Castelli Diluvio gloves >> $50
The lowdown: Neoprene gloves to be pulled out on the wettest of cold days
Pros: Unaffected by precipitation, regardless of temperature
Cons: Rely on hand sweat for insulation, not an ideal system for dry days in the cold
The thing about a winter glove is that one really doesn’t want to ever test them. Find out the pair you’ve selected isn’t up to the task 30 minutes into a two-hour ride and there’s only one possible result: 15 minutes of crying in the shower as fingers defrost.
And so, with great courage and more than a hint of luck, we bravely set out to test Castelli’s Diluvio gloves in a series of icy, muddy, sandy, ridiculous cyclocross races across a slew of 20-degree mornings in Boulder, Colorado. What could be a tougher proving ground?
What stands out immediately is the sleekness of the neoprene glove, and the smooth feel of these wetsuits for your hands. The short of it is that the gloves excelled in the cold and muddy conditions, and perhaps even too well. If the Diluvios have a fault, it’s that they can actually feel too warm.
Castelli lists the ideal temperate range between 39 and 59 degrees, but in the pandemonium of a ‘cross race — and this tester’s lack of actual skill — the gloves went swampy on the inside, though they never lost their grip on the bars, even while desperately bunny-hopping logs. That swamp is part of the design, but it’s not the most comfortable way of staying warm. It is good to know, though, that the Diluvios are actually good to colder temperatures than Castelli notes.
The Diluvios cut wind exceptionally well, and they do so without bulk, thanks to the Japanese neoprene. The only stitching comes on the outside of the gloves using the same approach as a wetsuit, with thermo-welded construction on the inside.
The gloves are non-breathable, but that’s the point: If your hand sweats, the sweat is at body temperature and stays there, actually warming a rider’s hands over a long, chilly effort. It’s precisely the same idea as a full wetsuit, which allows a small amount of water in and uses the water itself as insulation. That swampiness is inherent in the design, and at the end of our 45 minutes of cyclocross-induced pain, it’s what was still keeping the hands toasty warm.
The Diluvios, then, should not be your glove of choice for simply cold days. Without a significant level of insulation, it’s possible that your once-sweaty, warm hands will turn icy in high winds and cold temperatures. When the sun is out, best go with a pair of windproof, classically constructed, and insulated gloves.
But when the sun hides away, the temperatures hover just above freezing and the sky is threatening some sort of precipitation — Mother Nature’s only hesitation in spitting downwards borne only out of uncertainty: snow or rain? — then you call on the Diluvio. The water that would turn any other glove into a sopping, chilling mess simply brings the Diluvio to life.
The grip is tacky, and the cuffs are cut long enough to slide nicely underneath a long sleeve jersey to keep the wind, cold and wet at bay.
If we have a complaint, it’s that the logo’s a bit large, but that’s really just small potatoes.
The glove does what it says it will, and though it takes some getting used to, for the right conditions the low-bulk, high-warmth Diluvios are impossible to beat.