NUKEPROOF BLACKLINE VAPOUR GLOVE REVIEW
Review by Robert Johnston
There are three main categories of glove wearers in the mountain bike world: those who don’t wear ‘em; the minimalists who want something to fend off gravel rash and grip rub, and those who rely on them for protection from crashing and the elements. Catering for the riders seeking the “barely there” feel are Nukeproof’s Blackline Vapour gloves, designed to offer a slimline and breathable glove to improve rider control out on the trail. Ever a fan of a lightweight glove, I was excited to put these to the test.
For the Blackline Vapour glove, Nukeproof began with a single-layer Clarino synthetic leather palm to give their desired bar feel and comfort, with a large quantity of perforations to promote airflow without compromising the protection on offer. The back features a thin Polyester material with 15% Elastane to allow for unrestricted movement. To protect from wear and rub in the most susceptible area on the inside of the thumb is a reinforced overlay, and the back of the thumb features a suede portion to wipe eyewear and boogers on the trail. Between the fingers are mesh gussets to improve the mobility and help to wick moisture without compromising the protection. The cuff is a slip-on design, with a tab to aid pulling them on and off, reducing the bulk over a Velcro strap design. The braking finger features a silicone print to increase grip, the thumb has a touchscreen compatible portion for using your phone on the trail, and there’s dual-layer stitching in the most damage-prone areas to keep them together in a spill. The Nukeproof Blackline Vapour gloves are available in sizes XS-XXL to fit a wide range of hand sizes, come in gray or orange colorways, and retail for £22/$29.
I often find myself opting to go down the gloveless route in summer, risking some sweaty palm-induced grip slip and gravel rash to get the ultimate bar feel and hand cooling. Realistically this is ill-advised, as a simple spill can lead to discomfort, pain, or even dreaded off-bike time to let things heal. Thus, in the hotter months a barely-there glove can be a lifesaver, and so I was excited to get hold of Nukeproof’s take on the ideal hot weather hand protectors.
The fit on my large-sized Vapour glove is reasonably roomy – in some brands I’ll be risking popped seams in a large, but Nukeproofs struck a comfortable middle ground where there’s a tight enough fit without feeling like they’re going to burst. The backing material is light and breezy, with a generous stretch to follow the contours of your hand as you move, and in between the fingers the mesh portions ensure there’s no restriction and ample breathability. The palm isn’t the thinnest, and although there’s a great amount of perceived airflow thanks to the perforations, on the bar it doesn’t rank as breezy as the best of them. That’s not to say it’s overly thick – it still offers some reasonable bar feel – but it’s not ultra-thin or cool. The reinforced portions are a little on the bulky side for my preferences but didn’t feel overly impactful on the grips. The positive side of these was some extra protection from rub after long days on uplifted trails, and they’ve shrugged off a lot of wear without much to show for it. A few small spills and slide-outs made me thankful for the decision to rock the Nukeproof gloves when I’d have happily opted to go gloveless, where they protected my hands adequately without tearing up and finding themselves fit for the bin.
The silicone on the brake finger is generous, and in drier conditions it offers a good amount of extra stick on the lever. However, when wet I found the opposite to be true, with the smooth surface instead feeling slightly less sticky on the lever. As a dry condition glove, I suppose this can be forgiven, but it’s worth keeping in mind in case you find yourself regularly caught out by heavy rain in the middle of a summer ride. I ended up taking a bit of sandpaper to the silicone patches to rough them up a little, obviously reducing their lifespan but offering improved grip in all conditions that made them particularly useful.
An issue that plagues many gloves for me is “bagging out” – the loosening of the material during use. And unfortunately, the Vapour gloves weren’t able to resist this issue. After a wash they’d tighten up and feel like a second skin, but by the midpoint of a ride they’d loosen a touch and start to give some mild bunching issues on the palm. It’s not horrific, and they never became uncomfortable, but you’d lose a small amount of bar feel and grip security because of it, which knocks them down a touch in my ranking. Otherwise, they’ve held up well to a torrent of abuse, save for a few popped stitches on one cuff that produced no further issues, so for the money they’ve proved to be a great value item.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Nukeproof Blackline Vapour glove sits nicely in their range of good value and well performing apparel and ride wear. It’s not the ultimate “barely there” glove offering but does a good job at offering some lightweight protection without adding too much heat and discomfort on the hotter days.