FIA Gloves: Alpinestars vs OMP
I see lots of product reviews for various automotive racing gear, but I don't often find reviews comparing products head-to-head. I will open with I have been a Alpinestars fanboy for years. My boots are Alpinestars and I love them. My suit is Alpinestars and I love the fit and comfort. OK, so its a pain in the ass to peel the suit off after sweating in it for a 2-hour stint in a race car, but besides that, I love my Alpinestars suit.
Until recently I have had no interest in looking outside of the Alpinestars line-up for racing gear, but my latest pair of Alpinestars Tech 1-ZX gloves failed me quickly. I am not even sure I understand what happened, but there is severe bunching on the palm of the glove with my hand laying flat. The bunching was significant enough that I could sense the on-set of blistering after a long stint behind the wheel. So being disappointed with the Alpinestars, I decided to look elsewhere for a pair of replacements. I settled on a pair of OMP One-S racing gloves. Upon receipt of the gloves I decided to write a comparison to help others in their racing glove shopping.
So aside from the failure I experienced with my Alpinestars, how do these two gloves stack up to each other?
The Alpinestars Tech 1-ZX is the flagship glove for Alpinestars and will set you back $200. Now you can generally find previous year models for significantly less. The OMP One-S is a step down from OMP's top-of-the-line model, which is geared towards drivers who have F1-type steering wheels with lots of buttons and controls to manage. The One-S retails for about $175, but like the Alpinestars you can generally find previous year models for significant savings.
Both gloves are an externally-stitched glove and have pre-curved fingers, so both provide a nice smooth and comfortable fit, but when you look closely, you will notice that the Alpinestars are only externally stitched on 4 fingers, and the thumb is stitched internally. The OMP uses external stitching on all 5 fingers. I am not going to say one is better than the other, but depending on your use, you may find a preference between the two.
While most of the materials seem comparable between the gloves, OMP and Alpinestars approached the grip inserts very differently. Alpinestars' gloves use a latex grip insert and there is significantly more coverage on the palm and fingers. Comparing this with the OMP, which uses a silicon grip insert and the coverage is much more sparingly. The grip inserts on the Tech 1-ZX have a very rubber like feeling and from my experience provide good grip with the wheel. The downside to the Tech 1-ZX grip inserts is that there is so much coverage that you get bunching when you grip the wheel. I have not put the One-S through its paces yet, but my first observation is that you have significantly less bunching. OMP also reports that their silicon inserts increase in grip-level when the inserts increase in temperature. So does this mean you loose grip in open cockpit race cars when its raining?
Fit & Comfort
One of the first things you need to be aware of when shopping between the Alpinestars and OMP is sizing. The two gloves below fit me nearly identically, but the OMP is a medium and the Alpinestars are large. Make sure you size yourself with the manufacturer's respective sizing charts.
The next thing to note is that the overall length of the OMP is longer. This longer cuff provides more coverage and overlap with your racing suit. For me this is a plus. The other thing to observe is the location of the elastic band. For me the OMP elastic band hits me right at my wrist, but the Alpinestars elastic band is at the base of my palm. The result is that the OMP glove fits tighter at the wrist and cuff area. Besides the location of the elastic and the cuff, the fit of the fingers and thumb are vary comparable.
Earlier I mentioned that the grip insert coverage on the Alpinestars was much more extensive and this resulted in more bunching, as can be seen in the photos below.
Had I not experienced the grip insert failure causing the severe bunching, I would have likely continued using Alpinestars gloves, but I have purchased a pair of OMP's and plan to put them to good use. So far I am happy with my switch to the OMP gloves, but we will see how the One-S gloves age and wear with some use.