Unfortunately, asphalt doesn’t give a flying fork what season it is. If you want to be assured of returning from your ride with all of your fingerprints, you just gotta suck it up and put on the mitts. About as necessary and evil as necessary evils get.
So as I returned from this year’s Dealer Expo, having tried on more leather goods than Max Mosley, there was one garment at the top of my list of “shwag to score”. The prototype demo of Held’s new Air Stream summer gloves had reignited my hope for a fusion of protection and permeability that would defeat the heat of Southern California. When I put them over my digits, I could swear I heard angels singing in the background as Held’s helmsman, Tommy Kincaid, explicated the features and benefits.
All of the usual safety components are present and accounted for. Hardened plastic knuckle guards are vented by half-moon slits. Key impact/skid areas, like the ball of the palm, pinkie finger, and outer blade of the hand are padded and covered with Superfabric, an engineered material impregnated with tiny guard plates. This purpose-built fabric provides many times the cut, abrasion, and puncture resistance of even heavyweight ballistic aramids.
The back of the glove consists of a complex lattice of ventilated polyester net fiber and perforated leather reinforced with Kevlar, and lined with DuPont’s Cool Max material, a well-known moisture-wicking fabric. The palm is constructed of kangaroo leather, legendary for its lightweight, high abrasion resistance, and amazing “second skin” feel. If you’re getting the impression that the Air Stream bears little or no resemblance to generic lightweight leather summer gloves with perforations on their back, it’s because they don’t. With all of these layers of construction, you might expect lots of bulk and seams galore, but I can attest that the feeling of sliding these gloves on is a moment of perfection and grace in a world otherwise engulfed in carnage and chaos.
There is one feature that I have yet to mention, and it’s because I’ve been saving the best for last. The key design element that gives these gloves their “air stream-ing” capabilities is a lightweight mesh fabric webbed in between each of the fingers. Just by spreading your digits a bit at speed you get a refreshing rush of air into the gloves. I found that this elegant and effective solution to providing substantial amounts of airflow into a protective garment worked extremely well to cool my hands’ temperature without sacrificing structural integrity. “Summer” and “gloves” may never go well together, but Held’s Air Stream sure make them a lot more compatible than frozen lakes and man-thongs.
Production models of the Air Stream should be in stock by late spring/early summer, just in time for the dog days of summer. If you’re in a hot weather state, I’d look up a Held-carryin’ retailer nearby and have them call you when the Air Streams come in. They may not stay on the shelves very long.
The Air Stream is available in sizes 7-12, comes in black or grey and retails for $119.99. Check HeldUSA.com for dealer locations.