Sportful is a long-established Italian brand from the Dolomites, which sits in the same family as Castelli. Their stuff is detailed, functional, usually a pleasure to use, and occasionally a bit niche.
There’s not that much that’s niche about the comfortable Giara Thermal Gloves (even if Sportful says, ‘A new concept for your gravel rides – the thermal protection of Sportful gloves, applied to the off-road world’), other than the fact that their ideal temperature range felt relatively slender – they were too cold to be winter gloves, and too warm for year-round gloves.
That’s obviously the same for lots of kit, from socks to jerseys, but it’s something to bear in mind, especially given the name. I get cold hands relatively easily, and my main finding in looking for the best gravel and bikepacking gloves was that in cooler temperatures there wasn’t a huge difference between the Giara Thermal Gloves and a thinner more spring-summer off-road glove (like Sportful’s Full Grip Glove).
Design and Specifications
The Giara Thermal Gloves have an unpadded synthetic suede underside with gel padding at the side of the palm and grippy silicone stripes across the top of the palm. The topside of the gloves has a windproof outer face and a soft-brushed inner face. The cuff is a snug, stretchy double layer and the seams are unobtrusive both against the hand and between the fingers.
There’s a reflective logo and reflective dots all the way along the outside of the glove, and there are no specially abrasion resistant sections, all of which reflects the glove’s intent for gravel and adventure rather than MTB.
I found the Giara Thermal Gloves were at their ‘wear and forget’ happy place from about 8-11C (46-52F). Much above that and they’d get a bit warm on the efforts, especially in the sun. From 4-7C (39-45F) they were fine on shorter rides – a more dextrous alternative to more wintery gloves – but they weren't warm enough to wear for more than 40-60 minutes, or on rides which threatened more than light drizzle.
I was testing Sportful’s much thinner and more breathable mesh-backed Full Grip Glove at the same time as the Giara Thermal Gloves – sometimes with one on each hand – and the curious thing was that there wasn’t a night and day difference in how the two models performed in that 4-7C range. The Giaras must have been keeping more wind off, and they held off drizzle better, but I was okay with the airier feel of Full Grips for shorter rides and I wouldn’t have wanted to have worn either pair for longer rides. Moving into spring, the Full Grips definitely became more versatile as the temperatures nudged double figures
In terms of fit and comfort, the Giaras were good to pull on, with a snug soft cuff, a nicely brushed inner and no prominent seams. On the bike the mostly unpadded underside gave a communicative bar feel, and the synthetic suede and silicone overlays caused no problems with grip. Refreshingly, the screen finger actually worked, too.
If I could only have two pairs of gloves to span my year-round off-road cycling, it’s fair to say that these probably wouldn’t be one of them – I’d look to a more cosy and rainproof pair for winter, and in spring I’d put up with an airier pair that took me through to summer.
But that might be an artificial construct. And it’s fair to say the ‘thermal’ label is the main distraction in terms of expectations. As a late fall/mild winter/early spring glove for gravel and road, the Giara Thermal Gloves were an agreeable bonus pair to have around.
Tech specs: Sportful Giara Thermal Gloves
- Price: £55 / $50 / €50 / AUD 79.95
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL
- Colors: Black
- Key materials: Polyester, polyamide, polyamide, polyurethane
- Eco credentials: Sportful doesn't highlight any specific eco credentials for this product but as an organisation is acting on its use of energy and emission, materials and packaging, and supply chain. More details at mvcgroup.com