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GripGrab AquaRepel arm warmers review

Verdict:

Comfortable & good in light rain or short showers, the GripGrab AquaRepel arm warmers do let water in eventually but stay warmer much longer

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
€39.95
For 
• Warm, and stay warm when wet • Very comfortable grippers and fleece lining • Hard-wearing and long-lasting
Against 
• Rain will get through sooner or later • Would benefit from greater length in smaller sizes

For someone who wears arm warmers around 10-11 months of the year, getting a versatile pair that will last and can perform in a range of conditions is very important. The GripGrab AquaRepel arm warmers have filled this gap over the last couple of years.

From single figure temperatures to warmer but wet days, these sleeves have served me well on differing days and varied rides almost without fault.

Crash test dummy

Cuts, bruises but no hole in the GripGrab AquaRepel arm warmers (or Katusha Sports bibshorts actually)

Wearing the AquaRepel arm warmers for the Paris-Roubaix Challenge sportive this Spring as part of a Katusha Sports trip, I got carried away on the pave, hit a muddy patch in a corner and went down hard on my left side.

I hit the cobbles and slid into a muddy field. Despite a graze on my left forearm, the GripGrab arm warmer over it was scuffed but hardly touched by the impact and not ripped to shreds as the force of the landing would have made me expect.

I've been able to keep using them as normal since, especially now that the heat has gone out of the sunshine and autumn is rolling in.

GripGrab AquaRepel arm warmers: More information and buy

GripGrab: gripgrab.com/collections/arm-warmers-aquarepel  
Wiggle: wiggle.co.uk/gripgrab-aquarepel-arm-warmers  

Aqua is repelled but not completely resisted

As with much 'waterproof' kit from every brand I've used, these arm warmers will repel splashes, showers and light rain but anything more persistant will reach the skin.

'They are intended to repel water, so they should keep you dry in a light shower or prevent you getting completely soaked in a shorter heavier shower,' Michael Boot, from GripGrab's R&D department, tells me.

That repellency comes not from the material itself but from a PFC-free DWR treatment added during manufacturing.

'PFC-free greatly reduces the impact on health and environment, but this also means that the treatment will get less effective after multiple washes,' Boot says.

'It is possible to reapply a (PFC-free) DWR treatment to the garment from for example Nikwax.'

Even after a couple of years of use, and regular machine washing, I find that the warmers will still keep light rain or road spray off my skin and so the need to re-treat isn't yet pressing.

Warm, even when wet

This year's RideLondon was a soggy affair. Rain for much of the ride didn't dampen the spirits as I played super-domestique to a cycling companion but the constant and often heavy downpours got through all kit, including these arm warmers and a Castelli Gabba.

Despite being wet and riding below tempo, I remained warm all day even on my forearms which were covered by just the one layer (as opposed to the three on my torso).

As indicated by the number of days in the year in which I opt for arm warmers, I'm usually on the cold side of normal, but for GripGrab it's hard to pitch these arm warmers within a specific temperature range.

'It is difficult to give exact numbers about this, since it really differs per person,' Boot explains. 'I would say 15 to 5 degrees Celsius.

'For warmer weather the Light Warmers are more suitable and colder weather is more suitable for winter jerseys/jackets.'

This has been fairly consistent with my own experience as in recent commutes in temperatures between 6 and 10°C the GripGrab AquaRepel arm warmers have been ideal.

In spring and autumn rides, when the temperature might seem almost like winter when setting off yet feel nearer to summer just a couple of hours later, these arm warmers are breathable enough that they can be kept on rather than peeled off and stuffed in a pocket.

Even on a particularly hilly ride, they might be pushed down for a long climb but are still welcome when pulled back up for descents.

As modelled by GripGrab's own riders, the arm warmers fit well but I'd prefer them to be a bit longer

Fit and comfort

Similar to any other GripGrab products I've used, in particular full finger gloves, the comfort is excellent. The grippers have been evolved and improved over time from earlier iterations of the standard arm warmers and now sit flat against the skin, holding the arm warmer in place without the need to dig in to the skin of the upper arm.

The light fleece lining feels good against the skin, furthering the comfort while providing the insulation needed for the lower termperatures these can be worn in.

The fit of the warmers is slightly flawed in one area and that's the width to length proportion. I wear a size small or medium and although the width of the openings is near-perfect, these sleeves would benefit from being proportionately slightly longer.

Perhaps the introduction of two lengths per size - small-standard, small-long, for example - could be a way of covering the varying shapes and sizes we cyclists come in.

Despite this mild criticism, the GripGrab AquaRepel arm warmers are one of the most essential items in my cycling kit drawer and I'm pleased my Roubaix crash wasn't the end of them.

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