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Great waterproofing is the main strength of Pearl Izumi's PRO Barrier WxB gloves, while they're breathable too. They're good wet weather outer winter gloves when the temperatures aren't too nippy, but you'll need a liner to get a full season (and possibly a better fit) out of them.
Dampness and water ingress are two of the chief culprits for cold hands in the winter, and these PRO Barrier WxB gloves look to deal with these two issues head on, with fairly qualified success.
The outer fabric incorporates an 'OutDry' membrane, which functions a bit like a Gore-Tex (or similar) membrane to keep the elements out while allowing the covered body part to breathe.
There's no reason to mess around here: it works brilliantly well when the heavens open, and can even take a full 10-second submersion in my bathroom sink. You're never going to test this unless you're unlucky enough to come off and land in a deep puddle, but it's nice to know these have you well protected – certainly, heavy weather is no problem.
Moreover, on the move it allows moisture to escape without exposing your hands to too much cold air. Some gloves claim breathability just because they're thinner and let the outside air in when on the move, but the OutDry membrane definitely manages to let moisture out while remaining decently windproof. Hands stay drier for longer as far as I can tell, and that's what you want.
Thermal insulation has taken a bit of a hit here compared to the more insulated, warmest winter gloves around, but the lack of physical bulk means they allow more dexterity than those heavier alternatives. They're 99g for the set, but that's probably down to the construction of the surface fabric. Plus, they size quite big – my thumbs, especially, could often get lost in the spare fabric around the digit, while there's a little space for fingers to move around inside too.
That's not ideal – although if you want these gloves to see you through the very cold temperatures of winter, you're going to need a liner inside to add that extra insulation, maybe from around 5-6°C and lower, and this will take up that extra space.
I have a thin merino liner which works perfectly as that's naturally breathable too, but any liner should do the trick in the really cold stuff. If you have particularly large hands you're catered for with an XL and XXL offering too.
They also have good length up the wrists too, and are fastened by a simple Velcro tab. The positive and negative surfaces aren't the chunkiest I've seen, but they've stuck together well during testing.
The palms don't feature any padding, but they are made out of what Pearl Izumi calls 'AX Suede'. The idea is that it can absorb surface water that might otherwise inhibit grip. I'm not quite sure where it goes when it does this, but the effect is that the surface area is left as grippy as it otherwise would have been in the dry.
It's clever stuff, and effective too – it's arguably the most secure grip I've had on the bars in the rain, and very tactile when shifting mechanically thanks to the material spreading all the way down the fingers. No touchscreen-compatible pads, but that's not really a problem.
Visibility is taken care of via fluorescent green sections and one or two reflective highlights. That means they might not match with your riding kit, which could be an issue if you care about such things. A range of offerings or at least a blacker version with more reflective bits could make them more appealing if you wanted to accessorise your usual riding kit with these gloves.
And I wouldn't blame you if you did: they're really impressive – as they should be for their fairly hefty £70 price tag. That puts them at the top end of the winter glove price range – and that's without a liner. They're not the most expensive we've tested – Shimano's S-Phyre Winter Gloves are £99.99 – but for colder weather Giro's 100 Proof gloves, also £69.99, or Mavic's Ksyrium Pro Thermo gloves at £70, are possibly better value.
But still, they're strong options as a weatherproof outer, and using (or not) a liner arguably makes them more versatile. I'd suggest you put them on your 'try on' list for the next time you head down to your local bike shop.
Their performance goes a long way to justifying the price tag, but a liner is required to make them true all-winter gloves
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearl Izumi Unisex Pro Barrier WXB Gloves
Size tested: L
Tell us what the product is for
Pearl Izumi says: "Blame it on the rain no more with our premier waterproof shell. Utilizing Outdry, the P.R.O. Barrier WxB Glove keeps the wet out and warmth in, making them perfect for cool, rainy rides. Or size up and use these as an outer liner overtop our P.R.O. Softshell Lite Glove for superior performance when the weather turns wintry."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- P.R.O. Barrier WxB powered by Outdry® provides optimal water protection by bonding the waterproof, breathable membrane directly to the external layer of the glove
- AX Suede G-Series Grid WR palm offers superior grip on wet surfaces
- Light fleece lined interior
- Anatomic fit maximizes finger dexterity for shifting and braking
- Hook and loop closure
- Reflective elements for low light visibility
- Fabrics: back of hand 74% nylon 14% spandex 12% polyester; palm 80% nylon 20% polyurethane
- Weather Forecast: Cool with rainfalls
- Temperature Rating: [down to] 10 degrees [claimed]
They seem very hardy, with seams strong enough to take a temporary submersion.
For the cool and wet weather that they're designed for, they're superb. Only the need for a liner in the really cold temperatures knocks them back.
The Velcro tabs seem quite light, but they've worked perfectly well during testing.
I have quite long digits, and the gloves are just long enough in this area to accommodate them without cutting into the webbing of my hands. However, I also have thin digits, and they tended to 'float' a lot inside without a liner.
They size generously, which is good given that you might want a thin liner on the coldest days too. On their own, they can be baggy.
Without a liner they're comfortable without being spectacular.
You get a lot of technical performance here, but you can't ignore a £69.99 price tag, especially as the colourway might not allow them to match up with your chosen winter gear. Plus, you'll need to invest in a thermal liner for deep winter.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine, but I'd recommend using a technical wash to preserve the OutDry membrane.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Waterproof, breathable, grippy palms.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Need a liner for cold temperatures, a bit baggy, expensive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are many cheaper alternatives, but can they do the waterproof/breathability job as well as these? Giro's 100 Proof gloves and Mavic's Ksyrium Pro Thermo gloves are the same price, but offer more insulation in colder weather. Shimano's S-Phyre Winter Gloves are £99.99, while Rapha's Pro Team gloves are the same price as the Pearl Izumis, and will also need to be paired with a liner to get all-temperature performance.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if there was a less colourful version.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Technically, the PRO Barrier WxB gloves are excellent, but they're expensive and you need an additional liner to get a full winter out of them. Overall, I'd say they're still very good, and that's an 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding