Spending the summers in France and then going over to Africa for the northern hemisphere winters, I’ve been lucky over the last few years in that I have managed to dodge the really cold part of winter. However this year I’m staying put and as I plan to keep up my training in preparation for next years full racing calendar, I am on the lookout for some really good winter gloves (amongst other things).
Doing some research, I came across these Castelli CW.3.0 gloves, which came out a while back and whilst they have a newer version (CW.3.1), these came in exactly the colour I wanted and it also meant that I saved a few dollars on a product which apart from a few style changes, look to me to be the same as the newer version (top Chirundu.com Racing money saving tip!).
On top of this, I really like the Castelli brand – whilst it is true to say they are usually quite far from the cheapest option, you can (in my experience) be confident that you are getting some very high quality kit that will perform.
Advertised Features & Specs
- Temperature Range: 0°-10°C / 32-50°F
- Silicone print on palm for extra grip
- Uses Patented 3M Thinsulate material
- Clarino synthetic leather palm
- Neoprene cuff with Velcro closure
As with almost everything it seems, these Castelli gloves are made in China, however these days this definitely does not mean that they are automatically cheap and nasty. In fact from the first impressions, to me it looked to be the exact opposite. The stitching along all the seams on my pair was immaculate without a single loose fibre or thread to be found anywhere and what is more it looks to be very secure. On top of this the main materials used to make the gloves are probably about as good as it gets:
3M Thinsulate Material
Most of the glove is made from a patented material from 3M called Thinsulate, a microfiber that is designed to keep you warm in cold conditions and has the properties of being lightweight, breathable and machine washable as well as dry-cleanable.
Thinsulate essentially keeps you warm by capturing and then preventing the warm air molecules radiated from your body from escaping to the outside and because the microfibers are so thin (less than one denier) they can trap more air in the same space than almost all other fibers, both synthetic and natural that are used for insulation.
What is more the material still allows moisture to escape, thus they help you keep warm as well as stay dry and according to 3M is one of the warmest clothing insulations on the market.
These Castelli CW.3.0 Gloves use the 100 gram version of Thinsulate that £M describe as being suitable for very cold conditions or light activity levels (your hands and fingers don’t do much work whilst cycling).
Clarino Synthetic Leather Palm
The palms on the Castelli CW Gloves are made using a specialist synthetic leather called Clarino, which is produced by a company called Kuraray, one of the leading manufacturers of synthetic leather products, specializing in shoes, sports equipment and performance clothing.
Doing some digging, Clarino utilizes a non-woven material and ultra-fine fibres, with the claimed benefits as follows:
- It is stronger and lighter than real leather
- Comfortable as well as Breathable
- More durable and consistent when compared to real leather – Always soft and flexible, even in cold and wet weather
- Easy to care for – Machine washable in cold water
- Excellent versatility, can make it in many colors
As well as these materials, Castelli have added an exterior membrane that they say reduces the amount of water and wind that can get through.
Silicone print on Palm
To increase grip levels, the Castelli CW.3.0 glove also has added silicone pattern to the underside of the fingers and the palm sections.
The use of all these clever materials and the science that goes behind them sounds really great in theory, but just how well does this stack up in the real world:
I took the pre-sunrise photo above on a cold winters morning in December here in France as I was getting ready to go out on my first ride with the gloves. Whilst it was not freezing the temperatures were below 5° Celsius (41°F) and thus even from the very first ride, they were definitely going to be truly tested in the conditions they are designed to be used in as this sits nicely within their advertised intended operating temperature range of 0°-10°C / 32-50°F.
At the onset of Autumn and then into early winter, I had been using my lighter, but full fingered Gill gloves. However as the temperatures started to drop towards 5°C they were simply not adequate and it would not take long before my fingers became painfully cold.
So far I have tested them in temperatures ranging from 9°C down to about 4°C (48-39°F). Most of my rides have been in pretty dry conditions although on a few there was a lot of low hanging and very thick mist which quickly makes the exterior of all your clothes, including the gloves wet and I have now also tested them on a three and a half hour ride in the wet and cold rain. All rides that I count are also of an hour or more long, with the longest being just over 3.5 hours (I will of course be adding to these results during the course of this winter).
Putting on the Castelli CW.3.0 Gloves for the first time, it was noticeable that they were a little thicker and a little stiffer than my trusty Gill’s, but the difference was small. This makes for a comfortable glove that you instantly know will be plenty flexible enough for accurate breaking and gear changing, but it did make me worry as to whether they would offer enough protection from the cold.
Warmth & Dryness
So far my hands and more importantly my fingers have been comfortable. On the colder morning starts, you can feel that it is cold outside the glove, but I would not say that my fingers have been cold themselves (if that makes sense). I would say that their limit would definitely be at about 0°C/32°F and not colder.
Even during the long and very wet ride in cold conditions, I would never describe my hands as getting cold or completely wet. This is impressive as I must say that even with booties on, once the water had got through and to my feet, they got really cold but my hands were still comfortable.
It is true to say that the gloves are not completely waterproof and during this very wet ride, they did eventually get very damp, but not actually soaking wet. I think having a glove like this that is a little breathable is the perfect compromise as on the longer warmer rides at around 9°C, I have also been impressed by how dry my hands have been kept, where I would have expected my sweat to build up a whole lot more.
On damp, but not completely wet rides, I have had no noticeable moisture penetrate into the glove and your hands remain lovely, warm and dry.
Movement & Dexterity
As far as dexterity goes, I have no problems with the standard tasks like changing gear and breaking. Other tasks that you may sometimes do whilst riding a bike like adjusting your helmet strap and taking your glasses off etc is a little more tricky, but still possible. I do however find that taking small food sachets and my mobile phone out of a tight rear pocket quite tricky, but I guess with a full winter glove this is to be expected and you can’t have it all ways.
One point to highlight is that the extra grip that you get with the silicone pattern printed on the fingers and the palms is really excellent. Sure this helps when holding onto the hoods, especially in damp and wet conditions.
However I have found it really useful when reaching down grabbing, drinking from and then replacing water bottles. In winter especially when hands are a little colder and with gloves on, I have seen many drinks bottles slip through the hands and go down onto the road.
This extra grippy surface really does work, it gives you more confidence and is enough to make this task (and other similar ones) a whole lot easier and more secure.
The soft inner material is really smooth and comfortable and at no time have I ever been annoyed by a badly positioned seam or anything else.
As long as you are not riding in below freezing temperatures, I would highly recommend the Castelli CW.3.0 Glove and they are as good as anything else I have ever seen or used within their operating range. Price wise, like the latest Castelli CW.3.1 glove, they were on the more expensive side of what is/was available when released. But now you can get them at a much reduced price which in my eyes now makes them excellent value for money, especially when you consider the quality of the materials that has gone into making them.
Cost & Where to Buy
As the CW.3.0 model is no longer being produced, you have to look around a bit for them, but I managed to find them on Amazon, both in the UK and in the US. Failing that you could always get the newer and “improved” CW.3.1: