The Knox Zero With Outdry Glove Review
With the typical choice of 2 gloves (summer and winter) I have a problem because the weather doesn't always ideally suit either pair.
My frustrations start at about late September when autumn brings chilly evenings at first then full blown indifference as if the weather really can’t be bothered. The last few years have seen the majority of October, November and December spent at between 10 and 15 degrees which is too warm for my Helds to be comfortable. Jan and Feb are usually icy and nasty; perfect weather for the Helds before it warms up again to double figures for April and May although it’s either too chilly and/or wet for the Biomechs. In the past I’d wear my sports gloves with a waterproof over-glove to give more insulation and the water resistance necessary for these 4 or 5 months of the year.
Planet Knox's Zero Glove With Outdry Technology
Early in 2011 Knox sent me a press release about their new Zero glove which features their new (in 2011) Outdry technology and I was immediately interested. Outdry is Knox’s name for their waterproof and breathable membrane and what they are making a fuss about is that this membrane is bonded to the outside layer of the glove rather than being nearer the skin as is typical on many winter gloves. Like the best textile suits (Rukka etc) this bonding process means water doesn’t get any further than the outer layer so the glove doesn’t get waterlogged, thus doesn’t chill as readily plus it dries out quicker.
This Outdry membrane is also windproof, therefore the glove doesn’t need as much padding to insulate your hand – all the insulation is behind this membrane so it doesn’t get as cold or wet as in other gloves and can keep your hand warm for less, so to speak.
All this technology supposedly gives us a glove which retains something of a sports glove’s feel and appearance while retaining a winter glove’s warmth and waterproofing abilities.
Could this be the glove for this transitional period? Since I don’t need to ride in the really horrid months could these be my perfect ‘non-summer’ glove? The short answer is ‘yes’: they’re only slightly less insulated than my Helds yet have a much stronger fit, a better feel and look really good on.
The Zeros only come in black, in common with most winter gloves, and I dare say it’s the most practical colour for them. However these manage to look fantastic because of the different materials used in their construction.
Leather covers the soft parts on the back of the hand and all of the fingers, while the palm is tough yet supple goatskin ribbed with silicon banding and an Amara grip pad to keep your hands firmly on the controls. All this leather is drum dyed so won’t bleed colour, and frankly enhances the glove’s visual appeal enormously.
A large knuckle plate sits atop the Zero while the now-traditional BOA lacing mechanism dominates on the large gauntlet.
These gloves look like what they are – an all-weather sports glove – and I think feel every one of the £130 they cost.
Pulling the glove on reveals the stand-out features you get with the Zero; first of all there’s the waterproof gusset which protrudes out of the gauntlet. Although it’s a little tricky to keep from tucking into the glove when you shove your hand in this is a great way to stop water coming down your arm and into the glove – especially common at traffic lights.
The interior lining is really smooth and doesn't grip your hand when wet making pulling gloves on and off in the rain an easier operation which is a nightmare in some gloves.
The elaborate BOA wrist fastening and protection system is far bigger and bulkier than 'normal' gloves (especially when open and flapping around) and can be a little daunting on first encounters. Fortunately none of it hinders the wrist's natural movements and once done up a lot of the bulk disappears.
This system began life in the snowboarding world and is principally a ratchet attached to two steel cords built into the glove gauntlet. You turn the ratchet dial and the gauntlet tightens to fit. Pull the dial up and the cables are freed to allow easy opening. To compliment the gauntlet fastening there is a traditional Velcro wrist strap although this one initially seemed fiddlier than that on the Biomech. This wrist strap is great; you really can’t get the glove off with it fastened – not something I can say about my previous winter gloves as my skinny hands are too narrow for most it seems.
Turning the gloved hand around reveals a lovely semi-matt finish to the various materials used; different types of leather are predominant while areas of textile add contrast while saving weight and likely cost. All the leather is supple and full hand mobility is available from the outset, but all winter gloves I've tried are much the same in that regard.
Fit-wise they did need some breaking-in but really only in one point – between my 2nd and 3rd fingers on my right hand. Weird I know, but after some 15mins of wearing them the web at the base of those fingers got really sore. While everywhere else these gloves fit me really well (pun avoided) but perhaps I just have slightly too-long index finger. After half a dozen rides the discomfort eased and now these are just great fitting gloves.
The Zeros come equipped with a sizeable knuckle plate, armoured nodes on each finger joint under the outer layer, sliders on both the inside and the outside of the wrist (covering the BOA cable houses) and Knox’s patented SPS palm sliders (two small plastic pucks on the heel of the palm to stop your hand gripping should you fall forwards onto your hands). I described the various merits of these hand sliders at length in the Biomech's review so I won't repeat myself here.
All this armour helps give the Zeros a really tough purposeful feel; sure they are noticeably thicker than sports gloves but they are far from clumsy. They really feel like thick sports gloves rather than oven gloves with a knuckle plate stitched in.
At this price you'd expect top construction and the Zero doesn't disappoint with double stitching on almost every external seam (the main seams have internal joints) and a lovely cossetting interior lining.
I’ve had these gloves since September last year so, thanks to an Indian summer, I had the chance to wear these Zeros in weather which was probably warm enough to wear my thinner summer gloves. The good news is that they don’t let your hands get sweaty or uncomfortable so these can be worn comfortably much earlier in the year than your traditional mitts.
Our late summer sadly didn’t last into November for the NEC bike show so the ride there and back turned out to be in wet and cold conditions – a UK speciality with a freezing mist hanging over the motorway all the way from Kent up to Birmingham. To test these Zeros in a vaguely scientific manner I wore one along with an Arctic glove for the trip there and back.
The result was not unexpected: the Zero allowed my hand to chill faster than the Arctic did. It was the thick end of 60 miles around the M25 and up the M40 before my Zero hand started to chill while it was another 20-30 miles before my Arctic hand followed suit. Both hands were cold, though not painfully so after the 130 mile trip to the NEC; and the return trip had the same result although the coldness set in earlier! Interestingly though, after so much use from the Zeros when I pulled the Held on it felt really insubstantial and weak, not to mention clumsier, in comparison to the Knox glove. Once you’ve become familiar with the gauntlets on the Knox range most other gloves really feel as if their protection finishes at the heel of the palm.
Since then I’ve used the Zeros for every weekly trip from Kent to Kentish Town and occasional runs out on LB matters; none of which have shown any problems with the Zeros. I quickly got used to the initially fiddly wrist strap (just bend hand back to pop the wrist strap out) while the BOA system, though accused elsewhere as being pointless, again reinforced my belief that it is the exact opposite.
How a well known bike publication and website can call the BOA system “an answer to a question no-one asked; a triumph of style over function” is somewhat beyond me because I think it is exactly the opposite – a good answer to a question someone should have asked a long time ago. When I put on my older gloves (not just the Arctics) they all feel insubstantial in comparison to the beefy wrist set up the BOA brings. Sadly the Held Arctics and other winter gloves I’ve played with have gauntlets which are really little more than soft Velcro flaps offering nothing in terms of protection (and often little in terms of securing the glove to your wrist either).
The adjustability and reassurance which the BOA offers is outstanding – yes it’s slower to fasten than slapping a Velcro flap shut but what you have is a very well armoured wrist gauntlet which will swallow a good two inches of jacket sleeve and ratchet shut to grip your lower wrist firmly. My other gloves now feel weak and insubstantial from the wrist up. I know people are going whinge that it is a fiddle to fasten but getting ready for cold or wet biking is a marathon of sorts and a little more effort winding the BOA shut isn’t a big deal compared to the rest of the palaver.
The Zero claims to be waterproof and I have no evidence to disprove this claim - in the admittedly few times I've been out in the rain the glove has performed perfectly including gripping the well worn throttle tube on the Kawasaki while wet. Perhaps another 12 months will tell how well the Outdry membrane stands up to being bent and generally knocked about, but after 4 months the gloves are as waterproof as claimed.
These are outstanding gloves – bold, different and somewhat revolutionary especially in the rather staid winter/waterproof glove market.
I will concede they aren’t the warmest glove money could buy, and at £130 that could be seen as a major failing – the previously quoted journalist definitely thought it was. I will argue that every person is different; I’ve seen riders perfectly happy in summer gloves when I’ve been barely comfortable in winter ones. I know mates have less sensitive hands than I have, so how can anyone infer that one pair of gloves is not warm enough for everyone?
In my opinion these are the perfect complement to pure summer gloves because most riders don’t ride in freezing conditions as a matter of course. If you have to brave the harsher temperatures then still you have options like heated grips, bar muffs or over-gloves to help out.
You can wear these on late summer evenings or even on wet showery summer days without feeling like you are wimping out or skimping on protective properties (I would happily do a trackday in these Zeros).
Don’t buy another pair of over-thick and under-protected winter mitts; get a pair of these and you’ll wear them far more often which helps justify the price.
Design: 9/10 - Carrying a lot of features over from the sporty Biomech these Zeros should set the bar for winter gloves
Protection: 10/10 - These gloves carry enough protection to compete head on with most sports gloves, and they're a winter glove. Superb.
In-Use: 8/10 - I can't ignore that these aren't as warming as other "extreme" winter gloves, but in anything but serious cold these are just great.
Overall: 27/30 - Another top class product from Planet Knox, and from the UK don’t forget. I know I’ll be using these for a few months yet and if our weather runs true to form they’ll never be on the shelf for long come the summer.
These gloves can be found on the Planet Knox website and at all good retailers like BikeStop up in Stevenage for a smidge less than £130.