SmartWool PhD HyFi Training Touchscreen Gloves

3_5stars

SmartWool PhD HyFi Training Touchscreen Gloves

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Price: $29.99 (list $40.00)

The SmartWool PhD HyFi Training Touchscreen Gloves are a well-constructed pair of running gloves with good conductivity from a company that takes an ethical approach to their business. The relatively high price tag, however, may make some think twice before purchasing these comfortable, low-profile gloves.

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Editor’s Note: This model has been discontinued, though a newer model is available hereA review of the newer model will be posted soon.

The SmartWool PhD HyFi Training Touchscreen Gloves are a well-constructed pair of running gloves with good conductivity from a company that takes an ethical approach to their business.  The relatively high price tag, however, may make some think twice before purchasing these comfortable, low-profile gloves.

Conductivity

These gloves conduct fairly well.  In part this owes itself to the conductive stainless metal material that SmartWool has chosen, as well as the reasonably good tailoring of the touchscreen compatible areas on the index finger and thumb.

For many types of gloves, two-finger conductivity is a drawback because it limits certain functionality like typing with all ten fingers on a tablet’s virtual keyboard.   With gloves for a specific activity such as running, however, user’s will typically only ever need two fingers in order to interact with their touchscreen device (almost always a phone, GPS, or mp3 player), so this limitation tends not to be an issue.  It should be noted that zooming in and out using the pinching motion was a little bit challenging because the conductive material ends in the middle of the tip of each finger.  This positioning makes any type of directly downward facing engagement of the touchscreen more difficult.

Construction

For the most part, these gloves are very well constructed.  From the strong stitching and seams to the nice tailoring and excellent materials, these running gloves feel sturdy, but are still a pleasure to wear while training. A particularly nice feature of SmartWool gloves is their use of merino wool, which wicks moisture away to keep your hands warm.

One potential issue could be the thinness of the touchscreen compatible areas.  While the non-conductive areas of the gloves are made of a thicker, more durable combination of merino wool, nylon, and elastane, the conductive pads are comprised of only a thin layer of material.  Although I used them on a number of occasions for running and did not see any wear and tear, over the course of a season of constant use this thinness may become an issue.

Warmth and Dexterity

These gloves are best suited for moderately cold weather (down to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit).   If you end up running in colder temperatures most people will want to either use these as conductive liners or simply go with a warmer pair of gloves.  On the other hand, the thinner, lighter profile means that they are flexible and easy to move in.  I had no problems unzipping pockets, navigating my iPhone, or unwrapping a power bar.

Design

These gloves suffer a little bit from a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde look.  The slick, refined and minimalist tops of the gloves have a handsome grey arch to demarcate an asymmetrical cuff and the text ‘SmartWool’ printed along the outside edge of the right hand.  Conversely, the palms sport a giant SmartWool logo of a figure, some grey horizontal stripes on the each of the non-conductive digits, and bright silver touchscreen compatible patches on the thumb and index fingers.

From an aesthetic point of view, the giant logo and grey stripes (which are meant to be traction) will not be for everyone, though I happen to like them.  Additionally, the bright silver of the touchscreen compatible areas seem unnecessary at this point.  When touchscreen gloves first came onto the market many of them used similarly bright silver material.  In part, this was because it was difficult to dye the conductive thread, but it was also a great way to advertise that these were a different type of glove with special functionality.  Today, with a variety of dyable conductive materials available, this seems a little bit kitsch, particularly when the rest of the glove is so elegant and stylish.

From a functional point of view, the logo and grip strips could be much ‘grippier’.  A number of companies have begun to incorporate traction material on the palms and fingers of their touchscreen gloves, and a few have even cleverly incorporated it into the overall design.  While SmartWool should be applauded for at least trying to put some grip on the palms (something that every touchscreen glove should have) in the form of a design, the material itself is not very good for traction.  For gloves that are designed to be holding very expensive touchscreen devices while jogging, particular attention should be given to this detail.

Overall Value and Conclusion

For the list price of $40.00, these gloves are not cheap.  While the sale price of $29.99 takes some of this edge off, the SmartWool PhD HyFi Training Touchscreen Gloves are still on the higher end of touchscreen compatible running gloves.  That said, the quality, fit, and materials these gloves, as well as the ethical and kind approach of this company may well make it worth the price for some.

Specs

Material

Shell

  • 45% nylon
  • 39% merino wool
  • 16% elastane

Touchscreen elements

  • 80% nylon
  • 20% stainless metal

Styles (2013 line)

  • Black

Sizing

  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • Extra Large

Gender

  • Unisex

Washing

  • machine wash cold
  • gentle cycle
  • do not bleach
  • tumble dry low
  • cool iron when needed
  • for best appearance, wash inside out and flat or line dry

About SmartWool

SmartWool is the type of company you can get behind.

Based out of the beautiful Steamboat Springs, Colorado, SmartWool’s aims to deliver comfort, quality and lasting value to consumers, all the while affecting positive change in the world by promoting “capitalism with a conscience”.

Conclusion Rating
Conductivity
4 stars
Construction
4 stars
Warmth
3 stars
Dexterity
4 stars
Design
3 stars
Overall Value
2 stars

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