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Winter Glove Review and Giveaway: Manzella Hatchback and Sprint Gloves, Saucony ViziPro Gloves

Posted Dec 06 2010 12:00am

A few updates before today’s review and giveaway post …

1) You’ve got a little more time to enter the Drymax trail running socks giveaway , which ends Tuesday at 5PM PST. Winners will be announced in a separate post Tuesday night.

2) Remember to enter the VIVOBAREFOOT Dharma, Oak, and Kali contest for a chance to win a great pair of minimalist work shoes. Be sure to get extra entries by sharing links and using capital letters! The winner will be announced Friday evening.

3) The contests and announcements will be popping up with increased frequency this week and next … so if you haven’t subscribed yet, there’s a good chance that you’ll miss something. Just sayin'.

That’s all for today … and now for a post to keep your fingers warm.

**

When it comes to running gloves, I’m something of a Goldilocks: These ones are too cold. These ones are too bulky. These are too scratchy, or slippery, or fuzzy, or something else that never quite feels Just Right. So whenever I have opportunities to try new models, I’m always eager to take them for a spin.

This fall I’ve been testing three different gloves from two different companies, which are suitable for conditions from “sort of chilly” to “pretty darn cold”. True to my Goldilocks form, I found something to nitpick about each one of them, but they’re all pretty solid choices. Brief reviews follow below, and one winner will have the chance to try two pairs for him or herself, because that’s the prize for today’s giveaway. But first, the reviews.

Manzella is a New York-based company that specializes in one thing: making great gloves. They have a diverse product line broken into three activity categories - hunting running, and general outdoor – and three temperature categories, ambiguously designated as warm, warmer, and warmest. Throughout the fall I’ve tested two of their running models: the Sprint from the warm category, and the Hatchback in the warmer category.


Manzella Sprint glove

I started wearing the Sprint glove as soon as temperatures dipped into the 40s a couple of months ago, and I’ve been very impressed with its overall comfort. The glove is made of 4-way stretch polyester that conforms nicely to your fingers to provide good dexterity with zippers, headlamp buttons, and other gear. The fabric has great moisture-wicking properties, and is thin enough to fit underneath a thicker glove or mitten if necessary.

My only complaint about the Sprint is that the Control Trax rubber on the palms and fingers, built to provide outstanding grip in multiple conditions, feels fairly scratchy against my face when I’m wiping sweat off my forehead or cheeks. But at a price point of $15, you’ll get your money’s worth from these in no time, and they’re ideal for cool-weather marathons or other long-duration aerobic activity.

Once the weather grew colder, I turned to Saucony’s ViziPro Glove , which has some nice innovations that make it stand out from your standard running gloves. Truthfully, they could probably stand out based on color alone: a high-visibility orange that Saucony has applied to a whole product line this winter. However, Saucony wants to make absolutely sure that these gloves are visible; they have reflective accents on the backs of the hands and fingers, and a cool little LED that can be set to a steady beam or blinker.

ViziPro glove with LED on


The light rests on the right-hand glove and is oriented so that it faces oncoming traffic if you’re running on the proper (left-hand) side of the road. It’s not nearly enough light to see by, but just enough to catch a wandering eye from approaching drivers. The whole light can be removed from the glove, and it recharges via a USB port on your computer. Another nifty innovation on these gloves is a tiny magnet embedded on each cuff, so the gloves stick together in your drawer more easily – but truthfully, their bright orange color would make them pretty easy to pair up in the event that they got separated.

USB-charging LED


The only drawback I’ve experienced with these also has to do with wiping: aside from the thumb, the entire surface of the glove is a polyester material that doesn’t absorb moisture at all, so it feels a little too slick when you run your fingers across your face. Temperature-wise, I’ve worn the ViziPro comfortably into the mid 30s, and they’re fairly comfortable for a couple hours of intense activity. They typically retail for $40 from the company website (linked above).

The coldest-weather glove of this review is another Manzella product, with another cool design innovation. The Hatchback glove is convertible, allowing use as a water-resistant mitten or a microfleece stretch fabric glove. In colder temperatures, you keep the fingers inside the windproof finger hood, and if the morning warms up or if you need to get in and out of a zipper pocket, you peel back the hood to let your fingers function independently. There’s a stowaway pocket on the backside of the hand for tucking the hood when it’s not in use.

Manzella Hatchback, with R hood tucked


The hood comes in either a high-visibility yellow color or basic black, and the remainder of the glove has small reflective accents for enhanced visibility. A NanoSphere protective coating on the hood provides a bit of water resistance, but it’s not a true rain glove, since the portion that’s not covered by the hood will get soaked pretty quickly if you’re in a heavy downpour. The palms and fingertips of this glove score pretty high on the “grip vs wipeability” scale, with just the right amount of rubberized material in key locations, and soft surfaces everywhere else.

Just-right amount of grip

This was my favorite glove of the three in this review, mainly for its versatility in a wider range of temperatures. As a fleece glove with the hood tucked in, it’s comfortable in the low 40s, and with the hood in place I’ve been able to tolerate sub-freezing runs. (And this is only the “warmer” category of Manzella’s lineup; they have warmest models that look ideal for true hardcore conditions). The Hatchback retails for $30 from the company website (also linked above).

And now for the giveaway! One winner will receive two pairs of gloves: the Saucony ViziPro, and the Manzella gloves of your choice based on availability. I’ll put you in contact with reps from each company, and they’ll assist you with sizing and give you instructions for how to claim your prizes. We’ll make this contest easy: one comment, one entry, with the winner announced on Thursday night, December 9th. Enter by 5PM PST on the 9th to be eligible.

Thanks very much to Manzella and Saucony, and good luck to everyone!

*Sprint and Hatchback gloves provided by Manzella
**ViziPro gloves provided by Saucony.


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