In Part I, I covered the basics regarding the new-for-2009 Firstgear TPG Tundra and Glacier gloves, both of which are designed with minimal insulation in the palms for use with heated grips. To recap, we’ve been very impressed recently by improvements in Firstgear clothing, and we think the quality levels have been ratcheted up several notches compared to Firstgear clothing of several years ago. The Tundra gloves are mostly textile and they’re bulkier and roomier than the Glacier gloves.
I’m guessing that the Tundra gloves were designed for harsher conditions than the leather Glacier gloves, but I find these to be paradoxically not as warm as the Glaciers. The Tundras follow the same insulation strategy as the Glaciers, with minimal insulation in the palm to allow heated grips to transfer more heat to the rider’s hands. This definitely works when compared to most or all of the other heavily insulated winter gloves I’ve tried.
The idea is to keep the backs of the hands warm and protected from the wind, while minimizing the amount of insulation in the palm to allow the heated grips to do their job. The design of the Tundra gloves is similar to that used for snowmobile gloves. Several of the glove manufacturers have one like this in their lineup and the key characteristic is usually the large gauntlets with built-in shock cord.
One thing’s for sure about the Tundras — I have no complaints about the size of these gauntlets — they’re big! I find that the gauntlets on this type of glove can be difficult to get snug once the gloves are on the hands. These have a chunk of plastic on the gauntlet that — if you’re brave and have younger enamel than me — you can grab with your teeth to pull tight. Substituting textile for about half of the leather (the palms are goatskin leather) drops the price by $10.00 compared to the Glacier gloves, but also gets you Thermolite insulation in the backs of the gloves and the same type of Hipora waterproof insert.
These also passed the bucket test (a volunteer wears the gloves while holding his or her hands in a bucket of water until the gloves leak or the victim screams for mercy).
But when I repeated the test in my pail of ice water to compare the Glacier gloves with these, I could feel my fingers getting cold in the Tundras after about a minute or so.
As I reported in Part I, this may have something to do with the difference in the textile vs. leather. I notice that when the Tundra gloves get wet, they really soak up a lot of water.
When I hang them up to dry, they drip a lot of water compared to the Glacier gloves, so I bet the textile absorbs more water and brings the colder water closer to the Hipora insert, which blocks the moisture but not the temperature.
On the road, there’s not much difference that I can tell in terms of warmth between the two, although the temperatures have moderated here somewhat so we’re talking 4.5 C, mid-40’s F weather, making it more difficult to truly evaluate hard-core winter gloves.
The Tundra gloves also have goat leather palms and the same type of hard hockey-puck protector on the heel of the hand.
The construction is well executed with similar attention to detail as the Glacier gloves.
The textile doesn’t quite have the same fit-to-form as the all-leather Glacier gloves though, and these start out feeling about 1/2 size large and feel like they gain another 1/2 size when my hands are wrapped around the grips.
The same care has been taken also in the design of the wrist strap. When these gloves are tightened up, there’s enough loop for the hooks to catch without that fussy extra length of strap hanging off the side of the glove.
The other manufacturers that have this problem — and there are too many — apparently never even wear the gloves after they design them, so they don’t realize this can be an issue.
The Tundra gloves also feature sections of highly reflective piping along the top, as you can see in the photo above.
Some riders will prefer this type of heavier textile waterproof glove and it’s good to see two choices that feature minimal insulation in the palms for use with heated grips.
I’m a leather guy and I find the Glacier gloves to be more comfortable for me with a better fit and they actually feel warmer, so I’d spring the extra 10 bucks for them.
I’ll repeat what I said in my Glacier gloves review: The minimal insulation in the palms transfers heat better than most heavily insulated winter gloves.
But realize that the Tundra gloves may not have as much overall insulation as some of the gloves we reviewed in our 9-part series, so the backs of your hands may feel the difference.
But for those motorcyclists who have been waiting for winter motorcycle gloves that are designed to work with heated grips, your wait is over!
Also, riders with larger or thicker hands may find that the Tundra gloves are a better fit than the Glaciers.