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.
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.
- 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
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.
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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