Review: Phew Windster Cycling Gloves. Could Be the Holy Grail!
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:
Ah. Now I get it.
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!).
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.
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.
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.