You can spend a lot of money on toasty five-finger-style gloves or you can save some money and get warmer fingers with a variation on a mitten. The Pearl Izumi AmFIB Lobster Gel Glove is both the warmest and one of the few options on the market to offer some level of water resistance
AX grain palm feels like leather but it's vegan
Gel padding is wide and low profile
Warmth vs price
35% recycled content
Lining comes out with your hand
Wet weather performance isn’t great
Loss of dexterity
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Every cyclist who's ever ridden through the winter will know that as it drags on, you are willing to try more and more innovative solutions to try and keep your hands warm. We've covered a wide range of options for the best winter cycling gloves but the vast majority feature some variation of five-finger gloves. When it gets frosty though there's another option: the mitten.
We covered the Gore Infinium Thermo Split gloves but Pearl Izumi offers another take on the same concept. Instead of keeping a single finger separate, the lobster style splits your fingers into two pairs. Pearl Izumi also claims water resistance while Gore does not. For those who struggle to keep their fingertips warm, the Pearl Izumi AmFib Lobster gloves are an option worth considering. If that sounds like what you need, keep reading to hear all about the details of how they excel and how they don't.
Design and aesthetics
As far as aesthetics go, the Pearl Izumi AmFib Lobster gloves probably aren't going to win any awards. They come in two black variations but the lobster style is an unconventional look. Still, the palm and the back of the knuckles use a leather alternative and you have the choice of a light tan colour or black. The rest of the glove remains the same.
The top of the glove retains the same AmFib softshell technology and the feel is that of a very traditional softshell. It's soft to the touch with a tight knit designed to ward off wind and a bit of rain and there's a coating to help it with moisture. As it approaches the wrist, the outer shell folds over so that the seam stays protected inside the cuff. It's a smart design that adds protection to the seam but it also causes a somewhat bulky, puffy, look at the wrist. These gloves are all about utility so it's best to forget about any idea of fashion.
The wrist, despite looking bulky, is actually quite slim and has excellent length. The underside has a single zigzag stitch of elastic to keep it tight near the palm. At the back edge is a hook and loop closure. The hook side is the outer side and both sides are very thin. The hook side backs up against the same material as the palm and there's an overhang that makes it easy to grab for opening. If you want to tighten the wrist down there is plenty of length to the closure to tighten it and the length of the glove makes it easy to get it into a jacket.
Below that top layer is where the insulation and the membrane sits. Pearl Izumi doesn't give a lot of information about the membrane but expect a similar performance to other waterproof membranes on the market. As for the insulation, you get Primaloft Gold with cross-core technology. This is basically the industry standard best-of-the-best synthetic insulation. It holds warmth even when wet and it dries quickly. In this use, the post-consumer content stands at thirty-five per cent. The interior is a fleece that's very similar to almost every glove on the market.
Flip the gloves over and take a look at the palm and you'll see a wide expanse of AX Suede. This is a similar material to what MAAP uses on the palm of its Apex Deep Winter gloves but Pearl Izumi uses a different version. Instead of remaining as a faux suede, the same polyester base goes through an additional finishing process. Instead of feeling suede, it feels more like leather and eliminates the need for any silicone while also adding durability. Under the knuckles and moving up to the area between the thumb and forefinger is a second layer of the same material. Between the two layers, there's a gel pad that favours the outside of the hand. There's also a touchscreen interaction point on the thumb and where the tip of the forefinger should be. The back of the thumb uses a different faux suede to provide a place to wipe your face.
If I could only have one pair of deep winter gloves it would likely be these. I have a lot of trouble keeping my fingertips warm and the Pearl Izumi approach is better than any five-finger option I've tried. They aren't cheap but, to get the same level of cold-weather performance you have to spend a lot more money on alternatives. If you want to ride through the coldest days, start with these lobster gloves before trying something else. If your rides are going to be wet also then get more than one pair.
There are details beyond just cold-weather performance that make these attractive, too. One of those details is smartphone compatibility. Pearl Izumi makes sure you can use your smartphone without removing your gloves although realistically you'll be using your thumbs not your finger. There is a touchscreen point on the forefinger but given the lobster design it's almost completely unusable.
Another great attribute is the accuracy of the fit. I frequently have trouble with the fit of gloves. I'm perpetually right on the line between small and medium and tend to have to use a medium even though it's a bit big. Pearl Izumi gets the medium just right and the fit feels perfect. Although there is some inherent leeway in the design, my fingers come right out to where you’d expect and there’s no tightness between the thumb and forefinger. Everybody will need something different when it comes to fit but these are true to size as compared to the fit guide.
As we head into the colder, drier, latter part of the winter, these are gloves I'd recommend. The lobster design keeps my hands feeling warm and my fingertips pain-free. When the sun heats things up in the afternoon I put these away and switch to a lighter glove like the Sportful Fiandre gloves or even the Castelli Perfetto Ros gloves.
And what about dexterity? Despite any preconceived conceptions, the design works - even with electronic or mechanical shifting. When braking, it's common to keep two fingers on the brake and two fingers on the drops so nothing is really different here. For shifting the reason it's not an issue is because of the width of the glove segments. There's enough width to keep your forefinger on the brake lever and change gears with your second finger.
Pearl Izumi doesn't label these as deep winter gloves but that's what they are if I'm honest. Even though they aren't cheap they are more affordable than deep-winter options with a five-finger design - they're also warmer.
What they lose out on however, is some dexterity. On the bike, it's hardly noticeable but when your hands aren't on the bars, things can be challenging. It's difficult to grab a specific snack out of your jersey pocket, too. Zippers can be tough and so can pulling a neck warmer up. This is only made worse by the fact that it's tough to get your hands out of these gloves without taking the liner with you.
Other than those few foibles, the Pearl Izumi AmFIB Lobster Gel gloves are at the top of my list.
Tech Specs: Pearl Izumi AmFIB Lobster Gel gloves
- Price: £84.99 / $85 / €89.95
- Available Colours: Black, Black/Dark Tan
- Available Sizes: XS-XXL
- Weight: 71g per glove, size medium
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