Mountain biking is notoriously hard on the hands. Cheap mountain bike gloves rarely offer enough protection, but we've found some hidden gems.
Finding mountain bike gloves that strike a balance between cost and comfort is no easy task. We’ve taken the job of searching high and low for a pair that are durable, comfortable, and cost-effective.
Our research suggests that avoiding the big brand names is typically the better option, though there are a handful of extremely high-quality options if you’re willing to part with the extra cash.
The Best Mountain Bike Gloves
We aimed to compile a list of gloves that meet the general consensus for quality in mountain bike gloves. This meant understanding what industry experts, Bikebrave readers and everyday MTB riders look for in a pair of gloves.
We tested the gloves based on a variety of qualities, but some of the most important factors we examined were comfort, protection, and grip. To cater to different tastes, we’ve included a selection of fingerless and full-fingered MTB gloves. We’ve also aimed to include varying degrees of padding too.
Each of the gloves we feature on the list is perfectly capable of offering you grip and protection for a reasonable price.
After endless hours of research and testing, we’ve listed the best mountain biking gloves below which will keep your hands warm, safe and comfortable when you’re riding.
Fox Racing Dirtpaw Race Gloves
Fox Racing’s impressive Dirtpaw mountain bike gloves’ stretch polyester construction provides a snug comfortable fit that is miraculously breathable. Mesh finger gussets hugely improve mobility when compared to many of the cheaper gloves we’ve tried. This added mobility allows for grip to be distributed across the handles in the most comfortable way possible.
A single layer of clarino padding on the palm works wonders to absorb impacts and leave your hands relatively undisturbed during sharp impacts. Silicone print on the fingertips for extra grip is the icing on the cake to top off what is practically a perfect mountain bike glove – they’re even touchscreen compatible!
ZOOKKI Mountain Bike Gloves
ZOOKKI isn’t exactly a leading brand name in cycling, but if you tried these gloves without seeing the label, you’d genuinely struggle to notice the difference. For a fraction of the price of a similar product from a leading brand, you’re getting an excellent mountain bike glove that is more than capable of holding up to harsh use.
They are extraordinarily comfortable, breathable, and easy to move around in. The padding is excellent and remains as effective after months of use as it is on the first wear. Despite the odd difficulty getting touchscreens to work through them, they’re every bit as good as gloves twice their price. Without a doubt, the best value mountain bike gloves available today.
INBIKE Mountain Bike Gloves 5MM
Prefer fingerless mountain bike gloves? You’re not alone. Especially during summer rides, full-fingered gloves can be uncomfortably hot. Even the most breathable mountain bike gloves suffer from sweatiness brought on by thick padding.
No such issue here. A highly-elastic lycra and knitted mesh fabric combine to make a breathable but comfortably snug fit that stays cool and airy even in summer months. Gel padding absorbs impacts very well and leaves no numbness in the hands afterward. For such a low price, these fingerless mountain bike gloves are tough to beat.
Seibertron Dirtpaw Unisex Mountain Bike Gloves
Seibertron Dirtpaw mountain bike gloves are seriously impressive given the modest price tag. They’re another prime example of how venturing outside of established labels can land you an absolute bargain that performs just as well.
These gloves offer a noticeably more significant amount of airflow than the other full-fingered mountain bike gloves we’ve tested; making them perfect for hot weather. Build quality feels superb, and there were no issues at all with regards to grip or comfort. If you prefer the styling or the level padding on these gloves compared to other similar products, don’t hesitate to give them a shot. You won’t be disappointed.
Giro DND Mountain Bike Gloves
Super comfortable and mobile, with just about the minimum padding you’d need from a mountain bike glove. If you like less padding and a more cooling glove, these are the best mountain bike gloves for you.
The fit is extremely comfortable with just enough coverage; they feel more like a second skin rather than a bulky padded mountain bike glove. As with a lot of gloves, they’re advertised as being touch screen compatible, though we’ve seen plenty of people have issues with that; so maybe avoid if that’s something important to you. Despite that, they’re a perfect pick for those who prefer a lighter feel.
A Guide To Buying MTB Gloves
Mountain biking is an intense activity that requires protective clothing. Your hands are one of the essential parts to protect and cover. Injuries to the hands, or sweatiness, can cause a loss of grip that leads to crashes and further injuries. It’s not worth risking your health or your bike.
In the unfortunate event of a crash, the best mountain bike gloves will help protect your hands from being scraped up. They’ll also help you keep grip during sharp impacts and manage the situation to the best of your abilities; reducing damage to yourself and your bike.
Mountain bike riders have vastly different needs when compared to other cyclists. The grip between your hands and your handlebars is essential since control is lost easily in harsh terrains.
On top of the need for grip, protection from rubbing and sudden impacts calls for adequate padding. Blisters form quickly without sturdy mountain bike gloves and can impair your ability to retain control in situations that require a solid grip.
Finally, mountain bikers are way more likely to wipe out than almost anyone else on two wheels, so the ability to withstand impacts to your hands is crucial.
Types of Mountain Biking Gloves
There are four types of mountain biking gloves on the market. Two are quite common (full-finger, half-finger), while the other two are more unusual (three-finger, pogies). The best type for you depends on the weather conditions you ride in and the trail types you ride on. Let’s take a quick look at each type of mountain bike glove and what they’re benefits are.
These are typically the preference of professional mountain bike riders. Most full-finger mountain bike gloves are designed for all-season riding, often being made of leather and waterproof materials.
You can find full-finger gloves made of lightweight material for summer, as well as ones that are heavier for winter riding. Downhill riders typically require much more substantial padding on the palms.
Famous for summer riding as well as short trails, half-fingered gloves are exactly what you’d expect. Most often, they are made of leather, so they protect the palms of your hands while remaining breathable.
You should expect to find double-stitching in areas that under the most stress, namely between the thumb and the forefinger.
These rather odd gloves perform best in the fall and the winter. They do indeed have three fingers: one for the thumb, one for the forefinger and middle finger, and one for the ring and pinky fingers.
Their design is meant to let your fingers warm each other up. Some mountain bike riders swear by these, while others find them to be way too unusual to be comfortable. If you’re riding especially hard terrains, you should favor gloves that offer grip over warmth, though.
Pogies look like traditional mittens that attach directly to the handlebars of your mountain bike. They should cover both the handles and the brakes so that you can still ride your bike safely while your fingers stay cozy and warm.
If you want even more warmth and protection, you can also wear a pair of thin mountain bike gloves underneath the pogies.
Sections of Mountain Bike Glove Construction
When on the hunt for the best mtb gloves, it helps to know the names of the different sections of the glove. Here are some summaries of the critical parts:
- Cuffs: The section of your gloves that goes around your wrist. It will either be made of stretchy material or will have a pull tab to customize your fit.
- Uppers/Back/Top: These words refer to the part of the glove that covers the back of your hand. You’ll find a lot of variety here, particularly between gloves designed for different seasons.
- Palm: This part (quite obviously) covers the palm of your hand and is where you’ll find the majority of the padding.
What Makes The Best Mountain Bike Gloves
As with every purchase you make, there are some qualities you want to examine carefully before deciding what you are going to buy. Here are some things worth considering before committing to purchasing mountain bike gloves.
The material of the gloves is one of the most critical aspects. You want something durable, that will protect your hands from wind and rain, and something that improves your grip.
Polyester is a common material for summer gloves because it is quite breathable, but does little to protect your hands in colder weather.
Polypropylene, on the other hand, is the preferred material for riders in extreme cold.
Acrylic fibers (polyacrylonitrile) land somewhere in the middle of polyester and polypropylene. It’s an excellent stretchy material that offers more protection from the cold than polyester.
In most cases, gloves are made from a variety of different materials, but you should prioritize the materials most suited to your riding needs.
The material on the inside of the glove should add to your comfort and be absorbent. For the outside of the glove, durability and grip are by far the most critical factors.
Fit Of The Gloves
Finding the right fit is a huge deal when it comes to mtb gloves. If they are too tight, they will reduce your circulation and range of movement. Numb hands during an intense ride would be a terrible thing indeed.
If they are too loose, your hand will move around inside them, which can significantly impact your grip. Correctly fitting gloves should also have a way of closing at the wrists so that there is little chance of them falling off when you are riding.
Any time you invest in new gear, you want to make sure it is built to last.
Not only should your new mountain bike gloves hold up well, but they should also retain grip throughout their lifespan. A good pair of gloves will be as grippy on their last day as their first and will have kept a lot of the padding too.
If you often ride trails with a lot of overgrown trees and bushes, you may want gloves that offer a lot of protection for your knuckles as well as the back of your hands.
You can find knuckle protection as simple as some padding, or it can be full armor plating. How much protection your knuckles need will depend on how rough you ride.
Mountain bike gloves should be designed to take as much of the impact as possible if you fall and brace yourself on your hands. Some of the more expensive gloves offer a wrist-brace; adding even more defense in the event of a fall.
As with all bike clothing, like mountain bike shorts, the weather should dictate what you wear. In the winter months, look for layers and layers of insulation to keep your fingers from freezing or becoming numb.
In the summer, that insulation will serve to make you sweaty and uncomfortable, so prefer something light and breathable. Always dress for the weather.
There are two key features when it comes to moisture and your gloves: wicking and waterproofing.
Wicking is what allows the moisture your hands create to be drawn away from your skin so that it can evaporate.
Waterproofing is what protects your hands from the rain or from water kicked up from splashing through puddles.
Both are important to your comfort level when you ride in rainy conditions.
You can find gloves that have bonuses built right in. For example, many people want gloves that are touchscreen compatible in case they need to use their phone on a ride.
Silicone on the fingertips is a great tool because it helps with gripping the gear shifters and breaks.
Toweling is a feature that is designed to allow you to wipe the sweat off your brow.
If numbness in your hand is a common issue for you, look for mtb gloves that have extra padding in them. It will stop some of the vibrations and make the ride much more comfortable.
Ultimately, no one knows what the best mountain bike gloves are for you better than you. The best purchase you can make will depend much on your physical needs as well as the conditions you ride in.
If you do not protect your hands, the prolonged stress that mountain biking puts on them can lead to health issues. These can be things as minor as simple soreness to more severe conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
They’re a worthy investment.