With the move out of central London and a subsequently much longer commute, I felt compelled to adjust the gear that’s keeping me safe and sound, day in day out. Hence my winter gloves underwent an upgrade in December when the temperatures repeatedly dropped close to freezing (granted, I don’t usually ride ≤4C – but 15 miles in 5 degrees are still a challenge for the average glove). After a review of the market and the decision to go with battery-operated gloves in the first instance, the choice fell onto the RST Pro Series Paragon 6 Heated Glove – a level 1 KP CE-certified waterproof glove that employs RST’s own SinAqua lining designed to keep moisture out. I decided on battery-operated gloves to be less dependent on a single manufacturer’s hardwired system, with the added bonus of being able to take the gloves skiing. Downside – naturally – being that longer journeys would require additional battery packs, but I was specifically looking at kit to support my commutes. So here we go.
The knuckle is made of TPU – thermoplastic polyurethane (fig 1). Discovered all the way back in 1937 and employed across the industries where you want characteristics somewhere between plastic and rubber: comfort and impact strength whilst comfortable, and robust weather and abrasion resistance. The knuckles are incidentally also the aspect of the glove that are indeed CE certified to level 1 (hence the level 1 KP = knuckle protection).
The palm is padded with full grain leather, and whilst the fingers and the padding all around feel substantial, it’s easy to operate controls on your motorcycle and helmet with it (well, when I say easy, then I’m comparing this to my old Held gloves which were thick but by no means as well insulated). There is an additional tag on the glove which reads 3M Thinsulate. Whilst not mentioned in most online descriptions, this should be responsible for the decent thermal insulation the gloves provide. The insulation and comfort really feel 1st class – as you would expect from a glove that costs somewhere close to £200. I obtained them from my favourite supplier, sportsbikeshop.co.uk (not sponsored) for around £189, so watch out for special deals! Now, the website also mentions that the gloves have so-called ‘Smart Touch Leather’ on the index finger and thumbs (see fig 3). I failed to appreciate the difference between the different fingers – as to say, none of them can operate my iPhone touchscreen. Maybe that’s not what smart touch fabric means…but then, what is it?
The hook and loop adjuster around the wrist keeps the glove secure and is easy to operate with your gloves on. The control button to operate the heating contains LED indicators – red for hot (60℃), amber (which looks more like both green & red are switched on - 50℃), and green (you guessed it - 40℃). The heat is mostly on the back of your fingers and back of the hand – makes most sense for the use-case as a motorcyclist. Batteries last (according to RST) for 2.5-4 hours; I haven’t run a test myself, but I’d wager this is an optimistic estimate.
Now if the temperature options provided sound toasty to you then you’re not far off the mark: when switched to the highest temperature, these gloves really are too warm to be worn anywhere other than outside in the blistering cold. For me personally, amber and green are the better compromise here, unless my hands are about to freeze off and need a quick boost. Frankly, that’s all I could use the red setting for anyway – the heating circuit inside the well-insulated gloves get so hot on the highest setting that you are at risk of developing a first-degree burn (read: blister) where the heated wire originates from the on/off button and tracks into the insulation. This is also one of the two gripes I have with these gloves: whilst insulation is great, the heating wire is so close to your skin that you need to watch the temperature transfer very carefully and switch to lower heat on longer rides to avoid a skin burn (been there, done that!). The second issue is the connection between glove and battery – it’s a round connector with central pin (fig 4-5); one of them fits perfectly, the other creates a markedly looser connection.
As the battery is stored in a waterproof compartment above the wrist, movement can sometimes loosen that connection and make the heating function unreliable - requiring you to stop and readjust the connection if that happens. Not great! The good news is that the batteries are a fairly standard piece of kit: they are frequently used for a lot of heated gear from other manufacturers – I have replaced similar ones in my mother’s skiing gloves before and can be obtained reasonably priced from Amazon or your favourite e-Auction house.
Overall verdict: 3 out of 5 stars – excellent insulation, warm and waterproof whilst thin enough to not affect your dexterity a great deal. The heating is a feature that works well within its limitations – watch the heat exposure, and you’ll be fine! And for the (in my point of view) misleading term ‘Smart touch fabric’, I might write to RST about that.
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