulation that appears to be the crucial component to the success of the design.

It’s low in bulk, and easily compressed, so the glove retains plenty of bar feel, and I never found any issues with being able to nimbly use my fingers for gear selections and/or getting food in and out of jersey pockets.

A windproof outer shell seals the deal, literally, and the chilly breeze just does not penetrate even at higher speeds.

The velcro wrist closure snugs the glove opening up nicely and seals well against jersey sleeves once on and there is ample cuff length to ensure no chilly air gaps.

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If there is any slight chink in its armour it’s perhaps it’s not overly waterproof. The softshell outer will keep out a short rain shower, but prolonged rain quickly soaks through and Primaloft quickly loses much of its insulation properties when it’s drenched, as it relies on the ‘fluffiness’ of its fibres to trap and retain heat.

That said, Sportful has its fully waterproof Fiandre extreme winter glove, which would be better suited if you know you’ll end up riding regularly in wet weather.

Buy the Sportful Sotto Zero from Amazon now

The icing on the cake, aside from its warmth, are some well considered details like the microfibre nose wipe on the thumb, touch screen compatibility in the fingertips and subtle yet effective reflective logos.

Altogether this is a superb glove, and I’ve been grateful for it on a good number of occasions already this winter such that it has fast become my go-to glove.

I would expect these to come out of the drawer a good deal more yet, as Jack Frost still has plenty of time to attack to my extremities.


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