If you haven’t been keeping track, California has been a hot, dry state for the past several years. Which is a good thing when it comes to riding motorcycles year-round, but less so when you’re trying to test cold-weather gloves. Thankfully, that dry spell has come to an end this year, with bucket loads of rain bringing with it some chilly weather. Finally, a chance to put Joe Rocket’s Rocket Burner textile gloves to use.
Constructed from Hipora nylon, which is a waterproof and breathable blend of nylon, the exterior of the Rocket Burners resemble ski gloves more than motorcycle gloves. That’s because a discrete foam padded area over the knuckles is the only indication of impact protection. Other winter gloves I’ve tried in the past have had their protectors more pronounced and plentiful – the Rocket Burners don’t have any impact protectors over the fingers, for example. However, what I didn’t like about my other winter gloves is the added bulk that comes as a result of all the different layers needed to keep the glove warm as well as resistant to the weather.
With the Rocket Burner gloves, the Hipora exterior fabric helps keep water at bay. Inside, battery-powered heating elements are adjustable to three levels, run along the backside of the fingers and hand, and are covered by a fleece liner. This reduction in layers compared to non-heated winter gloves means less bulk and more feel at the controls. The batteries themselves are two lithium-ion units (one for each glove) that slip into pockets underneath each wrist. Joe Rocket says they’re good for up to four hours.
Further helping the rider have more feel at the controls is the synthetic suede material lining the palm area, with silicone strips running across the palm, thumb, and middle finger tip for better grip, especially when it’s raining. As an added convenience feature, the Rocket Burners also have conductive material on the tips of each pointer finger, meaning you can use your touchscreen devices without having to take the gloves off. Other features include an elastic band around the wrist with a Velcro closure. There’s also a small accordion panel at the top of the wrist area for greater range of motion.
Do The Rockets Burn?
But the real question is: what are they like to wear while riding? I’m happy to report that the Rocket Burner gloves just might be my favorite pair of winter gloves so far. While they are definitely (and obviously) more bulky than non-winter gloves, the heft isn’t annoying, which is more than I can say about some other cold-weather gloves I’ve tried. The RB’s provide a good amount of feel at the controls for a winter glove, as advertised, while doing a decent job at keeping the windchill at bay.
For much of the time I’ve had these gloves the chill wasn’t enough to warrant slipping in the batteries. With just the fleece liner and Hipora exterior, riding in ambient temps in the 50s was no problem. However, for those mornings when you can see your breath through your nose and there was frost on the car windows, having the heated elements is nice. The slim batteries simply slip into their slots and plug into the glove. A Velcro tab keeps the battery pocket securely closed.
From there, an easy-to-read On/Off button atop the wrist controls the temperature, with three red bars indicating the level of warmth. Pressing the On/Off button is super simple with the gloves on. For most of the riding I’ve done this winter, the lowest of the three settings has been sufficient for me. The heating elements gently warm the backs of the fingers and hand, which I like because there’s less chance for my palms to get sweaty. The middle heat setting is noticeably, but not drastically, warmer than the first; while the warmest heat setting keeps the hands really toasty. So much so that I never bother cranking the heat that high when I ride – it just hasn’t gotten that cold around here.
While it’s true that it has been raining quite a bit in Southern California, I haven’t worn the gloves during the worst of the rain storms. Instead, I opened the valves on my kitchen sink, wore the gloves underneath the running water, and watched the cold water bead right off the Hipora fabric – all the while the heating elements kept my hands nice and warm. That said, there was one weak spot I found: the seams connecting the conductive material to the forefingers of each glove. While I didn’t feel any water penetrate the stitching, the tips of my forefingers felt a distinct temperature difference.
As for the conductive material themselves, I’ve had mixed luck while using the gloves with my smartphone, but it might be an issue with my phone rather than the gloves. After the kitchen sink test, I had no problem using my phone with the gloves on. However, if the phone is cold, say, after being blasted by wind during a cold morning ride, the touchscreen isn’t as quick to react to my touch. Otherwise, the conductive material works fairly well and the phone reacts normally to my commands; though because of the thickness of the gloves compared to my bare fingers, deliberate button presses are required to access the information you want.
After riding, I usually disconnect the batteries and top them off simultaneously via the included dual-port charger that plugs into any standard outlet.
All-in-all I’m happy with the Rocket Burner gloves. I expected them to carry more bulk than my standard pair of riding gloves, but it isn’t dramatic, and for the comfort they provide on cold rides, it’s a tradeoff I’m happy to make. Not having to use the motorcycle itself as a power source is a big convenience benefit, too. Available in a leather version as well, the Rocket Burner gloves are only available in black, in sizes ranging from Small to 2XL. Pricing starts at $159.99. Visit JoeRocket.com for more details.