The Sottozero is the warmest option in the Sportful line-up and it keeps all the comfort while adding enough warmth to take you right down to freezing
- - Light rain protection
- - Excellent grip on the bars
- - Thumb and Index finger smartphone compatibility
- - Hook and Loop closure is difficult to undo
When it's cold, it's amazing how much the warmth of your hands affects the overall feeling of on-the-bike comfort. Sportful makes an excellent range of gloves and we've looked at different options within that range. If you need lightweight coverage then the Fiandre light gloves are there for you. If you need something a little bit warmer then take a look at the Fiandre winter gloves.
The Sottozero gloves pictured here have been designed for the coldest days of winter. We've spent some time testing them to see if they have what it takes to make our list of the best winter cycling gloves.
Design and aesthetics
The outer face of the upper is a 2.5-layer membrane construction which you might recognise from the Sportful Fiandre Light gloves. Like the Fiandre Lights, this is not a waterproof glove but what you can expect is a wind-blocking barrier with mild water-shedding capabilities.
Below the outer layer is a layer built from Primaloft Silver insulation. Primaloft is often referred to as a synthetic down and it mimics the same warmth-providing characteristics, in that millions of air pockets trap and preserve your body heat but with the main difference being wet weather performance. Natural down completely loses the ability to provide warmth when wet, while Primaloft is able to retain the majority of its loft and insulation, even when damp. The Silver variation of this material sits in the middle of the warmth options with a focus on high physical activity.
Keep moving into the glove and the final layer is made from fleece. The Fiandre winter gloves also have a fleece internal layer but, in this context, it's got a bit more loft and seems a bit softer as well. Both pairs of gloves feel incredibly soft on the inside so it's a subtle difference but they don't feel exactly the same.
Moving back to the outside, the palm uses a synthetic leather called Clarino. It's a non-woven fabric consisting of polyurethane-impregnated ultra-fine fibres. Mostly. it feels like suede but it's washable and three times stronger than real leather. The palm and finger sections are almost completely covered in various sizes and orientations of silicone grip material. The only areas not covered are a strip of synthetic material in the centre of the wrist and a spot on both the forefinger and thumb. These sections reinforce the wrist for pulling the gloves on and allow for touchscreen usability.
The Clarino material continues from the palm to the back of the thumb and the inside of the first knuckle but without any silicone, making wiping your face easier when needed. The closure system is a hook and loop strap made from the same Clarino synthetic leather.
The Sottozero gloves are available in three colours: red, blue and black.
Testing winter cycling gear involves some real-world situations. Leading up to a ride I check the weather religiously and try to figure out what to wear. On one particular morning while testing, it was really cold and the temperature kept dropping as the ride went on. Initially, it was close to 40F/4C degrees then the fog rolled in. Pretty soon everything was wet and the temperature dropped further. For the next few hours, there was very little visibility and temperatures were right at freezing, which provided a good opportunity to test the Sottozero gloves.
What I found was that right at freezing was essentially the bottom of what these gloves were capable of handling. When climbing and moving my hands were comfortable but on descents or waiting for a friend to repair a tyre, my fingertips ached with cold.
The big debate that emerged was the thermal envelope for a chosen piece of clothing. There's not an answer that's correct. If you prefer just warm enough then the Sottozero will handle freezing temperatures. If you'd prefer to sit in the centre of the thermal range so that you are always comfortable but sometimes too hot then you are going to want something like the Gore Infinium Thermo Split gloves.
The same seven-and-a-half-hour ride also gave some good indication of the upper limits for the Sottozero. I eventually got out of the fog and late in the day things warmed up. I was still comfortable with these gloves at 55F/13C but they wouldn't be the right choice for temperatures that warm. Although the Sottozero handled the wet fog well, if you spent long periods of time in warmer weather, you'd soak them from the inside out and they'd be less comfortable.
Aside from temperature concerns, the Sottozero is another super comfortable glove from Sportful. The silicone grip is a joy to wear and in combination with no high-density padding, you've got great bar feel. The inside feels soft and luxurious, too.
If you want to have your gloves only just warm enough for the coldest temperatures on a ride then the Sportful Sottozero gloves will comfortably take you down to freezing point. If you'd rather have a glove that's warmer than absolutely necessary, you'll want to use these on mostly dry days a bit above freezing. No matter the temperature though, they are another extremely comfortable option from Sportful. They also work well with a touchscreen and the colour options look great.
The only negative is that hook and loop closure is difficult to open. It's also important to understand that they aren't waterproof. They don't claim to be but don't get your hopes up for anything beyond a light rain and a heavy fog.
Tech Specs: Sportful Sottozero Gloves
- Price: £70.00 / $80.00 / €59.90 / AU$100.00
- Available Colours: Black, Red, Blue Sea
- Material: 2.5-layer membrane back, Clarino synthetic leather palm, Primaloft Silver insulation
- Weight: 100g size medium
- Size availability: XS-XXL
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