There is no such thing as an ideal all-year-round glove, but this Held glove comes closer than anything else I’ve found in more than 15 years of product testing.
While there are boots, jackets and trousers versatile enough to cover every season, gloves are either too warm for summer or too cold for winter.
But whoever created the Held Air N Dry gloves has moved things on and deserves some kind of award for innovation.
The Gore-Tex waterproof membrane is attached inside the glove in a way that lets you decide whether or not you want to be protected from the rain.
If it’s wet or cold outside, put your hand behind a separator tab inside the glove and the membrane will envelope your hand to keep it dry.
If conditions are warm and dry, put your hand in front of the tab and your palm will sit next to the glove’s perforated leather palm. This keeps you cooler and allows more feel for the bike’s controls.
The idea might sound gimmicky, but the concept and execution are both brilliant.
I’ve ridden in pouring rain and hands have stayed completely dry, and in warm conditions I’ve had the increased sensation and ventilation from wearing thinner gloves.
I’ve ridden in temperatures as high as 23°C with my hands inside the Gore-Tex chamber and still felt perfectly comfortable, even though I was riding a bike with handguards blocking airflow to my hands.
The main benefit of the other, ‘breezy’ chamber is in increased feel with no Gore-Tex sitting between hand and handlebar grip. There is the potential for cooler hands, but it takes some input on the rider’s part.
The back of the hand is still lined by Gore-Tex and in fact there’s now a double layer acting as a barrier to stop air getting in. You can get around this by riding with open palms rather than a closed grip. This allows air to pass through the perforations on the kangaroo palm to cool hands.
The other issue that needs to be factored in is your finger length. If the gloves fit perfectly in the fingers while wearing them in Gore-Tex ‘dry’ mode then they are likely to be too short when wearing them in ‘breezy’ mode. It’s inevitable when the Gore-Tex membrane is taking up some of the space your fingers would otherwise occupy.
This isn’t a major issue, just something that needs to be taken into account when trying the gloves for size – make sure you have room for your fingers when wearing them in breezy mode.
Handily, Held make this easier because these gloves are available in three finger lengths. This makes it more likely you’ll find the finger length that’s comfortable regardless of whether your hand is in the ‘breezy’ or ‘dry’ chamber.
There’s more to the Air N Dry than just its dual-chambered capability, though. The quality of construction is typical of glove specialists Held’s work, with supple perforated palm leather and top-notch internal stitching holding everything together.
The back of the hand combines textile and leather, with hard knuckle armour and a highly effective rubber blade on the left forefinger to clear rainwater from the rider’s visor.
Even when fully protected by the Gore-Tex membrane, dexterity remains impressive and it’s very good when you’re able to use the breezy chamber.
So, while perfection for glove versatility will probably remain elusive for many years to come, the Held Air N Dry design is as close as you can get here in 2017. Overall, these are exceptional gloves and in my opinion they comfortably justify the price.
FOOTNOTE: The Air N Dry gloves have Superfabric panels on the heels of the palms. This material has excellent abrasion resistance qualities and will be very helpful if you crash. But it also has a habit of wearing away paint. After riding 1000 miles on a Suzuki V-Strom 650 in the gloves, the bar-ends had lost a section of their coating. It’s not a big drama, and probably says more about my riding style of keeping my hands as wide as possible on the handlebars, but we thought you would like to know.
Fit & Comfort
With three choices of finger length, there will be the right size for everybody. Remember to make sure the fingers are long enough when wearing in both ‘dry’ and ‘breezy’ modes.
I’ve worn them through some awful prolonged rain without issue. Breathability is also impressive, keeping me comfortable at temperatures as high as 23°C.
With high-quality materials and excellent construction standards I have no reason to doubt the protective qualities. But with no CE marking they have to lose marks. Expect CE approval to arrive soon as Europe is set to make it compulsory.
The workmanship in the Air N Dry gloves is exceptional. The only mark is lost because – and I’m picking the tiniest of nits – because some paint on the effective visor wipe has worn off.
There’s no bridge connecting little finger to the third finger (not everyone wants one).
March 2022 update... Earlier production runs lacked CE approval, but the gloves are now approved to the basic Level 1 of the CE standard, including impact protection for the knuckles.