45NRTH Sturmfist 5 Gloves Review: Cold Shoulder, Warm Hands
Designed to handle the unpredictable nature of shoulder season riding, we put the 45NRTH Sturmfist 5 gloves to the test during the past few months in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Cold, wind, and water… beware.
Although I rarely have issues with keeping my core warm while riding in cold weather, I’ve always been extremely susceptible to cold fingers and toes, even in the most moderate of spring conditions. It’s no surprise that our extremities are the first to feel the cold and eventual numbness that comes with fall and spring riding. Not only is riding with cold hands uncomfortable, but makes for difficulty operating brake levers and shifters, not to mention the added danger of compensating for this with unusual hand positions and constant hand shaking. Dealing with the wet and cold can be hard. Thankfully, the 45NRTH Sturmfist 5 gloves do a stand up job of keeping your hands protected and warm.
When it comes to choosing a glove for cold weather riding, there’s a fine balance between the amount and type of insulation, the material of the glove, and the overall bulk of the glove that either makes it or breaks it. Too much insulation and you’re left with sweaty hands, no proper liner and moisture isn’t wicked away from your body. Plus, a big, puffy glove means a lack of control and “feel” of your bike. For fall and spring, the ideal glove should offer a generous amount of water and wind resistance, accompanied by a reliable source of insulation wrapped in durable materials. Above all else, I don’t want any of my riding gloves to feel cumbersome. When it’s cold enough for big winter mitts, pogies are better suited to the job of keeping my hands warm.
The 45NRTH Sturmfist 5 is a five-fingered, insulated cycling glove designed for use during “late fall and early spring riding conditions,” as 45NRTH puts it. With a comfort range of 15°F to 35°F (-9°C to 2°C) they are intended to keep your hands warm and protected in a variety of conditions.
The Sturmfist 5 gloves do a great job of shedding water and blocking the wind, while still allowing full control over the front end of the bike. The glove is based around a breathable softshell design with a goat leather palm – a pretty ideal combination that nicely suits the rigours of bikepacking. I’ve had one too many non biking specific gloves wear out prematurely due to their less than ideal palm and finger fabric. The leather on the palm of the Sturmfists shows no signs of this, and is actually softening nicely over time, lending itself to a more supple feel. They aren’t completely waterproof, but for shedding off splashes, some light rain, and the usual gunk of spring and fall, they’ll do the trick.
45NRTH uses 100g of Polartec Alpha insulation, originally designed for the U.S. Special Forces, which doesn’t impede the breathability or ability to adapt to changing temperatures or conditions. Fall and early winter mornings can get extremely chilly up here in BC, but as long as the sun comes out, I’ll find myself shedding layers quickly. Just the right amount of insulation, plus a 100% merino wool liner, means there’s a good chance my gloves can stay exactly where they are, and that makes life easier. On the few occasions when the daytime high was too much for the Sturmfist, I’d simply open up the velcro closure around my wrist to get a bit more air flow. No need to get off the bike to readjust or play with zippers. The simplicity of velcro means I can just kept on riding. I rode in everything from wet and cold to dry and sunny days, ranging from 5°F to 41°F (-15°C to +5°C), and I think 45NRTH’s claimed comfort range of 15°F to 35°F (-9°C to 2°C) is right on point. In anything below that lower limit, there was enough room to add a light merino wool liner glove for some additional warmth.
I tried using the Sturmfists inside my Dogwood Designs pogies, but I doubt I’ll ever be in a cold enough environment to call for that much warmth. In my experience, pogies work best with a light merino or synthetic glove – something without too much bulk that still allows you to use tools and access gear – and the Sturmfist + pogie combo was just too much. If you need something warmer, check out 45NRTH’s Sturmfist 4 (a four finger winter cycling glove) or their Cobrafist pogie for the ultimate in warmth and protection. For warmer weather, the lightweight Nøkken glove is available with a comfort range of 25°F to 45°F (-3°C to 7°C).
Size & Fit
The Sturmfist 5 gloves come in six different sizes, ranging from X-small to XX-large (6-11), which should be appreciated by those with smaller or larger than average sized hands. 45NRTH has a simple sizing chart that landed me in a size X-large (10) and the fit is spot on. They afford just enough room for a thin liner glove, but are totally comfortable when worn alone (and no floppy fingers to speak of). I was impressed by how light and packable the gloves were, considering how much protection they offer from the elements, leading me to toss them into a bag or pocket last minute on several occasions without a second thought. Some may not like the non-removable liner, but I know I’d be the one to misplace or forget it at home, so that only added to their grab-and-go nature.
The extra long cuffs and tight fitting velcro closure make sealing out the elements a breeze. On the coldest or wettest of days, I’d tuck a light merino wool long sleeve under the Sturmfist’s cuff and my outside layer would cinch down over the top seamlessly. The generous amount of adjustment in the velcro allowed me to wear a layer under or over the cuff, depending on how much protection I needed and how cold it was outside.
- Breathable soft shell design is perfect for shoulder season riding.
- Weather resistant and durable exterior fabrics shed off light rain, dirt, and snow.
- Lightweight and no restriction on mobility or handlebar controls.
- Long and slender cuff keeps the weather out.
- Pretty narrow temperature range, only ideal for fall and early spring.
- Non removable liner (pro for some).
- Model Tested: 45NRTH Sturmfist 5 Gloves (size X-large / 10)
- Insulation: 100g Polartec Alpha
- Weight: 166g (5.9oz)
- Price: $85
- Place of manufacture: China
- Manufacturer’s Details: 45NRTH.com
Buy at your LBS, or pick up a pair at REI right now for $58
Cold, wind, and wet are a nuisance to even the most prepared riders, and fluctuating fall and spring temperatures can make dressing effectively a challenge. Luckily, 45NRTH is once again on top of cold weather comfort with the Sturmfist 5, their midweight, shoulder season cycling glove that does a fantastic job of shedding precipitation and blocking the wind, all without restricting your ability to shift, brake, or even throw snowballs. The Sturmfist 5 was my go-to glove this fall, was layered with a light liner glove during the winter, and will keep my fingers warm as I ride into the spring. I have no doubt these gloves would play a key role in any cold weather bikepacking expedition.
Disclosure: The 45NRTH Sturmfist 5 gloves were provided for this review by 45NRTH.
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