Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review: Phew Windster Cycling Gloves. Could Be the Holy Grail!

Phew Windster Cycling Gloves
In the frenzied wind, the bits of hail fell at an angle optimised for battering my face. And the sky was an alarming, brownish shade of gray. A penetrating damp attacked the very core of my being as I stepped out of the shop and walked toward my bike. It was one of those afternoons when the elements seemed to conspire against me and none of my clothes felt quite right for the particular brand of nastiness unleashed just then by the weather gods. It was only when I thrust my trembling fingers into the warm, stretchy depths of my gloves that I finally felt some relief. Funny enough, the word that escaped my lips was the very same word written upon my wrist in a neat and pretty cursive:

Phew! 
Ah. Now I get it.

Phew Windster Cycling Gloves
There is nothing especially unique about a winter cycling glove that is warm, wind-proof and water-resistant. But there is one thing that distinguishes the Phew Windster gloves  from their cold season brethren: In addition to their fluffy coziness and their technical features, my fingers can actually move in them. As a result, this fairly modest looking product from a small, Bristol-based manufacturer started by a Lovely Bicycle reader and her spouse, has served my household for these past two mean Irish winters (yes, this is a looong term review!).

Phew Windster Cycling Gloves
In the past I had not been able to use winter gloves any thicker than my go-to woolen Defeets on a roadbike. Anything fluffier and involving padding/stuffing of any kind would interfere with my ability to work the ergo shifters and dampen my braking finesse. So while I've tried a variety of both "lobster" style and 5-fingered gloves that were warmer and better shielded against the elements, in the end I would rather that my hands be less cozy but able to use the controls on my bike. The Phew gloves were the first ones I've tried that did not make me choose between warmth and dexterity.

Phew gloves do not have a touch-screen sensor feature for phones. But purely as far as digital mobility - from modulating levers, to undoing bag buckles, working zippers, buttoning buttons, unscrewing valves, and anything else I've had occasion to try and do in them in the bitter cold, I cannot praise them highly enough.

Phew Windster Cycling Gloves
Additional features worth noting include extended cuff length, ensuring the wrists are covered even if your jacket sleeves ride up, lightweight fabric, padded palms, silicone grippers, and a generous fleecy "nosewipe" patch on the underthumb.

The fit of the gloves is unisex, with sizing ranging from Small to XL and instructions for how to measure your hand in cm displayed on the product page. Having found myself between Small and Medium, I opted for the larger size as I have long fingers. The resulting fit is a bit roomy in the palm, but otherwise spot on. The male model pictured finds the L true to size.

Phew Windster Cycling Gloves
While Phew rates their Windster gloves for a 3-12°C (37-53°F) temperature range, I have personally found this to be overly conservative - having worn them in considerably lower temperatures than that quite happily (most notably, while visiting Boston last winter), but of course YMMV. Either way, I think it's fair to describe them as ideal for the start and the tail end of winter in super cold climates, or as winter-round gloves in milder ones.

While I always prefer to wear garments made of natural fabrics, with weather-resistant cycling clothes that is not always an option. Likewise, these gloves are synthetic, and so the one thing I can think of which would endear them to me more, is had they incorporated wool into the mix.

Nevertheless, with their offer of serious warmth without loss to dexterity, the Phew Windster gloves could be the holy grail of winter cycling gloves for those who've struggled to find this combination of features. And it doesn't hurt that they are priced affordably - something the manufacturer deliberately strives for. At £24.99 ($35 USD) per pair I am not sure it gets any better. Phew products are available online and can be ordered internationally. I thank the folks at Phew for the opportunity to review their first line of products and look forward to more to come from this thoughtful, inventive, no-nonsense manufacturer.

33 comments:

  1. Any comments on the sizing? By their size chart I would be between small and medium. A small Defeet glove fits well.

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    1. Ha. After the previous post on sizing I must have been all sized out!

      When I followed their measuring instructions I also ended up with a figure that put me between the S and the M. I then chose the M, as I have extra long fingers (I wear S in Defeet, but was not sure the Phew gloves would be as stretchy). The fit of the M is spot on for me as far as finger length and a *bit* (but not too) roomy in the palm. So... if you have average length fingers I would go with S, otherwise M. Hope that helps!

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    2. No gloves fit me well, as I have the opposite proportions. It sounds like I should give these a go?

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    3. I'd say the Phew's proportions are standard. So it sounds like whatever size you get, would be roomier in the fingers than in the palm area.

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  2. Like your previous post about numbers and sizing and, as you mention here, being able to personally and properly test a product is so important. Which makes buying anything online next to impossible for me. Like you, I prefer to buy locally and even with gloves it's possible. It's amazing how many issues and preferences present themselves when trying something out….I'm glad you've found your holy grail of gloves.

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    1. For me, with cycling stuff, it's not just trying the things on - but actually using them on a bike. I have bought gloves in the shop that have felt good when I'd try to make braking/shifting gestures with my hands, but still did not work well once I actually wore them cycling.

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    2. Precisely, which is why I said to properly test a product. I now have enough experience to make a good guess but when in a bike shop and trying on gloves I'll insist they let me sit on a bike and go through the motions. A month ago an employee also let me take the gloves out into the cold on a bike for a simple test of feel. I like those kinds of shops.

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  3. Hanz (USA) makes waterproof gloves popular with kayakers, which are touch-screen compatible. Very thin and warm. http://www.hanzusa.com/waterproof-gloves/

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    1. Thanks, that's interesting. Does the touch-screen feature work for you?

      I have the ShowersPass Crosspoint gloves and they are hit and miss in that regard (but otherwise excellent for mild weather).

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  4. Humm . . . There is much hyperbole regarding certain items of cycling clothing, perhaps none more so than gloves, which are constantly being re-invented with different kinds of synthetic-breathable-waterproof-superarticulated fingers, etc, but always at a price. I have often persuaded myself that the more money I paid for gloves the warmer and more dexterous my fingers would be. Until, that is, I discovered a £2 pair of Thinsulite gloves (this is a trademark for the material from which the gloves are made). Over the last five years these gloves, renewed each year, have kept my hands warm and dry through the wet Mancunian winter, much more effectively than the forty quid (or more) ones that preceded them. Granted, they won't keep your digits warm in the icy blasts of a Massachusett's cold snap, but in the relatively temperate climate of the British Isles, they work a treat. Whether you can work a computer screen while wearing them I neither know nor care, but you can wipe your nose, shift your gears and use your brakes. If you don't believe me, try them and see. At £2 a pair from a convenience store, you have little to lose. The Fossil

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    1. +1
      Gardening gloves.

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    2. After my latest pair of DeFeets wore out, I actually knitted myself up some gloves specifically for use on the bike - which, depending how you look at it, was either a no-cost or a very expensive solution!

      Gloves from the hardware/convenience store tend to be huge on me and gardening gloves I find too stiff for the bike. But to each their own and if these things work, fantastic.

      Personally I value a well-designed cycling-specific glove, as I have nerve damage in my hands and poor circulation to boot. For cold weather, these Phews are the closest thing to ideal I have tried so far.

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    3. If you have poor peripheral circulation don't mess around. Frost nip is incredibly painful and then you suffer a long long period of anxiety wondering how much damage was done. Myself I do what The Fossil does (or less) but would not recommend it to any but those already more than halfway there.

      There's a problem with being too comfortable. If all your extremities - hands, feet, head - are completely toasty, then your body's internal temperature regulation can go out of whack. When all the sensors say it's a beautiful day your body decides it's summer. By the time your body figures out a mistake has been made hypothermia is nearby. Dressing to ride in the cold and wind is not easy. The balancing act is different for everyone. You found a pair of gloves that work. Good. If it's any kind of long ride keep choices and backup in your saddlebag.

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    4. I share your frustrations and would love to knit a pair of "free" cycling gloves if I can find the right pattern. What weight yarn did you use?

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    5. These are the gloves, D -
      https://www.instagram.com/p/_zseMND7lj
      https://www.instagram.com/p/_MxbWdj7li

      I used Donegal tweed, so aran or DK weight yarn. No pattern; I just improvised. But a good resource for free glove (or anything else) patterns is the Norwegian yarn manufacturer Drops website:
      http://www.garnstudio.com/lang/en/search.php
      Put "gloves" in the search box and brace yourself : )

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    6. > If it's any kind of long ride keep choices and backup in your saddlebag.

      Oh yes. Extra gloves, hat and socks for anything metric century and beyond.

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    7. Re those Instagram pics -- Nice gloves!

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  5. Hi, they look good. Also see Berghaus windstopper gloves,

    http://www.outdoorgear.co.uk/Berghaus-Womens-Windstopper-Gloves-sku36470101.asp?gclid=CNHGs_6mlcsCFSEFwwodj9YJLA

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    1. My friend rides with those (the men's version); thanks for the sale price link.

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  6. What, no flowers! But how can we be sure these are appropriate for women? (Sorry, I was inspired by @cyclingmeekly)! I have always wondered though whether gloves are actually tailored differently for men and women, or are women's gloves simply smaller?

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    1. Perhaps a glove expert could correct me, but I suspect it is mostly the latter. Men's hands are overall larger, but I don't think the proportions are much different.

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  7. it appears that these are not your hands in the photos so i'm assuming your husband also has a pair and agrees with your review?

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    1. It is also not my face in the last photo!

      He agrees and likes these gloves very much. That said, he hasn't much basis for comparison with other gloves, never having being one to cycle in the winter months until 2 years ago. He now owns a pair of Defeets and these - which he finds the warmer and, of course, the more weather-proof of the two.

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    2. The photos also suggest not extremely cold weather. Winter cycling where I live requires hardy clothing from top to bottom. These would have a specialized and limited use.

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    3. Winter temps here are typically 35-45F, with high humidity that exaggerates the feel of the cold.

      See, for instance:
      http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/2014/12/winters-chill-brings-warmer-cold.html

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  8. Anyone else read this and click through to the Phew website and order a pair without a second's hesitation? ;)

    Mine arrived yesterday and I am baffled by the fit. My hands are average/medium sized through the palm, with slightly shorter (proportionately) fingers BUT with disportionately long thumbs. I generally wear a size medium across many brands, but these are way too tight all over but especially in the fingers, which are also extremely long.

    Sadly these aee straight back and I can't see a different size being any better.

    So, if you have slim hands with longer fingers, give these a go. Otherwise, bear in mind your general experience with glove sizing and fit, and proceed accordingly.

    They do look very well designed and well-made, and are pleasingly thin and tactile for a glove that is as warm as Velouria describes.

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    1. Argh, sorry to hear that - and thank you for the feedback.

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    2. My issue as well.

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    3. Really?

      Odd, as I have long fingers and the gloves are a bit loose in the palm, leading me to assume they fit standard proportions. That, plus my husband's palm/finger proportions are fairly standard and he fits the Large pretty much spot on.

      I'll invite the manufacturer to comment on fit.

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  9. Hi all, I own Phew. Most people find the fit of the gloves fine but of course there are always exceptions. If anyone wants to chat with me about fit I am always really happy to help: andrea@phew.cc Its my own small business and all I want is as many happy customers as possible. We started making gloves as my hubby couldn't find any he likes so I guess we did really design on our own personal preferences of fit but we tried to make the fit as standard as possible. Anyway as I said I'm here and happy to help but if you could email me that would really help me rather than ask questions on here. Thanks so much Andrea

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  10. After your review I bought a pair as I have been looking unsuccessfully for a replacement for the pair of Nike DryFit gloves I purchased over 10 years ago which are very light but very warm even down to 30F. These look very promising and I'm looking forward to trying them and will report back.

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