Field Tested: 45NRTH Sturmfist Gloves and Jaztronaut Insoles

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As you might expect with a name like 45NRTH, as in the 45th Parallel, this company knows a thing or two about cycling in extreme winter conditions. The Minneapolis-based brand was founded under the Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) umbrella back in 2011. 45NRTH’s initial product offerings were tires, but they’ve since branched out to offer products that keep your hands and feet warm and cozy as the mercury drops.

In order to fulfill this mission of providing warm goods for your hands and feet, 45NRTH is employing some space-age materials. Back in 2012, the company started using aerogel insulation in their Jaztronaut insoles. This aerogel offers the lowest thermal conductivity of any solid and the highest insulation value of any existing insulation. It’s the stuff NASA uses to protect astronauts in space.

Like other insulation materials, aerogel relies on air as an insulator. But, unlike your favorite puffy jacket, it doesn’t rely on loft to provide this insulation. Instead tiny nano-sized air bubbles in the aerogel create an insulating barrier between you and the cold. And, because the material is highly compression resistant, its ability to insulate does not diminish with pressure. So, it’s the perfect material to use in high-pressure locations like the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands.

This fall, 45NRTH announced two new glove offerings under the Sturmfist name; both employing a layer of the aerogel insulation on the palms and fingers to isolate your paws from cold handlebars.. The Sturmfist 5 (five fingers) target a temperature range of 15- to 35-degrees Fahrenheit, while the Sturmfist 4 (four fingers, with the pinky and ring finger paired) are aimed at the 0- to 15-degree range.

Sturmfist gloves utilize wind and water resistant Polartec NeoShell fabric for the outer shell material and Pittards water resistant goat leather for the grip surface. Both models also offer functionally awesome and luxuriously comfortable Merino wool lining material. A suede nose whip also graces the thumb of both gloves.

A note about sizing. The size 10 (XL) gloves we tested ran true to size so those with larger hands will find themselves wishing there was a XXL option, of which there is none. Try before you buy.


 

Sturmfist 5 Gloves – $100

by Justin Steiner

Though the Sturmfist 5 may use the same aerogel grip insulation as Sturmfist 4, its 100g Polartec Alpha insulation targets warmers temps. I’ve found 45NRTH’s temperature recommendations to be a good baseline. At 35-degrees, my hands were on the verge of sweating, but the Merino lining handles moisture incredibly well and the shell material is highly breathable. On the colder end of the spectrum, my hands weren’t toasty, but they weren’t freezing either and my hands tend to run cold. Adding a Merino wool liner glove helped with comfort in the 15- to 20-degree range for me. In these colder temps, the shell’s breathability sometimes left a chill in harsh winds or at high speeds on the road. But, the glove’s breathability is excellent for the slower-paced and higher exertion level of mountain biking, which keep the gloves from becoming a sweaty mess.

On the other hand (har, har!), the palm’s aerogel insulation was incredible. It isolated cold handlebars so well I could hardly believe it. No kidding, if the gloves were warm, the aerogel kind of felt like a heating pad on my way home from work.

Regardless of materials, gloves are only as good as their fit. I’m happy to report the Sturmfists were spot-on for me in size 10 (XL) and run true to a standard XL fit. The fingers were appropriately long for gripping handlebars without being short and binding or long and awkward. Considering the warmth of these gloves, the freedom of movement and dexterity is awesome.

Bottom line; these are the best gloves I’ve used. The quality materials, good fit and incredible dexterity come together in a top-shelf package. Sure, they aren’t cheap, but the price seems very fair to me considering the materials and comfort.


 

Sturmfist 4 Gloves – $130

by Jon Pratt

Like a lot of people, my hands tend to be one of the first things to get cold on those blustery winter rides. Not so with the Sturmfist 4. The zero- to 15-degree comfort rating is no joke. With 300g of Merino-lined Polartec insulation, and a removable 250g Merino wool glove liner, these mitts are toasty!

I’ve used a lot of winter gloves ranging from five fingers, to lobster claws, to full-on mittens. The four finger construction of the Sturmfist 4 feels just right. I was able to ride, shift and brake comfortably on multiple flat bar configurations and on the Shimano STI drops of my gravel/commuter bike. Obviously there is a little loss of sensation, but nothing as drastic as I would expect from such an insulating glove.

What I really appreciated was the ability to start a ride with both the liner and glove and as my body temperature rose, ditch the liner but still have a soft Merino lining to handle any residual sweat. The glove also extends well past your wrist and features a cinch cord that is functional without having to remove the glove to tighten or loosen it.

I wouldn’t recommend you rock the Sturmfist 4 on the warmer days of winter as I found my hands overheating once it broke through the 20-25 degree barrier, but for those bitter cold days these are definitely my glove of choice.

As an added bonus, the Merino glove liner, with its ribbed palm, makes a great cool weather glove and I find myself leaving them on while driving back and forth from the trailhead. The liners are available separately for $50.


 

Jaztronaut Insoles – $50

by Justin Steiner

Anyone who has ridden clipless pedals in cold temps is all too aware of the dreaded heatsink effect of the cleat and pedal. On really cold days you can feel the heat being pulled out of your foot. Remember the bit about compressibility? Well, most other insulating insoles I’ve tried simply lose their ability to insulated under pedaling or standing pressure, which leads to cold feet.

With the Jaztronauts, however, that cleat and pedal heat-sink impact was nearly eliminated. There was still a small sense of heat loss through the bottom on my foot, but it was far less than with any other insole I’ve used. I’d say it added at least 10- to 15-degrees of comfort to my Lake MX303 boots. Where my feet would begin to succomb to the cold around 20-degrees with the stock insoles, the Jaztronaut insoles kept me much more comfortable down into the low teens. Although I haven’t had a chance to try them down to zero, I’m certain I’ll be much more comfortable at that temp with the Jaztronaut insoles.

My only disappointment revolves around the lack of arch support. They offer virtually no arch support beyond that of your shoe. But, to be fair, the insulating insoles I replaced didn’t offer any arch support either. Regardless, the $50 upgrade to warmer feet is worth it to me.

The Jaztronaut insoles also come stock in 45NRTH’s Wolvhammer boots, which we reviewed back in 2013. Read the review here.

 

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This Just In: 45North Sturmfist Cold Weather Gloves

Just in time for the first Polar Vortex of the season, cold-weather specialists 45North has new gloves to keep your hands warm this winter. For those of us that keep riding into sub-freezing temps, cold feet and hands can turn an otherwise enjoyable ride into a sufferfest. And the only thing that may be as bad or worse frozen fingers and toes? The pain when they thaw out.

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Sturmfist 5

45North has your feet covered with the Wolvhammer boots (which we reviewed last year), and hands too, with the Cobrafist extreme cold weather pogies, but the Sturmfist 4 and 5 are the first glove offering from 45North. While new gloves aren’t often news we’d find the need to cover, 45North is based in Minnesota where it gets truly cold, and 45North only does cold weather gear for cyclists, so new gloves are a big deal.

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Sturmfist 4

From the press release:

“The Sturmfist collection will be available in two different models. The five-fingered Sturmfist 5 incorporates a 100% Merino wool liner for total moisture control and keeps hands protected in 15–35ºF conditions.

For days when the mercury plunges below 15°, there’s the four-fingered Sturmfist 4. Utilizing a double glove design, Sturmfist 4 features a removable 100% Merino wool liner glove, and is rated for more frigid, 0–15ºF days. The Merino wool liner is also available separately to be used as a replacement for mid-ride freshness, or with 45North’s Cobrafist pogies.

For the ultimate blend of wool and insulation technology, Sturmfist 4, Sturmfist 5, and the Merino Wool Liner will be arriving at retailers next week for $130, $100, and $50, respectively. All pieces in the collection will be available in sizes 7, 8, 9, and 10.”

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Merino Liners

The most interesting aspect of these gloves is the use of Aerogel in the palms and fingers. Aerogel claims to have the lowest thermal conductivity of any solid. This is the same material used for the insoles of the Wolvhammer boots to insulate the bottom of the foot from the metal cleat. In this case the Aerogel will help keep hands from losing heat to metal handlebars, shifters and brake levers.

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With more features including conductive patches on thumbs and first two fingers, Polartec Alpha insulation and Polartec waterproof  and windproof Neoshell outers, there are not corners being cut here. Since 45North is one of the many brands that falls on the the umbrella of Quality Bicycle Products, most local bike shops should be able to order some Strumfist as this is post. I wouldn’t wait around if you are interested, it seems that cold weather gear is always, always, always sold through much sooner than anyone expects.

By the time this is posted, the odds are good 45North will have full details on its website: 45north.com.

 

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45NRTH adds 5-inch studded Dillinger 5

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45NRTH’s Dillinger tires have been a big hit with anyone looking for more traction than what the big rubber can give on its own. Now available in a 5-inch size, the new Dillinger 5 has a 120dpi bead and 45NRTH‘s new two-piece concave stud design that actually sharpens as it wears.

The tread pattern is slightly revised from the still available Dillinger 4 (26×4.0) and like it’s “smaller” sibling, will be available in a studdless version as well. Ultimate traction doesn’t come cheap though: The studded version will sell for $250, studless for $175.

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Jay Petervary wins Arrowhead 135

Photos by David Gabrys/45NRTH

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The frozen feats of strength known as the Arrowhead 135 started Monday morning and 45NRTH sponsored rider Jay Petervary took the win in his first attempt, finishing the 135 miles in 20 hours and 11 minutes.

Though it was his first crack at the race, Petervary is no stranger to these types of races. He has won the Iditarod Trail Invitational (350 AND 1,100-mile versions), the Tour Divide and now the Arrowhead.

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Armed with nearly a full fleet of 45NRTH gear, he likely stayed pretty toasty warm, even as temperatures hit -30 degrees overnight.

Check out the amazing photo gallery from David Gabrys of 45NRTH of the action here.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Petervary set a record in the Arrowhead. The record is actually held by Todd McFadden at 14 hours 20 minutes.

 

 

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