Cold Comfort: Outdoor Research PL 400 Gloves by Tamia Nelson

Cold hands, warm heart? Well, my heart must be incandescent, because my hands start to throb with pain whenever the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve tried any number of ways to keep them warm, but nothing has worked. Until now, that is. Not long ago, I bought a pair of Outdoor Research PL 400 women’s gloves from Tree Fort Bikes. To be honest, my hopes weren’t very high. I didn’t expect the gloves to measure up. But it looks like I was wrong. So far, the PL 400s have proven more than equal to the job of keeping the cold at bay.

I’ve now worn them while riding in temperatures as low as 30 degrees without suffering any discomfort. The gloves fit well, too. They’re warm without being bulky—despite their double-layer fleece construction—and snug without being tight. The fingers are just the right length, too, and the tapered cuffs tuck easily inside my jacket sleeves. The gloves also boast silicone-rubber friction pads on the fingers and palms, insuring that you won’t lose your grip on bars, brakes, or shifters. And they have handy clips to keep them together when I’m not wearing them. (Few things are more useless than a single glove, after all.)

Here’s a photo:

Outdoor Research PL 400 Gloves

Squint a bit, and you’ll see that my cyclometer registers 41 degrees. That’s in the full sun. The actual temperature at the time I snapped the shot was about 38, but the gloves kept my fingers toasty right up till the minute I took them off. Now here’s a closeup showing the friction pads:

Get a Grip

And another of the locked fleece inner layer:

Getting Fleeced

Fleece is a versatile material. After the better part of an hour spent climbing a succession of hills, my hands were pretty sweaty, but the gloves hadn’t become sodden. Though the weave is tight enough to break the wind on 40-mph descents, the fabric is still breathable.

Tight Weave

Only time will tell how well the PL 400s will work as temperatures fall to mid-winter lows—mittens are the only choice in zero-degree weather, I find—but these gloves are compact enough to use as liners in my lobster-mitt shells, so I don’t think we’ll be parting company, even in January. I’ll keep you posted. Oh, yes… If you’re wondering if PL 400s are available in men’s sizes, too, the answer is yes. So if you’re hands have been craving cold-weather comfort at not too great a cost, this Outdoor Research product may just be worth trying.

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For half a century, Tamia Nelson has been ranging far and wide by bike, boat, and on foot. A geologist by training, an artist since she could hold a pencil, a photographer since her uncle gave her a twin-lens reflex camera when she was 10, she's made her living as a writer and novelist for two decades. Avocationally her interests span natural history, social history, cooking, art, and self-powered outdoor pursuits, and she has broad experience in mountaineering, canoeing, kayaking, cycling, snowshoeing and skiing.