Great comfort and control for a waterproof glove but sweaty, cold when wet, undersized, with rapid logo loss and intermittent ‘smart’ connection
- - Great feedback and control
- - Really well-shaped (if you size up)
- - Waterproof
- - Easy on/off
- - Fast drying
- - Small sizing
- - Sweat builds up quickly inside
- - Cold when wet
- - Expensive for their performance
- - Intermittent touchscreen connection
- - Rapid lettering loss
Giro’s new Xnetic H2O material features in the Giro Xnetic H2O socks that we recently rated highly. It is super stretchy for a potentially excellent fit and we waxed lyrical about its comfortable low-bulk solution and impressive waterproofing capabilities.
The material has also been applied to a variety of other products, including gloves and overshoes and, for today's review, we're looking at the Giro Xnetic H2O gloves. We've spent the past few wintry months here in the UK putting them through the wringer to see how they compare against the best winter cycling gloves. We ran into several issues throughout our testing period but let's take a deeper dive to see how these gloves perform overall.
Design and aesthetics
The Xnetic H2O gloves use a three-layer material composed of a knitted outer layer, a soft ridged inner face with a ‘RainGuard’ waterproof membrane sandwiched between. All of these are super elastic and Giro has made the most of the high stretch by using a totally seamless construction.
Unlike a lot of knitted waterproof gear we’ve used, the proportions are great so the fit is consistent from the fingers to the palm. That means no excess fabric at the tips to get in the way of feedback and the whole palm, fingers and thumb are covered in a silicone print for grip. The material is thin enough to keep decent feedback between you and your handlebars, which is where most waterproof gloves - particularly multi-layer ones - suffer. The first finger and thumb also have metallic thread designed to let you connect with a touchscreen without taking the gloves off.
The first thing you need to know though is that, while the fit is well proportioned, those proportions are a size down from normal, with our XL samples feeling like a snug large and the large more like a medium. While they still stretch to fit, there’s enough compression for accelerated arm pump to be an issue on rough surfaces and circulation is similarly squeezed, too. That means you’ll definitely need to go up a size so anyone who normally wears a size XL is probably out of luck.
Once you're wearing the ‘right’ size, the comfort is excellent with plenty of feedback and secure hold - even on wet bar tape - and there's no gap between the gloves and my sleeves. Accurately shaped fingertips mean pressing small buttons on lights or computers isn't an issue and I could even turn most suspension dials/knobs with the gloves still on when I wore them while riding the mountain bike.
However, some of our testers couldn’t get the 'touchscreen compatible' finger and thumb to work at all, and even when they were working, they’re intermittent at best, even with sweaty hands inside to amp up the conduction. With that said, unlike some winter gloves that have a loose inner liner, you can pull them off and put them back on easily, so it's only slightly irritating, rather than a massive pain.
You won’t have to wait long for sweat to build up either, unless you’re cruising in relatively cold weather, but they do dry quickly inside if the effort level or temperature drops. The fact that the protective knit on the outside of the membrane sucks up water easily adds an unwelcome layer of heat conduction as soon as the rain rolls in, which means they lose heat quickly when they get damp.
In addition, while it’s only a small niggle, the reflective lettering on one of our samples started coming off after just a handful of rides and a quick low-temperature trip through the washing machine. Given the actual performance, the price is high, too.
If you go up a size from normal, Giro’s new stretch knit Xnetic H2Os give a super accurate, snug, control friendly fit for a waterproof glove. However, they struggle to stay warm when wet, they build up sweat pretty quickly inside and intermittent smart connectivity and rapid logo loss add to the list of niggles that combine to make these gloves look very expensive.
Don’t write off the Xnetic H2O socks off by association though as they’re actually really good.
Tech Specs: Giro Xnetic H2O gloves
- Price: £49.99 / $50.00
- Colours: Black
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL
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