Eska H2 Gloves Review

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eska H2 Gloves - Details
The Eska H2 mesh gloves are designed for warm-weather riding. Mesh gloves are always a compromise between air flow and protection and not all of the mesh gloves we've reviewed are able to balance these two somewhat incongruous requirements.

The Eska H2 gloves feature an open-weave mesh fabric in the main body of the H2 gloves, but the bias is towards protection, so large portions of the mesh are covered by leather, carbon fiber protectors and other features.  This is the compromise; the solid fabrics diminish the amount of air that can flow through the gloves.

But on the flip side, Eska used a variety of thinner lining materials on the inside of the gloves, not that thick foam lining that inhibits much of the air flow in some other brands of mesh gloves.

The design seems to work, as the light weight of the H2 gloves (each of these size 10 XL gloves weighs 80 grams) and the materials that have been used provide very good ventilation for this type of glove.

Besides the leather sections that will be described in more below, the H2 gloves feature a type of elastic fabric on the underside of the wrist encompassing the entire gauntlet and also bordering each of the fingers (i.e., in between the fingers).  This adds to the flexibility of the H2 gloves and we found them to be comfortable to wear in warm weather, especially as the hands get hot, sweat and swell as the temperatures rise.

Knuckle Protectors
The H2 gloves are biased towards protection with the use of a large carbon fiber protector over the base (main) knuckles.  The gloves also include carbon fiber sliders over the first and second knuckles of the forefinger and second finger and one over the middle knuckle of the third finger.  A separate carbon fiber slider helps to protect the outside of the heel of the hand. 

The base knuckle protector is double-stitched into a section of soft leather that is semi-floating on the back of the hand.  The carbon fiber heel protector and secondary knuckle protectors are single-stitched on to leather sections that hold the protectors in place.

The base knuckle protector leather is double-stitched where it meets the tops of the fingers.  In the rear, where it floats over the mesh body of the glove, it is covered with a large separate cap seam that covers and protects the edge.  On either side of the top of the hand, this leather carrier is blind-stitched into the sides of the glove.

Leather Details
Eska used some other higher-spec features on the H2 gloves also, including a special Pittards "digital reinforcements" leather on the palm-side of the fingers; "Amara" microfiber leather on the palms, which gives a good feel for the grips; and even a touch of gel in a small pad that is interestingly placed at the center of the heel of the hand over the lunate carpal, which is probably the area that would hit the ground first.

The Amara leather, which has an appearance of a suede or nubuck-type leather, is also used to cover the tip of the thumb and the outside edge of the forefinger.  It tapers down to a narrow sliver down along the outside of the forefinger back to about past the base knuckle.

On the inside of the palm, the Amara leather is double-stitched in one section to cover the forefinger/thumb circle.  A larger pad of the Amara leather is double-stitched in a zigzag pattern, from the small gel pad at the heel of the hand, slanting upwards to meet the forefinger/thumb juncture, then back out under the base knuckles along the top of the palm of the hand.

These sections are thin enough to not compromise the rider's grip while offering good feel with some wear protection.  There are a few narrow bars of silicone grip strips under each of the base knuckles on the Amara leather.

Two more sections of this material are double-stitched on to the palm side, located under the second knuckles of the forefinger and second finger.  These are designed to help prevent wear from the brake and clutch levers.

Eska H2 Gloves "Hidden" Features
The H2 gloves have a few subtle features that might go unnoticed at first.  For example, Eska uses what they call the "Easy Flex" knuckle protector system over the thumb.  This "floats" the knuckle protector on a band of leather over the knuckle, which allows the thumb to bend and move underneath while keeping the protector (padded leather in this case) over the knuckle. 

In practice this little feature makes a difference in terms of flexibility and comfort and also air flow, but because it floats over the thumb, one has to hope that it will remain there to protect the knuckle in case of a crash and slide.  That's part of the compromise one has to consider when buying a pair of motorcycle gloves designed for hot weather riding.

The mesh material used on the thumb at first appears to be the same as the material used on the body of the H2 gloves, but on closer inspection, the mesh has been gathered in small corrugations to create a sort of thicker, more flexible accordion-like material.

The pleats are oriented perpendicular to the bend of the thumb, which adds a lot of flexibility in this important area.  This feature will probably go unnoticed by H2 owners, until they realize that their thumbs don't get tired or sore from having to push against less flexible materials or design.

Eska H2 Gloves - Safety and Standards
Each of the Eska gloves we are reviewing carries the CE mark, and (updated information) Eska has now confirmed that the gloves meet the European EN 13594:2002 safety standard for motorcycle gloves and EN 340 for protective clothing standards.  As far as we can tell, this is a first for mesh gloves and that fact that all 5 pairs of these Eska gloves carry the CE mark is an indication of the quality and performance of the products.

The H2 gloves have a section of elastic on the back of the wrist to help hold the gloves in place.  The large gauntlet secures with a perforated section of rubberized material that attaches to hook-and-loop on the underside of the gauntlet.  One improvement we would suggest is for Eska to include a separate wrist strap to help secure the gloves more firmly on the rider's hand.  The rubberized strap doesn't give as much confidence as it could that the gloves will stay put during a crash.

Other Details
The fingertips are stitched using an "X" type structure where the two sections of the elastic material meet the upper leather and the Pittards leather used on the palm side of the fingers. 

The fingertips have ample room, but the stitching can be felt on the inside, around the sides and tips of the fingers, more so than on any of the other Eska gloves.  This is somewhat exacerbated by the thin lining used on the inside of these gloves.  Eska confirmed that the H2 gloves do not use Kevlar thread for the stitching material, but the Indianapolis, Indianapolis GTX and GP Pro gloves use Kevlar thread in the stitching in the palms.

Sizing, Fit and Riding
The H2 gloves shown here are a size 10, marked "XL".  They have a fit that is similar to many size large gloves, but all of the Eska gloves we have are marked XL (with the exception of the size 8 women's Squadrato gloves), so the Eska glove standard runs perhaps just slightly smaller than expected. 

It's always difficult to tell with gloves, as the sizing seems to vary quite a bit.  The fingers on the H2 gloves seem just a tiny bit shorter than the fingers on all of the other men's Eska gloves we have been wearing, which may be a result of the "X" cross stitching at the tips of the H2 gloves.

However, the thumbs have a good fit and this is important; too many gloves seem to have disproportionate thumbs.  The thumb should have some extra room in the tip because of the way the hand grips the round bars.  The thumbs on the Eska H2 gloves have just the right amount of room; that is, very slightly longer in proportion to the length of the fingers.

One of the nicest things about the H2 gloves is how flexible they feel on the hands; crucial when riding in warm-to-hot weather.  The design and the relatively good amount of air flow helps to avoid sweating and allows the gloves to be easily removed when desired.  The gloves have no apparent binding points and this makes them a pleasure to wear compared to some of the other summer gloves we've reviewed.

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