Back in the Bad Old Days™, during rainy weather, riders had basically two choices when it came to gloves: bulky, hot “waterproof” winter gloves or wearing a pair of latex gloves under their regular hand protection. Neither were ideal. First, the bulky gloves didn’t offer either the feel or protection of regular riding gloves. Second, if the latex glove option was selected, the rider’s hands may stay dry, but the gloves would get soaked and require extended drying time.
In recent years, the level of weatherproofness and riding comfort has been ramping up, giving riders drier hands, less cumbersome sizing, and better protection. Racer’s Stratos Goretex II Glove is living proof of the functional advances in waterproof gloves.
The Stratos Goretex II glove gets its waterproofness from a Goretex’s X-Trafit lining.The X-Trafit liner wraps around the hand to seal out water without adding significant bulk. Most of the glove’s body construction is cowhide, however portions on the back of the hand and the gauntlet are nylon. The palms, because of their likelihood of abrasion in a crash, feature Pittards goatskin overlaid with leather on the palms. The heel of the palm also receives additional layers of leather and foam padding. High-wear areas of the glove, such as the where the palm connects with the fingers and the bridge to the thumb also benefit from a layer of leather.
For those who wonder why the II in the name, Racer took the popular Stratos Goretex glove and added molded hard-shell knuckle protection across the back of the hand. Additionally, rubber finger grippers adorn the inner fingers to promote a positive grip. Another improvement over the previous model is the fuller padding coverage on the backs of the fingers. The left thumb gets a little wiper blade for clearing the visor. Overall, the Stratos Goretex II’s upgrades add to their function and protection while bringing the gloves into parity with modern styling.
During my two wet days riding the 2017 Harley-Davidson Touring Models, the Racer Stratos Goretex IIs got quite a workout. Enduring precipitation ranging from drizzle to downpours of biblical proportions, the gloves kept my fingers completely dry. While it is easy to miss a little mid-ride dampness, the gloves also passed the interior dryness test an hour after the ride was over – when any moisture would have been noticeable. Really, given our previous positive experiences with Racer gloves and since the gloves are designed in Austria, where rain isn’t uncommon, this should come as no surprise.
During my ride, I only had small issues with the Stratos Goretex IIs. If my hands were wet when putting the gloves on, the liner would stick to the moisture, making it hard to slide my fingers into place. A minor nuisance, but one that should be noted. The other issue concerns the gauntlet. The relatively short gauntlets are not wide enough in diameter to easily fit over the sleeves of some jackets. While I remedied this by wearing the gauntlet under the jacket for most of my riding, enough air was let past the interface between gauntlet and sleeve that I was willing to endure the challenge of fitting the sleeve inside the gauntlet in cool temperatures. Since most riders wear their rain gloves inside their rain suits so that the water running down their arms won’t trickle into their gloves, the gauntlet size won’t be an issue during inclement weather unless your jacket is waterproof and you wear your gloves on the outside of the sleeves. However, the gloves are so functional that they can comfortably be worn in dry conditions – even with the gauntlet issue.
With a retail price of $189.99, the Stratos Goretex II glove isn’t cheap. The quality of construction and features of the gloves feel in line with the price, though. For riders who ride in areas where it frequently rains, having a pair of gloves that offer good protection with daily-usable comfort – in the wet or dry – is sure to rank them high in must-have kit.
The gloves are available in sizes S–3XL in black only. Well, the Racer logo and the small fluorescent yellow stripe on the gauntlet add a smidge of color.
Find out more or order yours at Racer’s USA website.