A Borderlands Glove: Sportful Fiandre Light

An A+ apparel game isn’t an easy thing to achieve in cycling. Like any rarefied outing—like going to the opera—the correct wardrobe demands two conditions be met. The first is simple enough: Wearing the correct items demands possessing the items. There’s an analog with possession being nine-tenths of the law, but the only way someone ends up busted in this scenario is if they don’t meet the second condition.

Condition two requires actually choosing the correct item before the ride in question.

Being a fair-weather rider confers the benefit of always having the correct wardrobe. The sunny and 75 day doesn’t require more thought than putting on shorts and a jersey.

But choosing clothing for 50 degrees and rain demands a fair dollop of faith. To be underdressed on a day like that is to be miserable. And to be overdressed on such an occasion is to … also be miserable. As a result, I often find myself overdressed because I’d rather my torso be enclosed in a rainforest than to risk hypothermia. The upshot is that my mistakes are rooted in my inability to trust that some pieces will keep me comfortable on a day when most cyclists look out the window and laugh, “As if.”

I mention this dilemma because Sportful’s Fiandre Light glove occupies a habitat of usefulness that is unique among the many gloves I’ve worn in my career. Its wheelhouse is a day that like Groundhog Day did for Bill Murray has returned to me every day this week: temperatures in the upper 40s and low 50s with intermittent rain and occasional assaults of hail.

All my truly waterproof gloves contain far too much insulation for such a day. And all my uninsulated gloves don’t offer any protection from the rain. I feel like two out of the three bears.

The Fiandre Light Glove is windproof and rain resistant, a pair of attributes that seems easy to find in a glove meant for anything above freezing, but makes as much sense at 50 degrees as a coat and tails for a trip to McDonald’s. Sportful took the unusual step of taping the seams, which presents to benefits—it increases the glove’s water resistance and it gives the inside of the glove a more comfortable fit.

It’s as devoid of insulation as a pro cyclist’s body is of fat, a fact that improves the glove’s fit.

I can attest that in light rain the Fiandre Light makes a great gatekeeper. But its performance is limited to resistance; in a heavy downpour, water will penetrate the fabric. The fact that the glove is windproof means that hands are saved from being humiliated by that beast I call Coldwet. Even so, they do breathe enough to avoid turning into a fish tank should the day not be completely yucky.

The palm and fingers are covered in silicone gripper stripes that provide a confident hold for things like brake levers and water bottles. A tiny patch sewn into the fingertip of each of the index fingers allows enough heat to get through to operate a phone’s touchscreen, even when wet.

The cuff, which is cut from neoprene, provides a snug but sufficiently stretchy fit to keep water from running into the glove and not make the glove impossible to remove after three hours in the rain.

There’s another feature that makes this glove notable: it comes in six sizes, from XS to XXL. My hands are relatively fine-boned, well suited to a computer keyboard, and I wear the large. It comes in two colors: black and orange. The logo on the back of the glove is reflective to offer just a bit more visibility.

The utter lack of bulk in this glove means that they can be stuffed in a jersey pocket and still leave room for a pair of arm warmers. If I was headed out for a ride that threatened rain, I can guarantee these would be at the bottom of my middle pocket.

The Fiandre Light is one of those gloves of such utility that anyone who rides on days with intermittent rain would do well to have at hand, pun intended. They’re just $40, a tiny investment in comfort.

Final thought: Equipped with these, spring is much less worrisome.

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  1. bart says

    I’m always interested in trying different light weight gloves. I have one pair that is my favorite, they’re wearing out, and I can no longer buy that specific item. I’m going to give these a try to see if they provide the perfect functional replacement.

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