Nicely made, comfortable gloves for cool weather

For a pair of lightweight winter gloves, the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Softshell Lite gloves are surprisingly effective. They've kept my hands comfortable in temperatures down to 5°C. They're also touchscreen-friendly, reinforced in the right places and have a decent-sized, soft nosewipe patch for those cold days when your nostrils turn into dripping taps.

  • Pros: Light, surprisingly warm for their minimal bulk
  • Cons: Starting to lose silicone at the fingers after just a few hundred kilometres

The secret to the P.R.O. Softshell Lite's chill-prevention capability is the combination of a softshell outer layer on the back (clue in the name and all that) with a layer of Primaloft insulation between it and your hands. The softshell fabric keeps out the wind and the insulation keeps in the heat, eliminating the two major sources of chill. There's a layer of very fine fleece fabric against the back of your hand too, which is both warm and comfortable.

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That said, these are not the gloves to choose if you like your hands to feel full-on toasty warm in single-figure temperatures. There's enough insulation to stop that feeling that you've been in a gloveless snowball fight, but you're still aware that it's cold out.

The unpadded palm is made from Clarino synthetic leather and there are thin strips of silicone on the palm and first two fingers for grip.

Pearl Izumi Unisex Pro Softshell Lite Gloves - palm.jpg

There are plenty of well-thought-out details. The cuff is about 3cm longer than you'd find on a summer glove, so it reaches the end of your sleeves easily. There are reflective patches on the back so your hand signals are visible in car headlines (with the usual caveat that the driver has to be actually looking) and the index finger and thumb tips are conductive so you can operate your phone with them.

The backs of the thumbs are made from soft, absorbent fleece so you've somewhere to wipe your nose. (Incidentally, if you've ever wondered just why winter riding makes your nose run, it's because the liquid's actually coming from your eyes. Cold air irritates your eyes, they produce tears which drain through a duct from your eyes into your nose and – hey presto! – your nose is a dripping tap.)

> Buyer's Guide: 21 of the best winter cycling gloves

Pearl Izumi rates the P.R.O. Softshell Lite gloves as suitable for temperatures from 2°C to 7°C. For me, that's a bit optimistic; below 5°C I wanted something warmer. However, I wasn't going flat-out on any of my winter rides. If I'd been on the rivet and generating more of my own heat, they'd probably have been fine. This is always the case with winter gear, though; it has to be tweaked to your personal tastes and riding style.

Winter also means rain, and Pearl Izumi doesn't make any extravagant claims for the P.R.O. Softshell Lites being waterproof, because they're not. The DWR coating on the backs helps light rain run off, but heavy rain gets through. You'll want something beefier if you know you're going out in a downpour (and you're far more hardcore than me).

Pearl Izumi Unisex Pro Softshell Lite Gloves - back.jpg

At an RPP of £40, they're right in the ballpark for this glove style from a company that's not an elite operator like Rapha, Castelli or Assos nor a house-brand value-for-money marque like dhb or B'Twin. They're a shade pricier than similar offerings from GripGrab and Endura, but not by enough to matter.


Nicely made, comfortable gloves for cool weather

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Pearl Izumi Unisex Pro Softshell Lite Gloves

Size tested: L

Tell us what the product is for

Keeping your hands warm when the weather isn't.

Pearl Izumi says:

"The new P.R.O. Softshell Lite Glove adds lightweight insulation to wind and water resistance for bulk-free maneuvering through cool, wet miles. P.R.O. Softshell combines with 50g Primaloft® Gold insulation on the back of hand, while a synthetic leather palm with silicone traction printing helps riders maintain a good grip on the handlebars. Cool weather benefits include an extended cuff to close the gap to sleeves and fleecy soft nose-wiping surface to keep your face clean. Reflective elements keep you safe under wintry skies."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Pearl Izumi lists these features:

P.R.O. Softshell with DWR finish provides wind and water protection

50g Primaloft® Gold insulation provides warmth without bulk

Conductive synthetic leather on the glove's index finger and thumb works with touch screen devices

Clarino™ synthetic leather palm provides superior softness and durability

Fleece lined interior

1:1 Glove fit maximizes finger dexterity for shifting and braking

Soft fleece wiping surface on thumb

Long gauntlet design keeps wrists warm and prevents air leakage

Reflective elements for low–light visibility

Shell: Back of Hand: 100% polyester; Palm: 60% nylon 40% polyurethane; Liner: 100% polyester; Insulation: 100% polyester; Imported

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Tidily made. Good to see double stitching for the palm panels.

Rate the product for performance:

Warm down to about 10°C and effective at keeping the chill at bay down to about 5°C. In between, you can tell it's cold, but it just doesn't quite matter.

Rate the product for durability:

Generally good, but after a few hundred kilometres the silicone strips on the fingertips are showing signs of wear.

Rate the product for fit:

No overly-tight or baggy sections. They fit, well, like a glove.

Rate the product for sizing:

Depending on the brand, I usually take a size L or XL in gloves. These are an L and fit well, so no complaints about sizing.

Rate the product for weight:
Rate the product for comfort:

All the fabrics that contact the backs of your hands are soft and very easy on the skin. The synthetic leather palm is supple and inoffensive, but there's no padding. That's fine by me, but some people do like a bit more cushioning.

Rate the product for value:

At an RPP of £40, they're right in the ballpark for this glove style from a company that's not an elite operator Rapha, Castelli or Assos nor a house-brand value-for-money marque like dhb or B'Twin. They're a shade pricier than similar offerings from GripGrab and Endura, but not by enough to matter.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Unfazed at being bunged in a 30°C mixed wash along with everything else.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well; these gloves are comfy, and they keep out the chill.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Fit and comfort; looks – the black, silver and red colour scheme is snazzy.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product


How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

As mentioned in the section on value, they're very reasonable.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

These are very good gloves for moderately wintry days. They only lose points for the wear on the silicone strips. Aside from that, they're a bang-on 4/5.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 5ft 11in  Weight: 85kg

I usually ride: Scapin Style  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.