We looked at the Sportful Lobsters when we were thinking about best glove options for gravel and bikepacking. What if, instead of taking both a thick wintery pair of gloves for the stormy hours and a thinner pair for the milder spells, you could take your normal breathable gloves and the hand equivalent of a lightweight but very effective raincoat.
Fully ready for this brainwave to be a disaster, we’ve actually found the Sportful Lobster gloves to be quite the relevation. We deliberately chose them on the large size so they’d fit over a useful range of gloves, they breathe well, they add welcome warmth and dryness, and they roll up to the size of a small energy bar.
They’re not without a couple of limitations, and they’re expensive, but they’re well worth a look for their versatility.
Design and Specifications
The idea behind mittens in general is that nestling your digits together gives them extra warmth. Cyclists need to be able to operate their gears and brakes at the same time as holding on to their handlebars though; hence the lobster evolution
From different brands, you can get them with 1+3 fingers, 2+2 fingers, and 1+1+2 fingers, usually with insulation built in. The Sportful Lobster overgloves have a 2+2-finger design which gives warmth and leaves plenty of finger room to fit another glove underneath.
They’re made from Sportful’s own waterproof and windproof fabric – similar to what you’d find in a very thin single layer raincoat – and apart from the sides of the fingers and thumb, the seams are taped to stop water ingress. (In our test I didn’t notice any significant ingress around the finger seams either.)
The palms and fingertips are patterned with silicon dots for grip, and there are stretch panels over the knuckles.
In terms of fit, the cuff is nice and long, with good elastication at the base of the hand, and there’s a drawstring at the hem which can be easily pulled snug with one hand. Fitting the cuff over a jacket cuff was super easy, with none of the wrist gymnastics you sometimes face when you’ve got one thick glove on and you’re trying to tuck everything in to the other one. (I’m normally a small or medium in gloves, but I got these in a large/extra-large (their middle size), which probably helped.)
Because you can pair the Lobster overgloves with anything from a silk liner to a heavy inner, they’re very versatile.
At 4 degrees C I used them with a midweight thermal glove and they were about as warm as my full winter Giro Proof glove – which I wore on the other hand – and less bulky. I like the Giro Proof a lot, but like other thick gloves, I find that the insulation gets compressed as your fingers push down into the fingertips as you ride. And they can interfere with the levers from time to time. With the Lobster gloves, there was a reasonable amount of loose fabric, but it didn’t interfere with the levers and it felt like there was a useful layer of trapped air between the windproof outer glove and inner glove because the fingers weren’t pressing against the outer. That space also meant there was a nice amount of room for occasional finger wiggling, which helps keep things warm.
To avoid sweatiness, the only thing you probably don’t want to pair them with is a glove with its own waterproof or windproof layer, unless it’s really cold. Below 8 to10 C the Lobsters are leave-on comfortable, paired with the right thickness of inner glove. Much above that and you’d probably just wear a glove that stayed warmish when wet, unless it was really windy.
The trickiest thing about the Sportful Lobsters is that you don’t get the option of using one finger for your grip or your levers. You get used to it, but it might make you realize how often you do that. On a gravel bike on the hoods I normally rest three fingers on the lever and one on the bar; on the drops it's sometimes three on the bar and one on the lever. It’s not so bad on a mountain bike but it does mean you can’t do one-finger braking.
Your mileage may vary, as they say, but the truth is that for me while I loved the feel of these gloves and would very happily use them for commuting and medium length rides, I’d seek a one-finger option – such as the slightly less featured but much cheaper Decathlon Compact Waterproof Windproof Overgloves – if I was going to wear them day in day out for bikepacking, just for that extra lever control. You’ve probably also realized by now that while they’d be a great emergency MTB glove for when your hands threaten to turn to ice, they’d be too delicate to survive many crashes, and probably too loose for the dexterity a lot of riders need for technical riding.
Tech specs: Sportful Lobster Gloves
- Price: $60.00 / £70.00
- Sizes: S/M, L/XL, 2XL
- Colour: Black
- Weight: 46g (pair, L/XL)
- Materials: 100% polyamide
- 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 here