What makes a good pair of gloves? To answer that question, you might as well try to find a saddle that satisfies every cyclist. Like saddles, gloves are a crucial component of the interface between rider and bike. Some riders eschew hand protection altogether, some like padded palms and armored backs, while others prefer light, thin, and breathable. I prefer as much aeration and bar feel as possible, while still maintaining minimum protection. After years of using gloves with the most basic construction, the One Industries Vapor Glove jumped out at me with several design features that are exactly what I look for in a glove.
While unable to commit to going gloveless—I actually crash every so often—I prefer as little as possible between my grips and my hands. With a single layer of heavily perforated Clarino palm augmented with ample silicone grip appliques, the Vapor is among the thinnest gloves on the market. At forty-two grams/pair, the Vapors are as wispy as the forty-gram TLD Ace Glove (size large). With Clarino’s inherent grip, and the large area of silicone bonded to the palms, slippage was never an issue with the Vapor. Even at the end of a recent weekend of pounding through rocks, which left my grip as weak as a baby bird, the tenacity of the Vapor’s holding power was unchanged.
Minimal gloves, which are my preference, must meet several criteria: a single-layer palm; a light weight, single-layer, breathable back, and no mechanical wrist closure. With an all-clarino palm riddled with air flow holes, the Vapor Glove is adequately ventilated and stands up to wear better than most super-thin gloves. As a big fan of strapless wrist cuffs, the Vapor’s all-stretch, extended wrist had me intrigued from my first encounter. Folded and welded for a smooth edge and durability, the Vapor’s cuff is the most unobtrusive I have tried. At first, it’s extra length made me a bit apprehensive that the gloves would feel restrictive, but in practice it feels more secure than shorter cuffs without impeding motion or comfort.
Since the entire back and wrist cuff is made of super-stretchy mesh, the Vapor’s fit is excellent. Conforming well to the whole gamut of hand shapes in our shop, from everything-fits-fine to it-has-to-be-just-so, fit will be a worry for only a very small portion of the glove-wearing population.
Longevity is always an issue with minimalist gloves, but the Vapors have a slight advantage over some. Benefitting from a one-piece palm, there are no weak spots to prematurely wear or seams to unravel from rubbing on grips. Since the back of the glove is made to be as lightweight, breathable, and stretchy as possible, the trade-off is resistance to tearing. If you live in an area where encroaching brush or trees are not an issue, the Vapors, and most other minimal gloves, will hold up fine. If, however, your trails are like ours, with the sharp, prickly aggressive claws of chaparral lying in ambush around every turn, your mileage will be a bit less. Still, a pair of gloves a year is a small price to pay for the comfort and control that the One Industry Vapor Gloves provide.
Granting an unrestrictive yet comfortably snug fit, excellent grip, extreme breathability, and a long-wearing palm, One Industries’ Vapor Gloves are an unbeatable choice for the minimalist glove aficionado.