My search for real winter cycling gloves lead me to Mountain Equipment Co-Op. Their MEC house brand of products brings those highly technical fabrics and features found only on expedition grade outerwear to you at prices consistently lower than the leading adventure brands.

The Blast Gloves are no exception. Coming in at a 100$ trip to MEC, they are some of the most expensive gloves I have  ever owned. This year I had decided not to mess around as my hands were the weak spot in the gear last winter.

The Blast gloves have all the features I was looking for in a winter glove. Winter cycling gloves need to be very breathable, yet virtually windproof. I am still totally amazed at how much perspiration is produced even with even just a short ride up the block, never mind on the commute to work.

Breathable Gortex XTR liners are insulated with Primaloft, a synthetic fiber fill, with similar properties to down feathers. The major difference between down and Primaloft is that the Primaloft retains heat when it is wet, where as down looses it loft and insulating properties. The liners dry extremely quickly and move moisture away from the skin to be vented out of the shell.

There was an occasion in January where I forgot to put a load of laundry into the dryer from the washer the night before. Everyone has done it at least once in their life. I had my favorite riding gear on turbo dry, including the MEC Blast Gortex liners. After the wash, they were wringing wet, and after 20 minutes in the dryer they were, you guessed it, still dripping wet. I had to get rolling in order to be on time for work. After some deliberation, I decided to wear the wet glove liners in the shells, taking a real chance that I could loose my hands to frostbite.I had no choice. No spares…

After an hour of riding I was surprised to find that my hands stayed hot, even with the -40 Winnipeg wind chills. Wet, but hot. It’s obvious I soaked the liners first, and should have let them dry out properly, but this was a good demonstration of the technology.

A tough outer shell with real leather grip and palms gives me maximum feel and control of the handle bars. 4 way stretch Shoeller Dynamic breathable panels flex and bend better than a full leather shell and allow moisture to escape the glove, while still blocking the wind. The Shoeller panels allow the glove to be flexible enough to ride a bike with index shifters, and I bought the XL size.

Some nice luxury features on these gloves include the one handed adjustment toggle to seal the gauntlets from snow and trap heat inside the glove. This is a great feature to help regulate your temperature. When I feel the need to cool off my hands, I ‘ll loosen the toggle and let my hands breath a little easier, with out having to take off my glove.

The MEC Blast gloves are the only gloves i’ve worn that can truly compare to the warmth you get from wearing full on mittens. The gloves have all the techincal features of moutaineering gloves valued at over $200, available for half that. So far i’m very impressed with the quality and workmanship of these gloves. I will let you know if they don’t stand the test of time.