by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
The Lee Parks Deerskin gloves have soft deer skin palms and elk skin backs.
They are insulated with Outlast phase change material and a layer of Thinsulate on the back of the glove.
The special Outlast material allows the glove to be thinner than most winter gloves, which provides good feel for the motorcycle controls.
Humans have been protecting themselves with deer and elk hide for about a zillion years, and for good reason.
Leather made from Deerskin and Elkskin is soft, it's comfortable, it was (and is) readily available and, as we've only recently learned, it's also more abrasion resistant than other types of leather.
Thinsulate and Outlast, on the other hand, are some of the newest materials available for human protection against the elements.
Thinsulate was developed in the 1960's by 3M and the first Thinsulate clothing appeared in 1978.
Outlast "Smart Fabric Technology" phase change material is a very new (and exotic) product; it was originally developed for NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in the extreme temperatures found in outer space.
The Space Foundation recently named Outlast as a "Certified Space Technology".
So it's kind of interesting to see that some of the oldest protective material known to humans has been combined with some of the newest in Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCi winter motorcycle gloves.
When I first slipped my hand into one of the DeerSports gloves I thought "no way". These are winter motorcycle riding gloves? They were just too thin -- they might work for a 50-degree "winter" day in California, but there's no way they're going to keep my hands warm, not in the northern hemisphere winters that I know and hate. "Lee", I thought, "you've been spending way too much time in California".
After all, aren't winter motorcycle gloves are supposed to be big, thick, heavy and bulky? The bulk is what provides the insulation, right? All of my winter motorcycle gloves are huge-looking mitts that do their best to eliminate any feel for the controls. They're a fact of life and the price one has to pay for riding in the winter.
So was I astonished to find that the PCi gloves actually work as good or better than any winter motorcycle riding gloves that I've ever tried.
I was picking up my hand and looking at it the first time I tried them, wondering what was going on. It was that weird - as if someone was playing a trick on me. That thin layer of insulation just couldn't be keeping my hands that warm.
I hadn't paid attention to the marketing blurb that came with the gloves, so I guessed that maybe Lee was using some new type of wind blocking material or something. The first thing I did when I got home after that first ride was to read the package, and that's when I realized the difference must be the Outlast material.
My expectation with most of the newly developed wonder fabrics is that they'll be over-hyped and they will under-perform. I was vaguely aware that some motorcycle clothing uses Outlast, but I didn't believe the claims made for the stuff.
After all, it's supposed to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. That somehow defies the laws of physics, and I can't speak (yet) for the cooling part, but it sure does seem to work in the winter.
Lee also claims that the Outlast material works better with heated grips, because the material will pull the heat from the gloves and distribute it around the hand. The insulation used in other types of winter gloves works both ways and prevents the heat from reaching the rider's hands, making heated grips less efficient.
The rest of the PCi glove is identical to the non-insulated DeerSports gloves offered by Lee Parks Design.
Deerskin is used in the palm and Elkskin on the back of the gloves. Both of these materials are supposed to be more abrasion resistant than cowhide.
The DeerSports PCi also have a layer of Thinsulate Flex on the back of the gloves for extra insulation without adding extra bulk to the palms.
The DeerSports PCi offer a much better feel for the controls than typical bulky winter motorcycle riding gloves, which is another bonus.
An extra piece of Deerskin is double-stitched on the palm and an extra Elkskin patch is sewn on to the back of the knuckles. Lee uses "dual-duty" thread, which he says works better than Kevlar because it won't cut through the leather when pulled.
Another nice feature of the DeerSports is that both the wrist and gauntlet closures are on the palm side, rather than the upper side of the gloves.
I wondered about this until I realized that this is one of the features that make the DeerSports a comfortable motorcycle riding glove, especially for riding a sportbike. Locating the straps on the palm side means that the back side of the gloves can be more flexible and comfortable when leaned over a low set of handlebars.
The gauntlets on the DeerSports PCi gloves are wide enough to fit over a hefty jacket cuff. A pet peeve of mine is when a gauntlet can't fit over the sleeve of a heavy jacket, a problem that is too common with poorly designed gloves.
If there isn't enough room to fit the glove over a sleeve, chances are the glove can't be secured tightly enough to stay on during an accident, and if it isn't going to stay on the rider's hand, then what's the sense?
Lee Parks Design gloves are made in the U.S.A., and they can be returned to the factory for repairs if necessary.
The DeerSports PCi gloves are a new concept in winter motorcycle riding apparel. They're so unique that Lee has applied for a patent. We've been experiencing one of the warmest winters on record here on the East Coast of the U.S., so I haven't been able to try the gloves in extreme weather conditions.
But the gloves have worked amazingly well in temperatures down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or so, which is about as cold as I can put up with anyway.
If you haven't tried a pair of Deerskin gloves, you're in for a surprise, because they're super comfortable and they feel softer when new than most cowhide gloves feel after they're broken in.
The insulating value of the DeerSports PCi is an added bonus. These are very comfortable gloves that offer great feel for the controls when compared to any other type of winter motorcycle riding glove and they seem like they'll last for many years.
From "T.H." (September 2011): "I really didn't think I'd be dropping $85.00 on a pair of gloves, but after several disappointments I decided to suck it up and get some gloves that (1) felt good and (2) would last.
These gloves are great - supremely comfortable, beautifully made, even repairable if need be. Park's sizing system works, too: my smallish hands have felt too snug in several "Large" gloves I've tried, but "Medium" Deer Tours fit very well and will even leave enough room for liners. I don't think I'll be buying any more gloves for awhile.