Held Airstream 3.0 gloves

Every once in a while, you try on a piece of clothing that immediately fits perfectly, as though it’d been custom-tailored to your exact specifications. Such experiences are extra-rare for someone who’s apparently smaller than most motorcycling shoppers. Even though my dimensions are statistically average and labeled medium, I usually find only larger sizes in dealership inventory. Eurosports BMW/KTM in Asheville, North Carolina, is not a big facility, but they make excellent use of their square footage, stocking only high-quality kit and keeping the little guy in mind. All these factors converged to produce elation when I slipped on a pair of Held’s Airstream 3.0 gloves on display there.

Not only were these gloves reassuringly snug without being tight or binding anywhere, they instantly won me over with their genuinely pre-curved fingers. Most motorcycle gloves advertise this design feature, but I’ve found few go far enough; I end up still having to exert effort to close my grip on the bars, at least during the break-in period. My hands measure a standard size 8, but I’ve had to buy larger and smaller sizes from a wide variety of manufacturers. This Held model was refreshingly true to size—typical German precision!

Summer gloves often sacrifice protection to provide the airflow and light weight crucial to keeping hands comfortably cool in hot weather. The medium-gauntleted Airstream 3.0s strike an exceptionally good compromise here, integrating perforated leather, polyamide mesh panels, and several types of armor. The unlined palms and finger bellies are supple-yet-abrasion-resistant kangaroo hide, delivering grippy tactile sensitivity at the hand/bar interface. An arc of suede inboard of the thumb further enhances traction and durability, while a wedge of padded SuperFabric augments impact and abrasion protection at the palm’s heel. Additional armor takes the form of TPR and SuperFabric pads on the pinky, a raised leather-covered plastic plate on the outboard side of the gauntlet, and this model’s most visually striking feature: a row of hard plastic air scoops that double as a knuckle shield. There’s also an extra layer of leather reinforcing the entire outboard edge of the glove.

Coolmax lines the glove’s interior across the back of the hand, wicking away moisture and creating a smooth, plush surface facilitating easy ingress/egress; a layer of Held’s Armaprotec textile adds more abrasion protection here. Seams are completely unobtrusive and accordion-stitched leather panels contribute to natural digit mobility. The glove upper is made of tough-yet-soft goatskin. Attention to detail is excellent, throughout. Reflective material resides behind the open mesh, the left forefinger features a rubber visor wiper, and there’s even a snap tab inside each glove’s cuff to keep them paired when not in use. There was no discernable break-in period, as the gloves felt “invisible” within a few miles of leaving the dealership.

Shorty designs (sans gauntlets) are popular for summer gloves, as they allow a bit of airflow into jacket sleeves. In a crash, however, they also leave a gap right at a fragile, high blood-flow area. Some models address this with abbreviated, snug gauntlets meant to go inside jacket sleeves, but these usually block the airflow which was supposed to be one of their advantages. The Airstream 3.0s incorporate Velcro-secured gauntlets appropriate for wrapping around the outside of a jacket sleeve, but their bulk is minimal, so loose-fitting sleeves might allow them entry if the wearer prefers.

Summer in the hot and humid southeast is a challenging environment for gloves like these, but the Airstream 3.0s perform quite well. Control feel is outstanding, and a burst of cooling airflow through the perforated leather could be felt any time I spread my fingers. Surprisingly, there’s no sensation of air movement across the back of the hand, despite the dramatic-looking air intakes and exhaust vents. It seems these exist primarily to aid in the wicking function of the Coolmax, which does succeed in maintaining a pleasantly dry interior.

Available in sizes 7-12, with long and short (size) versions, the Airstream 3.0 carries an MSRP of $185.00. They’re a pricey option for summer gloves but earn their fee with a terrific blend of comfort and protection. Look for possible end-of-season discounts at your favorite retailer.