If you ride year-round in Portland, you’ve pretty much got to have a pair of gloves — or two, or three, depending on the weather. With temps ranging between 30 to 50 degrees and skies going from sunny and cold to wet and mild and every other combination you can think of these past few months, I’ve been rotating through five different pairs. Yes five. I’ve got two pairs for when it’s raining, two that I use either on their own or as liners if it’s really cold, and my newest pair: the Aquilo gloves from Planet Bike.
I’ve been a fan of Planet Bike for a long time. They make reliable and utilitarian products at a fair price and you can find their stuff everywhere. I also greatly respect that they’re committed to bike advocacy and were one of the first companies in the industry to have a full-time staff person devoted it: Advocacy Director Jay Ferm (whom I first met at the National Bike Summit in 2006). (Disclaimer: Planet Bike has also sponsored many years of BikePortland’s coverage from the Summit).
But being a good corporate citizen wouldn’t mean much if you made bad products. Fortunately that’s not the case with Planet Bike.
With their headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin, they have instant credibility for making gear that works in cold weather (not to mention Madison is one of only five “Platinum-level” bike-friendly cities). They offer two models of full-fingered gloves: the Borealis and the Aquilo. The Borealis is the best option when it’s really cold and wet and the Aquilo is meant for “spring-fall” — which makes a good choice for Portland’s relatively mild winters.
When I put these gloves on for the first time, my impression wasn’t great. They felt too thin. That’s not a bad thing; but I knew I wouldn’t be reaching for these when temps dropped into the 30s. On a cold day I love a nice puffy and warm glove. But larger and heavier gloves can constrict movement, overheat your hands quicker and are more of a pain to stuff in a pocket and carry around. Once I realized the Aquilos weren’t intended for the worst conditions, I began to warm up to them. In the past few months I’ve worn them when morning temps are above 40 degress and it’s not likely to rain. They’re great at taking the bite out of a chilly morning but I’ve yet to overheat in them.
Since fingers are warmest when they can touch each other (a la mitts), Planet Bike has opted for half-lobster arrangement on the Aquilos. At first I thought the lack of dexterity would bug me, but turns we only really need one of our two smallest fingers.
The Aquilos have all the features I look for in a glove: a large and soft fleece section on the thumb and forefinger for wiping water and various facial liquids; windproof material where it counts, reflective striping for safety; not too much padding (can’t stand “gel” gloves!) but enough to add some comfort; and extra material on the index and middle fingertips. I’m not a big fan of the velcro strap and the bright “Planet Bike” logo (I like my riding apparel to blend in and not be too loud or techy), but those are small nitpicks.
Overall this is a very solid pair of gloves. And the price is right too. Just $34.99 (the more stout Borealis is $41.99). That’s considerably less expensive than the other gloves I’m currently using: the $67 Winter Riding Gloves from SealSkinz and the $80 Crosspoint Softshell from Showers Pass (which I love, by the way).
Want to see more of our reviews? Check out the archives.
— This review is part of a promotional partnership with Cyclone Bicycle Supply who supplied us with the gloves at no cost. All opinions are our own.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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