Truth and Fiction in Motorcycle Gear: Olympia "Waterproof" Gloves

Motorcycle gear is tough to buy. There are lots of places that sell some stuff, but precious few that sell a really good selection. Also, there are tons of vendors available online, but since you can’t touch or try the stuff before you get it, you’re SOL. My goal is to write up all the moto gear I buy so that folks can make good decisions about it.

To kick it off, I’m going to pick on Olympia’s “Waterproof” gloves.

My first pair of bike gloves were the Olympia Cold Throttle gloves. These worked well for me in coldish weather (say, 40’s; it would get chilly in there but livable). However, after a single day on the MSF course range during a rainy March day, the gloves were completely soaked through. (In fact, they got totally soaked in the first 4 hours or so of rain.) I don’t mean that they leaked — which they might have — but that the leather itself was completely soaked. You could take the glove off and literally wring out the leather and have ounces of water come out. I couldn’t get the glove dry overnight, even putting it on top of a fan on top of a heater all night.

Still, when not wet they worked well and fit nicely. Plus, the longish nylon gauntlet played nice with my textile jacket and prevented water from coming up the sleeve, at least.

Then, a couple weeks into owning the gloves, the pull-cord-to-tighten-stopper-thingy (the thing you squeeze to let the cord loosen up) just snapped right off of one glove during a routine closure of the cord. University Honda was good enough to take them back on a warranty replacement and give me a new set. “Maybe,” I thought, “this pair will actually be waterproof!”

Well, no such luck. A 20 minute ride in a steady rain last Saturday soaked the leather straight through.

(Now, it should be said that all gloves will accumulate sweat inside of them, whether or not they keep out rain. This is, of course, what Gore-Tex ostensibly fixes. Note that it won’t fix it fully, because the sweat vapor really has nowhere to go when the outside of the glove is covered in water…)

So, although I have read good things about Olympia on the web, and although these gloves offered beefy knuckle protection and good insulation when dry, I can’t recommend the Olympia Cold Throttle “waterproof” gloves for any wet applications.

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