Review: Planet Bike’s “Borealis” Winter Gloves

It seems that spring has sprung for most of the country…and so this review may seem a bit late for those of you looking for winter gear for your cold commutes. Since this was MY first real winter in over 20 years, I was expecting a ton of snow and ice in which to test Planet Bike’s “Borealis” winter gloves — I wanted to run these gloves through the worst conditions I could find, even snowball fights and epic sled rides. Alas, it barely snowed here and the longer I waited for Mother Nature to do her thing, the closer to spring it got…


Here’s a bit about the gloves straight from Planet Bike’s website:

-Windproof back panel and forchettes
-Removable liner for quick dry time
-Ultra-soft Fleece thumb
-Reflective piping for night visibility
-Water resistant, reinforced Serino palm
-3-in-1 design allows flexible temperature range by using liners, outer shells only, or outer shells with liners
-Neoprene cuff/pull tab with hook and loop closure

This 3-in-1 system is pretty handy…wear the liners on cool days, the outers when you need windproof protection or liners and shells together when things get really nasty out there. I was on the cusp between sizes L and XL (I chose the large size)…so the liners are a bit snug but the outers, strangely, have just enough room to wear other liner gloves in my collection. The stock liners are fairly lightweight fleece, so a heavier liner was pressed into service when the temperatures really bottomed out. Here are the fleece liners:


The fleece liners don’t have any grip-enhancing goodies on them, so they can be a tad slippery all by themselves. I didn’t spend too much time riding with just the liners — when it was warm enough, I had other full-finger gloves that I prefer using, and when the temperatures dropped I grabbed the outer shells (which have plenty of grip). Take a look at all the grippy stuff and reinforcement patches on the palms:


Feature-wise, these gloves have a lot going for them…good reinforcements on the palm, a generous (and soft!) nose-wiping area on the thumbs, a neoprene cuff and simple closures that did a really good job of sealing out chilly drafts. And, despite their seeming bulk, I had no trouble manipulating the brake and shift levers on any of the bikes I ride. Even the small thumb-lever on Campagnolo Ultrashift levers was no trouble. Seeing as how this was my first time with lobster-style gloves, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that these gloves really didn’t interfere with the operation of the shifters as I had feared prior to riding with them.

The grey piping on the gloves is highly reflective, so the Borealis gloves are a good choice for nighttime riding or when extra visibility is key.

(Don’t let the bright sunshine fool you…it was 15 degrees F when I took this picture!)

Although these gloves are not fully waterproof, they fended off most of the rain and spray from my rides. If you’re heading out into a downpour, however, there may be better choices in gloves for you…something with a vapor-permeable waterproof liner and taped seams. As far as temperatures go, I was comfortable down to around 10 degrees F…with temps in the teens, I could get about an hour of riding before my fingers started to tingle with cold, but below that, I would have to invest in hand-warmer packets, pogies or something else to keep my digits warm.

At a retail price of around $42.00, these gloves are a pretty smart choice for cold-weather commuters. The Borealis gloves are substantially less expensive than other similar “lobster” gloves, yet have most of (if not all) the features in those pricier gloves. And, of course, Planet Bike has you covered for other protective gear and accessories, no matter what season you ride in. Swing on over to their website to take a look.

Coming up later in the week, we will be reviewing some cold-weather shoe covers from Planet Bike. Stayed tuned for that!


  1. ethan March 19, 2012 5:56 am 

    I have an older pair of these. Their good (for me) to about 20°F. When they get wet they get very heavy. But I like them, and I used them a lot this (milder) winter. I also like the big nose wiping area.

  2. John Jameson March 19, 2012 8:44 am 

    Planet bike’s trendy dark gloves make my pet peeve cry. If I’m signalling with my hands…why would I want stealth gray/black gloves? I have a set of Youngstown gloves that are bright freaking neon green with a giant reflective patch. Gray piping is nice IF the car has its headlights on and pointing right at you. I want my gloves to look like traffic cones on poles and hurt your eyes from all directions, day or night!

  3. Ghost Rider March 19, 2012 10:41 am 

    These sorts of comments make me laugh…if the shoes or the bag or the gloves or the helmet isn’t screaming yellow, they’re somehow some sort of hazardous abomination.

    Frankly, I think you give motorists way too much credit — they have no idea why your hands are waving up, down or sideways.

  4. John Jameson March 19, 2012 10:59 am 

    Hah! You’re probably right. But I am picky about my gloves, because I’m commuting in street clothes, so they are one of my only opportunities to be shiny.

  5. Ghost Rider March 19, 2012 12:12 pm 

    @John — well, in that context those gloves make perfect sense!

    Extra lights and reflectives on the bike itself make good sense in these situations. If you forget your gloves, your bike is always with you and can help “light your way”.

  6. Elizabeth March 19, 2012 7:28 pm 

    Really? Down into the teens, eh? Was that with the stock liner they came with? What other liners did you use from your own stash?

    My fingers are just cold!!!! I need mittens when it drops much below freezing… but that’s just me.

  7. Ghost Rider March 19, 2012 8:05 pm 

    I have some heavyweight REI fleece windproof gloves that work as mitten liners — I tried those in the PB gloves and it was a tad snug but workable.

    Also, I have waterproof neoprene “frog gloves’ from Serius that worked, and a pair of middleweight wool liners that did the trick down to about 20 degrees.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *