Review: Showa 281 Gloves || Inexpensive water- & windproof shell

The Showa 281 Glove is suitable as a wind- & waterproof shell for hiking and running.

The Showa 281 Glove is an inexpensive (less than $15), lightweight (sub-2 oz), and somewhat breathable shell made of waterproof/windproof polyurethane. Its exterior is textured and very abrasion-resistant. It is the unlined version of the Showa 282 Gloves, about which I have written a more in-depth review.

Online availability of the 281 is limited. I purchased mine from Seattle Marine & Fishing Supply Co, despite the $8 shipping charge for an $11 product.

Review: Showa 281 Gloves

For cool or cool-and-wet conditions, the Showa 281 Glove is best used in conjunction with a thin liner glove. The 281 provides resistance to wind and water. The liner adds warmth and buffers moisture. My favorite liner is the DeFeet Duraglove Wool, which is made of merino wool and nylon.

The 281 can also be worn alone in milder weather and for applications that require dexterity or abrasion-resistance. For example, I have used them to:

  • Cut the wind while on biking errands,
  • Cleaning leaf debris out out of the gutters, and
  • Clean up a pile of scrap wood and razor-sharp brass weather stripping left behind after replacing my front door.

The 281 interior is lightly textured, consisting of exposed vertical fibers. It grabs a little bit, but it’s not like gloves made of pure latex, nitrile, or rubber.

Fabric breathability is noticeable — after a recent 1-hour run in sub-freezing temperatures, there was minimal perspiration build-up inside the glove. If hands overheat or become uncomfortably sweaty, the solution is easy: I can cool down and air out my hands by removing the gloves.

I pair the 281 with a liner glove, the DeFeet Duraglove Wool. The 281 adds warmth by blocking wind and keeps my hands dry from external precip.

For colder conditions, consider the Showa 282 Gloves, which have an acrylic liner that adds warmth and buffers moisture. At the bottom of this post, I have explained the spec and use differences of the 281 and 282. On its own, the 282 is comparable in warm to a 281/liner combination, and a notch warmer than the 281/liner when combined with a separate liner.

The 281 has several imperfections as a waterproof/breathable shell glove, including its “Smurf blue” color, limited retail availability, and lack of a wrist closure. I’d also like to see it available as a mitt, which is inherently warmer than a glove. That said, compared to other existing rain gloves and rain mitts, I think the 281 is a very strong candidate.

Product specs

  • Weight: 1.6 oz (size L), 1.8 oz (size XL)
  • Textured waterproof/breathable micro-porous polyurethane shell
  • Articulated fingers
  • 10.6-11.0 inches long (270-280 mm) when flat, from tip to cuff

The Showa 281 Glove

Fit guide

I’ve not seen the 281 or 282 at a local retailer, so they’ll probably need to be purchased online without trying them on. I’ll share my sizing experience to help you.

My hand size:

  • Length: 8.25 inches from wrist to tip of middle finger, + 0.125 inches for glove liner;
  • Width: 8.25 inches around the palm, + 0.25 inches for glove liner; and,
  • Middle finger: 3.375 inches (3 3/8) from base to tip.

I purchased the 281 in three sizes:

  • Medium is too tight.
  • Large fits snugly when worn without a liner, providing excellent dexterity but no layering opportunity. The fingers are too short by about 1/4 inch, which is partly offset by the fabric stretch.
  • X-Large is comfortable without a liner, though a bit oversized and clumsy. With my liners, the fit is about perfect.

The 281 is also available in XXL. In theory, it should have enough interior volume to combine it with a thicker liner, such as the Outdoor Research PL 400. I wear the PL400 while running in temperatures in the 20’s or 30’s, and the combination of it with the 281 would make it winter-worthy.

Showa 281 vs 282

The 281 and 282 models differ in just one respect: the 281 is just a shell, whereas the 282 has an acrylic liner attached to the shell. This liner adds about $10 in cost, and 2.4 oz in weight to the size XL. The shell of both models is made of Temres, a waterproof/breathable micro-porous polyurethane that has a textured and abrasion-resistant exterior.

The 282 (left) and 281 (right). The only difference is that the 282 has an integrated acrylic liner.

I was not impressed by the 282’s acrylic liner: it pills quickly, and with extended use I fear that it will delaminate from the interior. However, it does add notable warmth, which allows the 282 to be worn alone in cool-and-wet conditions (rather than needing a separate liner, as would be needed with the 281) and which makes the 282 suitable for colder temperatures (assuming the same liner is used with both).

Which pair do I recommend more, the 281 or 281? Honestly, I can see it both ways. Assuming that the 281 is paired with a liner, the 281 and 282 are about the same cost and weight. The bigger difference is versatility: Do you want a two-piece system that can be mixed-and-matched in accordance with the conditions, or do you prefer a simpler all-in-one product?

Questions about the Showa 281 or 282 Gloves? Leave a comment.


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Posted in , , on December 13, 2017
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39 Comments

  1. Max WIlson on December 13, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Glad to see the water-proof shell with a liner idea worked out pretty well! I’ve been waiting for it to cool off here in AZ to try a similar combination with the grease monkies, but the hot winter is making it impossible.

    • Andrew Skurka on December 13, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      The 281 are better: less grabby interior and a somewhat breathable shell. That said, please report back on your experience with the Grease Monkey gloves. They are cheap and widely available, and therefore of interest to a lot of readers.

      • Max WIlson on December 13, 2017 at 4:53 pm

        Will do! I suspect you are right about the 281s being better, especially as the intensity of the activity goes up.

        • Bret Grover on December 20, 2017 at 5:22 pm

          I found the grease monkeys to be difficult to put on if my hands got wet. They worked great with a liner but if I had to take them off and put them back on it was somewhat challenging. The cost and availability is nice but I am going to try the 281 and see how that works instead.

          • Andrew Skurka on December 21, 2017 at 9:46 am

            The 281 are less grabby/rubbery, so they’ll be better with wet hands. But I don’t think any garment is as easy to put on when wet — think about how difficult it is to put on a wet shirt, even if it’s made of non-absorbent polyester.



  2. James M on December 13, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    Not really related to the gloves but I noticed the word ‘outdry’ on your rain shell. Is that Columbia’s (somewhat) new Outdry Extreme rain shell and, if so, might there be a review forthcoming?

    • Andrew Skurka on December 14, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Yes, that’s a Columbia shell. Maybe a review forthcoming. It’s a good fabric, recommended, though a bit heavy. A lighter version will be available in spring 2018.

  3. Jakuchu Ito on December 13, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    I personally prefer the unlined (281) version as I like to be able to swap out a liner that perhaps got wet from sweat, or if I have a silk liner with fingerless cycling glove over it (to protect it while using my trekking poles), I like to just throw the Showa gloves over that whole system. With the 282’s I can’t really do that because of sizing.

    If you know you need the warmth the 282’s are nice because you can put them on/off so quickly.

    • Andrew Skurka on December 14, 2017 at 10:15 am

      You can use the 282 as an overmitt, over a separate liner, but you definitely need to size up. For example, I’m size Large when I wear the 282 alone, but XL when I want to wear them with a liner.

  4. Ian on December 14, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Any reason you decided on that particular liner type? It would think that the rubber grip material would take up space inside the glove, and inhibit dexterity. How are you finding the durability with the 281 as a hiking glove? As a work glove these types of gloves last a day and normally break down at the gripping surface between the thumb and pointer finger.

    • Andrew Skurka on December 14, 2017 at 10:13 am

      The silicone pads on the Duraglove are low-profile and don’t take up any meaningful space. I’ve been using this liner for a long time. The fabric thickness is just right (thick enough to keep hands warm, thin enough to have full dexterity) and the merino/nylon blend has proven durable, although as you’d expect they are vulnerable to abrasion, especially at the finger tips and between the thumb and index finger.

  5. Jeroen B on December 14, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Have used my 282’s this weekend in a snowball fight with the kids. My hands stayed toasty warm and dry after more than 1 hour, excellent. I have my doubts about durability, but let’s just wait and see – goretex stuff always fails on me instantly, so this can’t be worse. They may be repairable with SeamGrip (not in the cold though as it will never cure) or even duct tape.

    One thing I noticed was a horrible chemical smell when I unpacked them. Had to air them out for a couple of days!

    • Andrew Skurka on December 14, 2017 at 10:10 am

      Yep, just air them out, smell problem solved.

      • Joe in Missouri on June 4, 2019 at 6:28 pm

        Not really solved if you stay around them. The chemicals are deposited into all of the organs of your body because you inhaled them and then your circulatory system delivered them to every part of your body. 😛

  6. Lagrandeimage on December 14, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Hello all,

    I have been experimenting with the 281+liner solution for a month on my bike commuting trip. In order to have a comparing point, I had one hand with the 281+OR PL100 gloves and one hand with a Sealzskinz Dragoneye glove.

    Conditions were temperatures from 3°C to 11°C without taking in account wind factor from bike commuting.

    Result on cold dry conditions : My hand wearing the 218+liner was definitely colder than the hand with the Sealzskinz glove. My fingers with the 281 were always colder than the fingers with the Sealzkinz glove.

    Results in cold wet conditions : One or two times including yesterday I went to work in the morning and caught rain. Arriving at work after my 27 minutes bike ride, results were similar to cold dry conditions. My fingers under the 281 were colder that under the Sealskinz. I was not sure but I might have felt some humidity in the Sealskinz glove but not sure.

    The real difference was when I went home. I had left both gloves on the bike in a non-heated bike room. The 281 and liner were completely dry whereas the Sealskiz glove was really humid both outside and inside the glove.

    My conclusion is that the 281 + liner is a winning combination in terms of waterproofing. But the glove is not sized in XL for anything more than a PL100 which does not allow for sufficient insulation in the cold dry conditions. I tried putting the 281 in XL with the OR PL400 and it was too small.

    Obviously the 281 is not sized for layering which is logical when you consider the product but is a bane for people with large hands like me.

    I did not find the cuff a problem. It is quite long so it’s not that difficult to tuck it in your jacket’s sleeve. You could probably DIY a closure system.

    As for durability, gripping a bike handle is quite abrasive and after a month of use absolutely no wear so I would tend to say it is good.

    Which brings me to my question Andrew, I would love to get a pair of XXL 281. But ont he Showa group page (https://www.showagloves.com/showa-281-temres#.WjLrkt_ibIU) there is no mention of an XXL version. Are you sure it’s out there? If so do you have a link?

    In conclusion what we need is someone with an entreprenurial spirit with know-how and connections in the industry launching a Kickstarter for a glove concept with the exterior surface similar to the 281, with liner or without, with better colors, with wrist closure and with dimensions scaled for layering!

  7. 1armJoe on January 3, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Call me crazy. I know you will. 🙂

    I’ve spent a small fortune on gloves and mittens, and have returned to good old elkskin mitts with wool liners in the cold.

    I have wool mittens and fingered wool gloves, and use both for liners.

    It is easy to bite off either the outer mitten or the whole thing.

    Snoseal still works on leather, like it always did.

    It takes a hell of a lot to soak through them.

  8. 1armJoe on January 3, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Forefinger articulation is critical for me, as I am usually hoping to harvest some protein, mostly in the form of rabbits and hares, as I hike/snowshoe in the Colorado winter.

    I carry an accurate pistol on my hikes, and secure many wonderful meals with it.

    Just doing my thing in the ecosystem, I reckon.

    Joe

  9. Jeremy P on January 15, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    I haven’t had a chance to use the gloves yet, but I’d like to compliment Seattle Marine on their customer service. USPS never delivered my order, despite the tracking status, and SeaMar sent me a replacement pair no charge.

  10. Michael on February 28, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Andrew,

    Do you think an Outdry mitt such as the Jalapeno OutDry Mitt would be a good solution?

    https://www.mountainhardwear.com/jalapeno-outdry–mitt-1617111.html

    Michael

    • Andrew Skurka on February 28, 2018 at 11:16 am

      There a a few things about that mitt that make me nervous.

      1 – No mention of the seams being sealed.
      2 – Palm made of leather, which can be very water-resistant but which will absorb water and eventually wet out, especially if it’s not maintained well.

      I’m less worried about the Outdry fabric, assuming it’s the original heavy-duty version. I have a jacket made of it, and it’s proven to be durably waterproof despite extensive use.

  11. Alex on April 9, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Just to share my experience of the 281 sizes–I had similar outcomes to Andrew, but with slightly smaller hands:

    Alex’s hand size (typically wear a medium):
    Length: 7.25 inches from wrist to tip of middle finger;
    Width: 8 inches around the palm;
    Middle finger: 3 inches from base to tip.

    Medium is too tight.
    Large fits snugly when worn without a liner, providing excellent dexterity but no layering opportunity (length about perfect).

  12. Paul on April 21, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    The Marigold Extra Tough Outdoor gloves seem to be another option. They’re a heavier duty version of the normal Marigold gloves with a cotton liner. Available in Medium, Large and Xtra Large. Best of all they’re available in Black and only £3.99 per pair. Bought the large size and their fine with a thin liner glove.

    https://www.marigold.co.uk/product/extra-tough-outdoor-gloves/

  13. Justin W on August 2, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Good tip, thanks. A bit unrelated, but for very cold weather and vapor barrier or putting hands in a cold stream or the like, I like to use Butyl rubber gloves, as butyl rubber has an unusually low thermal conductivity for a solid type material. It´s a bit lower than polypropylene, which is already lower than most other common, clothes type materials. PP ranges from like 1.1 to 1.3 or so W/kM (at 25* C) for the type used for fiber/clothes and butyl rubber is .09 W/kM (the lower the number, the better and less it transfers IR energy).

    Its really not that much of a difference because we´re talking thin materials, but I figure every little bit of heat conservation helps in certain, more extreme conditions.

    However, there are some common materials which if compared and contrasted, you would notice a definite difference. If you used vapor barrier gloves made out of say polyethylene and compared that to butyl rubber for a given similar thickness, there would be a noticeable difference.

  14. Fielding Schaefer on October 28, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    Have you(or anyone) looked into the Lightheart gear Rain Mittens? They appear high quality though there’s little information about them on the website or elsewhere. The classic minimalist mitt design with a strap and sealing included for a full waterproof mitt is intriguing…

    • Andrew Skurka on October 29, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      I’d prefer to see factory-sealed seams, with tape. But if I was given the choice I’d take them over the normal WPB mitts that suffer from abrasion.

  15. Kevin on December 3, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    I hike in the same disposable gloves that I use for handling chemicals. Harbor Freight has 5mm & 7mm nitrile gloves that I use. Worn alone they are like a vapor barrier and provide enough warmth under exertion for my hands to stay warm in freezing rain. I’ll sometimes layer a thin liner under the 7mm version for snow or if I’m on a long downhill section. By moving in/out of them I’m able to find a comfort zone for my rain/snow use. Used alone I get the wrinkled hands going but I’m mostly concerned about warmth.

  16. Jay on December 15, 2018 at 6:13 am

    Is that 1.6oz per glove or per pair?

    • Andrew Skurka on December 15, 2018 at 6:53 am

      Per pair.

      • Jay on December 15, 2018 at 6:58 am

        Thanks Andrew. Did you know that MLD is using your name as an endorsement of their rain mitts even thought you critisize rain mitt DWR materials? Check it out on their website.

        • Andrew Skurka on December 18, 2018 at 10:54 am

          I didn’t, thanks for the heads-up. There is some really old content on their site.

  17. Bill on January 4, 2019 at 10:07 am

    I recently bought these gloves from rainbownetrigging.com out of Nova Scotia. I found that I had to order XXL to fit fleece glove liners underneath. I usually buy medium sized gloves. My hands are more wide than long and that could be the reason for needing the larger sizes compared to what Andrew did. I hope that helps anyone ordering these.

  18. Richard Horwat on April 23, 2019 at 11:23 am

    The light is right mentality.

    I laugh at how Skurka comdemns goretex etc. I would love to take him to 15k on the side of an exposed peak in a blower and show him exactly where gtx comes into its own.

    Military loves goretex but I guess Andrew Skurka knows more than they do when it comes to products and protection they garner…

    I remember reviewing his ultimate gear guide. He covers all of the light is right approach but not 1 time did he mention traction devices or snowshoes.

    I think this wholelight weight approach is simply stupid.

    When shit hits the proverbial fan I want the best possibly protection I can get.

    No, Im not a fan of his approach and for basic wilderness travel I get saving weight but at what expense? I will take my Hilleberg Soulo over anything out there shelter wise.

    Just like I wpuld choose my Tarra if its more than just me.

    Same with my Deadbird Alpha SV.

    At the end of the day I wojld rather take a weight penalty and know the gear I have will handle what I will throw at it.

    This whole light is right approach is bullshit.

    At what expense are you shaving grams?

    I didtched the lightweight philosophy when I kicked a guyline with my BA Copper Spur and the fly split clear up a seam.

    My Hillebergs have been kicked, smacked by mother natures worst, jammed into packs with crampons, etc and not a sign of wear on any of them.

    I mean anyone who would be comfortable with a less durable product just to save a few grams is an idiot imo.

    Think rationally and you will understand.

    Ive seen people on trail postholing through snow in trail runners.

    Mother nature doesnt give a damn what you have in your pack.

    I find it foolish to minimize your level of protection from the elements just for the sake of saving a few grams.

    It makes no sense at all.

    You lighten your load to increase your trail speed.

    All in the name of going faster on trail while blowing by many of the sights that is the whole reason why you are out there in the1st place.

    No, Im not a fan of this approach.

    Maybe for mild weather yes but Ive been doing this since I was 4.

    I will be 43 so you do the math.

    Ive seen and bailed out more than 1 person because they wanted to go light.

    Another caveat is your going to replace less durable gear more oftenif you actually use it.

    All this approach does is line the pockets of the manufacturers because you are replacing gear more often thab you would be if you had purchased a burlier item from the start.

    I think a lot that gets lost here is longevity of the items being used and the conditionsin which they are being utilized all in the nameof saving weight.

    It makes zero sense to me.

    ….yeah you may be uncomfortable but hey your pack is light lol.

    Im doing a few climbs in 2020 and Denali in 2021. I would love for Mr. Skurka to make these runs with me to show him exactly where this “UL” mindset falls flat on its face.

    Then again I doubt any guide would let him on the mountain nor do I believe he would be able to obtain a permit with his kit because those issuing said permits would deem his gear unsafe for this use so.

    No, Im not a fan.

    Not at all.

    I think lessening the durability of your gear which would also hit your chances of success in the mouth with a sledgehammer is flat out foolish.

    If your bragging rights are “but my pack is light” then you are totally out there fir the wrong reasons.

    Its not a race. Its all about the journey not the trip.

  19. Richard Horwat on April 23, 2019 at 11:26 am

    As far as gloves. I own 3 pair that are my go tos outside of my mitts(OR Altis.)

    Hestra Falt Guides(treated with Obenaufs,) OR Stormtrackers for when its not so cold but fairly dry, and Arcteryx Alpha ARs for climbing when I still need dexterity.

  20. Joe in Missouri on June 4, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    It’s not about who “knows more” my friend.
    Large organizations, the military in particular are infamous for making very poor decisions concerning troop gear.
    On the other hand individuals usually make the best decisions for their particular needs.

    • Richard Horwat on June 5, 2019 at 6:28 am

      I dunno man. Everyone who I know who serves and has used dead birdy leaf stuff seems to like it.

      I have a bunch of Arcteryx stuff.

      Alpha SV, Alpha AR Pants, Psiphon AR pants, Proton AR hoody, Fortrez hoody…

      Belay parka on top of and when needed.

      Gloves as stated above(Alpha ARs, Hestra Fälts, blah blah blah.

      You get what you pay for.

      If you truly rely on your gear (I dont mean the difference between implementing your bail out plan or not) I mean you truly have to rely on your gear this whole light is right mentality all on the name of saving a few grams here in there is dumb af.

      At what point does one realize they have literally lost their mind in their pursuit to cut a gram?

      I mean is a UL shelter as strong as say my Hilleberg Soulo? Nope…

      If I followed the Skurka plan things like my Exped DM7 would be deemed too heavy for consideration but what about the insulating and comfort level it provides?

      A good nights sleep on trail or on any multiple day death march is gold but many would rather be a little less comfortable to save a few grams.

      Its stupid to say the least.

      I cant count the amount of people I have encountered over the years who experienced a “Suffer Fest” all in the name of a lighter pack.

  21. Joe in Missouri on June 5, 2019 at 10:09 am

    You made my case. Most troops have friends and family order a lot of stuff (such as ballistics vests) that the military has understandably skimped on.

    When you understand that the purpose of these wars is to enrich the military industrial complex, and little else, then you begin to understand what is happening.

    Recently there have been both aircraft and naval carriers (sorry I can’t recall the names) decade long projects with huge cost over runs that are in the billions…. and both of them may have to be scrapped, because again enriching the military industrial complex was the real goal. NOT to produce cost effective weapons systems. We see this over and over and over again….

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