MC Tested: Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCi Insulated Gloves

Space-age tech goes hand in hand with classic style

Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCi
Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCiSeth Richards

Since I live in Upstate New York, the riding season begins and ends with a long succession of chilly days. Ironically, I've never owned a good pair of insulated gloves, preferring to have cold hands than to spend the money on a pair of bulky gloves that look like they're meant for the ski slopes and that prevent me from properly feeling the controls. Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCis are cold-weather gloves that solve that problem—and many others.

At $205, the DeerSports PCis are not inexpensive, but they immediately impress as a high-quality product with thoughtful design. Hardware store deer drivers these are not. The gloves are constructed of incredibly supple 4-ounce elk skin on the backs and 2.75-ounce deerskin on the palms (where thicker elk skin would diminish the rider's feel of the controls). Both types of leather are more abrasion resistant than cowhide. The DeerSports PCis are made with only four seams, limiting the number of weak spots. Additional leather patches at the base of the palm and knuckles add further abrasion protection.

Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCi
Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCiSeth Richards

If you’re used to wearing heavily armored racing gauntlets, the DeerSports may seem a little old-fashioned. Here’s my take: The quality of leather and craftsmanship in the DeerSports give them superior abrasion resistance than most gloves, but at the exclusion of impact-absorbing armor. If there are two schools of thought on protection, this would seem to prioritize abrasion resistance above all else. Actually, if you count comfort as a safety factor, the DeerSports excel there too.

I’ve not ridden with the standard DeerSports, but the insulated PCis practically disappear on the bars, which is impressive considering they insulate down to about 35 degrees. The insulating material is relatively thin, so while they’re bulkier than unlined gloves, they’re nowhere near feeling like you’re wearing oven mitts on your hands, as some cold-weather gloves feel.

One of the factors that has prevented me from getting insulated gloves is that in the shoulder seasons, while it might be 40 degrees during my morning commute, it often warms up to 70 by the time I ride home. Who wants to carry two pairs of gloves with them? The DeerSport PCis feature Outlast phase-change material to help modulate body temperature. The material, which was originally developed for NASA as a lining for space suits, has loads of tiny capsules that are filled with a material that absorbs, stores, and releases heat by changing phase from liquid to solid and back again, depending on the temperature. The material stores heat when you need it and releases it when you don’t, for a broad operating window between around 35 and 75 degrees. Furthermore, with heated grips, rather than shielding hands from the warmth the way some insulating materials can, the Outlast material absorbs heat, even radiating it around the fingers.

Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCi
Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCiSeth Richards

I don't typically ride with heated grips (I know, I know; I ride motorcycles in the Northeast. I must be some kind of sadistic fool. Comment below…), but I'd say at 35 degrees outside—cold enough to make my steering damper feel like it's filled with pudding—the DeerSports keep me warm for brief half-hour spins. When it's 45 degrees out, extend that time exponentially. On the other end of the spectrum, I've ridden happily in them in 75 degrees and not broken a sweat.

Lee Parks, himself a former Motorcyclist writer, has perhaps unintentionally created a glove that’s as fashionable as it is functional, as Brooklyn hipsters have adopted his eponymous gloves as go-to garb. When cool kids and grizzled road vets alike stand by the product, it attests to its merits. On top of that, each glove is handmade in the USA by workers paid a living wage.

My only complaint is that the bottom Velcro adjuster is sewn directly to the glove, so cinching the bottom means folding the leather on top of itself, which is not ideal. I opted for the full gauntlet gloves which are almost too generously cut at the base; at least there won’t be a problem fitting them over jackets with wide cuffs.

Sizing runs large. I typically wear a medium, but size small fits me perfectly. Lee Parks Design offers several glove models in black or tan colorways, including the short cuff DeerTours and the new Sumos. Stay tuned for an upcoming review of the Sumos.

Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCi
Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCiSeth Richards
Lee Parks Design Deer Sports PCi
Grade: A
Verdict: Finally, a non-bulky insulated glove that works in a wide range of temperatures. And it looks as good as it works.
Price: $204.95
Contact: leeparksdesign.com
Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCi
Lee Parks Design DeerSports PCiSeth Richards