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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Kit Report - Targa Waterproof Gloves

This isn't going to be a recommendation, more of a commendation for good value.

My winter handwear for many years was a pair of Frank Thomas Aqua leather gloves. These were alleged to be waterproof, and were pretty good for the first few years, but over time they lost their waterproof character and started to let in a bit of dampness. They were made before waterproof membranes like Gore-Tex were routinely included in bike-wear, and I suspect they kept the water out just by the thickness of leather and being bloody well made. I kept the ingress to a minimum by treating the gloves regularly with dubbin, but they were no longer reliably waterproof. However, they are so damn' comfy and warm that I didn't have the heart to bin them. Last winter, I got them wringing wet during one downpour, and went to my local dealer to look for a cheap pair of winter gloves to tide me over. I assumed that in the 15 or so years since I had bought winter gloves, the technology had improved, and when I saw a pair advertised as 'waterproof' for under £20, I grabbed them.

These are made by Targa, and although it doesn't say so on the gloves or the packaging they came in, they are the Mission model (available online here). They are constructed mainly of nylon, with leather facings on the palm, across the backs and down the fingers. In the photo, they look quite substantial, but in fact they feel very light and quite flimsy. The leather is very thin. There are elasticated ribs across the backs, and what look to be reinforced knuckle protectors, but in fact these are only hard foam pads beneath the leather outer. They have a Hipora membrane (which is supposed to be waterproof, like a cheaper version of Gore-Tex) and are lined with Thinsulate.

The good:
  • They are reasonably warm, especially with some glove liners. My hands only got cold when the gloves were wet through to the inside. In the dry they were fine.
  • The cuff arrangement works well for me. I prefer gloves to come over the jacket cuffs, rather then under, and these expand sufficiently to allow this, but have a Velcro closure that lets you make a tight fit after they are on (and it's easy to do this with the second glove you put on, which isn't always the case).
  • They aren't 100% waterproof, but for all normal purposes they would be. On the journey home, they were wet inside after about 4 hours of solid rain, but this was on a bike with no fairing or hand protectors, and they really got a soaking. For day-to-day use, they would be fine.
  • Despite having a thermal liner, they are not too bulky and allow a good feel for the controls (with one exception - see below).
The bad:
  • They are definitely lightweight and feel flimsy - light is good, flimsy is not.
  • They are essentially nylon gloves with leather reinforcements, and the leather is thin. Also, the 'knuckle protection' is only foam and looks better than it is. All in all, I wouldn't want to crash in them.
  • They do let in water after a time, which suggests that the Hipora membrane is not working properly, or is badly fitted.
  • The thumbs are too long for me, which means I have a little flap about half an inch long at the end of each thumb. This makes using the indicator a bit hit-and-miss.
Summary: not a great pair of gloves, in comparison with (say) my Richa summer gloves, which are proper, well-stitched leather and have hard Kevlar knuckle protectors. But the Richas cost three times as much, and I have to admit that, for a mere 20 beer tokens, the Targas are bloody good value. I took spare gloves with me to Newcastle, but I didn't need them. The Targas saw me through about 18 hours of riding in miserable weather, and I still had functioning hands at the end. So, a recommendation, but with reservations.

For the colder parts of the ride, I also wore some glove liners. These were purchased at one of the 'motorbike days' at either Lidl or Aldi, can't remember which. They are stretchy material, a bit like Lycra, and a bit of a loose fit on me. But the difference they made on the colder bits of the ride was huge. I can't remember how much they were, probably a fiver or less, but if they appear again I will be having some more. They work well, and are great value.


  1. Good info. Thanks for the straightforward review.

  2. Thanks - good to see you here again :)

  3. Main reason I cant ride my bike anymore, I cannot get a glove on my left hand at all ( maybe after surgery I may) and my right is damned difficult to say the least. Still thanks for the review always good to know this stuff!

  4. Ooer - surgery? Sounds nasty. We need to work on those devices that are controlled by eyeball movement, than you could ride hands-free. Good luck with it, whatever it is.


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