“A review of heated gloves as we head into summer in the northern hemisphere?” you may well ask. But early summer can still see pretty cold temperatures at base and if you are up there for a long time your hands can freeze. If you are one of the unlucky pilots that suffers from circulatory problems chilled hands can occur at any time of year. Enter the Racer Connectic 4 heated gloves we were sent recently.
Racer are a French glove company that have been in existence for nearly 100 years. Making gloves for skiing, motorbiking, horse riding, cycling and trail running they have recently entered the paragliding market. Their range, created with the help of top pilots like acro world champion François Ragolski and Karakoram adventure pilot Antoine Girard, includes normal gloves as well as face masks and a heated jacket.
The Connectic 4 heated gloves come in male and female versions with dedicated cuts. Not cheap at around €230 a pair, they do however have a reassuring air of quality. From the packaging to the finish everything is top level.
They come supplied with a battery for each glove and a wall charger that can charge two batteries in about four hours. You can add an extra pair of batteries to double the run-time of the gloves from the standard two hours at maximum heat mode to four. The batteries fit in a Velcro pocket on the inside of the wrist. With one battery you will hardly notice it is there.
The gloves themselves look and feel very well made. They feature fibrefill insulation and a softshell style outer material which the company says is waterproof. In my unscientific test of holding my hand under a running tap the water beaded on the surface and there was no dampness inside.
There are elasticated lanyards in case you need to remove the gloves in flight as well as a pull-cord cuff to keep the wind out. The palm, inner fingers, knuckles and side of the forefinger are all reinforced with leather panelling, so they should stand up to the rough and tumble of paragliding including lines rubbing during launch. The inside is lined with lovely soft fleece material.
Overall the gloves are nice and supple and, despite the good level of insulation, it is easy to use the fingers and grip the brakes. I could operate my camera with them on easily, and although not advertised as being smartphone compatible I was able to use my iPhone with them on. I even managed to send a text!
Any wires for the heating system aren’t noticeable, and the control panel is very low profile. It doesn’t feel like you are compromising on the glove side to get the heating.
To turn on the heating there is a single rubberised button on each glove. This has embedded LEDs that show you how many batteries are connected, their charge level and what power level is selected. Switching on/off requires pressing and holding for a few seconds then a single push steps between three power levels plus boost mode. The button is easy to use in the air so during the test period I would only switch it on when I needed it. It meant I could use the same battery charge for a few local flights.
At 2,000m on pretty cold days when pilots were landing complaining of the cold the gloves kept my hands warm at the middle setting. I could always initially set them to a higher setting – being so easy to set made it easy to optimise the battery usage. I didn’t fly long enough to run down the batteries, but in a static test in the office the batteries lasted for between 4-5 hours on the mid setting.
The bottom line is these are gloves I would be very happy to use as my regular paragliding gloves. They have the added benefit of having an efficient heating system for the winter or high altitude. They don’t come cheap but are a definite step up from some of the heated gloves I’ve tried.
- Weight: 185g (XL size) each glove, plus 79g for the battery
- Materials: Polymax softshell outer, leather; fiberfill insulation; silk inner
- Price: €229.95