Gear Review: Swobo Gloves….best gloves ever?

I’ve been wearing my Swobo gloves for about a week and thought it was a goodly time to write a review. If you haven’t heard of Swobo (you live under a rock), you’re not alone. I did a quick tour of all the local bike shops in Long Beach, CA and no one carries their gear and when I asked some people if they had heard of Swobo, they thought I was trying to score some wacky tabacky.

In all seriousness, I think their apparel is nicely designed and doesn’t look like the typical photoshop vomit you see on other cycling gear. They’re also big fans of wool which is enjoying a little renaissance with the help of companies like Rivendell, Portland Cyclewear, and EWR (Earth, Wind, Rider). I like to think that wool is the new “high-tech” fabric, it keeps you warm in the winter, cool in the summer, it wicks moisture, it resists odor and it isn’t made from oil. In fact, it’s a renewable resource.

Anyway, back to the gloves.

They’re wool and on the outside of the right hand is a nice square little brown tag with yellow stitching that says Swobo. Understated. Classy. Sweet. Left to a lesser designer and they would have put racing stripes or flames.

On the flip side there are yellow sticky dots and an awesome little design detail, a sticky hand (hanging loose)! How awesome is that?!

Here’s a detail.

The glove fits…well, like a glove. It’s warm and toasty and has been keeping my hands warm on my morning commutes. The thermometer on my computer has been reading upper 40s and low 50s in the morning and these gloves have been keeping my hands warm. Anything in the low 40s and 30s though, I might use these as liners for another pair of gloves.

The sticky dots (and hand) do their job. They grip the Salsa tape on my road bike and the shellacked cork grips on my touring bike with equal fervor.

The nice thing about these gloves are they’re not too “sporty” (although they do have a sense of humor). They wouldn’t be out of place on your hands while you’re hitting the town, unlike some of the funky designs with multiple colored panels and palm implants. These are just great everyday gloves for on and off the bike.

Another great thing about these gloves is that you can wash them without plastic parts getting all weird. I have yet to wash mine, but I do own several articles of clothing that are made from wool. I would suggest washing it with this because it has lanolin which reconditions and softens the wool. Wash it in cool water in the sink and for godsakes don’t wring it! Do a light squeeze to get some excess water out, then wrap it burrito style in a cotton towel and stand on the towel. This will force the water out of the wool and into the more absorbent towel (this technique works for wool shirts and jerseys as well). Then leave it out to dry.

I have been riding with the gloves for a week and love them. The yellow sticky things aren’t so yellow anymore, and no doubt with time they will chip away, but probably not until I’ve gotten good use out of them.

All Swobo products (at least the ones I’ve purchased) have come with this enigmatic tag. On the flip side it says:

We’ve decided that hang tags, in all their dangling glory, are a waste of paper and natural resources. If you’re in need of extra information concerning Swobo products, or do indeed have a hang tag fetish, visit Swobo.com to get product information. Do what you can….when you can. This isn’t hippy banter, this is old school actions applied to real time issues. Thanks for listening.

You got to love a company that’s willing to put that on all their products.

I highly recommend these gloves because it’s a good product coming from a good company. They do what they’re suppose to with style and humor (who knew gloves could be so funny?). A+


12 Comments

  1. Dominic Dougherty January 31, 2008 6:45 pm 

    Wearing these gloves does not make those ridiculous insect-like handlebars you have any less ugly.

  2. russ roca January 31, 2008 8:12 pm 

    yeah…they’re a lot like the white box gloves but not as ugly, made from a renewable resource, by a company that strives to do good ( http://www.swobo.com/brodeo/talk_story/ ) and something I’d wear in public :)

  3. Moe January 31, 2008 8:25 pm 

    I like Swobo, their wool stuff is top notch, and their fixed gear bike frame rocks!

  4. Justin February 1, 2008 8:38 am 

    Riv sells some wool gloves and I got the same ones at REI for 12 bucks. They have grippies, and are void of the “hang loose” detail. Maybe you could do a nice comparison of wool gloves, noting the pro’s and con’s of each pair?

  5. Jeff the Veloteer February 1, 2008 9:23 am 

    i’m with RL, price should not always be the determining factor when purchasing a product. it often is, which is why wal-mart is one of the largest retailers in america; but when you have a sensible product, made with integrity and purpose (renewable, sustainable) – then that is worth investing a bit more. and don’t forget that when you purchase from a retailer, you are supporting their mission whether you want to or not – so why not buy from companies who have more in mind than the largest profit margins?

  6. Tim Parr February 1, 2008 10:35 am 

    Hey All,

    Guy that designed the gloves here…

    I’m impressed with the level of discussion that can happen over a pair of gloves. Seriously.

    I like to think that we vote with our dollars. In fact, after the last two presidential elections, it may be the last “pure” form of democratic process that we have left in this country. So whether you like the gloves, or the price, or the brand, or our mission….or not, I just wanted to say thanks. You guys raise the bar for everyone who manufactures “stuff”, and listens.

    Tim Parr
    SWOBO

  7. RL Policar February 1, 2008 10:43 am 

    Wow, you’re THE Tim Parr of Swobo!

    How cool is that for you to comment. It really shows that you care about what people think about your products.

    Thanks Tim!

    RL

  8. russ roca February 1, 2008 11:29 am 

    I believe strongly with what Tim says. We vote with our dollar and companies listen to that.

    That is the reason we’re seeing “organics” in our food and now in our apparel. It’s also why you see all the friggin “green” car commercials (who the heck are they kidding? 28mpg is fuel efficient?)

    If it weren’t for the potential profit, all the larger companies would give a rats ass about being green or environmentally friendly. It would be businesses as usual, making things as cheaply as possible without regard to people or nature.

    That is why I am willing to spend a little more for a better product coming from a good company. I always try to buy my bike and camera gear from local companies first, because I know if I don’t, all that there will be left are Best Buys and Walmarts.

    I’ll buy products from Planet Bike (25% to bike advocacy, solar powered building), Xtracycle (has a non-profit called Xaccess), Bike Friday (moved to greener building practices), Swobo (for all the reasons mentioned in the review), Patagonia (for being on the leading edge of responsible production), Rivendell (for their practical approach to bicycles) and I may even consider Trek now (their two wheels one world campaign…still not sure where that’s going :). I do this because I want to acknowledge and encourage what their doing, and also send a message to other companies that they should follow suit.

    Yes, it may cost more sometimes. Yes, I’m fortunate that I have some financial flexibility. However, I have found that these things cost less in the long run because you don’t have to replace them.

    I have a simple motto when it comes to purchasing: Buy it right the first time.

    And “right”, for me has often meant getting something of quality from businesses that are as serious about their products as they are about their profits.

    Russ
    http://russroca.blogspot.com

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